WADA issues statement related to the National Anti-Doping Organization of Spain


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) notes recent media reports related to allegations concerning the National Anti-Doping Organization of Spain (CELAD). WADA strongly rejects the implication that it would ever turn a blind eye to any valid cases. The Agency confirms that all cases have been repeatedly followed up through the results management process and some are still pending.  

Indeed, in addition to pursuing CELAD on apparently delayed pending cases, WADA took the highly unusual action in 2023, of taking away three Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) cases from it and handing them over to the relevant International Federations to deal with instead. In another two such ABP cases, WADA imposed strict deadlines on CELAD for the rendering of a decision. 

WADA can also confirm that for several months, as part of its compliance monitoring program, it has been aware of ongoing problems related to CELAD, including several issues to do with testing and results management. Related to that, WADA provided to CELAD a corrective action report that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency, including with respect to a number of delayed cases. This matter is ongoing.  

WADA still has further questions for CELAD and the anti-doping system in Spain, in particular regarding the way the country’s 2021 Anti-Doping Law is being implemented. While WADA supported the passing of the legislation, it has since become apparent that the way the law is being interpreted and practically implemented is not in accordance with the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code). WADA always reserves the right to request amendments to legislation when it is applied incorrectly or in a way that conflicts with the Code. In addition, apparent non-conformities have been identified in a royal decree that was issued in October 2023 without any prior consultation with WADA. This could trigger further compliance issues for CELAD in the coming weeks. 

WADA President Witold Bańka said: “WADA has been looking into this matter for some time now. We are well aware of deep-seated issues within Spanish anti-doping. I am disappointed with the level of cooperation we have received from CELAD as we seek to improve the system for Spanish athletes. The fact that there are positive cases that have not been handled in a timely fashion, despite regular follow up by WADA, is unacceptable.

“WADA will always ensure CELAD – and all Anti-Doping Organizations – are held to the highest standards in line with the World Anti-Doping Code, including prosecuting cases where appropriate to do so. As such, WADA is following its usual due process and acting in the best interests of clean sport. All these matters are being thoroughly investigated by WADA. If they are not dealt with quickly and effectively, then it is clear there will be significant consequences for Spanish sport.” 

As the matter is still under comprehensive investigation, no further comment is possible at this time.