World Anti-Doping Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA; French: Agence mondiale antidopage, AMA) is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee based in Canada to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. The agency's key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport. The aims of the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention and the United States Anti-Doping Agency are also closely aligned with those of WADA.

World Anti-Doping Agency
Agence mondial antidopage
Formation10 November 1999 (1999-11-10)
PurposeAnti-doping in sport
HeadquartersMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Coordinates45°30′03″N 73°33′43″W
Region served
Official languages
English, French
Key people
Sir Craig Reedie, President
AffiliationsInternational Olympic Committee


The World Anti-Doping Agency is a foundation created through a collective initiative led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It was set up on 10 November 1999 in Lausanne, Switzerland, as a result of what was called the "Declaration of Lausanne",[1] to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. Since 2002, the organization's headquarters have been located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Lausanne office became the regional office for Europe. Other regional offices have been established in Africa, Asia/Oceania and Latin America. WADA is responsible for the World Anti-Doping Code, adopted by more than 600 sports organizations, including international sports federations, national anti-doping organizations, the IOC, and the International Paralympic Committee. As of 2014, its president is Sir Craig Reedie.[2]

Initially funded by the International Olympic Committee,[3] WADA receives half of its budgetary requirements from them, with the other half coming from various national governments. Its governing bodies are also composed in equal parts by representatives from the sporting movement (including athletes) and governments of the world. The agency's key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code.


The highest decision-making authority in WADA is the 38-member foundation board, which is comprised equally of IOC representatives and representatives of national governments.[4] The Foundation Board appoints the agency's president.[5] Most day-to-day management is delegated to a 12-member executive committee, membership of which is also split equally between the IOC and governments.[4] There also exist several sub-committees with narrower remits, including a Finance and Administration Committee[6] and an Athlete Committee peopled by athletes.[7]

WADA is an international organisation. It delegates work in individual countries to Regional and National Anti-Doping Organizations (RADOs and NADOs) and mandates that these organisations are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.[8][9] WADA also accredits around 30 laboratories to perform the required scientific analysis for doping control.[10]

The statutes of WADA and the World Anti-Doping Code mandate the Court of Arbitration for Sport's ultimate jurisdiction in deciding doping-related cases.[11]

Executive Committee

PresidentCraig Reedie United Kingdom
Vice-PresidentLinda Cathrine Hofstad Helleland Norway
MembersJiří Kejval Czech Republic
Danka Barteková Slovakia
Uğur Erdener Turkey
Francesco Ricci Bitti Italy
Amira El Fadil Sudan
Witold Bańka Poland
Marcos Díaz Dominican Republic
Toshiei Mizuochi Japan
Grant Robertson New Zealand

World Anti-Doping Code

The Code is a document aiming to harmonize anti-doping regulations in all sports and countries. It embodies an annual list of prohibited substances and methods that sportspersons are not allowed to take or use.

In 2004, the World Anti-Doping Code was implemented by sports organizations prior to the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. In November 2007, more than 600 sports organizations (international sports federations, national anti-doping organizations, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, and a number of professional leagues in various countries of the world) unanimously adopted a revised Code at the Third World Conference on Doping in Sport, to take effect on 1 January 2009.[12]

In 2013, further amendments to the Code were approved, doubling the sanction for a first offence where intentional doping is established, but allowing for more lenient sanctions for inadvertent rule violations or for athletes co-operating with anti-doping agencies. The updated code came into effect on 1 January 2015.[13][14]

Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention

The Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg was opened for signature on 16 December 1989 as the first multilateral legal standard in this field. It has been signed by 48 states including the Council of Europe and non-member states Australia, Belarus, Canada and Tunisia. The Convention is open for signature by other non-European states. It does not claim to create a universal model of anti-doping, but sets a certain number of common standards and regulations requiring parties to adopt legislative, financial, technical, educational and other measures. In this sense the Convention strives for the same general aims as WADA, without being directly linked to it.

The main objective of the Convention is to promote the national and international harmonization of the measures to be taken against doping. Furthermore, the Convention describes the mission of the monitoring group set up in order to monitor its implementation and periodically re-examine the list of prohibited substances and methods which can be found in an annex to the main text. An additional protocol to the Convention entered into force on 1 April 2004 with the aim of ensuring the mutual recognition of anti-doping controls and of reinforcing the implementation of the Convention using a binding control system.

UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport

Given that many governments cannot be legally bound by a non-governmental document such as the World Anti-Doping Code, they are implementing it by individually ratifying the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, the first global international treaty against doping in sport, which was unanimously adopted by 191 governments at the UNESCO General Conference in October 2005 and came into force in February 2007. As of June 2013, 174 states had ratified the Convention, setting a UNESCO record in terms of speed.

The UNESCO Convention is a practical and legally binding tool enabling governments to align domestic policy with the World Anti-Doping Code, thus harmonizing the rules governing anti-doping in sport. It formalizes governments' commitment to the fight against doping in sport, including by facilitating doping controls and supporting national testing programs; encouraging the establishment of "best practice" in the labelling, marketing, and distribution of products that might contain prohibited substances; withholding financial support from those who engage in or support doping; taking measures against manufacturing and trafficking; encouraging the establishment of codes of conduct for professions relating to sport and anti-doping; and funding education and research.


Statistical validity of tests

Professor Donald A. Berry has argued that the closed systems used by anti-doping agencies do not allow statistical validation of the tests.[15] This argument was seconded by an accompanying editorial in the journal Nature (7 August 2008).[16] The anti-doping community and scientists familiar with anti-doping work rejected these arguments. On 30 October 2008, Nature (Vol 455) published a letter to the editor from WADA countering Berry's article.[17] However, there has been at least one case where the development of statistical decision limit used by WADA in HGH use testing was found invalid by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.[18]

WADA vs. Sun Yang & FINA

WADA was heavily criticized for not following its own anti-doping and sample collection protocol by Sun Yang, the Chinese media, and some western media outlets.[19] FINA's Doping Panel's decision was that if WADA wants to hold an athlete strictly liable for any violations, it needs to hold itself to the same strict standards.[20]

This case was discussed in the FINA Doping Panel’s decision, a 59-page document that was leaked to an Australian newspaper,[20] and was discussed again during the Court of Arbitration for Sport's public hearing in Montreux, Switzerland on November 15, 2019.[21] This case was also widely reported in China, and some of the details were reported in Australia or elsewhere.

On September 4, 2018, a three-member doping control team arrived at Sun Yang’s home in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province in China. Sun Yang initially consented to blood sample provision, and blood was successfully drawn by a nurse. However, being suspicious of the chaperon taking photos of him, Sun questioned the chaperon’s credentials, who only showed a national ID card. Thus, the urine sample collection did not take place. Later, it was found that the nurse did not possess a practice license that would allow her to legally draw blood in Hangzhou. The standoff continued till 3 a.m. and ended with the vials of blood being taken out of damaged glass doping-control bottles.

FINA’s independent anti-doping panel ruled in Sun’s favor in January 2019 and deemed the notification process incomplete, based on the panel’s interpretation of the International Standards for Testing and Investigations. However, WADA was reported being furiously angry and appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in March 2019. After two podium protests in Gwangju in July 2019 and much criticism from other swimmers, Sun evoked his right to make the hearing public, which could not be legally objected to by WADA. The public hearing was eventually held on November 15, 2019 in Montreux, Switzerland.

Further, FINA's decision was based on two additional factors: the nurse's qualification to draw blood in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, and compelling justification to suspend the urine sample collection due to the chaperone secretly filming the athlete. These two issues have been widely reported in the Chinese media: The nurse's practice license only allowed her to practice in Shanghai. Thus, blood collection activities in localities other than Shanghai were illegal. It was also reported and seemed to be evidenced by the CCTV video footage that the chaperone was filming Sun Yang. It was also widely reported in China and elsewhere that the chaperone was a construction worker who had not been trained for doping control by anyone.[22][23] He was not asked by the Court of Arbitration for Sports or WADA to testify despite his intention to do so.[24]

The more contested issue was whether the notification process to the athlete or documentation from the sample collection personnel was adequate.[25] WADA’s interpretation of its own standards stated that the sample collection assistant did not need to show a business ID or a personalized authorization letter. Such practice has not been challenged in thousands of sample collection acts previously. Stuart Kemp stated that it would be onerous to provide more documents than what was already provided. Further, guidelines regarding "proper identification" are just guidelines and need not to be followed.

Sun Yang's and FINA's legal counsels stated that Kemp's interpretation only represented one person's opinion and that the anti-doping code should be interpreted under Swiss law and that guidelines are not meaningless. The argument between the two sides indicated the incomplete and ambiguous nature of the language in section 5.3.3 regarding WADA's notification process in the International Standards for Testing and Investigations.

WADA's legal counsels were also criticized over the social media regarding them taking advantage of the Chinese witnesses.[26][27] The strategy that Rich Young and Brent Rychener had was to keep asking questions till the witnesses got confused and slipped. For example, Prof. Pei, as a witness for Sun Yang, clearly stated that a nurse practitioner could only practice where she was registered. Thus, based on ISTI and Chinese laws, the nurse was not qualified to draw blood in Hangzhou. WADA's counsel Rychener kept pressing Prof. Pei about the possibility of criminal violations as a result of not showing a certificate etc. It seems that Rychener just tried to make Prof. Pei confused and put words in his mouth.

Western media in general did not speculate on the outcome of this case and instead focused on the logistic issues (i.e., simultaneous interpretation) during the hearing.[28] Only a few athletes spoke out against Sun Yang after November 15, 2019, including Adam Peaty, Sarah Sjostrom, Cate Campbell, and Chad le Clos. All these athletes had some sort of previous run-in with Sun Yang.[29][30][31][32]

Darren Kane cited a previous Court of Arbitration for Sport's case that to hold athlete strictly liable for any anti-doping violations, law-makers and law-appliers should be strictly held liable for their own code and protocols.[33] Kane also stated that this case should not be judged based on Sun Yang's personality. Instead, it should be judged based on the principle of fairness.

Whereabouts rule

The anti-doping code revised the whereabouts system in place since 2004, under which, as of 2014, athletes are required to select one hour per day, seven days a week to be available for no-notice drugs tests.[34]

This was unsuccessfully challenged at law in 2009 by Sporta, the Belgian sports union, arguing that the system violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;[35] and by FIFPro, the international umbrella group of football players' unions, basing its case on data protection and employment law.[35]

A significant number of sports organizations, governments, athletes, and other individuals and organizations have expressed support for the "whereabouts" requirements. The International Association of Athletics Federations[36] and UK Sport[37] are two of the most vocal supporters of this rule. Both FIFA and UEFA have criticized the system, citing privacy concerns,[38] as has the BCCI.[39]

WADA has published a Q&A explaining the rationale for the change.[40]

National Football League

It was revealed in May 2011 that the American National Football League (NFL), which had previously resisted more stringent drug testing, may allow WADA to conduct its drug tests instead of doing it in-house. This could lead the way to testing for HGH, which had previously been without testing in professional American football.[41] However, as of September 2013, cooperation was stalemated because "blood-testing for human growth hormone in the NFL had been delayed by the NFL's players union, who had tried 'every possible way to avoid testing'".[42]

Database leaks

In August 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency reported the receipt of phishing emails sent to users of its database claiming to be official WADA communications requesting their login details. After reviewing the two domains provided by WADA, it was found that the websites' registration and hosting information were consistent with the Russian hacking group Fancy Bear.[43][44] According to WADA, some of the data the hackers released had been forged.[45]

Due to evidence of widespread doping by Russian athletes, WADA recommended that Russian athletes be barred from participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics. Analysts said they believed the hack was in part an act of retaliation against whistleblowing Russian athlete Yuliya Stepanova, whose personal information was released in the breach.[46] In August 2016, WADA revealed that their systems had been breached, explaining that hackers from Fancy Bear had used an International Olympic Committee (IOC)-created account to gain access to their Anti-doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database.[47] The hackers then used the website to leak what they said were the Olympic drug testing files of several athletes who had received therapeutic use exemptions, including gymnast Simone Biles, tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and basketball player Elena Delle Donne.[48] The hackers honed in on athletes who had been granted exemptions by WADA for various reasons. Subsequent leaks included athletes from many other countries.[47]


McLaren Report

In 2016, Professor Richard McLaren, an independent investigator working on behalf of WADA published a second part of his report (first part was published in July 2016) showing that more than 1,000 Russians athletes in over 30 sports were involved in or benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015.[49][50][51][52] As a result of the report, many Russian athletes were barred from participating in the 2018 winter Olympics.[53] Despite widely accepted evidence, in 2018 WADA lifted its ban on Russian athletes.[54] The reinstatement was strongly criticized by, among others, Russian whistle blower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov,[55] and his lawyer, James Walden.[56]

List of presidents

See also

Notes and references

  1. Staff (4 February 1999). "Lausanne Declaration on Doping in Sport".,.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  2. Executive Committee Archived 13 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine at WADA official website, June 2014
  3. Hunt, Thomas M. (15 January 2011). Drug Games: The International Olympic Committee and the Politics of Doping, 1960–2008. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292739574.
  4. "Governance". WADA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  5. "Briton Sir Craig Reedie elected World Anti-Doping Agency President". UK Anti-Doping. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  6. "Finance and Administration Committee". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  7. "Athlete Committee". WADA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  8. "National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADO)". World Anti-Doping Agency. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  9. "Regional Anti-Doping Organizations (RADO)". World Anti-Doping Agency.
  10. "Accredited and approved laboratories". WADA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. World Anti-Doping Agency: 2009 World Anti-Doping Code Archived 24 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Zorea, Aharon (2014). Steroids (Health and Medical Issues Today). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 77–83. ISBN 978-1440802997.
  13. "Drugs in sport: Wada doubles doping ban in new code". BBC Sport. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  14. 2015 World Anti-Doping Code - Final Draft Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine WADA. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  15. Berry DA (August 2008). "The science of doping". Nature. 454 (7205): 692–3. Bibcode:2008Natur.454..692B. doi:10.1038/454692a. PMID 18685682. Full access is restricted to subscribers
  16. "A level playing field?". Nature. 454 (7205): 667. August 2008. Bibcode:2008Natur.454Q.667.. doi:10.1038/454667a. PMID 18685647.
  17. Ljungqvist, Arne; Horta, Luis; Wadler, Gary (2008). "Doping: World agency sets standards to promote fair play". Nature. 455 (7217): 1176. Bibcode:2008Natur.455.1176L. doi:10.1038/4551176a. PMID 18971999.
  18. "Arbitration CAS 2011/A/2566. Andrus Veerpalu v. International Ski Federation (ISF)" (PDF). Bulletin TAS - CAS Bulletin. Court of Arbitration for Sport. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  19. "The Sun Yang Case, Explained - Xinhua |".
  20. "Australia's Sunday Telegraph Publishes Sun Yang FINA Doping Panel Report In Full, English - & Mandarin". 13 July 2019.
  21. Group, Dorier (14 November 2019). "CAS 2019/A/6148 - Part 1" via Vimeo.
  22. Xiang, Bo. "Sun Yang recalls bizarre doping test".
  23. Australian Associated Press. "'I'm a builder': Sun Yang drug tester an unqualified ring-in, swimming appeal told".
  24. huaxia. "Key witness in Sun Yang case says he ready to give testimony but being ignored". xinhuanet.
  25. Group, Dorier (14 November 2019). "CAS 2019/A/6148 - Part 1" via Vimeo.
  26. "Xiao Wang".
  27. Holmes, Tracey (15 November 2019). "Now putting words into Professor Pei's mouth. He resists".
  28. Panja, Tariq. "A Star Swimmer's Doping Hearing Gets Lost in Translation". New York Times.
  29. "Swimming: Sun Yang's stance on anti-doping testers doesn't wash for Peaty". 22 November 2019 via
  30. "Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps".
  31. Lutton, Phil (6 April 2019). "Furious Campbell wants testing overhaul after Sun Yang doping scandal". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  32. Craig Lord (25 November 2019). "Chad le Clos and Sarah Sjostrom Call For Lifetime Bans & FINA Ceremonies For Those Cheated Out Of Medals". Swimming World News.
  33. Kane, Darren (22 November 2019). "Fairness at core of Sun Yang case despite headline hysteria". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  34. "Athletes air issues over testing". BBC News. 16 February 2009.
  35. Slater, Matt (22 January 2009). "Legal threat to anti-doping code". BBC News.
  36. "IAAF: IAAF opinion on "new" whereabouts requirements- News -".
  37. Whereabouts at UK Anti-Doping, 2014
  38. "".
  39. "BCCI opposes doping clause". The Hindu. 3 August 2009. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009.
  40. "What we do".
  41. WADA to test NFL Archived 15 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  42. Ingle, Sean "NFL faces battle with Wada over transparency of drug-testing" The Guardian, 28 September 2013
  43. Hyacinth Mascarenhas (23 August 2016). "Russian hackers 'Fancy Bear' likely breached Olympic drug-testing agency and DNC, experts say". International Business Times. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  44. "What we know about Fancy Bears hack team". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  45. Gallagher, Sean (6 October 2016). "Researchers find fake data in Olympic anti-doping, Guccifer 2.0 Clinton dumps". Ars Technica. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  46. Thielman, Sam (22 August 2016). "Same Russian hackers likely breached Olympic drug-testing agency and DNC". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  47. Meyer, Josh (14 September 2016). "Russian hackers post alleged medical files of Simone Biles, Serena Williams". NBC News.
  48. "American Athletes Caught Doping". 13 September 2016. Archived from the original on 24 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  49. "McLaren Independent Investigation Report - Part I". World Anti-Doping Agency.
  50. "McLaren Independent Investigation Report - Part II". World Anti-Doping Agency.
  51. Russian state doped more than 1,000 athletes and corrupted London 2012 9 December 2016
  52. "Report Shows Vast Reach of Russian Doping: 1,000 Athletes, 30 Sports". Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  53. "Russia Is Barred From Winter Olympics. Russia Is Sending 169 Athletes to Winter Olympics". Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  54. Pells, Eddie. "Despite protests, Russia's anti-doping agency reinstated". Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  55. "Whistleblower warns WADA of 'catastrophe' if Russia ban eased". France 24. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  56. Ingle, Sean (20 September 2018). "Wada lifts Russia's three-year doping suspension and faces its biggest crisis". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  57. "Britain's Craig Reedie elected president of World Anti-Doping Agency, takes over Jan. 1". Times Colonist. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
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