|Montreal, 20 March 2020
Since the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last communicated to Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) on the matter of testing on 6 March, the SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has continued to evolve into an even greater health and societal emergency that requires effective action by everyone around the world to minimize the likelihood of transmission and the impact on society.
WADA is monitoring the situation based on expert information from the World Health Organization and from other reliable sources. Most countries are putting strict measures in place, which include border closures, quarantine/self-isolation, cancellation of flights, social movement restrictions, etc. As a result, many sporting events have been cancelled or postponed. This has forced WADA and its stakeholders to adjust daily operations by instituting teleworking; and, in the case of many ADOs, suspending or reducing doping control programs (including testing and other activities).
Following the advice of government and health authorities
Throughout, the Agency has been urging all ADOs to follow the advice of government and health authorities to ensure proper protection of athletes and doping control personnel, while protecting the integrity of doping control programs, particularly in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
This remains the aim, and WADA’s vision of a world where all athletes can compete in a doping-free sporting environment remains the same. However, we all agree that the protection of public health must take precedence; and so, we must put stronger measures in place as a global anti-doping community.
In keeping with governmental measures that have been, and are being, put in place around the world, WADA has evaluated the global anti-doping program in collaboration with ADOs, including National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs), International Federations (IFs), Major Event Organizations (MEOs); and, other organizations such as the International Testing Agency (ITA) –— which is leading the pre-Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Task Force on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) –— as well as laboratories to determine how we, as a community, can best operate in this challenging environment.
Prioritizing health and safety for all
We are grateful to ADOs that have outlined how they are being impacted and what measures they are putting in place. Given the differences specific to each country, it is difficult to establish one overarching set of recommendations or guidelines. However, based on information and experience to date, WADA is recommending that ADOs consider the following ‘Guidance’ regarding key elements of the World Anti-Doping Program.
It is important to remember that, first and foremost, ADOs should follow the recommendations (or requirements) of their national government and health authorities related to all activities. If this information is not available, then ADOs may want to approach their government authorities to seek their guidance. While ADOs may be adjusting their operations given COVID-19, athletes continue to remain subject to all provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code and must comply accordingly.
Our overarching priority remains the same –— to ensure the health and safety of athletes and all those that are touched by our community’s operations. In order to do this and protect the integrity of the global anti-doping system, we must endeavor to take a coherent approach across the system, which demonstrates solidarity among the community; and, aims to give athletes confidence that they remain at the core of our mission.
Accordingly, WADA encourages open and continuous dialogue amongst all its stakeholders so that we can continue to monitor and adjust. Should you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your respective WADA contact in Montreal or in one of the Agency’s regional offices. The Agency commits to support and communicate as required as we in the Clean Sport community navigate these difficult times together.
Best regards and stay healthy,
World Anti-Doping Agency