New Year Message to Athletes from WADA Athlete Committee Chair

Dear Athletes,

Happy New Year from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Athlete Committee!  We hope this message finds you safe and well and that 2021 will bring you success and happiness.

2021 is lining up to be a big year for anti-doping; and, in keeping with our role to provide feedback on WADA activities, there are a number of things that we would like to update you on.

2021 World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards

From 1 January 2021 we have a revised World Anti-Doping Code (“Code”) and International Standards (“Standards”).  The Code and Standards make up the regulatory framework for anti-doping worldwide; and, for the first time, there are two new Standards related to Results Management and Education.

This revised framework means that there are some new anti-doping rules that athletes and others must abide by to support clean sport, while others have been amended; and, there are some really positive changes for athletes that you should be aware of:

  • Identification of athletes’ rights has been included in the Code as part of the Fundamental Rationale for the Code. The Code continues to provide that one of WADA’s responsibilities will be, in coordination with its Athlete Committee, to approve a document that compiles in one place those athletes’ rights that are specifically identified in the Code and also identifies any other agreed upon principles of best practice with respect to the overall protection of athletes’ rights in the context of anti-doping. Accordingly, on 1 January, the Athletes’ Anti-Doping Rights Act also entered into force. Please refer to the Act to find out what your main rights are within anti-doping, what protections there are for you and how the World Anti-Doping Program is meant to work for you.
  • The 2021 Prohibited List also entered into force on 1 January. It has been redesigned to make it more user friendly; including, a new index to help you search for prohibited substances.
  • Substances of abuse are now set out in the Prohibited List; and, if taken out-of-competition and not in relation to sport performance, a three-month ban applies which can be reduced to one month if a rehabilitation program is satisfactorily completed.
  • Independence of hearing bodies has been improved; and, on appeal, the hearing body must now be institutionally independent.
  • Redistribution of prize money to athletes is emphasized in the Code should funds be recovered from a sanctioned athlete.
  • There is more protection for persons reporting potential violations.   
  • Definitions of in-competition and recreational athletes, as well as the new category of protected persons, are added to the Code that will increase consistency.
  • The Code now applies to more people such as board members, officers, directors and employees involved in any aspect of doping control.

As well, work is ongoing in relation to common contaminants and setting reporting thresholds for those.

Please consult WADA’s website for the new Code; and, the major changes.


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all of us individually and for the communities that we live in.  As part of society, sport has also been hugely impacted and anti-doping is no different. Although WADA is working hard to address gaps and support Anti-Doping Organizations through this period, significant disruption may continue well into 2021.

Based upon their compositions and effects, WADA considers there is an infinitesimally low risk that a vaccine for COVID-19 would cause a positive test. WADA is communicating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to monitor the latest information available and will provide updates if any concerns arise.  Ultimately, athlete health is the main priority of anti-doping during this time.

Please also note that as you travel and play sport in different countries, you are likely to experience differences in the sample collection process because of the different health requirements in those countries.  Please be patient and follow all the health guidelines even if they are new to you.

For information related to WADA’s COVID-19 response, please consult the Agency’s website, which includes an Athlete Q&A.


There are a number of education resources available through WADA’s website including the new and improved Anti-Doping Education and Learning (ADEL) Platform, which was launched on 6 January and supports the anti-doping community by providing education solutions for athletes, their support personnel and other stakeholders. Please share these with your fellow athletes and support personnel.

Ongoing WADA Athlete Committee Work

In 2021, we will continue our work trying to improve representation within our own Athlete Committee, but also athlete representation within WADA and anti-doping.  We will also continue the work to set up an Anti-Doping Athlete Ombudsperson(s) office that would be able to provide you with independent advice and direction; as well as, look into any concerns or issues that you may have in relation to your rights within anti-doping.

If you would like to know more about the WADA Athlete Committee and who we are, please check us out on the Agency’s website; and, feel free to contact us at if you have any questions.

Good luck for 2021.

Ben Sandford
WADA Athlete Committee