UNODC and World Anti-Doping Agency partner to protect the health of athletes through science

© iStockphoto / kentoh

Vienna (Austria), Montreal (Canada) 24 February 2021 – UNODC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been collaborating for years on new psychoactive substances and laboratory analysis to protect the health and welfare of athletes, and society at large. To strengthen cooperation and further leverage expertise in supporting early warning systems on emerging substances of abuse, the two organizations agreed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 24 February.

The cooperation emphasizes the importance of scientific knowledge and exchange on emerging drug threats to protect the health and welfare of athletes, in line with the founding purpose of the international drug control conventions to protect the health and welfare of humankind.

The MoU foresees further cooperation between UNODC and WADA in a number of areas, including preventing the abuse of drugs and crime in society and consolidating the cooperation in fields related to research, forensics and transnational organized crime. Thanks to the new agreement, UNODC and WADA will focus their efforts on three broad areas of work:

  • Exchange of scientific expertise and resources to enhance the analytical capability and performance of laboratories;
  • Data and information sharing on emerging substances;
  • Exchange of information to enhance research and analysis on the role of transnational organized crime in the manufacture and trafficking of substances used in doping.

UNODC’s collaboration with WADA, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction (EMCDDA), and academia has advanced and facilitated over the years the sharing of scientific knowledge on emerging substances of abuse and the co-organization of six international conferences on new psychoactive substances.

In the coming years, the UNODC Laboratory will closely cooperate with WADA to leverage the support of its laboratories in enhancing UNODC’s biannual proficiency test administered to over 300 national laboratories in 85 countries. The biannual proficiency test, also known as the International Collaborative Exercises (ICE) is an independent interlaboratory exercise in drug analysis which allows for national forensic drug and toxicology laboratories worldwide to continuously evaluate their own performance and improve the quality of their results. In the last decade, the ICE programme provided more than 15,000 reference samples to 109 countries to assist them in the identification of internationally controlled substances and new psychoactive substances.