Questions & Answers on the Code

Expand All

What is the World Anti-Doping Code?

The World Anti-Doping Code (Code) is the document that harmonizes regulations regarding anti-doping in sport across all sports and all countries of the world. The Code provides a framework for anti-doping policies, rules, and regulations for sport organizations and public authorities.

How do sports organizations implement the Code?

Signatories must make sure that their own rules and policies are in compliance with the mandatory articles and other principles of the Code. WADA assists signatories by reviewing their anti-doping rules to ensure that they are Code-compliant and, where this is not the case, by offering assistance to remedy the situation.

How do governments implement the Code?

Many governments cannot be legally bound by a non-governmental document such as the Code. Governments have accordingly drafted, pursuant to the Code, an International Convention under the auspices of UNESCO, the United Nations body responsible for education, science, and culture, to allow formal recognition of WADA and the Code. The UNESCO-led International Convention against Doping in Sport was unanimously adopted by the 33rd UNESCO General Conference in Paris in October 2005 and went into force in February 2007. UNESCO Member States are now working to ratify it individually according to their respective constitutional jurisdictions.

What can WADA do to apply the Code?

WADA closely monitors doping cases and has the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for cases under the jurisdiction of organizations who have implemented the Code.

WADA also has powers of intervention in ensuring that Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) are consistently granted. WADA’s role in the TUE process is two-pronged: the Agency reserves the right to monitor and review any TUE granted by a federation or anti-doping agency; and athletes who requested a TUE and were denied can ask WADA to review that decision. If WADA determines that a denial of the TUE did not comply with the International Standard, the Agency can reverse the decision.

In addition, as the guardian of the World Anti-Doping Code, WADA is required to report formally on stakeholder compliance with the Code (Code Article 23.4.4).

What happens if a sports organization or a government does not comply with the Code?

WADA reports cases of non-compliance to its stakeholders who have jurisdiction to impose sanctions, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Olympic charter was amended in 2003 to state that adoption of the Code by the Olympic movement is mandatory. Only sports that adopt and implement the Code can be included and remain in the program of the Olympic Games.

If a country does not ratify the International Convention against Doping in Sport, it may be subject to sanctions from the IOC and from other sports organizations, including losing the right to host Olympic Games.

What is the situation of professional leagues and sports organizations outside the Olympic movement in relation to the Code?

Members of these leagues must comply with the Code when they take part in events or tournaments under the jurisdiction of organizations that have implemented it, for example National Basketball Association or National Hockey League players playing at the Olympic Games or at World Championships. WADA is in contact with a number of these leagues and, with the support of governments and other sports organizations, hopes that all of them will accept and implement the Code in order to have one single standard for all athletes in all sports and in all countries.

Will there be changes in the Code in the next few years?

The Code is a living document, and WADA ensures it evolves regularly by engaging in extensive consultation and thorough review of the Code and its associated International Standards on a periodic basis. Amendments to the original Code went into force on January 1, 2009, and further changes may occur in the future if necessary.

Article 23.6 of the Code states that: “WADA shall initiate proposed amendments to the Code and shall ensure a consultative process to both receive and respond to recommendations and to facilitate review and feedback from athletes, signatories and governments on recommended amendments. Amendments to the Code shall, after appropriate consultation, be approved by a two-thirds majority of the WADA Foundation Board including a majority of both the public sector and Olympic Movement members casting vote.”

  • Last Updated September 2011
  • Print