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Integrity at the Asian Games

31 Oct 2023

Advocating overseas


Drug Free Sport New Zealand CE Nick Paterson recently returned from the 2022 Asian Games*, where he chaired WADA’s Independent Observer program. We sat down with him to find out more about his mahi and why this work is so important for Kiwi athletes.

Bigger than the Olympics

"The 2022 Asian Games, overseen by the Olympic Council of Asia, was based in Hangzhou, China, and featured more than 12,500 athletes from 45 countries. The sports featured included “mind sports” such as chess, bridge and E-sports, as well many more traditional ones including athletics and rowing, but also kurash and sepak takraw. With a total of 46 sports and 481 medal events, the Games was bigger by the number of sports and athletes than the 2020 Olympics.

"The organisation of the Games was incredible, and the stadiums were stunning, like nothing I’ve seen before. I only managed to have one day off to be a tourist, but it was amazing to see China through the lens of a major event. I’d love to go back."

Maintaining high anti-doping standards

"WADA’s Independent Observer (IO) program is designed to build confidence in the quality, effectiveness, and reliability of anti-doping programs during major international multisport events, and it was a privilege to be chairing this mission.

The IO team observed all aspects of the anti-doping program in Hangzhou, from start to finish. A typical day would start with a debrief from the team from the day before, followed by a meeting with the event organisers, the International Testing Agency (ITA) and the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) to provide feedback. With complex logistics, the rest of the day was filled with preparation for, and then attendance at, more observations at various venues or the Athlete Village through the afternoon and into the evening, watching the anti-doping programme and athlete experience in action."

Advocating for Kiwi athletes overseas

"Being involved in events like this has an impact on Kiwi athletes that most people don’t realise. It’s part of the work we do to advocate for Kiwi athletes overseas.

"Domestically, we hold our athletes to a high standard of integrity through our anti-doping programme. Our work internationally then tries to ensure that athletes across the world are held to the same standard. At some point in the future, Kiwi athletes will be competing against those at the Asian Games and our anti-doping mahi ensures that the competition will be clean and fair for all, whereby the best clean athlete can win on the day."

*Delayed to 2023 due to the pandemic