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Digital Transformation in Government Insight #75:
Anti-doping app integrated with GovCMS

Last year the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) developed a new app to help prevent inadvertent doping for Australian athletes. The app allows athletes to look up supplements and check for banned substances, as well as providing other tools such as a way for ASADA to send targeted communications to athletes.

Salsa Digital 19 February 2019

Great app for Aussie athletes

At DrupalSouth in December last year we went to a session about a great little app, the ASADA’s Clean Sport App, that had been integrated with their GovCMS website. This is an interesting case study and also a strong case of digital transformation in government.

The case study was presented by Alexis Cooper from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and Nick Trembath from Adelphi Digital (now EY).

The challenge/problem

Many athletes take a variety of supplements (e.g. protein shakes) as part of their daily or weekly training regime. However, Australian athletes were testing positive to doping every month because of these supplements. In fact, Alexis from ASADA said that many supplements have a high risk of contamination that’s often not listed on the label, with one in five containing banned ingredients. And this is why Australian athletes are inadvertently doping, and inadvertently testing positive to doping.

In general, the anti-doping framework is complex because the athletes are solely responsible for everything in their bodies, and supplements themselves are usually broken into two categories — high-risk and low-risk.

The ASADA wanted to help prevent inadvertent doping by creating a tool athletes could use to check supplements. They decided an app would be best, because most athletes use their phones a lot. In addition to the supplement checker, they added in extra features such as:

  • Medication checker

  • A ‘report doping’ feature

  • Communications feature — so they could target a group, like swimmers, and give them very specific information (this means they also know the app’s user stats by sport — how many swimmers are using the app, how many rugby players, etc.)

Technical challenges

In designing the app, Adelphi faced a few technical challenges, specifically:

  • Content authoring — ASADA was time poor and had multiple sources of content to update.

  • Time pressure — with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the horizon, they had a hard deadline and 40 development days to get the app finished and deployed.

  • App personalisation — they wanted personalisation within the app, but ASADA didn’t necessarily want users to have to remember another password.

How and why GovCMS?

GovCMS was instrumental in solving these three challenges.

From a content authoring perspective, ASADA had already been using Drupal and so GovCMS meant they could work with a CMS they knew. For structured data the project used Drupal taxonomy, with specific Drupal content types implemented alongside. Data exposure was handled using a Drupal services model, which provides API in a JSON format.

GovCMS was also a good option from the time pressure perspective, because Adelphi developers knew GovCMS well, and they had a strong relationship with the GovCMS team.

In terms of the app’s personalisation, while GovCMS doesn’t allow for personal data to be stored and doesn’t push data, ASADA wanted to personalise notifications. To bridge the gap between GovCMS and Google Play/App Store, they decided to use AWS Lambda. Athletes can personalise the app through the settings by subscribing to a channel (e.g. ‘I am coach’, level of sport (state/national) and which sport).

How the app works

The supplement checker section of the app has two main use cases:

  1. I have a supplement — is it safe?

  2. I’m looking for a supplement

Athletes can search all the tested supplements to see if their supplement is safe. And if it’s not on the list, they can use the risk assessment tool to get an idea of how safe the supplement is. The risk assessment tool uses a decision tree method to gauge safety.

The information held on the list of tested supplements is detailed, covering product variants such as flavours and even batch numbers.

The results

Alexis from ASADA said the app has had a huge impact. From April to December (when the case study was presented at DrupalSouth) they’d had 10,000 downloads with 30,000 supplements searched. They’ve also received great feedback on the app, with athletes making comments like ‘game changer’ and ‘surprisingly not crap’! In addition, it’s been noticed globally, with the World Anti-Doping Agency impressed with the app.

Salsa Digital’s take

The ASADA app is a great example of digital transformation in government making a difference in people’s lives. In this case, athletes’ lives. The app is also making the anti-doping rules fairer, by reducing inadvertent doping. We found this case study very interesting for lots of reasons — for a start we didn’t realise things like protein supplements posed such a huge risk to athletes, and we loved the way GovCMS was used in an innovative way.

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