WADA welcomes new Executive Committee members as result of final round of governance reforms
Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Executive Committee (ExCo) held its first meeting of the year in Montreal, Canada. ExCo members were updated on WADA’s progress on key priorities, took a number of decisions – the main ones being summarized below – and made certain recommendations to the Agency’s Foundation Board (Board) that will be carried out shortly by circulatory vote.
WADA’s Board is composed of 38 members(1) and is the Agency’s highest policy-making body. The 16-person ExCo is delegated by the Board to manage the running of the Agency, including the performance of activities and the administration of assets. The ExCo is composed of five representatives from the Sport Movement, five representatives from Governments of the world, the independent Chair of WADA’s Athlete Council and five other independent members, including WADA’s President and Vice-President.
Today marked WADA’s first ExCo meeting where its membership has been expanded from 14 to 16 further to the Agency’s latest round of governance reforms approved in 2022. As a result, Venetia Bennett, a barrister from Australia, attended her first meeting as the newly appointed fifth independent member, as did Ryan Pini, an Olympic swimmer from Papua New Guinea, who is the recently elected Chair of WADA’s Athlete Council.
Also attending the ExCo meeting for the first time was the new President of the Americas Sports Council (CADE), Dr. Rahul Gupta, who takes his place on the ExCo as the Americas representative. Dr. Gupta, who is Director of the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy, replaces the former CADE President from Colombia on the ExCo. In 2023, the ExCo also welcomed new Asia representative from Japan, Dr. Koji Murofushi, Commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency.
After the meeting, WADA President Witold Bańka, said: “Today was an important meeting for WADA and the broader anti-doping community, and I am pleased with the discussions that the Executive Committee had on a number of key matters. I was thrilled to welcome all our new members around the table and I look forward to benefitting from their valuable insight as we lead our global collaborative mission for doping-free sport. There is no doubt that WADA and the anti-doping system have been strengthened for athletes worldwide by embedding these additional voices into our decision-making structure.”
The ExCo received an update on the implementation of the latest round of wide-ranging governance reforms that were approved by the Board in May 2022. The ExCo heard that the process was almost complete with dozens of reforms having already been implemented and with the remaining few on schedule to be implemented before the end of 2023.
The ExCo approved the appointment of multi-sport Canadian athlete, Kristen Kit, Olympic gold-medalist and Paralympic bronze-medalist in the sport of rowing and also a professional cyclist, as the Athlete Council representative on the Finance and Administration Committee. It also approved the reappointment of Diane Smith-Gander as the independent Chair, and Maja Zalaznik as a Public Authority representative on the Nominations Committee for three-year terms until May 2026. In addition, the ExCo endorsed new or updated terms of reference for the Permanent Special Committees and Standing Committees.
The ExCo received an update on the current status of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which remains non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. This is related to the 2020 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to declare RUSADA non-compliant and implement a number of consequences on Russian sport for a period of two years. RUSADA will remain non-compliant until WADA has been able to verify that it fulfills each of the reinstatement conditions laid out by the CAS.
Meanwhile, the WADA Operation LIMS investigation into the data and samples retrieved by WADA Intelligence and Investigations from the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory in 2019 continues to be successful. As of today, 195 athletes have been sanctioned with an additional 77 charged and 188 cases that remain under investigation.
World Anti-Doping Program
The ExCo endorsed an approach, timetable and drafting teams for a limited review of the World Anti-Doping Program, which is comprised of the World Anti-Doping Code and related International Standards. The process will kick off with stakeholder consultation in September 2023 and culminate in November 2025 with the updated documents being approved by the Board and ExCo, respectively, during WADA’s sixth World Conference on Doping in Sport in Busan, South Korea. The revised documents would enter into force on 1 January 2027.
WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: “While we believe that the current World Anti-Doping Program is working very well, we also believe that there is an opportunity and an appetite for limited improvements. As living, breathing documents, that are owned by the global anti-doping community, it is important that we continually consult and explore ways to strengthen the system together for athletes worldwide. The 2025 World Conference on Doping in Sport in Busan will unite all anti-doping stakeholders to endorse the updated program, for high-level discussion and debate, and to reinforce efforts to protecting clean sport.”
Social Science Research Funding
The ExCo approved the recommendations of WADA’s Education Committee for nine social science research grants totaling USD 495,015 of funding under the 2023 Social Science Research (SSR) Grant Program. The nine projects will cover 13 countries directly – three projects are based in Europe, three in Africa, two in Asia and one in Oceania. 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.
The ExCo agreed to recommend to the Board that it approve the 2022 year-end accounts. Once approved via circulatory vote, they will be published as part of WADA’s 2022 Annual Report.
The ExCo approved a number of changes to the Technical Document for Laboratory Documentation Package (TD2023LDOC), which will enter into effect on 1 September 2023. The update is required to reflect changes in the Athlete Biological Passport program.
The ExCo will meet next on 22 September 2023 in Shanghai, China.