|Montreal, 16 May 2019 – Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Foundation Board (Board) held its first meeting of the year in Montreal, Canada. The 38-member Board – which is composed equally of the Sports Movement and Governments of the world – met to discuss progress regarding WADA’s priorities and other important matters concerning the Agency and the future of clean sport. The full-day Board meeting, which was open to the media and observers, included a number of presentations, discussions and decisions.
Yesterday, WADA’s 12-Member Executive Committee (ExCo) met and made several decisions and recommendations, which then came before the Board.
WADA Presidential Nominee
At the start of the meeting, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie congratulated Poland’s Minister of Sport and Tourism and former 400m sprinter Witold Banka who, on Tuesday, was nominated by the Public Authorities as their preferred candidate for the position of WADA President when Sir Craig stands down at the end of 2019. He also thanked Mr. Banka’s opponent in that nomination process, Marcos Diaz, Vice-Minister of Sports of the Dominican Republic, and pointed out the positive and respectful way in which the process was carried out.
By way of response, Mr. Banka thanked the Public Authorities for the confidence shown in him by nominating him as their preferred candidate. He also thanked Mr. Diaz and stated that he looked forward to working hard with him and all stakeholders to strengthen WADA.
The new President will be elected by the Board at the fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport, which will take place in Katowice, Poland, from 5-7 November, and will assume the role for a three-year term from 1 January 2020.
The ExCo approved a detailed timeline for further implementation of wide-ranging governance reforms that were agreed at the November 2018 meeting with work on that progressing well.
In particular, the ExCo approved the appointment of an independent agency to identify and vet members of the inaugural Nominations Committee, which will have a pivotal role in recruiting and vetting candidates to occupy senior governance positions within WADA in the future, such as President, Vice-President, Standing Committee Chairs and members of the ExCo and Board.
Sir Craig said: “Any strong organization will constantly review its governance structures and, last November, the Board approved a raft of far-reaching reforms intended to make WADA stronger and fit for the future. An important element of that is the formation of a Nominations Committee to help ensure that the right people in terms of the requisite level of skills and independence, serve in those key roles within WADA.
“The review of WADA’s governance model has been extensive and has clearly shown WADA’s willingness to adapt. In an ever-changing world, WADA’s role has grown and evolved since its current governance model was first formed. It is right that the structure should develop as well and should continue to be looked at in the future.”
The range of reforms approved in November are part of the beginning of an ongoing process of governance review within WADA.
Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA)
Further to the ExCo’s September 2018 decision to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), both the ExCo and the Board received an update regarding management of the data and samples collected from the former Moscow Laboratory earlier this year.
Since the Board’s November 2018 meeting, separate WADA delegations visited the Moscow Laboratory in Russia and, in January, extracted 24 terabytes of analytical data (equivalent to more than 24 million documents) and, in April, 2,262 samples, which were securely taken to a WADA-accredited laboratory outside of Russia.
The authentication process is still ongoing for some data but has already confirmed that a very high percentage of the data collected in the Moscow Laboratory is authentic and matching with the copy of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) had acquired through a whistleblower in November 2017.
Armed with this material, as well as other evidence, WADA’s Intelligence & Investigations (I&I) has started providing International Federations (IFs) with evidentiary packages, which IFs will assess with the view to taking the cases forward as Anti-Doping Rule Violations. WADA will work in close collaboration with IFs and, in cases where IFs choose not to take action, the Agency will review the facts, discuss with the relevant IF and reserves the right to bring them forward to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Director of Intelligence and Investigations Gunter Younger said: “WADA continues to make real progress on this long-running and complex case. Thanks to the fact that we have been able to access the data and the samples, we are now currently in the process of building strong cases that we will present to International Federations. Indeed, we have already delivered some of those evidentiary packages and more will follow in the coming weeks and months.”
Conduct at WADA Meetings
Yesterday, WADA issued a statement in relation to allegations of improper conduct by two ExCo members at its September 2018 meeting. The findings of the full, independent investigation, carried out by US law firm Covington and Burling LLP, were discussed extensively at the ExCo and presented to the Board by the firm today.
The related report, which is published in full, is available for everyone to read. In addition, the ExCo took the step of releasing the unedited recording of the meeting in question, as well as transcripts. This has been done in the interests of transparency and full disclosure and are the actions of an organization determined to lay bare the facts of the matter. At every stage, WADA has taken this matter extremely seriously.
The investigation found there was no bullying or harassment and the September ExCo meeting will consider the four recommendations made by Covington relating to the Agency’s governance policies, training and protocols and is committed to making improvements as appropriate.
University Chair in Anti-Doping
The Board approved plans to establish a multi-disciplinary Chair on Anti-Doping and Sport at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, in order to respond to a demand for more education and research in this field. The intention is that this initiative will also create further partnerships with other universities in the world.
The Board approved an amendment to Article 7.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code which allows laboratories and results management authorities to close as “no case to answer” matters involving athletes testing positive for clenbuterol when established that it is as the result of ingesting contaminated meat products.
It has been scientifically established that an athlete can test positive for clenbuterol at low levels following ingestion of contaminated meat in a small number of countries where this is an issue.
The issue will be addressed in the forthcoming 2021 Code and International Standard for Results Management. However, until these instruments come into force, this interim solution is required so that valid meat contamination cases are dealt with fairly.
To this end, WADA will circulate details of this decision to all stakeholders in advance of 1 June when this amendment comes into effect.
Hosting agreement with Montréal International
Following the celebration on 15 May marking the extension of WADA’s agreement with Montreal International for the Agency to remain in the city until 2031 at least, Canada’s Minister for Transport, the Honorable Marc Garneau addressed the Board on the importance of WADA’s continued presence in Montreal.
Mr. Garneau pledged the Canadian government’s support for WADA and for clean sport, stating Canada’s full confidence in WADA’s ability to regulate and oversee the global fight to protect clean sport and committing to partnering with WADA in that process.
Sir Craig thanked the Minister for his presence at the meeting and for Canada’s longstanding and ongoing support.
The Board heard a report from Chair of the Athlete Committee Beckie Scott, including an update on the working group set up to look at the global representation of athletes with the view to strengthening the athletes’ voices further on the WADA ExCo and Board. Broader consultation and the development of a new draft will be the next steps.
Fellow Athlete Committee member Ben Sandford updated the Board on the Anti-Doping Charter of Athlete Rights, which will be tabled for endorsement at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in November, as well as the proposal from WADA’s Athlete Committee to create an Athlete Ombudsperson position for anti-doping matters. Discussions on this proposal will continue over the coming months.
The ExCo approved the application for King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to become a candidate laboratory as it seeks to gain WADA approval to carry out blood sample testing as part of the Athlete Biological Passport program.
The ExCo approved the removal of candidate laboratory status from the Anti-Doping Analysis Laboratory of the University of Chile in Santiago, Chile.
The Board received an update on progress with the ongoing review of the Code and the International Standards, which continues as per the agreed process. The intention is for them to be approved at the 2019 World Conference on Doping in Sport and come into force on 1 January 2021.
The Board received an update on the finances of the Agency and approved the accounts for the year-end 2018.
The ExCo will next meet on 23 September in Tokyo, Japan. The ExCo and Board will both hold meetings during the World Conference on Doping in Sport in November in Katowice, Poland.