The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999 as an independent international agency composed and funded equally by the Sports Movement and Governments of the World. WADA’s mission is to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport by developing, harmonizing, coordinating and monitoring anti-doping rules and policies across all sports and countries. This important and unique partnership between Sport and Government results from the complementary jurisdictions, expertise and powers of these two sets of stakeholders. Sport has an inherent interest in maintaining a level playing field and protecting the integrity of sports. Government provides real clout in areas where sport cannot; including, by introducing legislation that prevents the trafficking and distribution of banned substances to athletes; and, by addressing performance enhancing drug abuse beyond elite sport and within wider society. Cooperation between these partners and all partners in the anti-doping ecosystem has been instrumental in the development of WADA and of the global anti-doping system.

WADA’s Statutes

WADA is a Swiss private law, not-for-profit Foundation. Its seat is in Lausanne, Switzerland, and its headquarters are in Montreal, Canada. WADA’s Statutes were revised and approved by the Foundation Board (Board) in November 2019 in response to governance reforms approved by the Board in November 2018. The revised Statutes were submitted to the Swiss Authorities for formal approval in early 2020. Some revisions were requested by the Authorities to ensure the Statutes were aligned with the regulations governing Swiss Foundations. A further revised version was submitted to the Swiss Authorities in April 2021 following confirmation by the Board on 12 April 2021. The Statutes were formally approved by the Swiss Authorities on 20 July 2021; and, can be downloaded here.


In November 2016, the Board approved the creation of a Governance Working Group to review WADA’s governance framework (outlined below). The recommendations made by the Working Group and approved by the Board in November 2018, were then translated into revisions to the WADA Statutes; as well as, creation of a new supplementary set of Governance Regulations. As with the Statutes referenced above, some revisions were requested by the Swiss Authorities in 2020. They were resubmitted to the Authorities in April 2021 and were formally approved on 20 July 2021. The Governance Regulations can be downloaded here.

Current Governance Structure

In accordance with WADA’s Statutes, WADA’s current governance structure is composed of:

  • A 38-member Foundation Board (Board), the Agency’s highest policy-making body, with an equal number of representatives from the Sports Movement and Governments of the World. 
    • The Members are appointed by their respective constituency groups (e.g., International Olympic Committee,  International Paralympic Committee, Association of National Olympic Committees, governments by continents, etc.).
    • Currently, more than 1/3 of the Board (13/38 seats) is made up of active or former international-level athletes.
    • Four seats are dedicated to athletes representing the Sports Movement.
  • A 14-member Executive Committee (ExCo), which the Board delegates the management and running of the Agency to, including the performance of activities and the administration of assets. This also includes taking all decisions that are not reserved by the WADA Statutes to the Board.
    • There are four Independent Members of the ExCo, namely the President, Vice President, one Member proposed by the Sports Movement and one Member by the Public Authorities. [Independent Members are reviewed and vetted by WADA’s Nomination Committee. The latter two take office on 1 March 2021.]
    • The ten ordinary members of the ExCo include an equal number of representatives from the Sports Movement and Governments of the World. Members are appointed by their respective constituency groups.
    • One seat is dedicated to an athlete representing the Sports Movement.
    • Currently, 1/3 of the ExCo (4/12 seats) is made up of active or former international-level athletes
  • Five Standing Committees, which report into the ExCo and play a key advisory role in policy and priority development for the Agency.
    • One of these five Standing Committees, the Compliance Review Committee (CRC), is an independent body that is composed of an independent Chair, two independent compliance experts, an athlete representative, and two members nominated by their stakeholder group (i.e. one from Sport and one from Governments).
    • On an annual basis, the Agency seeks nominations from its stakeholders to fill all Standing Committee vacancies.
  • Ten Expert Groups, which report as outlined in the chart below and play a key advisory role for the Agency in their areas of expertise.
  • A Nominations Committee, which was formed in September 2019 to ensure that the right people in terms of skills and independence serve in senior governance roles within WADA,  and which reports as outlined in the chart below.



Governance Reforms


WADA’s role has grown and the fight against doping has significantly evolved since the Agency’s governance model was formed in 1999. As with all well-run organizations, WADA has acted to ensure that its governance evolves with best practice over time. Accordingly, in November 2016, WADA’s Board recommended the formation of a Governance Working Group to study WADA’s governance model and recommend reforms. 


The Group was comprised of two athletes; two representatives from National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs); five representatives from the Sports Movement; five representatives from Governments of the World; two independent governance experts; and, an independent Chair. The Group commenced its work in March 2017 and held six meetings that involved robust consultation and debate of all matters.


In November 2018, the Board approved a series of reforms that were recommended by the Working Group – some that were fully implemented by early 2020; and, some that are still underway as outlined below. 



Reforms fully implemented as of early 2021

Reforms underway as of early 2021


  • Formation of a Nominations Committee to ensure the right people in terms of skills and independence serve in senior governance roles within WADA.
  • An independent President and Vice-President, with a remuneration associated with the role of the President.
  • A limit of three, three-year terms (nine years in total) for all members of the Board, ExCo, and Standing Committees, with no possibility of stepping out for a term and returning.
  • Addition of two independent member seats – with full voting rights – to the ExCo. The two Members take office on 1 March 2021.



  • A minimum of one seat for athlete representation in all the Standing Committees; and, for NADOs in all but the Athlete Committee and the Compliance Review Committee that were viewed differently in terms of membership rules.


  • Ongoing work conducted by WADA’s Athlete Committee regarding how they can transform from an advisory body to a representative body, with a view to the future representative Athlete Committee subsequently determining with WADA’s governing bodies how athlete representation can be further strengthened at various levels of WADA, including within the Agency’s governing bodies.




  • Development of a Code of Ethics and formation of an Independent Ethics Board, drafts of which were submitted to the ExCo in September 2020 and the Board in November 2020. There is a consultation process with Members underway with a view to presenting a proposal for approval by the Board in May 2021.


governance BEST practice beyond the above-noted reforms


The above-noted reforms are in addition to the following best practice governance within WADA related to transparency, athlete representation and accountability (including democratic processes and control mechanisms).




WADA operates in a more transparent manner than many organizations and is committed to further strengthening this element of its operations – demonstrating the Agency’s accountability to its vast stakeholder base; and, the respect that it has for diverse needs and opinions. By way of example:


1. WADA’s Board meetings are open to the public, including the media.


2. On WADA’s website, one can find in particular:


  • The Agency’s Statutes
  • Its vision, mission, values and Five-Year Strategic Plan
  • Information on WADA’s governance, along with its members/representatives
  • The verbatim minutes of WADA’s Board and ExCo along with media releases summarizing the main decisions taken (The Board and ExCo meeting minutes are published on WADA’s website once they have been approved by the Board and ExCo, generally at their subsequent meeting. The minutes are ‘intelligent, third-person, verbatim transcriptions’, i.e. slightly edited for readability.)
  • The terms of reference of all Standing Committees
  • The meeting notes of the Agency’s Standing Committee meetings
  • Its media releases and a wide array of other communications
  • An updated list of annual contributions received from Governments
  • Annual Reports containing externally audited financial statements in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards
  • An updated list of World Anti-Doping Code (Code) Signatories, including those that are or were in a non-compliant status and those that have received a WADA compliance audit
  • An annual compliance report
  • All reports issued by WADA Independent Observer teams following audits of Major Events since 2000
  • A list of all scientific and social science projects that have received WADA grants
  • An annual report of worldwide testing figures
  • An annual report of worldwide Anti-Doping Rule Violations


3. WADA regularly carries out All Stakeholder consultations related to elements of the Global Anti-Doping Program. For example, WADA carried out a two-year, three-phase consultation process related to the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and related International Standards that enter into effect on 1 January 2021. During this process, stakeholders and any other interested party had multiple opportunities to contribute and make recommendations on how to further strengthen the Program, with new drafts of the documents and all stakeholder comments being published on WADA’s website at the end of each consultation phase. Following the review process, in November 2019, stakeholders were invited to intervene publicly on the proposed Code and Standards during the Agency's Fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport – an opportunity which was taken up by over 70 stakeholder organizations – before the Code and the full suite of Standards were approved by the Board and ExCo respectively.


Athlete Representation


1. Athletes have dedicated seats in the Board, ExCo and all the Standing Committees.


2. Athletes have the following dedicated seats on the ExCo and Board:


  • ExCo: 1 seat
  • Board: 4 seats


The athletes that currently hold these dedicated seats are International Olympic Committee Athlete Commission (IOC AC) members that have full legitimacy to represent other athletes, having been elected by their peers to the IOC AC and being members of WADA’s Athlete Committee.


  • As outlined in the table below, more than one third of the members of the WADA Board and ExCo (19 out of 52 seats) are active or retired international level athletes. There are another 19 within Standing Committees. As part of the governance reforms, WADA is also increasing athletes’ representation by:
    • Ensuring that, as of 2020, all Standing Committees now include at least one athlete representative; and
    • Supporting its Athlete Committee that is currently looking at how to transform into a representative body, with a view to the future representative Athlete Committee subsequently determining together with WADA’s governing bodies how athlete representation can be further strengthened at various levels of WADA, including within the Agency’s governing bodies.



Active or Former International Level Athletes


(38 members)



(14 members)


Athlete Committee

(12 members)


Compliance Review Committee (CRC)

(6 members)


Education Committee

(12 members)


Finance and Administration Committee

(12 members)


Health, Medical and Research Committee

(12 members)



Accountability (including democratic processes and control mechanisms)


  1. WADA’s governing bodies meet regularly (twice a year for the Board and three times a year for the ExCo).
  2. WADA Board and ExCo members have term limits of three mandates of three years each (nine years total).
  3. WADA’s President and Vice-President are elected and the election process is detailed in the new Statutes to be published once approved by the Swiss Authorities.
  4. WADA has developed stricter independence criteria for its President and Vice-President, as well as future independent members of the ExCo, and the independent members of the CRC. General independence criteria are applied for all WADA members.
  5. WADA publishes open positions for all its Standing Committees, including details on the nomination process and application deadlines (six months in advance of appointment).
  6. WADA has written privacy and information security management programs that include a privacy and information security governance framework. Under the framework, accountability for privacy and information security functions is assigned to dedicated individuals.
  7. WADA observes open tenders for its major procurement contracts (per WADA finance policy, a minimum of two-three proposals must be sought for projects greater than USD 10,000).
  8. WADA has internal control systems and regularly conducts risk analyses -- both business and anti-doping.
  9. WADA has a comprehensive whistleblower program/platform (Speak Up!!) in place and a whistleblower policy approved by the Board.
  10. Under the Intelligence & Investigations policy, WADA’s Intelligence & Investigations Department, which manages the whistleblower program, operates independently from the rest of the Agency. It may run any investigation that it deems appropriate, in accordance with the policy, without seeking the prior consent or approval of the ExCo, Board, President or Director General, and manages its own budget. On an annual basis, the Intelligence & Investigations Department is audited by an Independent Supervisor to ensure that the Department’s work continuously satisfies best practices, follows the applicable laws and regulations, and protects the rights and privacy of individuals. This report is subsequently made public.
  11. WADA has a Harassment Prevention and Grievances Policy, communicated to and signed by WADA staff.
  12. WADA has appointed an external Ombudsperson to whom WADA staff members can file an official complaint.




The above is an overview of WADA’s governance, including the reforms that have been implemented since November 2018 and those that are yet to be carried out.


When the reforms were approved by the Board in 2018, it was also agreed that an ongoing governance review process would be implemented by WADA to assess the reforms; to reflect on whether they have been appropriately implemented and are fit for purpose; and, to consider any new concepts or ideas to continually improve the governance of WADA. Accordingly, a smaller Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms was established by the ExCo at its November 2020 meeting.


The composition of this new Working Group, which is outlined below, includes seven governance experts (two proposed by Governments, two by the Sport Movement, one independent Chair, and two athletes (nominated by WADA’s Athlete Committee).


  • Prof. Ulrich Haas (Independent Chair, Germany/Switzerland)
  • Maria Clarke (New Zealand)
  • Chelsey Gotell (Athlete, Canada)
  • Adam Pengilly (Athlete, UK)
  • Romano Subiotto (Italy/UK)
  • An Vermeersch (Belgium)
  • Michael Vesper (Germany)


In May 2021, WADA’s ExCo and Board received the new Group’s first interim reportincluding the contributions received from stakeholders as part of its first phase of consultation. ExCo and Board members expressed satisfaction with the work carried out so far and provided guidance to its Chair for the second phase, which includes further stakeholder consultation and development of specific recommendations for discussion and potential approval by the ExCo and the Board at their November 2021 meetings. To align with this, following recommendation by the Group, the ExCo agreed to defer a decision on the matter of establishing a Code of Ethics and forming an independent Ethics Board or similar structure in order to incorporate this discussion as part of the work coordinated by the Group.


As with all well-run organizations, the Agency is determined to ensure that its governance model evolves with best practice over time.