Highlighting the work of leadership organizations in the youth sports industry is important for several reasons. We want to ensure there is a collaborative experience between organizations so that athletes and families get the best possible experience. We also understand the value of sharing ideas—we’re learning from these organizations every day and want to extend those lessons to everyone.
Does your organization have a new initiative or project that helps grow your membership, keep your athletes safe, or makes a positive impact on your community? Share your story with other leaders in youth sports:
For the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and its youth outreach arm, TrueSport, ensuring the integrity of sport and the wellness of athletes means connecting with every member of the sport community at every level of sport. Accompanying athletes and support personnel throughout sport means that USADA works closely with and alongside National Governing Bodies (NGBs) that are similarly invested in the wellbeing of sport and athletes.
Many people are either unaware of this collaboration, or only conscious of a few pieces of the puzzle. Here, we outline the many ways that USADA and NGBs work together to protect athletes and the integrity of sport.
Youth Sport Education
When the youngest athletes enter sport, it’s a time of learning, discovery, and habit formation. TrueSport is designed to ensure that this journey is a positive one, during which athletes are learning values, discovering self-worth, and forming healthy habits that will lead to success both on and off the field for the rest of their lives. While TrueSport connects directly with young athletes, much of its guidance and resources are developed to support the influencers in young athletes’ lives, including coaches, parents, and educators.
To reach these influencers, TrueSport works with NGBs. TrueSport supplies NGBs with articles, graphics, and other content to distribute to its members each month on topics ranging from performance anxiety, to body image, to nutrition. Similarly, TrueSport provides an interactive curriculum to help youth sport influencers teach values on the field, as well as online educational tutorials for those who want to best prepare themselves to support young athletes. TrueSport is also on the ground at NGB events utilizing both staff and athlete ambassadors to facilitate discussions and activities about the values that can be learned through sport.
All members of NGBs are subject to anti-doping rules, and as athletes progress through the ranks of their sport, many will eventually encounter USADA’s elite education team. This team works closely with NGBs to identify and connect with athletes who may need to understand their anti-doping rights and responsibilities, the prohibited status of substances and methods, and the testing process. In collaboration with NGBs, USADA creates education plans for the various sports, hosts webinars and in-person presentations, distributes learning materials digitally and at sporting events, and creates tutorials that are mandatory for athletes in the USADA testing pools. Recognizing the importance of the team behind the athlete, USADA also provides these resources and services for athlete support personnel (ASP).
Drug Reference and Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs)
For many athletes, the prohibited status of substances and methods is often the most confusing part about anti-doping and clean sport. Enter USADA’s Drug Reference and TUE team, which helps athletes and ASP determine the status of medications, supplements, and other products, as well as whether athletes should apply for a TUE that grants them permission to use a prohibited substance or method in sport. Along the way, USADA works with NGB staff, including team physicians and medical personnel, to make sure athlete inquiries are completely and consistently answered and TUE applications are secured when needed. To support these efforts, USADA maintains various technology platforms such as Supplement Connect (formerly Supplement411) and GlobalDRO to quickly and accurately answer athlete and ASP questions and concerns.
Testing may be the most obvious function that USADA performs. It’s also one of the operations that most integrally involves NGBs, as the organizations work together to meet international requirements set forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). To help NGBs meet these requirements, USADA regularly provides education on the rules, delivers compliance reports, answers inquiries from athletes and NGB staff, and includes NGB staff on all relevant athlete communications.
Results Management and Investigations
PAfter education and testing, USADA’s results management team steps in to notify athletes of their sample collection results, and in the event of a positive test, begin the adjudication process associated with anti-doping rule violations. During this process, USADA once again includes NGBs on all relevant communications, provides education on the rules, and helps answer questions so that NGB staff can be a knowledgeable resource for athletes and a strong partner to USADA in the shared fight for the integrity of sport.
USADA also partners with NGBs on investigations - a lesser-known but extremely vital means of identifying rule violations. USADA handles all incoming tips and conducts investigations into potential anti-doping rule violations, all while collaborating with NGBs, law enforcement, WADA, and International Federations.
At the end of the day, effective collaboration with NGBs is key to USADA’s administration of a successful anti-doping program, as well as its vision that every athlete enjoys their right to fair competition and has an opportunity to learn the life lessons and values taught by sport.
USADA continues to welcome collaboration with NGBs and expand the ways in which it serves clean athletes. To receive TrueSport resources, sign up for our weekly newsletter or visit Store.TrueSport.org.
For more information on USADA, visit USADA.org