WADA's Foundation Board met in Cairo, where a final set of governance reforms were approved ©WADA

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Bańka has hailed the Foundation Board meeting in Cairo as a "historical moment", after a final series of governance reforms were unanimously approved.

Today's gathering of the 38-member Foundation Board followed a meeting of the 14-member Executive Committee yesterday, with both governing bodies receiving a final report from the Working Group on the Review of WADA Governance Reforms.

The Board unanimously approved the report, as well as adjustments recommended by the Executive Committee.

This follows the first set of reforms approved in November last year, which included replacing the WADA Athlete Committee with an enlarged Athlete Council, whose chair will automatically become a part of the Executive Committee.

This 20-member body is set to feature five athletes appointed by the International Olympic Committee’s and International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Commissions, eight elected by International Federations' Athlete Commission and seven selected by an appointments panel.

The Executive Committee adopted rules governing the election and appointment of athletes from the latter two groups,

Changes approved by the Board include a firmer separation of powers between the Executive Committee and Board, whose roles are to be clearly defined.

The Working Group declared this an important step "so that the Foundation Board can hold the Executive Committee to account".

The Board is WADA's highest policy-making body, and delegates the management of the organisation to the Executive Committee.

WADA President Witold Bańka said the final set of reforms represented a
WADA President Witold Bańka said the final set of reforms represented a "historical moment" ©WADA

Under the changes, the Executive Committee is to feature five independent members, Government representatives, and sport movement representatives including athletes, as well as the chair of the Athlete Council.

Two Athlete Council members and two representatives of National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) are also set to be added to the Board.

Regional elections for NADOs are also set to be held to enable them to choose 10 representatives to sit on the NADO Expert Advisory Group.

The independence of the Compliance Review Committee has been recognised, with an Audit and Risk Committee added to WADA's overall structure of committees and working groups established when the process to change the organisation's governance began in 2018.

The report urged WADA to increase diversity in the Board and Executive Committee, including through the publication of regular reports.

In addition at the Foundation Board meeting, the nine members of the new Independent Ethics Board were approved.

This followed a recommendation from the Nominations Committee, who reviewed 72 nominations.

This body is to be chaired by Danish Professor Mette Hartlev, one of seven independent members.

Reforms approved include a firmer separation of powers between the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board ©WADA
Reforms approved include a firmer separation of powers between the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board ©WADA

American official Regina LaBelle has been appointed to the Independent Ethics Board as a public authorities representative, and Luxembourg's Marc Theisen as a representative of the sport movement.

Bańka, who was elected as WADA President in 2019, talked up the importance of the reforms.

"Those decisions will benefit WADA and clean sport for a long time to come, so it's no exaggeration from my side to say this was another historical moment for our Agency," he insisted at a press conference staged after the Board meeting.

He added: "Since 2016, WADA has made huge strides when it comes to governance reform.

"With the reforms that have now been implemented - and others that will shortly be introduced - we have seen a significant swing towards independence and enhanced representation for athletes.

"This is already having a far-reaching and meaningful impact on how the Agency is governed.

"This final round of reforms is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work from all our stakeholders, including athletes, Governments, the Sport Movement and National Anti-Doping Organisations.

"I would like to thank everyone involved in the process for their diligence, commitment and willingness to embrace the changes that were needed to ensure WADA would continue to be governed in line with international best practice."

Additionally at today's Board meeting, annual increases in WADA's budget of eight per cent, six per cent and six per cent were agreed for the three years from 2023 until 2025, respectively.

WADA's Executive Committee is next due to meet in Sydney on September 23, with Montreal scheduled to host an Executive Committee and Board meeting on November 17 and 18.