For the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), one positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that, with restrictions on international travel, WADA’s leadership has met many more stakeholders from the global anti-doping community than it would traditionally be able to achieve. In particular, over the past months, WADA President Witold Bańka and Director General Olivier Niggli have focused their attention on virtual meetings with National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs)key stakeholders that have authority and responsibility for anti-doping programs within countries.
Mr. Bańka said: “In keeping with WADA’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, it is imperative that we engage and collaborate with everyone involved in the anti-doping ecosystem. As National Anti-Doping Organizations are very important partners, it is crucial that there be direct and open two-way communication so that we can collaborate effectively. We are taking advantage of being grounded by COVID-19 to increase our focus on meeting, among others, with the NADO and athlete communities, in order to expand support where needed and ensure coherence in our collective efforts to provide a level playing field.”
Each NADO is unique and possesses its own set of priorities and challenges. However, they also share commonalities. Therefore, some of the main issues discussed during every meeting include:
- Providing a progress report on the implementation and timing of WADA's wide-ranging governance reforms, and the importance of NADOs’ contribution to the ongoing review process;
- Learning more about the NADO’s challenges and responding to any questions or topics they want to raise; and
- Encouraging further active cooperation between organizations to ensure that the anti-doping community is collaborating effectively and working together towards the same common goal.
Regarding the importance of NADO representation within WADA’s governance structure, Mr. Niggli said: “As part of WADA’s ongoing governance reforms, the Agency has increased NADO representation on WADA’s Standing Committees, which means that, at a minimum, NADOs now have one seat within the majority of WADA’s Standing Committees. This ensures that NADOs, as a very important stakeholder in the anti-doping system, have their say concerning a range of matters related to the Agency’s core activities. Holding these meetings enables us to nurture a culture of openness and transparency in decision-making, which is key to the organization’s and the global anti-doping system’s success.”
So far, these meetings have been greatly appreciated by stakeholders, with positive feedback having been received from several of the NADO representatives that participated in recent months.
Kenya Anti-Doping Agency Chief Executive Officer, Japhter K Rugut, said: “The interaction with the President and Director General of WADA gave us in ADAK the opportunity to express our vision on fighting doping in Kenya, and in the region. We were greatly encouraged by President Bańka’s great insight, and very helpful suggestions to us as we struggle to surmount challenges that stand in our way as we fight the scourge of doping. We continue to look forward to more such interactions with the WADA leadership.”
Japan Anti-Doping Agency President, Professor Hidenori Suzuki, said: “The professional and friendly WADA meeting gave us the opportunity to further build a relationship based on trust and contributed to enhancing our clean sport partnership. The honest discussion has led us to not only better understand the strategic directions of WADA, but has also allowed us to reflect on our own strategies and programs. We are more determined than ever to contribute to the clean sport environment by closely working with WADA and all of our anti-doping partners.”
Agence française de lutte contre le dopage President, Dominique Laurent, said: “The French Anti-Doping Agency thanks President Bańka for initiating these direct and transparent exchanges with the NADOs – key stakeholders in the world anti-doping program. These meetings are all the more important as the fight against doping continues to face threats and difficulties. To overcome them, it is essential that the anti-doping community show solidarity, which means being able to speak frankly in an atmosphere of mutual trust, as was the case with President Bańka and Director General Niggli. The dialogue must also continue as part of the process initiated by WADA to review its governance, so that the proposals of the NADOs are heard.”
Since these NADO meetings began, WADA’s President and Director General have met with representatives from over 25 countries, including from the following NADOs:
- UK Anti-Doping
- Central Europe Anti-Doping Organization (eight member NADOs)
- Agence française de lutte contre le dopage
- South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport
- Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport
- Drug Free Sport New Zealand
- China Anti-Doping Agency
- Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya
- Anti-Doping Norway
- Japan Anti-Doping Agency
- Antidoping Switzerland
- Korea Anti-Doping Agency
- Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports
- Sport Integrity Australia
- Ethiopian National Anti-Doping Organization
- Azerbaijan National Anti-Doping Agency
- Doping Authority Netherlands
- National Anti-Doping Agency of Germany
- Agence Nationale Antidopage Tunisia
The WADA President and Director General will meet with many more NADOs in the coming weeks. For more information on WADA’s NADO programs, please visit our website.