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Wada looking to use AI to catch dopers

Pattern recognition would allow anti-doping body to target athletes whose biological data was identified as suspicious

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is looking to artificial intelligence (AI) as a means of identifying potential dopers. The hope is that if suspicious patterns in biological data can be picked up automatically, that could then trigger an investigation.

According to i News, Wada is looking to trial AI projects as it would mean analysis of huge volumes of data in a fraction of the time.

“We’re having discussions on artificial intelligence going forward,” said Olivier Niggli, the organisation’s director general. “There’s a lot of promising things.”

Niggli feels that pattern analysis carried out by AI would allow Wada to make more of its limited resources and also believes that AI may be able to pick out cases that would otherwise go unnoticed.

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“There’s a lot of data that is being collected in anti-doping – whether it is through the [athlete 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.”

Athletes whose biological passports were flagged by AI would not immediately face disciplinary procedures. The intent is for the technology to effectively serve as a targeting tool, notifying the agency of where it should concentrate its testing resources.

Niggli also raised the possibility that data could be analysed retrospectively.

“I hope that in five years we will be much better at analysing all this data that we already have and are already collected. It’s a complex world which requires complex answers.”

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