7 July 2020, Lausanne (Switzerland) – The International Testing Agency (ITA) introduces a new global benchmark of quality for the advanced training of Doping Control Officers with its International Doping Control Officer (IDCO) Training Program. Official Partner of the training program is Berlinger Special AG, the leading manufacturer of doping control equipment.

Doping Control Officers (DCOs) are on the front line of clean sport and are responsible for conducting doping controls during sports events and throughout the year outside of sport competitions. The training of DCOs varies considerably around the world and not all of them have access to the same level of education, which inevitably leads to varying quality standards in testing. Recent prominent cases have also highlighted the importance of DCOs operating under harmonious processes and credentials. The ITA IDCO Training & Certification Program aims to offer athletes around the world the guarantee that wherever they are tested and whatever sport they compete in, the doping controls they are subject to are conducted safely, respectfully and with trained professionals in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Program and international best practice.

A further objective is to foster harmonisation and reconcile any disparity in the quality of how doping controls are conducted globally by providing a new advanced and internationally recognised professional qualification and certification for international DCOs (IDCOs). ITA-Certified IDCOs will be trained experts in the professional, procedural and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) compliance aspects required to deliver testing programs out-of-competition and at international sporting events including world championships, Olympic Games and other Major Games.

The comprehensive program has been developed in consultation with leading world experts in testing. It combines online learning with face-to-face training and a framework of continued professional development to ensure that IDCOs remain up to date with current WADA standards and best practice. The program will complement and build on existing training delivered at national level by National Anti-Doping Organisations and Sample Collection Agencies, with a core focus on international testing.

The launch of the program has been met with strong support from anti-doping organisations around the world, who acknowledge the need for consistent quality and international best practice and are committed to improving the standards of testing globally. The ITA is therefore proud to launch the IDCO Training Program with the support of the national and regional anti-doping organisations of Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Canada, China, Central America, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom; sports federations including European Athletics, and the two leading private sample collection agencies IDTM and PWC. These organisations have actively contributed to the peer review of the course content prior to launch and are determined to join forces with the ITA to promote quality testing across the world. The curriculum has also been reviewed by WADA with important inputs provided by WADA’s Education and Standards & Harmonization Departments.

The ITA is also extremely pleased to announce that Berlinger Special AG is the Official Partner of the IDCO Training Program, a swiss-based and family-owned tamper-evident safety container manufacturer. The company’s BEREG-Kits have established themselves as the standard worldwide and are used for the collection of samples at national and international sporting events. The BEREG-Kits meet the latest requirements of WADA and are appreciated by athletes worldwide for their secure credentials and their ease of use. The partnership with Berlinger enables the ITA to deliver this training program for free to DCOs around the world.

“This is a memorable day for the ITA as we launch this program that will offer athletes increased quality and safety during the testing process they are subject to”, says ITA Director General Benjamin Cohen. “I wish to thank Berlinger Special AG for supporting this initiative as it further underlines their long-lasting commitment to quality and integrity in anti-doping and will allow the ITA to make this program sustainable and inclusive for many years to come. A special thanks goes as well to all the national, regional and private sample collection agencies who have joined forces with the ITA to deliver the program to their doping control officers, thus promoting gold standards in testing worldwide. We are very excited to launch this project and look forward to continuously offering athletes the best possible experience when they are notified for a doping control.”

“We are proud to be the partner of the ITA IDCO Training Program”, says Andrea Berlinger, Owner and President, Berlinger Group. “As manufacturers of tamper-evident safety containers, we endorse initiatives like this one to ensure samples are consistently collected to high-quality standards around the world. We wish the ITA every success in implementing this important initiative and we hope, at this point, that all new ITA-Certified IDCOs will be filled with enthusiasm and passion as they carry out their extremely important work at the initial point of sample collection.”

Ultimately, the IDCO Training Program aims at delivering the best athlete-focused service to support elite sportspeople through the sample collection process. Tony Estanguet, President of the Organising Committee of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games, three times Olympic Champion and three times World Champion in slalom canoe, welcomes a worldwide high-quality standard in testing: “Throughout my athletic career, I’ve been tested many times. I have seen disparities and quality issues in the way that the tests were conducted. Creating a worldwide certification and quality stamp for doping controls would enable athletes to have more trust, feel protected and gain reassurance in the anti-doping system. I will also look forward to welcoming ITA-Certified International Doping Control Officers at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in four years.”

The ITA will start delivering the online training this summer. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the connected travel restrictions, the face-to-face training dates will be confirmed as soon as possible with the relevant host organisations.