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08 Nov 2017

IFs work together to improve elite athlete health and global health

More than 40 medical specialists from International Federations (IFs) and world leading experts addressed important topics regarding elite athlete and global health during an ASOIF workshop, held from 7 to 8 November 2017 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Organised by ASOIF’s Medical & Science Consultative Group (AMSCG) and opened by ASOIF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, the event had the following objectives:

  • to establish priorities for improving athlete health;
  • to encourage IF medical chairs to leverage their sport to promote global health;
  • to identify practical strategies to address the health priorities; and
  • to encourage IF collaboration.

AMSCG Chair Margo Mountjoy, who led the workshop, said: “IFs have an important role to play in health promotion, both regarding their athletes as well as the global population. Athletes are our most cherished asset, but this is not enough reflected by the investments into their health. We need to increase our funding, improve the efficiency of our programmes and better share existing resources. Our workshop provided an important platform to strengthen our collaboration, learn from external experts, find solutions and agree on joint action.”
The workshop featured presentations and discussions about the following six key topics:

  1. global health through sport;
  2. using sport events to promote physical activity;
  3. athlete mental health;
  4. prevention of harassment and abuse in sport;
  5. RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport); and
  6. (non-prohibited) medication abuse in elite sport.

Participants heard IF case studies and learnt from experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), universities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC presented their new toolkit, aimed at helping IFs and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to develop and implement athlete-safeguarding policies and procedures to protect athletes from harassment and abuse.
The IF medical chairs participating in the workshop agreed to undertake the following action:

  • to plan, implement and evaluate programs to promote physical activity to improve global health;
  • to adopt and adapt the IOC toolkit to ensure a safe sport environment;
  • to develop initiatives to support athlete mental health;
  • to take measures to facilitate team physician travel to IF events;
  • to raise awareness of RED-S in our sports; and
  • to employ interventions  to decrease the practice of medication abuse in sport.

The workshop followed-up on action-proposals agreed on during last year’s IF Forum and ASOIF research into activities and priorities for its international member federations with respect to athlete and global health.