WADA Foundation Board unanimously approves final round of governance reforms
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Executive Committee (ExCo) and Foundation Board (Board) met in a hybrid format – both virtually and in person – in Cairo, Egypt, yesterday (18 May) and today (19 May), respectively. The 38-member Board is WADA’s highest policy-making body. It delegates the management and running of the Agency to the 14-member ExCo. Accordingly, the ExCo takes decisions of its own and makes recommendations to the Board for decisions concerning the performance of certain activities and the administration of assets.
Following the meetings, WADA President Witold Bańka said: “Over the past two days, the Foundation Board and Executive Committee made several important decisions that will benefit WADA and clean sport for a long time to come. In particular, today, the Board approved another important round of governance reforms, made decisions regarding increases to the Agency’s annual budget for each of the next three years (2023-2025), and as announced earlier today, selected Busan, Korea, as the host for the next World Conference on Doping in Sport in 2025.”
The major decisions taken by the ExCo and Board are outlined below.
The ExCo and Board received a final report from the Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms as it relates to the process initiated in 2016, which has already led to dozens of reforms being implemented. The Board unanimously approved the report along with adjustments recommended by the ExCo. The agreed recommendations include:
- To enhance athletes’ representation within WADA through the establishment of a 20-member Athlete Council, composed of athletes’ representatives chosen by athletes. The Athlete Council will be composed of three groups:
- five athletes appointed by the International Olympic Committee’s and International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Commissions,
- eight athletes elected by the Athlete Commissions of International Federations (IFs), and
- seven other athletes, to be selected by an appointment panel made up by a majority of athletes, to fill skills and diversity gaps;
The ExCo adopted yesterday the rules that will govern the election of the eight athletes by Athlete Commissions of IFs, as well as the rules governing the appointment procedure for the seven athletes to be selected by the appointment panel.
- To clarify the role of the ExCo and adjust its composition so that it is made up of an equal number (five) of independent members, Government representatives, Sport Movement representatives, including athletes, and in addition, the Chair of the Athlete Council as another athlete representative.
- To organize regional elections for National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) to choose their ten representatives sitting on the NADO Expert Advisory Group, under election rules that were also approved by the ExCo yesterday.
- To increase the representativeness of the Board by including two athletes from the Athlete Council and two representatives of NADOs among its members, and to reinforce the separation of powers between the Board and ExCo through a clear delineation of roles.
- To recognize the specific role and independence of the Compliance Review Committee, which is essential for matters related to Code Signatories’ compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code, by giving it a status different from that of a Standing Committee while maintaining its current composition and role.
- To maintain and clarify the overall structure of committees and expert/working groups which results from the 2018 reforms and add an Audit & Risk Committee.
- To clarify the independence requirements which apply to the various positions within WADA.
- To urge WADA and its founders to further improve diversity within the Board and ExCo through appropriate mechanisms and the publication of regular reports across the organization in that regard.
- To recognize the considerable financial impact that both the 2018 governance reforms and present recommendations have on WADA.
In addition, the Board today approved the membership of the new nine-member WADA Independent Ethics Board (IEB). The IEB consists of one representative from each of the Sport Movement and the Public Authorities, and seven independent members. In total, 72 nominations were received for the independent positions and, following a robust process of assessment, interviews and careful selection of each candidate by the independent WADA Nominations Committee, the seven applicants were recommended by the Nominations Committee, which have been confirmed by the ExCo. In full, the IEB will consist of:
- Prof. Mette Hartlev (Chair, Denmark, independent)
- Hon. Mary Ang’awa (Kenya, independent)
- Prof. Pascal Borry (Belgium, independent)
- Mr. Phil Hutchinson (UK, independent)
- Ms. Regina LaBelle (USA, Public Authorities)
- Mr. Sal Perna AM (Australia, independent)
- Dr. Rozle Prezelj OLY (Slovenia, independent)
- Mr. Marc Theisen (Luxembourg, Sport Movement)
- Ms. Ana Tuketei (Fiji, independent)
This represents a group that is diverse in terms of gender, age, core competencies (including elite level athlete experience), regional representation and ethnicity.
Mr. Bańka said: “Since 2016, WADA has made huge strides when it comes to governance reform. With the reforms that have now been implemented – and others that will shortly be introduced – we have seen a significant swing towards independence and enhanced representation for athletes. This is already having a far-reaching and meaningful impact on how the Agency is governed.
“This final round of reforms is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work from all our stakeholders, including athletes, Governments, the Sport Movement and National Anti-Doping Organizations. I would like to thank everyone involved in the process for their diligence, commitment and willingness to embrace the changes that were needed to ensure WADA would continue to be governed in line with international best practice. While today’s report represents the end of this process for now, WADA will continue to review how it is governed so that it can remain a modern, athlete-centered, well-structured organization that is fully equipped to fulfil its mission to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport.”
Following on from its decision in May 2018 to endorse an 8% increase in WADA’s budget for each of the four years, from 2019-22, the Board today agreed in principle further increases of 8%, 6% and 6% for the next three years, from 2023-25.
WADA President Witold Bańka said: “Every year, WADA is being asked to do more and more to protect athletes around the world and lead the collaborative anti-doping movement. We are ready for that increased challenge and we are encouraged to receive this financial commitment from Governments and the Sport Movement to help us. We are very grateful to Governments and the Sport Movement for their support. This decision by the Board is a clear endorsement of the work being done and a vote of confidence in the Agency’s ability to carry out its clean sport mission.”
In addition, the Board approved the 2021 year-end accounts, which will be published in the coming weeks as part of WADA’s 2021 Annual Report.
Social Science Research Funding
Yesterday, the ExCo approved the recommendations of the WADA Education Committee for 12 social science research grants totaling USD 476,931 under the 2022 Annual Social Science Research (SSR) Grant Program. The 12 projects will cover nine countries – six projects are based in Europe, three in Africa, two in Latin America and one in North America. This is in line with the stated strategy of ensuring that at least 35% of funded projects are based outside Europe, due to the traditional dominance of European applicants receiving funding. The details of the newly approved projects will be made available under the Social Science Research section of WADA’s website in due course.
Russia and Ukraine
WADA’s Director General, Olivier Niggli updated the ExCo and Board on the current situation in Russia and Ukraine. He stressed that the Agency stood in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and, in particular, its athletes. Mr. Niggli said that in order to maintain the integrity of the global anti-doping system as much as possible given the circumstances, WADA issued Testing Guidance for Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) in March 2022, with specific instructions and advice when it comes to anti-doping in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
With many Ukrainian athletes still training and competing internationally, it is important that these athletes remain subject to anti-doping control. WADA is encouraging IFs to ensure that an appropriate amount of testing is organized for them, given that they are unlikely to be tested by their own NADO.
WADA has also asked a number of NADOs to include Ukrainian athletes in their testing plan and to fund sample collection and analysis as a gesture of support and to ensure the overall integrity of the system. The Polish NADO (POLADA), for example, has offered 100 tests and analyses to that effect. It is also important that despite the ongoing situation, athletes from Russia remain subject to the appropriate level of testing and WADA remains in close contact with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to ensure that is the case.
The WADA Director General said: “While we condemn the actions that led to the war in Ukraine, we do note that it has brought out the best in the rest of the global anti-doping community that has shown great solidarity in standing by athletes and clean sport colleagues from Ukraine. For example, it is heartening to hear that the Head of Testing from the Ukrainian NADO has been welcomed to Poland by POLADA and that she was offered a temporary position within that structure. We are extremely grateful to POLADA for their efforts and unconditional solidarity. Equally, we are grateful to IFs and NADOs for the positive reaction to our request to include Ukrainian athletes in their testing plans. At times like these, it is important that the anti-doping community stands united with Ukrainian athletes.”
As it did in November 2021, WADA Management updated the ExCo and Board regarding COVID-19’s impact on the global anti-doping system. Members were presented with an updated overview regarding testing worldwide since March 2020 and how the system has recovered through 2021 and into 2022. The total number of samples collected for the period January to March 2022 was 56,437 compared to 55,332 for the same period in 2021. The 2022 and 2021 figures are similar to 2020 figures for the same period. The number of out-of-competition samples collected for the period January to March 2022 was 37,254, which is similar to the same period last year (37,464) and more than for 2020 (33,036) and 2019 (35,506).
Since the start of the pandemic, WADA has provided guidance documents to athletes, Anti-Doping Organizations and others involved in the anti-doping system. These documents are publicly available on a dedicated section of the WADA website, and the Agency is monitoring the system as the situation continues to evolve around the world.
Other Decisions and Next Meetings
WADA will publish in the coming days more detailed information and documents related to the decisions taken by the ExCo and Board outlined above or that may not have been included in this release.
The ExCo will meet next on 23 September in Sydney, Australia, immediately following WADA’s 2022 Global Education Conference to be held in Sydney. The ExCo and Board will meet again on 17 and 18 November 2022, respectively, in Montreal, Canada. These meetings will take place in person if restrictions allow, or in a hybrid fashion.
Note: Images from the two days of WADA meetings are available to media. These photos are rights-free for editorial purposes with the appropriate credit (WADA).
Images from day one (Executive Committee)