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WADA deepens athlete representation with establishment of 20-member Athlete Council

WADA will hold elections into the newly established 20-member Athlete Council in August to further enhance athlete representation within the World Anti-Doping Agency.

WADA - Say No To Doping Campaign.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board has unanimously approved a final report from its Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms, which included recommendations to further enhance athlete representation within WADA through establishment of a 20-member Athlete Council to replace its current Athlete Committee of 12 members. 

The new Athlete Council will represent, support and promote the voices of athletes on anti-doping matters; and, will be the avenue for athletes, chosen by athletes, to assume important seats within WADA’s governing bodies.


  • the Council Chair will be appointed to WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo);
  • two members will have seats on WADA’s Board; and
  • the Council will be in charge of appointing athlete representatives to other WADA bodies.

WADA President Witold Bańka said: “By establishing a new and reformed Athlete Council, we are making a significant step forward with respect to direct athlete involvement within the governance of WADA.

“By 2023, the Athlete Council Chair will sit on WADA’s Executive Committee and two Council members will sit on the Foundation Board. This is in line with WADA’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, which commits to ensuring that our activities and priorities are more athlete centered.

“As a former athlete, I fully understand the importance of listening to the views of athletes worldwide and addressing matters that are of most interest to them.” 

WADA Athlete Committee Chair Ben Sandford said: “The new WADA Athlete Council provides a number of key changes from the current WADA Athlete Committee. There will be more members, and members will have more roles within the governance and policy development functions of WADA.

“To make this work, we need athletes to be involved and engaged.  The first important step is ensuring the success of the elections for the Council positions.  If you are an athlete and passionate about improving athlete representation within anti-doping, please contact your International Federation’s Athlete Committee to enquire about having them put you forward for election to the WADA Athlete Council.” 

WADA Athlete Committee Member and member of the Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms, Chelsey Gotell, said: “It has taken a lot of work, consultation and challenging conversations to get us here, but I think we have made some strides in helping bring a stronger and more representative athlete voice into WADA’s governance.

“Although there were many opinions about the direction the composition of the Athlete Council should go, I am pleased that it will gain key voting seats within the Foundation Board and Executive Committee; that it will have a formal election process to ensure the Council is democratically chosen by athletes; and, that there will be confirmed seats for Para Athletes to ensure the Paralympic voice is heard within WADA.  

“These are big wins from a governance and representation perspective. It will now be imperative that the Council is set up and fully supported in order to have success at all levels within WADA.”

Council Composition

The Athlete Council will be composed of athletes’ representatives chosen by athletes and grouped as follows:

  • Group One: Five athletes appointed by the International Olympic Committee’s and International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Commissions;
  • Group Two: Eight athletes elected by the Athlete Commissions of International Federations (IFs); and
  • Group Three: Seven other athletes, to be selected by an appointment panel made up by a majority of athletes, to fill skills and diversity gaps.

Group Two Election

On 18 May 2022, WADA’s ExCo adopted the procedural rules that will govern the election of the eight Group Two athletes put forward by IF Athlete Commissions (the rules governing the appointment procedure for the seven Group Three athletes to be selected by the appointment panel were also approved).

The Group Two rules were drafted in consultation with WADA’s current Athlete Committee and include:

  • eligibility criteria for IF Athlete Commissions and for candidates (Note: each IF Athlete Commission will be allowed to put forward one candidate);
  • role of an election scrutineer;
  • procedural steps for submission of candidatures;
  • voting procedure; and
  • provisions related to potential infringement of the procedure and protection of personal information.

Tomorrow, WADA will write to all the Athlete Commission Chairs of IFs that are Signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code, copying IF Presidents and Secretary Generals, to provide the rules and other information regarding the election process

The following table outlines the applicable timelines that will apply to the Group Two election.

 Steps2022 Calendar
Group TwoIntroductory email sent by WADA to all IF Athlete Commissions31 May
Deadline to submit candidatures15 July
Review of candidatures by the election scrutineer18 to 27 July
Confirmation of the official list of candidates28 July
Election procedure email sent by WADA informing all IF Athlete Commissions of the official list of candidates, voting procedure and dates of the election29 July
Campaigning period1-26 August
Vote29–31 August
Confirmation of elected candidates by the scrutineer1 September

WADA encourages its stakeholders to raise awareness of its new Athlete Council – to promote the opportunity of amplifying the voices of athletes in delivering on the collaborative global movement for doping-free sport.

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