World Anti-Doping Agency to censor comments it receives on its rulebook? Concerns about the 2027 WADA Code update

“In case I was unclear, WADA is happy for – and indeed encourages – the general public to make comments and suggestions as to how the World Anti-Doping Code and its related International Standards can be further improved,” World Anti-Doping Agency head of Media Relations James Fitzgerald told Lacrimonia.Com in an email. “That is why we issued a media release soliciting feedback and published the article on our website.”

However, actions by WADA seem to contradict Fitzgerald’s assurances. The media release Fitzgerald referred to announced the launch of the first phase of 2027 World Anti-Doping Code (a.k.a. “the WADA Code”) and International Standards Update Process. The media release speaks of “consideration of stakeholders’ feedback,” uses the term “stakeholder” 12 times, yet does not define the term “stakeholder.”

We asked Fitzgerald: “why does WADA use the term ‘stakeholders’ in its press release and not define it?” He did not respond to that particular question, or provide WADA’s definition of the term.

The media release also makes no mention of “encouraging” or even being willing to receive comments from the public. The release says “stakeholders are invited to provide their feedback via WADAConnect, the Agency’s online consultation platform” and the WADAConnect account creation page asks users to provide their “organization type.” The dropdown menu options are Sport, Public Authorities, NADO (National Anti-Doping Organization, WADA and Other. The public is obviously not an organization, yet “General Public” or “No organization” or similar options are not available. The public is left wondering: am I a “stakeholder” in WADA’s eyes?

“Individuals can choose whichever organization type they feel best represents them, including ‘other’ if it is unclear, if they have no organization affiliation, or if they do not wish to say,” Fitzgerald said when asked about this. But what Fitzgerald said is not stated on the WADAConnect account creation page.

Those aren’t the only issues with the process of soliciting comments on the WADA Code, which is the “anti-doping Bible” for sports. WADA’s website Terms of Service (TOS) binds users of WADAConnect. A review of the TOS shows an indemnification clause, specifies Quebec under “Choice of Law” for any legal disputes, uses vague terms like “offensive” and contains other provisions that may cause the general public to not take WADA upon on their invitation to submit comments using WADAConnect.

“The process for [receiving comments] is through WADA Connect, which allows for the many suggestions to be more easily collated and considered than through email or a multitude of different avenues,” Fitzgerald wrote in his second email. “That said, I don’t think we would reject a good suggestion just because it didn’t come through WADA Connect.”

But WADA selecting only “good” suggestions and thinking it can “reject” any comments stand in stark contrast to the promise made in its own media release. That media release says that “WADA will publish all comments received on its website at the end of the Stakeholder Engagement Phase” [emphasis added to the word “all”]. Censorship of comments, curation of comments, or similar, would not be consistent with the plain meaning of the promise to “publish all comments.”

WADA’s apparent deviation from its self-promulgated principle of “publishing all comments” may cause free speech concerns given that WADA received 47% of its funding from public agencies in 2022. Using public monies to suppress free speech always causes concerns in the United States, which is the country that contributes by far the most to WADA’s budget.

WADA CEO Witold Banka’s selective lack of interest in acting on reports from the public about WADA code violations only adds to the concern that WADA doesn’t follow its own stated rules.

The TOS’s indemnification clause, agreeing to pay the legal costs of WADA in enforcing its TOS in a court of law, may cause people to not submit comments lest WADA consider them “offensive” and pursues legal action against someone submitting a harsh comment. WADA’s TOS don’t provide for mutual indemnification, which would mean that WADA pays the user’s legal fees in successfully enforcing the TOS against WADA’s should they violate their own TOS.

Given the media release and the plain text on the WADAConnect account creation page, it thus seemed clear that comments from the general public, i.e. not “stakeholders,” would not be considered. This is what prompted our original questions to WADA.

“‘Stakeholders’ does include members of the general public and they can submit their suggestions/comments through WADA Connect, as per the press release you cite,” Fitzgerald wrote in his initial response to us. But as shown above, WADA’s own language in talking about receiving comments says otherwise.

More than 10 days after our communications with Fitzgerald, neither the media release nor the WADAConnect account creation page had been updated to clarify in any way that “WADA is happy for – and indeed encourages – the general public to make comments and suggestions.” Which is what WADA, through Fitzgerald, told us.

If any our readers wish to participate and make comments on the future 2027 WADA Code, or the International Standards Update Process, makes those comments on WADAConnect. If you wish to not be bound by WADA’s TOS, then email them to .

If you email them, you could ask for confirmation that WADA received your comments and that they will publish them in full. If you don’t receive such confirmation, you may want to send a wassup email to asking “what’s up with daht?” Or not.

“I do not propose to get involved in a debate about what the word ‘offensive’ means,” Fitzgerald wrote in the final sentence of his second and final email to us. We here at Lacrimonia.Com also don’t want to debate what the term “offensive” means, nor did we ask WADA to define the term “offensive” in its TOS.

A simple way to avoid such debates that WADA says it doesn’t want to get into is for WADA to simply drop its prohibition on using its website to transmit content that is “defamatory, bullying, harassing, abusive, threatening, vulgar, obscene, or offensive.” It should at the very least drop such limitations on comments from the WADAConnect platform.

If WADA wants to increase public trust in its work, it will also publish all comments received in its process. All of them – every single one of them, as they were received, without curation or censorship.

As always – Lacrimonia.Com reports and our readers decide. Follow us on Facebook to receive notifications when we publish articles.


Above cartoon in English: the eye chart says “freedom of expression” and the doctor says to the general public that “your vision is excellent, it’s your view of WADA that is monstrous.”

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