WADA does not wish to interfere in the sovereign right of any government to make laws for its people. However the Agency believes that the sanction process for athletes, which includes a right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), is a settled process, accepted by all governments of the world, and further that the sanctions for a doping violation by an athlete, which now includes a longer, four-year period of ineligibility, have been globally accepted by sport and government. As such, the Agency does not believe that doping should be made a criminal offence for athletes.
WADA and its partners in the anti-doping community do however encourage governments to introduce laws that penalize those who are trafficking and distributing banned substances; those individuals who are ultimately putting banned substances into the hands of athletes. This is a commitment that governments made in ratifying the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.
The Agency acknowledges that countries that have introduced criminal legislation for doping have been effective in catching athlete support personnel that possess or traffic performance enhancing drugs. It seems that, given the threat of being imprisoned, these personnel are often more cooperative with anti-doping authorities. We have seen evidence of this in Italy, for example, with a large number of Italian nationals currently listed as having ‘disqualifying status’ under the Prohibited Association clause of the Code – a list that was first issued by WADA in September.