The head office of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal, Quebec. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Athletes worldwide can heave a sigh of relief with the publication of the final designed version of the Athletes Anti-Doping Rights Act by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The Act, developed by WADA’s Athlete Committee after more than two and half years of work and in consultation with thousands of athletes and stakeholders worldwide, will come into force from January 1, 2021.

The purpose of the Act, which is based on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and its related International Standards, is to ensure that the rights of all athletes worldwide to participate in doping-free sport are clearly set out, accessible while being universally applicable.

The document was approved by WADA’s Executive Committee on November 7, 2019 during the World Conference on Doping held in Sport in Katowice, Poland.

WADA Athlete Committee Chair Ben Sandford was pleased to see all the hard work and dedication coming to fruition. “It is vital that athletes and anti-doping organisations know what rights athletes have, how to access them, and where to go for remedy,” he said.

“We hope that the Act will become a valuable resource for athletes and contribute to making sport cleaner and fairer. We call upon the anti-doping community worldwide to support its implementation and its promise,” Sandford added.

Developed by athletes and for athletes, the Act provides an outline of rights provided by the 2021 Code and International Standards in terms of equality of opportunity, fair testing programs, medical treatment, justice, accountability, education, data protection and more.

It also makes recommendations around athletes’ rights to be part of a system that is free from corruption, that they are appropriately represented in terms of governance and decision-making, and that they have a right to legal aid.

WADA President Witold Banka, who is a former international-level 400m runner and one of the main backers of the Act was equally pleased. “WADA is an athlete-centred organisation and everything that we do is to protect athletes’ right to access Clean Sport,” he said.

“I applaud the Athlete Committee’s efforts in developing the Anti-Doping Rights Act, which helps ensure that athletes are aware of their rights and can exercise them, which is vital to the success of Clean Sport,” he added.