John Treacy Anti-Doping

Sport Ireland outlines need for significant reform of WADA

25 Mar 2021
David Gash

As Friday’s closing date for the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Governance Review Consultation approaches, Sport Ireland - along with other National Anti-Doping Agencies - remains hopeful that the process leads to serious structural reform within the global regulator.

Sport Ireland Chief Executive John Treacy said: “Sport Ireland, together with a number of our international colleagues, has been consistent in its public representations that urgent and robust reforms are necessary in order to strengthen the governance of WADA as the regulator of anti-doping. It is crucial that WADA’s Executive Committee is both independent and expert-led. The impact of this is two-fold. Firstly, it will remove any conflict of interest that currently exists; as it stands, major sport event organisers still have a disproportionately large hold on the governance of the organisation. Secondly, it will ensure that expert and experienced voices are around the table making the best decisions possible. This move is necessary to bring the organisation into the modern-era of corporate governance.”

Mr Treacy was speaking following a virtual meeting of National Anti-Doping Organisations where there was clear consensus that the principles of the Copenhagen Declaration remain true to this day.

Sport Ireland Director of Participation and Ethics Dr Una May added: “As a group of National Anti-Doping Organisations, we have met many times over recent years to discuss the challenges surrounding tackling doping in sport and to see how we can use our expertise to support WADA in the genuine reform of the flawed governance and oversight model. Since 2016, we have been consistent in our representations on behalf of clean athletes so that they can have a voice at the table, and in our calls for an absolute removal of conflicts of interest in WADA’s governance. We are hopeful that this consultation will bear fruit and that we will see a stronger global regulator as a result. As always, we remain available to provide assistance to WADA wherever we can to ensure that this happens.”

Full Statement of National Anti-Doping Organisations:

With interest in the activities of the Governance Review Working Group of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and a desire to see continued reform, National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) leaders recently gathered for a virtual meeting.

Since releasing the Copenhagen Declaration back in August 2016, NADO Leaders have monitored WADA’s governance reform processes with great interest. NADO Leaders have contributed constructive proposals based on principles of independence, involvement of key stakeholders – especially athletes – transparency and eliminating conflicts of interest.

The current Governance Review Working Group has released a survey due 26 March 2021, to collect stakeholder input. All stakeholders, including the NADO community and athletes, are encouraged to use it to submit their experience and opinions. The survey can be found here.

The need for a stricter division of roles and responsibilities between WADA’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board as well as a truly independent Executive Committee is paramount for the credibility of WADA’s decisions in individual cases, e.g. regarding compliance. At the same time, the importance of independent athletes and NADOs inclusion in WADA's regulative bodies (such as the Foundation Board) cannot be overstated. Athletes are the heart and soul of sport and need a meaningful voice in its operation. NADOs conduct the majority of all anti-doping activities worldwide, yet, they have no seat on WADA’s Foundation Board. A fair and representative balance of all stakeholders must be ensured on the Foundation Board and WADA committees.

The NADO Leaders took note that unlike the previous working group on this subject, direct NADO participation is excluded from this important governance review working group. At the same time, the NADO Leaders expressed hope, that the exclusion of NADOs in the process – as key stakeholders with in-depth knowledge of the deficiencies in the current Governance structures – should not be read as a lack of will for much needed governance reforms.

The statement is supported by the NADOs from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, USA.