Last week, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) hosted educators and leaders from anti-doping organizations around the world at its annual education summit designed to develop new and innovative ways to reach more stakeholders through more effective education.
Known as the Penrose Educational Professionals and Resource Sharing (PEERS) Group (formerly the Penrose Club), the group includes representatives from Austria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). First convened in August 2017, the PEERS Group represents one of the most regionally diverse meetings of international anti-doping educators.
For two days, the USADA Training Team and international participants facilitated discussions on key issues in anti-doping education to ensure that each representative’s organization could take concrete strategies to improve training programs and further support the global anti-doping training system. . Many of these issues and strategies supported the overarching goal of more athletes training before tests. In addition, each member shared their organization’s training plan in accordance with WADA’s International Education Standard (ISE), introduced in 2021, and the group worked to develop a template training plan.
While the group covered a wide range of important issues, one of the key areas of discussion was the education of sanctioned athletes. As with any interaction, participants agree that it is the responsibility of anti-doping organizations (ADOs) to take the mental health of athletes into account when training athletes before returning to sports following a sanction. ADOs who choose to implement this best practice do so in a variety of ways, from hiring a full-time therapist to developing online mental health resources for all athletes.
The group also explored core trainer competencies and concluded the meeting with a set of recommendations for common skills that all anti-doping educators should have in order to provide quality education. Given that effective education requires more than simple information sharing, anti-doping educators should understand and apply appropriate education delivery methods, along with relevant assessment and monitoring tools.
Recognizing the importance of innovation in all aspects of anti-doping education, the group also discussed educational technologies as well as the role of anti-doping educators and how to maximize efficiency. The PEERS Group formed a separate working group from the technology discussions to identify technological ways to determine whether pre-test training has taken place so that all ADOs can access this tool.
In addition to the annual face-to-face summit, the PEERS Group meets virtually to address emerging anti-doping issues while also suggesting timely solutions and sharing resources with the broader anti-doping education community. The group’s efforts are also in line with the ISE’s mandate to cooperate with signatories of the World Anti-Doping Code to minimize duplication of efforts and maximize the effectiveness of training programs.
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Wednesday, 17 May 2023