Global Athlete Trust In Anti-Doping Will Take “Wholesale Structural Change” At WADA


Global Athlete Says Trust Only Regained With “Board Representation, Independence & Separation of Powers”

Global Athlete (GA), the representative body for sportsmen and women, has called for “wholesale structural change” at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on the eve of the clean-sport policing organisation’s 5th World Conference on Doping in Sport in Poland.

Global Athlete asserts that athlete trust in the anti-doping system can only be regained if WADA adopts the following principles and structures:

  • An equal say in the WADA Foundation Board for independent athletes (1/3, 1/3, 1/3)
  • A fully independent Executive Board
  • Separation of powers (independent hearing bodies)
  • Embedding the fundamental rights of athletes into the governance of WADA

In a statement in which the frustration of athletes is tangible, Rob Koehler, Global Athlete’s Director General, says on behalf of the GA Start Up Group says:

“WADA has failed to hold accountable those who corrupt sport and has failed to deter those seeking to destroy the global anti-doping structure. Consequently, it has failed to realise or even make significant progress towards its vision of ‘a world where all athletes can compete in a doping-free sporting environment’.”

GA noted specific examples when is added:

“Romania has faced no consequences despite evidence of a doping conspiracy; WADA threw away its leverage in negotiations with Russia by decoupling the Roadmap and prematurely pulling independent oversight of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. Consequently, the negotiations have been one-sided with constant delays and no substance; and WADA’s proposed governance reforms are superficial and lack equal athlete representation.

Anti-Doping is “centred around athletes, and collectively athletes must have an equal voice at the decision-making tables”, GA asserts. “This is the only way to balance athletes’ interests with the interests of sports administrators and national governments (who jointly fund WADA)”.

There are “numerous examples of organisations both inside and outside of sport whose members wield significant power in the decision-making process through a strong independent voice”, says Koelher.

“We are calling on WADA to implement proven solutions to ensure athletes’ views are no longer cast aside, and we stand ready to consult on specific policies and procedures, such as those presented by World Players and Global Athlete member Ali Jawad, in order to balance the power for administrators and athletes.”

He concludes: “With a new WADA President set to take power in January, the time for change is now. We call on President-Elect Banka to implement meaningful reforms for and on behalf of athletes. The status quo is no longer acceptable.”

Witold Bańka, Poland’s Minister of Sport and Tourism and a former 400m runner, is the candidate for the presidency of WADA to replace Sir Craig Reedie. China’s double Olympic gold-medal winning short-track speed skater, Yang Yang, is the Vice-Presidential candidate to replace Linda Helleland of Norway, who was endorsed by athlete and coach groups around the world before Bańka was endorsed for the nomination within WADA.

A week before its lawyers head to Switzerland to present their case against swimmer Sun Yang in a public Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing, WADA’s leadership is gathering in Katowice, Poland, for its fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport,  with Bańka as host.

WADA’s 5th World Conference on Doping in Sport

On the eve of the Conference, WADA’s leadership came to some decisions on the following issues at a half-day meeting:

RUSADA Code Compliance

The ExCo heard an update from the Chair of the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC), Jonathan Taylor, on the compliance procedure currently underway against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). WADA initiated the procedure following identification by the Agency’s Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Department and by independent forensic experts of inconsistencies in the data retrieved by WADA I&I from the Moscow Laboratory in January 2019.

As per WADA’s update of 28 October, the matter is being dealt with robustly and as quickly as practicable. Once the experts conclude their assessment, a report will be sent to the CRC to consider. Should the CRC make a recommendation regarding RUSADA’s compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), it will be sent to the ExCo for decision at a meeting to be held as soon as possible, in line with the process laid out in the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories.

Separately, an initial batch of 47 evidentiary packages, based on data unaffected by the inconsistencies, have been sent to the relevant international federations for them to bring cases forward. Concurrently, WADA I&I continues to build more evidentiary packages.

Social Science Research

The ExCo approved the recommendation of WADA’s Education Committee to fund eight social science research project grants totaling USD 332,841 under the 2020 Social Science Research Grant Program. The details of the newly approved projects will be made available under the Social Science Research section of WADA’s website in due course.

International Standard for Testing and Investigations

The ExCo approved amendments to the International Standard for Testing and Investigations(ISTI), specifically related to the requirement for urine samples to meet a suitable specific gravity for analysis. The minimum volume of urine required for analysis will remain at 90ml but if an athlete can provide 150ml or more of urine, the minimum specific gravity measurement (using a refractometer) will be lowered to 1:003 or above instead of the current 1:005. The minimum 1:005 specific gravity requirement will remain in place for samples with a volume greater than 90ml but less than 150ml.

These changes, which were endorsed by WADA’s Laboratory Expert Group, recognize significant enhancements in the sensitivity of laboratory analytical methods made over the past 20 years and will reduce the amount of time some athletes will have to spend in doping control stations, making the process more athlete-friendly while also presenting a saving in resources for anti-doping organizations.

The revised ISTI will be published shortly and the amendments will take effect on 1 March 2020. This is an exceptional approval, in advance of other changes to the Standard that will come into force on 1 January 2021, meaning these changes can be utilized during the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo and during most of 2020.

Health, Medical and Research

The ExCo approved an application for candidate status from the Laboratorio Clinico Genetix located in Panama City, Panama, to become a laboratory approved for Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) analysis. The laboratory’s application for ABP-approved status will now go forward to the WADA Laboratory Expert Group that will evaluate whether its technical and analytical capabilities justify approval.

In addition, the ExCo gave approval to the following six WADA-accredited laboratories to manage Athlete Passport Management Units (APMUs):

  1. Beijing, China
  2. Doha, Qatar
  3. London, United Kingdom
  4. Montreal, Canada
  5. Rome, Italy
  6. Salt Lake City, USA

The APMU status, which confirms that these laboratories fulfill a number of quality and independence criteria, will allow the laboratories in question to drive essential anti-doping activities in relation to the ABP program. These six laboratories join the ten approved as APMUs by the ExCo at its 23 September meeting in Tokyo.

The main purpose of the Conference:

  • Foundation Board to elect new WADA President and Vice-President
  • Revised World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards set to be approved
  • Conference participants also to celebrate Agency’s 20th anniversary

The conference, which will run for three days from November 5-7, will include more than 1,500 representatives from around the world and coincides with the 20thanniversary of the Agency’s formation. WADA suggests that the 1500 delegates are “from the clean-sports community”, while the history of doping in sport suggests that the “dark side” will surely have someone in the room.

Sports politicians and officials, public authority representatives and anti-doping organisations and experts, as well as official-body athlete representatives, as well as media will discuss the burning questions of the day, says WADA.

The Conference program highlights the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards that were subject of a two-year review process, and which will be presented for discussion by “stakeholders” this week.

On Thursday as the conference wraps up, the Code will be presented for endorsement by WADA’s Foundation Board and the Standards being presented for endorsement by WADA’s Executive Committee.

On the same day, the Board will elect a new President and Vice-President, who will assume their roles on 1 January 2020, the appointments of Bańka and Yang Yang all but assured.

WADAOn the eve of moving on, Sir Craig Reedie gave no indication that the call from Global Athlete is on the WADA radar. Reflecting on his 20 years at the helm of WADA and involvement in Olympic governance: “WADA was formed as a response to a widespread doping crisis and it has been at the forefront of protecting clean sport for two decades. Since the Agency’s formation, we have made huge strides in tackling the scourge of doping in sport and we continue to move forward positively on a range of fronts.

“It has been two decades of progress in the face of complex challenges. Founded in November 1999, WADA quickly collaborated with stakeholders and delivered the first edition of the Code in 2003 during the Second World Conference on Doping in Sport in Copenhagen. This was the first time in history that anti-doping rules were harmonised across sports and countries. International Standards were added in such key areas as the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, Therapeutic Use Exemptions, testing and investigations, accredited laboratories, data protection, and compliance.

Sir Craig did not note that when that standardisation and Code were adopted, swimming’s anti-doping rules took a backward step, maximum penalties of four years falling immediately to half of that. It was only in recent years that a four-year ban for some of the worst offences was reinstated.

“In parallel, WADA worked with the United Nations to help develop the UNESCO Convention Against Doping in Sport that provides public authorities with a legal framework through which they can address specific areas of doping that are outside the domain of the sports movement,” added Sir Craig. ”The Convention was written in record time in 2005 and is now ratified by 188 countries, covering around 99% of the world’s population.

“At the time, WADA committed to ensuring that the Code would be a living document, subject to periodic review. In keeping with that commitment, the Board initiated two other stakeholder review processes that led to the 2009 and 2015 Codes. The purpose of revising the Code and Standards is to leverage WADA’s and stakeholders’ experience garnered through years of practical implementation in order to strengthen the global harmonised fight against doping in sport.”

Athletes have been at the forefront of complaints centred on the feeling that there is no harmonisation of treatment in anti-doping, penalties, leniency and general treatment of varying greatly even when the substance and/or offence in different cases is similar if not almost entirely comparable.

Sir Craig referred to challenges ahead but steered clearly of naming the very obvious cases highlighted by Global Athlete and others. He said: “Next week in Katowice, we gather together as a community to take stock of how far we have come, assess the current landscape and look ahead to shape the future of anti-doping in sport through the approval of the 2021 Code and Standards.

“Over the past 20 years – as a movement that includes athletes, governments, sports, laboratories, anti-doping organisations and others that are interested in clean sport – we have faced many challenges. This did not prevent us from making significant strides. We have come this far together and there is a lot more to do to ensure athletes can compete in a doping-free environment in all sports and all countries. Clearly, there will be more challenges ahead; and so, now more than ever, it is vitally important that we move the right way together for the benefit of athletes worldwide.”

The World Conference: