WADA President highlights final preparations for Paris 2024 as Sport Movement leaders gather at the 2024 SportAccord Summit


This week, members of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) senior leadership were in Birmingham, United Kingdom, for the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit 2024, where they met with leaders from the Sport Movement to discuss plans for upcoming major events from a clean sport perspective, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games for Paris 2024 and Milan-Cortina 2026. 

The annual Summit convenes 1,500 sport leaders and key decision makers from more than 120 International Federations (IFs), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and organizations involved in the business of sport. WADA President, Witold Bańka was in attendance to meet with stakeholders from around the world and update them on WADA’s activities. 

Mr. Bańka said: “SportAccord brings together the leaders of the Sport Movement, many of whom have been crucial to WADA’s success since its founding 25 years ago. As we prepare for the Games of Paris 2024 and Milan-Cortina 2026, it is imperative that we can continue to rely on the united effort of sport federations and organizations to promote the values of fair play and clean sport around the world. We will depend upon their continued cooperation in the months and years to come. 

“Ahead of Paris, in particular, I urge all the International Federations to make the most of the time remaining. At this stage, they should be focusing their education and testing efforts on athletes who are likely to participate at the upcoming Games. These weeks and months in the lead-in are probably the highest risk times for doping. It is important that those athletes who arrive in Paris do so having received the right level of anti-doping preparation.” 

On Monday, President Bańka addressed the Winter Olympic Federations’ (WOF) General Assembly, which outlined the Agency’s achievements in a number of anti-doping areas and looked ahead to the Milano-Cortina 2026 Winter Games. He also spoke to participants attending a clean sport workshop presented by WADA and the Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF), which highlighted the importance of ensuring all Anti-Doping Organizations have the right tools needed to carry out effective anti-doping programs. 

He said: “WADA and the entire anti-doping system is dependent on having strong collaboration with the Sport Movement. We always stand ready to help, wherever and whenever our assistance is needed. WADA has been strengthened in recent years. This has not been by accident but through hard work, ingenuity and collaboration. We must continue working together, moving forward – always aiming to be ahead of those who would cheat the system. Anti-doping is all about partnership. With the commitment and dedication of the Sport Movement, Governments, athletes and many other groups, including the stakeholders of SportAccord, WADA can achieve its mission.” 

On Tuesday, Mr. Bańka delivered a speech during the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations’ (ASOIF) 48th General Assembly, which underlined WADA’s collaborative efforts to develop robust anti-doping programs with the International Testing Agency and the IOC, as well as the International Paralympic Committee, in advance of the upcoming Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Later in the day, he spoke during the Alliance of Independent Recognized Members of Sport (AIMS) and United Through Sport (UTS) forum, where he emphasized the theme of youth welfare and safeguarding in sport.  

He said: “Sport has the power to bring people together in a spirit of friendship, healthy competition and respect. Unfortunately, these values can become eroded, especially when it comes to the mistreatment of minors in sport. In February, WADA published the findings of ‘Operation Refuge’, a broad analysis and examination of doping among minors in sport, which revealed very troubling results. 

“Regardless of the level of competition, sport must remain a safe space for children. Empowering young athletes and their entourage through education is one of the best ways to safeguard their welfare. WADA is leading the way and providing support through anti-doping education. Together, we can strengthen the system for young athletes worldwide.” 

Among those that the WADA President met during his time in Birmingham were UK Anti-Doping Chairman, Trevor Pearce, and Director of Operations, Hamish Coffey to discuss a number of anti-doping topics. He also spent time with a number of International Federation presidents who were in attendance.  

During the Summit, President Bańka accepted an appreciation award on behalf of WADA from AIMS and UTS, recognizing the Agency’s contributions to the creation of UTS and its efforts to support the organization since its founding in 2017.  

As part of Tuesday’s LawAccord program, WADA General Counsel, Ross Wenzel, presented a legal affairs update from the Agency and answered a range of questions from attendees. LawAccord, which was one of the four specialist streams that made up this year’s SportAccord program, took a deep dive into matters being handled by the world’s top sports law specialists.