WADA shares outcomes from first meeting of the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping

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Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is pleased to share outcomes from July’s inaugural meeting of its Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping (Advisory Group), which is made up of members of WADA’s Athlete Council

An Initial Human Rights Impact Assessment (IHRIA) was first proposed by WADA’s Athlete Committee in 2021 (now known as the Athlete Council) with the objective of ensuring that WADA respects and protects the universally recognized human rights of athletes as it leads a global collaborative mission for doping-free sport.  

In November 2022, WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) confirmed the appointment of Senior Independent Expert, Ms. Snežana Samardžić-Marković, to lead an IHRIA to evaluate the intersection between the World Anti-Doping Program (Program) and the human rights of athletes; and, in March 2023, WADA announced that it had begun the work. 

In July, the Advisory Group held its first meeting, which focused on several topics connected to the IHRIA, including: 

  • Gaining a deeper understanding of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, which serve as the benchmark for the IHRIA; 

  • Sharing personal experiences or knowledge through stories that illustrated the situations where individual human rights were tested; 

  • Discussing ways to solve important strategic dilemmas, to identify and prioritize potential human rights infringements; and 

  • Emphasizing communication as one of the essential aspects of the Group's efforts. 

Ms. Samardžić-Marković said: "I am delighted that the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping convened and that we had valuable discussions about the UNGPs on Business and Human Rights. The personal stories shared during the meeting shed light on potential adverse impacts on athletes' human rights, reinforcing the importance of our work. 

“In our discussions, we also addressed the Advisory Group's role in the Initial Human Rights Impact Assessment process and the strategic challenges that lie ahead. I am impressed by the dedication and expertise of the Group members, and I feel assured of their strong commitment to human rights and their support for the ongoing assessment. Together, we are taking significant steps to ensure that human rights remain a priority in anti-doping, and I look forward to continuing this essential work with the guidance and support of this remarkable group." 

Athlete Council Chair and ExCo member, Ryan Pini, said: “The first meeting of the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping resulted in thoughtful, meaningful and productive discussions that have laid the foundation for the Group’s future successes. The Group's examination of various aspects of the anti-doping system such as public disclosure, strict liability of athletes and the professionalization of the fight against doping in sport has led to important insights. This first meeting highlighted the necessity to focus on discussing human rights in the context of anti-doping efforts, which we intend on doing in the months and years to come. 

“As a new body resulting from governance reform, WADA’s Athlete Council holds a special responsibility to address the challenges identified by the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping. We have high expectations for what this Group of representatives can achieve for athletes around the world, and we will strive to enhance athletes' involvement and ensure their voices are heard in shaping anti-doping policy.” 

The next meeting of the Advisory Group is scheduled to take place in September 2023, which will particularly focus on the most salient activities at risk to cause or contribute to adverse human rights impact. The Group will also discuss initial recommendations on how to prevent or mitigate these risks.