2021 Code Review

Historical Background

The Code is the fundamental and universal document upon which the World Anti-Doping Program is based. Its purpose is to advance the anti-doping effort through universal harmonization of core anti-doping elements. It is intended to be specific enough to achieve complete harmonization on issues where uniformity is required, yet general enough in other areas to permit flexibility on how agreed-upon anti-doping principles are implemented. The Code has been drafted giving consideration to the principles of proportionality and human rights.

In January 2003, the first Code was approved in Copenhagen, during the Second World Conference on Doping in Sport. At the time, WADA committed to ensuring that the Code would be a living document, subject to periodic review. In keeping with that commitment, in February 2006 and November 2011, WADA’s Foundation Board initiated Review Processes with amendments being incorporated within the 2009 and 2015 Codes respectively.

2021 Code Review Process

On 16 November 2017, WADA’s Foundation Board initiated the 2021 Code Review Process, which also involved simultaneous review of the International Standards. In short, the Process entailed:

  • A two-year, three-phase, stakeholder consultation as summarized in the 2021 Code Review Process: Schedule below;
  • Circulation of multiple drafts of proposed Code amendments; 
  • A final draft Code being presented for consideration and approval at the fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport, which was held in November 2019 in Katowice, Poland; and
  • The revised, 2021 Code, entering into effect on 1 January 2021. 

2021 Code Drafting Team

As in the past, the 2021 Code Review Process was driven by a small Code Drafting Team comprised of senior WADA staff and external experts; namely:

  • Richard Young (Attorney, main drafter);
  • Ulrich Haas (Professor of Law);
  • Liz Riley (Attorney);
  • Ben Sandford (Attorney and Member of WADA Athlete Committee);
  • Tim Ricketts (WADA Director, Standards and Harmonization); 
  • Julien Sieveking (WADA Director, Legal Affairs); and
  • Sébastien Gillot (WADA Director, European Regional Office and International Federations Relations).

The Code Drafting Team’s goal was to solicit stakeholder feedback; and, incorporate the best feedback into successive working drafts of the 2021 Code. In the past, as a result of stakeholder consultation/dialogue, the Teams have been successful in building consensus on the best stakeholder feedback. Where there was no consensus, WADA’s Executive Committee, which acted as the steering body for the Team, decided which diverging stakeholder views should be incorporated within the successive drafts.

the process

In December 2017, WADA initiated the 2021 Code Review Process, which consisted of three distinct consultation phases for the Code; two for the related Standards and one for the Athletes’ Anti-Doping Rights Act. During this time, stakeholders had multiple opportunities to contribute and make recommendations on how to further strengthen the global anti-doping program.

Following the review process, 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.

On 26 November 2019, the Agency published the following versions of the Code and Standards that were approved during the World Conference; namely:

  1. 2021 World Anti-Doping Code
  2. International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS)
  3. International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information (ISPPPI)
  4. International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI)
  5. International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE)
  6. International Standard for Education (ISE) (New)
  7. International Standard for Results Management (ISRM) (New)

[As regards the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), the situation is slightly different. The new version approved in May 2019 will now be reviewed in order to reflect and incorporate any relevant changes into the Standard and to ensure consistency with the other documents that were approved during the World Conference. The amended draft will then be circulated for stakeholder consultation from 10 December 2019 to 4 March 2020; following which, it will be tabled at WADA’s September 2020 ExCo meeting for approval. It will subsequently enter into force on 1 January 2021, along with the revised Code and all other Standards.]

The Agency also published the Athletes’ Anti-Doping Rights Act (previously known as the Anti-Doping Charter of Athlete Rights), which was also approved by WADA’s Executive Committee during the Conference. The Act, which was developed by WADA’s Athlete Committee in consultation with thousands of athletes and stakeholders worldwide, is based on the 2021 Code and Standards and aims to ensure that athlete rights within anti-doping are clearly set out, accessible, and universally applicable.

The approved versions of the Code, Standards and Act will now be translated into French and branded; following which, the final versions will be published on WADA’s website in early 2020.

Legal Opinion regarding the 2021 Code

As it has done in the past, the Agency published a Legal Opinion by Judge Jean-Paul Costa, former President of the European Court of Human Rights. Judge Costa rendered his opinion on the 2021 Code, in his capacity as consultant to WADA. His opinion refers to the compatibility of proposed new measures in the Code with international standards relating to human rights and his comments were incorporated within the proposed draft. 

WADA’s 2021 Code Implementation Stakeholder Support Program

​​​​​On 18 October, WADA published a Development and Implementation Guide for Stakeholders, which summarizes matters of importance related to the Review Process; in particular:

  • the significant changes between the current 2015 Code and the 2021 Code;
  • the significant changes between the current Standards and the recently approved Standards; and
  • a summary of the key topics being addressed in the new Standards.

The Guide also touches upon WADA’s Stakeholder Support Program, which WADA will develop and coordinate with partners in 2020. Our aim is to assist Signatories in their adjustment to, and implementation of, the Code and the Standards that will enter into force on 1 January 2021. 

More information related to the Support Program, including the resources that will be made available for Signatories, will be shared in 2020.

In the meantime, should you have any questions regarding the above-mentioned documents, please feel free to contact: code@wada-ama.org.