World Anti-Doping Agency logo. WADA

 The World Anti-Doping Agency first warned the Tunisian National Anti-Doping Organization that it was not complying with international guidelines back in November, yet the local association repeatedly failed to take the necessary measures in order to avoid being added to the international watchlist.

Tunisia now stands with the Angola National Olympic Committee, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency and the International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation as the four currently non-compliant Code Signatories. The National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) from Africa has an outstanding critical corrective action relating to its national legal system not being in line with the 2021 Code.

In an official statement released on Tuesday, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) explained that the Tunisian National Anti-Doping Organization (ANAD) did not dispute the allegation of non-compliance, the proposed consequences or reinstatement conditions within 21 days of WADA’s last notice, therefore resulting in the admission and acceptance of said consequences and reinstatement conditions. “Accordingly, the formal notice sent to ANAD on 8 April 2024 is now a final decision enforceable with immediate effect,” the statement said.  

At its previous meeting on November 16, WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) endorsed the recommendation of WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) and alleged ANAD as non-compliant, after it failed to fully implement the 2021 version of the World Anti-Doping Code within its legal system.  ANAD then provided a clear calendar for adoption of the amendments which are required to bring the Tunisian legal framework in line within four months, while critical corrective actions from an audit conducted in March 2023 were signed off. On December 6, ExCo included Tunisia in the international watchlist and WADA sent ANAD a formal notice of non-compliance on 8 April.

Back in November and along with Tunisia’s inclusion, WADA had added Venezuela and Nigeria to its watchlist. Like with the current non-compliant Code Signatories, the Venezuelan NADO had not addressed a number of critical requirements to its anti-doping program following the Code Compliance Questionnaire exercise, while the Nigerian NADO had failed to comply following an audit carried out by WADA in late 2022. 

Separately, a fresh critical non-conformity was identified related to inconsistencies between the federal Russian sports legislation and the 2021 Code. At its meeting on 22 September 2023, the ExCo accepted the CRC’s recommendation to impose new consequences and reinstatement conditions on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which RUSADA subsequently disputed. WADA then filed a formal notice of dispute with CAS for non-compliance.

When WADA announced new consequences on RUSADA following Executive Committee meeting in September, the global watchdog said that the Russians would lose their WADA privileges, meaning its representatives would be ineligible to hold any WADA office, while RUSADA would also be ineligible to host any event either hosted or organised by WADA. RUSADA representatives would also be unable to participate in any WADA observer or outreach programmes, and RUSADA would not receive any WADA funding relating to the development of activities or participation in programmes. Other sanctions included RUSADA representatives being ineligible to sit as members of Boards or Committees, or other bodies of any signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code. Russia’s flag was also unable to be flown at regional, continental and World Championships, and would not be featured at the Olympics and Paralympics under the notice of the new consequences.

Witold Banka, president of WADA. GETTY IMAGES
Witold Banka, president of WADA. GETTY IMAGES

 WADA President, Witold Bańka, said then that “WADA always supports Signatories and helps them when they have non-conformities in an effort to avoid this situation. However, the harmonization of the anti-doping system is absolutely crucial – we agree with athletes when they tell us that all Signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code must be held to the same high standards as they are. Signatories must abide by the rules and decisions – otherwise, we cannot provide a level playing field”.

 The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB), still on WADA’s non-compliant Code Signatories list, now next to Tunisia, was confirmed as non-compliant back in 2022, when WADA cited non-conformities in its testing programme and insufficient resources being allocated to anti-doping efforts.