WADA asserts non-compliance on four Anti-Doping Organizations© WADA

This week, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Executive Committee (ExCo) and Foundation Board (Board) met in Montreal, Canada, on 16 and 17 November 2023, respectively. The ExCo followed the recommendations from the CRC to allege three National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) and one Major Event Organization (MEO) as non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) and added two other NADOs to the ‘watchlist’. The three NADOs that the ExCo decided to allege as non-compliant with the Code are: Venezuela, Nigeria and Tunisia.

The Venezuelan NADO has not addressed a number of critical requirements to its anti-doping program following the Code Compliance Questionnaire exercise, while the Nigerian NADO has still not addressed several critical requirements following an audit carried out by WADA in late 2022. The Tunisian NADO has an outstanding critical corrective action relating to its national legal system not being in line with the 2021 Code.

The ExCo also alleged as non-compliant with the Code an MEO, namely the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), for failure to implement a previous decision by the ExCo. As a consequence of the decision to allege the NADO of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as non-compliant in October 2021, the DPRK flag could not be flown at major events, including the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. 

All MEOs, including the OCA, were informed of the decision and of their obligations to implement this consequence at their events. It became clear during the Asian Games that the OCA did not take steps to comply with the terms of the DPRK’s non-compliance and that the DPRK flag was repeatedly flown during the entire event, including at opening, closing and medal ceremonies and within competition and non-competition venues. Despite repeated reminders from WADA before and during the Games, the OCA refused to comply.

Under Article 9.3.1 of the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS), all these Signatories have 21 days following the date of receipt of the formal notice of non-compliance to dispute WADA’s assertion of non-compliance, as well as the proposed consequences and/or the reinstatement conditions proposed by the Agency. For all Signatories above, it should be noted that the decision (including the consequences) will enter into force on 8 December 2023, unless the decision is challenged by the same date.

The ExCo also followed the recommendation of the CRC to place the NADOs of Bahamas and Cambodia on the ‘watchlist’, giving them an additional four months to correct outstanding non-conformities. A recent review of the countries’ legal framework revealed that they were not in line with the 2021 version of the Code. Since this was identified, the NADOs in question and the relevant public authorities have finalized draft amendments in line with the 2021 Code and have provided a timeline for adoption of the required amendments within four months (by 16 March 2024) therefore meeting the criteria of the ‘watchlist’ as stated in Article 8.4.5 of the ISCCS. By being placed on the ‘watchlist’, if either NADO fails to correct its outstanding non-conformity within the timeline, as per Article 8.4.5 of the ISCCS, WADA shall automatically send the NADO a formal notice asserting non-compliance and proposing consequences and reinstatement conditions.

WADA President, Witold Bańka, said: “WADA always supports Signatories and helps them when they have non-conformities in an effort to avoid this situation. However, the harmonization of the anti-doping system is absolutely crucial – we agree with athletes when they tell us that all Signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code must be held to the same high standards as they are. Signatories must abide by the rules and decisions – otherwise, we cannot provide a level playing field for athletes. We continue to monitor all Signatories’ compliance with the Code to ensure the system remains strong and consistent around the world.”

The ExCo and Board received an update in relation to the December 2020 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the assertion of non-compliance with the Code on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), for a period of two years. WADA is monitoring the progress being made by RUSADA as it seeks to satisfy the conditions of reinstatement as laid out by the CAS decision. In the meantime, RUSADA remains non-compliant with the Code.

Separately, a fresh critical non-conformity was identified related to inconsistencies between the federal Russian sports legislation and the Code. At its meeting on 22 September 2023, the ExCo accepted the CRC’s recommendation to impose on RUSADA new consequences and reinstatement conditions. On that date, WADA sent RUSADA a formal notice specifying the relevant consequences and reinstatement conditions. RUSADA subsequently disputed WADA’s allegation of non-compliance, as well as the consequences and reinstatement conditions. Accordingly, WADA has recently filed a formal notice of dispute with CAS.

Finally, The Board was updated on WADA's extensive preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Board also heard from Chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA), Dr. Valerie Fourneyron, who briefed members on the ITA’s activities, including as it relates to Paris 2024.