World Anti-Doping Agency to use A.I. to identify Doping Athletes

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has long been hamstrung by a lack of finances and resources in its ability to stay ahead of the curve and crack down on drug cheats.

Hoping to narrow the gap between dopers and testing methodology WADA have announced their plans to use A.I. systems to help flag suspected cheaters across all sports. With Artificial intelligence, the agency would be able to sift through an exponential amount of extra data and subsequently raise red flags when it catches suspect patterns in an athlete’s performance and/or testing results.

While the A.I. would be able to highlight who might be using performance-enhancing drugs, it would not be considered evidence of cheating. Instead, that highlighted athlete might subsequently go through a more rigorous drug-testing regimen as a result of being flagged by the computer.

“There’s a lot of data that is being collected in anti-doping — whether it is through the athlete’s biological passports, through the tests, through the results of the athletes... If you manage to create a system that will meaningfully use this data, I think you can create some very powerful tools.”

WADA Director, Olivier Niggli

We are yet to learn the specifics on the program as WADA will be testing various pilot programs over the coming years and it will take time to develop genuine takeaway and insight. It is excellent to see WADA making bold and innovative moves to use technology to harness the vast arrays of performance data to keep up with the athletes and coaches perhaps overstepping the mark in doing the same.