WADA Executive Committee asserts non-compliance on four Anti-Doping Organizations as Foundation Board also meets in Montreal
This week, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Executive Committee (ExCo) and Foundation Board (Board) met in Montreal, Canada, on 16 and 17 November 2023, respectively. During these meetings, members of WADA’s principal governing bodies, most of whom attended in person, discussed and took decisions on a number of matters that are key to strengthening the global anti-doping system.
WADA President, Witold Bańka, opened the Foundation Board meeting by noting that WADA would be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024, and by saying that while much has been achieved over that time, the Agency’s greatest achievement by far was implementation of the harmonized global anti-doping system. Making reference to assertions of non-compliance made by the Executive Committee the previous day, he emphasized that WADA took no pleasure in doing so but that, the Agency’s World Anti-Doping Code compliance role was important to ensuring that the same rules were implemented in all countries and all sports for the good of athletes worldwide.
Compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code
The ExCo followed the recommendations from the CRC to allege three National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) and one Major Event Organization (MEO) as non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) and added two other NADOs to the ‘watchlist’.
The three NADOs that the ExCo decided to allege as non-compliant with the Code are:
The Venezuelan NADO has not addressed a number of critical requirements to its anti-doping program following the Code Compliance Questionnaire exercise, while the Nigerian NADO has still not addressed several critical requirements following an audit carried out by WADA in late 2022. The Tunisian NADO has an outstanding critical corrective action relating to its national legal system not being in line with the 2021 Code.
The ExCo also alleged as non-compliant with the Code an MEO, namely the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), for failure to implement a previous decision by the ExCo. As a consequence of the decision to allege the NADO of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as non-compliant in October 2021, the DPRK flag could not be flown at major events, including the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. All MEOs, including the OCA, were informed of the decision and of their obligations to implement this consequence at their events. It became clear during the Asian Games that the OCA did not take steps to comply with the terms of the DPRK’s non-compliance and that the DPRK flag was repeatedly flown during the entire event, including at opening, closing and medal ceremonies and within competition and non-competition venues. Despite repeated reminders from WADA before and during the Games, the OCA refused to comply.
The proposed consequences and reinstatement conditions for this Code Signatory can be found here.
Under Article 9.3.1 of the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS), all these Signatories have 21 days following the date of receipt of the formal notice of non-compliance to dispute WADA’s assertion of non-compliance, as well as the proposed consequences and/or the reinstatement conditions proposed by the Agency. For all Signatories above, it should be noted that the decision (including the consequences) will enter into force on 8 December 2023, unless the decision is challenged by the same date.
The ExCo also followed the recommendation of the CRC to place the NADOs of Bahamas and Cambodia on the ‘watchlist’, giving them an additional four months to correct outstanding non-conformities. A recent review of the countries’ legal framework revealed that they were not in line with the 2021 version of the Code. Since this was identified, the NADOs in question and the relevant public authorities have finalized draft amendments in line with the 2021 Code and have provided a timeline for adoption of the required amendments within four months (by 16 March 2024) therefore meeting the criteria of the ‘watchlist’ as stated in Article 8.4.5 of the ISCCS. By being placed on the ‘watchlist’, if either NADO fails to correct its outstanding non-conformity within the timeline, as per Article 8.4.5 of the ISCCS, WADA shall automatically send the NADO a formal notice asserting non-compliance and proposing consequences and reinstatement conditions.
President Banka said: “WADA always supports Signatories and helps them when they have non-conformities in an effort to avoid this situation. However, the harmonization of the anti-doping system is absolutely crucial – we agree with athletes when they tell us that all Signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code must be held to the same high standards as they are. Signatories must abide by the rules and decisions – otherwise, we cannot provide a level playing field for athletes. We continue to monitor all Signatories’ compliance with the Code to ensure the system remains strong and consistent around the world.”
The ExCo and Board received an update in relation to the December 2020 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the assertion of non-compliance with the Code on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), for a period of two years. WADA is monitoring the progress being made by RUSADA as it seeks to satisfy the conditions of reinstatement as laid out by the CAS decision. In the meantime, RUSADA remains non-compliant with the Code.
Separately, a fresh critical non-conformity was identified related to inconsistencies between the federal Russian sports legislation and the Code. At its meeting on 22 September 2023, the ExCo accepted the CRC’s recommendation to impose on RUSADA new consequences and reinstatement conditions. On that date, WADA sent RUSADA a formal notice specifying the relevant consequences and reinstatement conditions. RUSADA subsequently disputed WADA’s allegation of non-compliance, as well as the consequences and reinstatement conditions. Accordingly, WADA has recently filed a formal notice of dispute with CAS.
During his report to the Board, WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli, expressed his concerns about the so-called Friendship Games, an unsanctioned multi-sport event scheduled to take place in Russia in September 2024. Mr. Niggli said: "WADA has significant reservations about this from an anti-doping perspective. We have no information about what kind of anti-doping program, if any, will be in place during that event or which body will be implementing such a program given RUSADA is still non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Under the Code an international event such as this should not be awarded to a country whose National Anti-Doping Organization is non-compliant so in that context, how can athletes have any confidence that they would be competing in a safe and fair environment?”
2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Board was updated on WADA's extensive preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Board also heard from Chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA), Dr. Valerie Fourneyron, who briefed members on the ITA’s activities, including as it relates to Paris 2024.
WADA, the International Olympic Committee and the ITA are committed to collaborating with one another to educate and support athletes and their coaches in the build-up to the Games through the Pre-Games Taskforce. WADA encourages ADOs to utilize the time remaining to ensure all athletes intending to go to Paris have been properly tested and educated.
Hosting of WADA’s Africa Regional Office
Further to WADA’s April 2023 Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to host WADA’s Africa Regional Office, which has been located in Cape Town since 2003, three countries – Egypt, Morocco and the Republic of South Africa – formally expressed interest and submitted EOIs.
Following a full evaluation, the ExCo instructed WADA Management to pursue its discussions with the Department of Sport, Art and Culture of the Republic of South Africa with the view of negotiating a new hosting agreement to maintain the office in Cape Town.
President Bańka said: “WADA would like to thank the governments of Egypt, Morocco and the Republic of South Africa for their strong offers. It shows the level of commitment that many governments have for clean sport and that there is a desire to support WADA’s mission as it leads a global collaborative campaign for doping-free sport. It also attests to the quality of the work being conducted by our team in Africa and the respect it has gained from our partners there. We look forward now to working with the South African Government to negotiate the conditions necessary for us to conduct our activities with maximum impact.”
Composition of 2024 Board, ExCo and Other Committees
In accordance with WADA Statutes, the Board today approved the composition of the ExCo for the coming year, except for one vacancy, which will be confirmed by the Board via a circulatory vote in the coming weeks. The full compositions of both the 16-member ExCo and the 42-member Board for 2024 will be published in due course.
Following a thorough process of nomination and consideration, on Thursday the ExCo approved some new and renewed members of each of the three Standing Committees for 2024, namely the Education Committee, the Finance and Administration Committee and the Health, Medical and Research Committee. In addition, in preparation for a number of upcoming terms coming due on our Permanent Special Committees between January and May 2024, some membership renewals and/or changes were approved for the CRC, Independent Ethics Board and Nominations Committee.
Combining all eight of WADA’s Standing and Permanent Special Committees for 2024, there are a total of 72 members, with 37 countries represented from all five continents. The gender balance is exactly 50-50 and there are 25 athlete representatives with seats on the various committees. This is in addition to there being more than one-third of members on the ExCo and Board being active or former international-level athletes. The full list of 2024 Standing and Permanent Special Committee members will be published shortly.
WADA Intelligence and Investigations Department
The ExCo approved the appointment of Emmanuel Leclaire as the new Independent Supervisor of the WADA Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Department. Mr Leclaire, who is from France, will replace Jacques Antenen of Switzerland when his second and final term concludes at the end of the year.
The ExCo approved Mr. Antenen’s final annual audit report on Thursday and, accordingly, the report’s conclusions will shortly be published on the WADA website in the usual way.
The Board adopted the 2024 WADA Budget, which had been endorsed by the Agency’s Finance and Administration Committee at its meeting in July and recommended by the ExCo at its September meeting for Board approval. The budget is USD 54,493,760 from all sources of funding. Of this, USD 49,999,760 will come from the Sport Movement and Governments of the world, representing a 6% increase as compared to 2023. This increase was approved by the Board in May 2022 as part of a three-year series of annual increases from 2023-2025.
Approval of updates to the ISCCS and modifications to Technical Documents and Technical Letters
The ExCo approved updates to the ISCCS that will come into effect in April 2024, with the exception of Annex B4 of the ISCCS, which deals with Signatory consequences. Annex B4 will be further considered at the ExCo’s next meeting in March 2024. The updated document will be published shortly afterwards.
In addition, the ExCo approved modifications to the Technical Document for Sport Specific Analysis (TDSSA v9) and the Technical Letter dealing with the Minimum Reporting Level for Tramadol (TL25 Tramadol). These updates will be communicated to stakeholders in the coming days.
The Board received updates from all of WADA’s Permanent Special Committees and Standing Committees, including the Athlete Council. It also heard reports from the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The ExCo and Board were updated regarding WADA’s 2027 World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards Update Process, which launched in September 2023; the Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds pilot project, the Initial Human Rights Impact Assessment; and, development of the next iteration of WADA’s Strategic Plan (2025-2029).
The ExCo and Board were also informed of a change of date for the 2025 World Conference on Doping in Sport in Busan, Korea. Previously scheduled for 10-14 November 2025, it will now take place from 1-5 December 2025.
Other Board Decisions
The Board approved amendments to WADA’s Code of Ethics and agreed to adopt the Agency’s Conflict of Interest Policy. Also, as part of its statutory obligations to the Swiss Authorities, the Board formally approved WADA’s Annual Report for 2022. These documents will all be published shortly.