WOA Medical Committee launched to support retired Olympians

9 | 3 | 2015

The WOA Medical Committee has held its first meeting as the organisation steps up its commitment to support Olympians and elite athletes who have retired from competition.

Chaired by immediate past IOC Medical Director, Dr Patrick Schamasch, the main aim of the WOA Medical Committee is to collate and commission research into the main issues of concern for retired athletes with a view to producing guidelines of best practice to be sent to National Olympic Committees, International Federations, National Olympians Associations and Olympains and elite athletes around the world.

The Medical Committee will have a remit to investigate and explore a wide range of issues in six areas: musculo skeletal, metabolism, neuro degenerative, cardiological, psychological and diet and well-being.  The Committee decided to focus on three key areas to start. They are:

  • Psychological factors – Transition from competition to retirement and the ongoing effects of a changed lifestyle and coping with post career health and fitness issues.
  • Cardiological factors – The long term effects of demanding training regimes
  • Musculo-skeletal factors – The biological consequences of overload and overuse of specific muscle groups 

The Committee will also study other issues including the correlation between retirement and depression, the quality of life and life expectancy of retired athletes, delayed onset of sporting injuries and the benefits of continued exercise post sporting career.

The Medical Committee also includes IOC Medical Director, Dr Richard Budgett; President of the International Federation of Sports Medicine, Professor Fabio Pigozzi; Acting Chief Medical Officer ASPETAR, Dr Nebojsa Popovic; Concussion expert and former IRB Medical Advisor, Dr Barry O’Driscoll; and psychologist and expert in life transition issues, Jonathan Snell.

Chair of the WOA Medical Committee, Dr Patrick Schamasch, said:

“Very little work has been done on post career medical, health, fitness and wellbeing issues for retired athletes and the newly formed WOA Medical Committee aims to correct that by collating the work that has been done and commissioning new research. We want to be able to publish guidelines and best practices for retired Olympians and elite athletes, NOCs, NOAs and IFs – leading to a better understanding of the subject area for the benefit of retired athletes, but also to help those who are still competing to plan for a better life when they end their sporting careers.”

WOA President Joel Bouzou said:

“The WOA is committed to helping Olympians at all stages of their lives. In the past, post-career medical, health and well-being issues have not been studied in a systematic way and Olympians have had to work out for themselves how best to cope with these issues without the benefit of clear and easily accessible medical research and guidelines. We set up the WOA Medical Committee to correct that situation. The Committee’s remit is very practical: to produce medical, health and well-being guidelines for retired Olympians to help them be in the best possible post-career mental and physical condition."