Artificial Intelligence: Global Agency to Use AI to Nab Doping Athletes

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With normal testing severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the World Anti-Doping Agency is deploying AI to detect cheating athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has initiated four projects across Canada and Germany to identify doping athletes through the use of artificial intelligence. The agency understands the ethical questions surrounding the use of AI, and will, therefore, use it only as a flag to identify the need for testing. (Gadgets 360)

The remote advantage of AI

Anti-doping testing is not available in many places across the world due to coronavirus restrictions and WADA is hoping that AI can step into the breach.

Blood, urine, or other physical tests can identify performance-enhancing substances and examine “biomarkers” such as testosterone levels and red blood cell count. These biomarkers are tell-tale evidence if the athlete has used a substance such as the blood-booster EPO (as in the case of Lance Armstrong).

AI can improve the chances of detection by cross-referencing physical data with other appurtenant information. The success rate in nabbing the use of EPO or steroids could be much higher.

“When you are working for an anti-doping organization and you want to target some athletes, you look at their competition calendar and you look at their whereabouts, you look at the previous results and so forth,” WADA senior executive director Olivier Rabin told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “But there is (only) so much a brain can process in terms of information.”

Privacy concerns

WADA understands the ethical issues surrounding the use of AI and will strive to strike a balance between the protection of individuals and their data, divulging the use of AI, and the use of the results.

The agency will anonymize athletes’ personal data and the names of the cities where they live or train.

Data on how athletes performed in competitions is not yet included in the WADA projects.

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