Vancouver 2010: A Clean Games

February 12, 2020


By Jeremy Luke, Senior Director, Sport Integrity, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport

As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, much is being written about these Games, their impact on the country, on Canadians and on our sporting system and culture. The Games are widely viewed by Canadians as a tremendous success: they truly elevated the spirit of a nation.

I have a very personal and professional connection with these Games, having worked as the VANOC (Vancouver Organising Committee) Director of Anti-Doping for four years. I was part of a team of over 700 staff, contractors and volunteers who were all charged with protecting the integrity of these Games. Our mandate was simple and clear – implement the most state-of-the-art anti-doping program possible. In assuming this responsibility, I knew how doping could significantly affect the overall success and legacy of a Games. 

If doping in sport is not managed appropriately, with a full and unequivocal commitment from all involved, the hope for success and a positive Games legacy can quickly pivot to doubt and negativity. Wonder and awe can quickly morph into cheating, scandal and cover-ups, which delegitimizes every athlete’s accomplishments.      

If you think I am overstating the risk of doping, consider what comes to your mind when you think of Russian athletes and the legacy of just the past three Games: Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018. 

At VANOC, there was a very real appreciation of the risk of doping, and a great commitment to ensure we did everything possible to protect the integrity of these Games and to ensure athletes could compete on a level playing field. 

VANOC developed a partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (Canada’s world-leading anti-doping agency) and the INRS Laboratory (Canada’s world-leading WADA-accredited laboratory) to work with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to plan and implement a state-of-the-art anti-doping program. 

Pre-games testing programs were developed, both at test events and in the lead-up to the Games. Information and education programs were created to increase awareness of the rules and to decrease the chance of inadvertent doping issues. The latest testing and analytical capabilities were implemented using highly trained and professional doping control staff from around the world.

At the end of the day, there were only three reported positive tests during the Vancouver Olympic Games[1] and one during the Paralympics. Additionally, there was only one positive test through retroactive analysis after the Olympic Games. Compare that to 60 in London and 68 in Beijing from IOC sample re-analysis alone[2].

VANOC, and Canada, did everything it could do to protect the integrity of its Games from the risk of doping. Our genuine commitment to success paid off. I am very proud of the fact that when Canadians think of the legacy of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the work that I did will never come to mind.  

As we reflect on the legacy of the 2010 Games, and as the Canadian sport community prepares to implement a new 2021 World Anti-Doping Code*, let’s renew our unwavering and total commitment to clean sport in Canada. Our athletes deserve no less.

*A new World Anti-Doping Code was approved last fall by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It goes into effect on January 1, 2021. As a result, the CCES will be hosting stakeholder consultations to ensure that the new 2021 Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) meets the needs of Canadian sport community and complies with the 2021 Code.