WADA board approves sanctioning powers on Anti-Doping Organisations

Sir Craig Reedie, President of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

Sir Craig Reedie, President of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

The World Anti-Doping Agency's Foundation Board in its Glasgow meeting this weekend gave the agency new powers to sanction other anti-doping organisations (ADOs) for failing to comply with the WADA code. The board also re-elected Sir Craig Reedie to three more years as President of the agency. Norwegian Minister for Sport Linda Hofstand Helleland was named as Vice President following the death of Rev. Dr. Makhenkesi Stofile in August.

The Foundation Board approved 'graded' sanctioning for non-compliance by ADOs, a move deemed necessary following the Russian doping scandal where the country's own ADO helped to cover up doping positives.

Last week, the president of the Association of National Olympic Committees objected to WADA obtaining such powers in the organisation's annual meeting.

"WADA is pleased with this evolution, which was supported by athletes, sport and government," said Reedie. "This framework will, not only cement the Agency's role as the international regulator of clean sport, it will also be a game changer for the global anti-doping movement. The new framework, which will include development of an appropriate legal instrument, will involve considerable consultation with stakeholders in the coming months prior to its implementation."

WADA Athlete Chair Beckie Scott supported the addition of the new powers. "If we all agree that WADA should be independent and empowered as the regulator of doping in sport, then how could we not agree to equip WADA with the tools it needs to do its job fully," Scott said. "On behalf of athletes, I feel confident in saying that we are pleased that this decision has been made today in the interest of clean sport."

Indeed, WADA quickly took the opportunity to declare three signatories non-compliant with the Code. The National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) from Azerbaijan and Brazil "were deemed not to have 2015 Code compliant legal framework in place", and Indonesia's NADO was declared non-compliant for using non-compliant laboratories.

The board also approved the Whistleblower Program, to take effect in early 2017, so as to "formalize the process for protecting and offering assurance of confidentiality to whistleblowers".

Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, who blew the lid off the whole state-sponsored doping scandal, was barred from competing in the Rio Olympic Games, despite a recommendation from WADA and the International Association of Athletics Federation to allow her to run as an independent.

WADA hopes the program will "encourage athletes, administrators and others, from across all sports and all countries, to raise concerns in good faith and on reasonable grounds of suspected doping" and aims to incentivize athletes to come forward with information with a promise to "support, protect, and reward them as appropriate along the way".

"By approving the Agency's Whistleblower Program, enhancing WADA's investigative capacity and endorsing other measures, the Foundation Board today clearly called for the Agency to lead the way forward for the global anti-doping program," said WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli. "We believe that this is a significant step in securing athlete confidence and trust that the system is fit for the future and able to protect their interests," said Niggli.

WADA also confirmed additional security measures to keep athlete data in the ADAMS system safe following the cyber-attack by Russian hacking group 'Fancy Bears'.

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