Brussels, 11 May 2009
World Anti-Doping Agency adopts revised data protection standard and continues successful dialogue with the EU
Meeting in Montreal, Canada, on Saturday 9 May, the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) adopted a revised International Standard for the Protection of Privacy (ISPP). The revised Standard replaces the Standard that entered into force on 1 January 2009, which posed problems from the perspective of EU legislation on the protection of personal data. The Commission greets the adoption of the revised Standard as a successful outcome of cooperation between the EU and WADA and is looking forward to continued dialogue and cooperation with WADA over data protection issues, in particular at the EU Conference on Anti-Doping in Athens on 13-15 May.
During the past few months, data protection and anti-doping have been increasingly coupled in media reports. Discussions have focussed on the so-called "whereabouts rules" (designed to keep track of the movement of athletes), the right to privacy, labour law and fundamental rights.
In this context, the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy (ISPP) adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which entered into force on 1 January 2009, gave rise to intensive discussions between the EU, the Council of Europe, the EU Member States and WADA, because there were concerns about the Standard's compatibility with EU law. On 6 April 2009, the heads of Member States' data protection authorities meeting as the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party adopted their second opinion on the International Standard. The Working Party is the independent EU Advisory Body on Data Protection and Privacy, and one of its aims is to provide expert opinion from Member State level to the Commission on questions of data protection.
The Commission notes with great satisfaction that WADA's Executive Committee, meeting in Montreal, Canada, on Saturday 9 May, adopted a revised International Standard which responds to many of the issues identified by the Article 29 Working Party. The Commission is looking forward to continued dialogue and cooperation with WADA over other data protection issues identified by the Working Party, which could not be addressed in the ISPP.
Ján Figel', the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Youth (including responsibility for sport), said: "I am delighted at the news from Montreal, and would especially like to congratulate WADA for having reacted so swiftly to Europe's concerns. The fight against doping and the work of WADA are very important, but so are the fundamental rights of athletes. The Commission is ready to continue dialogue and cooperation with WADA, not only about data protection, but also on other issues. Some work remains to be done to see how the necessities of anti-doping work can be brought into harmony with EU law and the need to respect fundamental rights. But I am very confident that together, we can work to strike this difficult balance."
The EU Conference on Anti-Doping in Athens, which will take place on 13-15 May, will provide a first opportunity to discuss the implications of these new developments. The conference will involve representatives of EU sport authorities as well as key stakeholders in the fight against doping, including national anti-doping organisations (NADOs) of the EU Member States, accredited laboratories in Member States, the Council of Europe, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), athlete trade unions and sport academics. One of the conference and workshop themes is data protection and WADA is strongly involved.
"I am particularly pleased that the vote in Montreal comes just before our anti-doping conference in Athens," said Commissioner Figel'. "It provides the Commission, the EU Member States, stakeholders and WADA with an excellent opportunity to discuss the issue while the adoption of the new Standard is still fresh in everybody's memory. This is a win-win scenario for all concerned."
For more information:
Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (set up under Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data): "Second opinion 4/2009 on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information, on related provisions of the WADA Code and on other privacy issues in the context of the fight against doping in sport by WADA and (national) anti-doping organizations", doc. WP 16, 06.04.2009:
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): http://www.wada-ama.org/en/