WADA Foundation Board unanimously approves further 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 Paris, France, yesterday (24 November) and today (25 November), 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 two days of meetings, WADA President Witold Bańka said: “These two days of meetings resulted in important steps forward for WADA and the anti-doping movement. I am delighted that we were able to make real progress in a number of key areas. In addition to the approval of further governance reforms, we also welcomed an increase to the Agency’s annual budget; and, covered topics ranging from the establishment of an Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds Program, which will be piloted next year, to confidential sources in the context of investigative work. The Board also received important updates on how WADA continues to deal with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is supporting preparations for delivery of the anti-doping program at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing early next year.”

The major decisions taken by the ExCo and Board are outlined below.

Advancing and Expanding Governance Reform

The ExCo and Board received a comprehensive progress report and list of recommendations from the Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms as it relates to the ongoing process, which has already led to significant reforms being implemented. Today, the Board unanimously agreed upon further reforms, which include:

  • The approval of a Code of Ethics and the creation of an Independent Ethics Board;
  • The creation of a reformed and renamed WADA Athletes’ Council, as developed with the current members of the WADA Athlete Committee and their sub-group on athlete representation, to replace the Athlete Committee. The members of this new Athletes’ Council will all be chosen by athletes, as opposed to the current Athlete Committee appointed by WADA and the Chair of the Committee. It will be composed of 20 members:
    • 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, and
    • seven other athletes, to be selected by an appointments panel made up by a majority of athletes, to fill skills and diversity gaps;
  • Changes to the composition of the Board to include four additional seats:
    • two for representatives of athletes, as chosen by and from the WADA Athletes’ Council, including an athlete coming from Paralympic Sport, and
    • two for representatives of National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs), as chosen by the WADA NADO Expert Advisory Group, whose 10 members will be elected by the NADOs of each of the five continents (two members per continent);
  • Changes to the composition of the ExCo that include two additional seats:
    • one for the WADA Athletes’ Council Chair as elected by the Athletes’ Council, and
    • an additional independent member;
  • The ExCo will therefore have 16 members composed as follows:
    • the Chair of the WADA Athletes’ Council,
    • five representatives of the Sport Movement, including an athlete representative,
    • five representatives of the Governments of the world (one per continent), and five independent members, made up of the independent WADA President and Vice-President and three other independent members.

The day before, the ExCo approved the request of the Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms to have its mandate extended to the next meetings of the ExCo and Board in May 2022 in order to address further a number of issues it has not had time to review, including the split of responsibilities between the ExCo and the Board as well as matters such as diversity, and to complete its work with a final list of recommendations. The Working Group will also make concrete proposals to the Board in May 2022 as relates to the timing and details of implementation of these governance reforms as well as transitional measures.

Mr. Bańka said: “We continue to make very good progress when it comes to governance reform at WADA. This latest round of reforms will have a far-reaching and meaningful impact on how the Agency is governed, with more independent voices around the table and increased representation for athletes and National Anti-Doping Organizations. I would like to thank all stakeholders that participated in the two rounds of consultation led by the Working Group, as well as the Working Group itself for its diligence in producing its recommendations, and the members of the ExCo and Board for their willingness to embrace the process. It is important to stress that this is not the end but rather a continuation of an ongoing process of reform that is ensuring WADA remains a modern organization that is fully equipped to fulfil its mission to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport, with athletes at the center.”

2022 Standing Committees

Following a rigorous process of nomination and consideration, on Wednesday the ExCo approved a number of new and renewed members of each of the five Standing Committees for 2022. Half (27 out of 54) of the appointed members are women, and 31 countries from the five continents are represented on the 2022 Committees. The full list of the 2022 Standing Committee members will be published shortly.

Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds

The ExCo endorsed a one-year pilot project for an Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds Program, as proposed by WADA’s Athlete Committee, including the commitment of a budget for the recruitment of an Ombuds, the setting up of regulatory documents and the establishment of terms of reference for launch in Europe in 2022.

Mr. Bańka, a former international-level 400m runner, said: “The establishment of an Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds is another step forward for the rights of athletes. It is part of WADA’s commitment to be more athlete-centered and will add value to athletes and Anti-Doping Organizations alike. It is hoped that the pilot project will be successful in helping athletes navigate the anti-doping process, providing independent advice, support and resolution of disputes. While it will be piloted in Europe, if successful, the hope is it would be extended to other regions.”

WADA Athlete Committee Chair, Ben Sandford, said: “It is great to see the Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds project being supported by the Executive Committee. This is a project that the Athlete Committee and its working group have worked hard to bring together and unanimously support. It is exciting that we will be able to bring this to life next year and offer these invaluable services to athletes. We hope this will aid not only athletes but the whole anti-doping community.”


WADA Management updated the ExCo and Board regarding COVID-19’s continued impact on the global anti-doping system. Members were presented with an overview of the impact the pandemic has had on testing worldwide since March 2020, and how the system has recovered through 2021, which saw a 16% increase in the number of out-of-competition samples collected from January to October 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. The increase in out-of-competition samples collected over the first half of 2021 shows that Anti-Doping Organizations did their utmost to re-establish sample collection programs leading into the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

During the early days of the pandemic in 2020, recognizing the impact on the anti-doping community, WADA and the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) applied a number of flexible measures to their compliance monitoring programs and enforcement procedures. Then, starting in October 2020, in order to maintain a balance between pursuing effective protection of clean sport and recognizing the continuing impact of the pandemic on the operations of many Signatories worldwide, the CRC implemented a staggered and gradual approach to resume compliance procedures as the number of doping controls conducted worldwide started to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Throughout the pandemic, WADA has adapted with the support of technical tools in order to continue its work, and has successfully held a limited number of meetings and attended events in person or in a hybrid (in person and virtual) format since mid-2021. Further in-person gatherings will continue in 2022 while the Agency remains cautious and flexible as the virus continues to be prevalent in many parts of the world.

Since the start, 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.

WADA’s role for 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games

The ExCo and Board received reports on how WADA will be assisting the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) anti-doping program at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, including through WADA’s support for the Pre-Games Testing Program, funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and delivered by the International Testing Agency (ITA). The aim of the Program is to ensure that all athletes who are scheduled to compete at the Winter Olympic Games are subject to a suitable level of testing in the lead-up to the Games. In addition, WADA encourages all Anti-Doping Organizations that have athletes participating in Beijing to take advantage of the program for the long-term storage of samples that has been offered by the IOC at no cost to Anti-Doping Organizations worldwide.

A WADA Independent Observer (IO) Program made up of nine members for the Olympic Games and five for the Paralympic Games will be present in Beijing. The objective is to assist the IOC and the ITA, as well as the International Paralympic Committee and the Beijing Organizing Committee in the delivery of the respective Games-time anti-doping programs. The IO Teams are made up of anti-doping experts from various organizations and WADA staff, and both teams also have athlete representation from WADA’s Athlete Committee. WADA’s IO Teams for Beijing 2022 were announced on 15 November.

In addition, WADA’s laboratory team is working closely with the Beijing Laboratory, including conducting onsite visits, in order to ensure the laboratory operations are ready for the challenge that awaits in early 2022.

2022 Budget

The Board adopted the 2022 WADA budget, which had been endorsed by the Agency’s Finance Committee at its meeting in June and recommended by the ExCo at its September meeting. The proposed budget, which is USD 47,316,200, represents an 8% increase as compared to 2021, as accepted by the Board in May 2018 as part of a four-year series of annual increases from 2019-22. 

WADA Confidential Source Policy

The Board approved a number of amendments to the ‘WADA Whistleblower Program – Policy and Procedure for Reporting Misconduct’, including renaming it as the ‘ WADA Confidential Source Policy’. The amendments include the addition of a ‘key takeaways’ section that will make the document more accessible and easier to understand for all, especially for confidential sources, as well as the inclusion of a comprehensive seven-step process outlining exactly what happens from initial contact, to investigation, to post-investigation communication and action.

These changes, which come into immediate effect and will be incorporated into the secure ‘Speak Up!’ platform, reflect the evolution of international best practice in this area and will further ease the process of providing information to WADA’s independent Intelligence and Investigations Department for confidential sources.

International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation

The ExCo approved the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between WADA and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), which have a long-standing collaboration in this area. Under the terms of the MoU, WADA and ILAC will continue to ensure an effective exchange of information on matters related to the accreditation of anti-doping laboratories around the world in order to maintain the harmonization and optimization of accreditation practices, including when it comes to training, assessment and scopes of accreditation. During today’s Board meeting, the Chair of ILAC, Ms. Etty Feller, and WADA President, Witold Bańka, formally signed the latest MoU between the two organizations, the fifth iteration of the partnership that was first agreed in 2007.

The meeting also received reports from other partners within the anti-doping community, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the ITA and the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO).

2025 World Conference on Doping in Sport

The Board agreed on a proposal from WADA Management to organize a Sixth World Conference on Doping in Sport in 2025 as well as a timeline for appointing a host city, with a call for expressions of interest set to go out shortly. It is envisaged that the list of hosting offers will be presented to the May 2022 Board meeting for a decision. Previous host cities of the World Conference have included Lausanne, Switzerland (1999), Copenhagen, Denmark (2003), Madrid, Spain (2007), Johannesburg, South Africa (2013) and Katowice, Poland (2019).

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 and Board will meet next on 18 and 19 May 2022, respectively, in Cairo, Egypt, in person if restrictions allow, or in a hybrid fashion.