Olivier Niggli has officially taken over as director general of WADA ©WADA

Olivier Niggli has officially taken over as director general at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), succeeding David Howman, who had held the position since 2003. 

Niggli first joined WADA as legal director in 2002 to which he added the title of finance director in 2004. 

In 2011, the Swiss returned to Carrard & Associés in Lausanne as partner, where his practice focused on sport, arbitration and commercial law. 

In 2014, Olivier returned to WADA as dhief operating officer and, among other contributions, was instrumental with the implementation of the new World Anti-Doping Code and development of WADA's  compliance programme. 

It was announced in November 2015 that Niggli  would succeed Howman, the New Zealander, who is retiring. 

Assuming his new role at a time of heightened interest in the anti-doping movement, Niggli sees great opportunity to shape the future for clean sport.  

"Our ability to protect the world’s clean athletes grows stronger and stronger, thanks to an ever-expanding network of global partners that are increasingly united in the pursuit to catch dopers,” said Niggli. 

Olivier Niggli, left, will work closely with WADA President Sir Craig Reedie, right, in his new role ©Getty Images
Olivier Niggli, left, will work closely with WADA President Sir Craig Reedie, right, in his new role ©Getty Images

Niggli will face an immediate test, however.

Russia are currently facing the prospect of being banned from next month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro following claims from Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, that up to 15 Russian medal winners  at Sochi 2014 were implicated in a clandestine operation in which doping samples were switched for clean ones.

A WADA Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, is currently investigating the claims.

The results of the report are due to be revealed no later than July 15.

 In addition to WADA's  core activities that include compliance and monitoring, scientific research and education, Niggli highlighted a few of WADA’s key priorities as it looks  beyond Rio 2016.

"As I begin my mandate as director general, WADA will focus ever more on key priorities, which include:  maximizing our independent compliance programme that is already proving effective; ensuring quality practice by ADOs (anti-doping organisations); bolstering our investigative work; and, implementing a new whistleblower programme by the next Foundation Board meeting in November," Niggli said.

"At a time when numerous questions are being asked of the anti-doping community, it is important to note that WADA will be holding a special multi-stakeholder Think Tank in September to address a whole range of matters, including how the anti-doping community can become more robust in light of recent corruption and governance issues."