US Olympic, doping chiefs call for major WADA reforms

Los Angeles (AFP) –


US Olympic and doping leaders called for major reforms at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday, seeking greater independence and a greater voice for athletes in the change process.

The open letter calls for greater transparency and accountability to protect the global integrity of the sport doping watchdogs.

"WADA must change and become a strong, independent anti-doping regulator and protector of clean athletes' rights," said a joint statement from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and US Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athletes' Advisory Council.

"All athletes have been promised the opportunity for a fair, safe, and level-playing field and WADA must transform itself immediately to deliver on this agreement."

WADA is consulting with stakeholders about possible changes, but the US groups are pushing athlete engagement and major influence in any reforms.

"The only way WADA can achieve these objectives is to eliminate conflict of interest and truly embrace athlete input," the letter said.

"Many individual athletes and athlete groups have also submitted reform proposals as athletes worldwide rally for change.

"Without athletes, WADA would cease to exist. Incorporating athlete feedback is long overdue, but it's not too late. WADA must act now."

The US groups call for an independent governance structure for WADA with no sport official being allowed to serve on WADA's executive committee, with that body to include "independent athletes and be empowered to discuss change impacting them and their colleagues."

The foundation board should consist of representatives from government, sport, athletes, national anti-doping organizations and independent experts, the letter says.

All executive committee and foundation board decisions must be publicly disclosed, including stakeholder compliance decisions, with votes recorded and made public, the US groups argue, saying WADA cannot be regulated by the sporting movement or governments.

"Athletes must receive independent and fair apportionment around all key WADA decision-making tables," they said, pushing a separation of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of WADA to avoid conflicts of interest.

"Now is a critical time for WADA to respond to its failures by committing to a stronger and more independent WADA that builds credibility with athletes around the world," the letter said.

"Refusal to implement these simple and unprejudiced changes will continue to render WADA inept at fulfilling its purpose and mission for clean athletes and the integrity of sport."