An Open Letter to Athletes and Athlete Groups

Braden Collum Photo

19 September 2019:

Dear Athletes,

It has been six months since Global Athlete’s first update and much has happened in our first half year.

With the WADA Executive Committee meeting taking place in Tokyo (23rd September), and the 5th World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice, Poland just around the corner (3-7 November), we have decided to focus this update on anti-doping. Our next update will focus on the current issues in sport and athlete rights.
Here are some current issues happening in the anti-doping world.

Some Good News:

  • Incoming WADA President, Minister Witold Banka hosted an athlete meeting in Poland on 5th September 2019 bringing together athlete representatives from the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Association of National Olympic Committees, European Athletes, World Anti-Doping Agency and Global Athlete. This was the first time that a President of WADA has convened a meeting directly with Athletes; a positive step in the right direction. Minister Banka has agreed to hold another meeting in November 2019. Outcomes can be found on the Global Athlete Website.

  • Russia – LIMS Data: The World Anti-Doping Agency has handed over a series of LIMS Data cases to a number of International Federations. To date the IAAF, IBU and IWF have acted on the information they have received.

We encourage Athletes to ensure your International Federations are moving cases forward. We encourage WADA to do the following:

Be open and transparent on the number of cases by sport provided to each International Federation.

Provide a public update on cases that have been closed and/or cases where athletes have received a sanction.

Make available a running list of this information on the WADA Website.

  • Anti-Doping Charter of Athletes Rights: The WADA Athlete Committee is in the final process of developing the Charter. The goal is to have the Charter ratified at the World Conference in Katowice, Poland in November 2019.

We encourage Athletes to continue to provide comments to the Charter.

  • Global Athlete Meeting in Katowice Poland: Global Athlete has been informed by WADA that stakeholders are being encouraged to have athletes attend the World Conference. Global Athlete is planning a meeting during that time. Should you have an interest in attending please send an email More details to come.

Enhancing the fight against doping in sport:

  • Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act: The Rodchenkov act is a legislative act being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This act will ensure that those who facilitate doping are brought to justice. The Act does not criminalize doping for athletes. However, it does provide for restitution to athletes and others who may have been defrauded by those individuals who are found to be doping and using performance-enhancing drugs. More information can be found on the Global Athlete Website.

We encourage Athletes to continue to support the Rodchenkov Act.

  • WADA Athlete Ombudsperson: The WADA Athlete Committee has proposed the establishment of an Independent WADA Athlete Ombudsperson to address issues and provide advice, guidance and assistance to athletes as it relates to anti-doping. The WADA Athlete Committee is in its initial phase of development and consultation on the concept.

We encourage Athletes to continue to provide comments to the WADA Athlete Committee.

Concerns and Questions:

  • Romania: A recent WADA Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) Report leaked to the media in May 2019 indicated that the WADA I&I team uncovered doping corruption in Romania. This corruption involved the Romanian Anti-Doping Agency and the Bucharest Laboratory whereby it is asserted the two entities were collaborating for the purpose of covering up adverse analytical findings.

Global Athlete has communicated its concerns on this matter on several occasions with WADA, however WADA’s response to date has been unsatisfactory. WADA has not only declined to answer simple questions, but they have not even responded to our latest letter:(Letters exchanged)

Given the Romanian National Anti-Doping Agency was involved in corrupt practices, why were they not deemed non-compliant?

Why didn’t WADA assert an Anti-Doping Rule Violation against the two individuals found to be involved in the corrupt practises?

The Bucharest Laboratory was also implicated and discovered to be involved in covering up adverse anti-doping results. Why was the laboratory only given a 6 month suspension? Why didn’t they have their WADA Accreditation revoked?

Why hasn’t WADA made any of this public?

If athletes are found to commit an anti-doping rule violation they are sanctioned, and it’s made public. Shouldn’t those upholding the rules be treated in the same way?

  • Russian LIMS Data Retrieved by WADA in January 2019: During the May 2019 WADA Foundation Board Meeting, the head of WADA’s Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) team indicated that they continued to investigate discrepancies identified between the LIMS database provided by a whistleblower in October 2017 and the version WADA I&I retrieved from the laboratory in January 2019; and any impact that these may have on bringing cases forward.

    Should it be found that these discrepancies are the result of tampering and manipulation by the authorities responsible, athletes must be vocal in demanding that WADA deliver on its promise to immediately declare RUSADA non-compliant.

  • Governance Reforms: Athlete Representation on WADA: WADA is currently in the process of finalizing their governance reforms. However, these governance reforms continue to deny athletes a voice and as of today, have not included full athlete representation at the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Boards. With near universal agreement amongst sporting bodies that athletes deserve the right to representation on decision-making bodies, shouldn’t athletes have a meaningful seat at the table? After all, who is most impacted and affected by anti-doping if not the athletes.

Please refer to the WADA governance reforms proposed by World Players and Ali Jawad, a Global Athlete Start Up Group Athlete Member.

Athletes need to be vocal in demanding change and stronger representation at the WADA decision making tables.

The past 6 months have provided us so much insight into athlete well-being and welfare. We continue to learn and are committed to working with you to ensure rules that are being put in place are in your best interest.

To that end, we will be launching our first ever athlete survey at the end of this month. We will welcome all of your thoughts and ideas.

In the meantime, please feel free to provide us your comments at and check out our website at

Kind regards,

On behalf of the Global Athlete Start Up Group
Rob Koehler,
Director General

Akwasi Frimpong
Olympic Bobsliegh and Skelton Athlete

Noah Hoffman
Olympic Cross-Country Skier
United States of America

Ali Jawad
Olympic Para Powerlifter
United Kingdom

Caradh O’Donovan
World Champion Kick Boxer and Karate

Callum Skinner
Olympic Cyclist
United Kingdom

Rachael Sporn
Olympic Basketball

Media ReleaseSam Doherty