30th March 2021
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council and United States Anti-Doping Agency stand united in collectively calling for meaningful reform at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The reform proposals – submitted separately to WADA by our respective groups – are intended to make it clear that WADA must change and become a strong, independent anti-doping regulator and protector of clean athlete’s rights. All athletes have been promised the opportunity for a fair, safe, and level-playing field and WADA must transform itself immediately to deliver on this agreement.
As WADA has acknowledged the need to reform and now embarks on a governance reform consultation with stakeholders, athletes and NADOs call for more independence, transparency, and accountability at WADA. The only way WADA can achieve these objectives is to eliminate conflict of interest and truly embrace athlete input. As result we are calling for changes in the following areas:
- To restore faith in the global anti-doping system, athletes must be given a true voice in the reform process.
- Ongoing athlete engagement is crucial to evolve a ruleset that has far too often unfairly punished athletes.
- WADA must create a truly independent governance structure free of conflicts of interest.
- Members of the WADA Executive Committee must be assigned on merit and representatives must be completely independent. Accordingly, no sport official should be permitted to serve on the WADA Executive Committee. The Executive Committee must also include independent athletes and be empowered to discuss change impacting them and their colleagues.
- The Foundation Board should consist of balanced representatives from government, sport, NADOs, athletes, and independent experts.
- All Executive Committee and Foundation Board decisions must be publicly disclosed.
- Stakeholder compliance decisions must be made by the independent WADA Executive Committee and done in a public manner with votes recorded and reported.
- WADA cannot be regulated by the sporting movement or any individual government.
- Athletes must receive independent and fair apportionment around all key WADA decision-making tables.
- There must be an embedded separation of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of WADA, and the anti-doping system to ensure an effective and fair justice system where conflicts of interest play no part in decision-making processes.
Now is a critical time for WADA to respond to its failures by committing to a stronger and more independent WADA that builds credibility with athletes around the world. Refusal to implement these simple and unprejudiced changes will continue to render WADA inept at fulfilling its purpose and mission for clean athletes and the integrity of sport.
Many individual athletes and athlete groups have also submitted reform proposals as athletes worldwide rally for change. Without athletes, WADA would cease to exist. Incorporating athlete feedback is long overdue, but it’s not too late. WADA must act now.