World Players Association: Response to Chinese swimming scandal shows WADA’s systemic failures, need for fundamental reform


World Players Association: Response to Chinese swimming scandal shows WADA’s systemic failures, need for fundamental reform

Recent allegations of a state sponsored doping conspiracy involving 23 Chinese swimmers have sadly further undermined athlete trust and confidence in the global anti-doping effort, the World Players Association (World Players) said in a statement released today.

Whilst the circumstances of this case must be thoroughly and independently investigated, the root cause of these issues – the embedded failures in WADA’s rules, processes, and governance – must be urgently remedied.

Matthew Graham, Head of World Players, stated:

Longstanding systemic issues have plagued the anti-doping movement. Athletes have faced unjust processes and sanctions, while officials have not been held to account, and there has been a lack of meaningful athlete involvement in the global anti-doping system. The response to this scandal must address fundamental root causes, not just symptoms, if WADA is to assert any legitimacy as a steadfast regulator of global anti-doping policy.”

The current case underscores the urgency of addressing these issues. World Players, representing over 85,000 professional athletes worldwide, has persistently sought to address these fundamental failures in WADA’s rules and governance over the past decade.

Efforts have included constructive proposals based on best practices and international standards, as outlined in various reform proposals dating back to 2016. However, WADA’s failure to embrace these reforms in a meaningful way has contributed to the ongoing and most recent crisis.

To address these challenges, World Players reiterates the need for the following actions to be undertaken in partnership with athletes and their chosen representatives:

  1. Giving athletes and their chosen representatives an equal say in all matters affecting anti-doping policy, including the drafting and implementation of the Code.
  2. Ensuring the Executive Committee and leadership of WADA is fully independent and removing the embedded conflicts of interest.
  3. Reforming the global anti-doping system of arbitration and justice, which must include a fundamental review of whether the Court of Arbitration for Sport is in practice fit for purpose.
  4. Embedding the internationally recognized human rights of athletes, which must essentially include their right to organize and collectively bargain.

World Players emphasizes its commitment to advocating for the rights and integrity of athletes worldwide. Any system or set of rules that selectively favours certain groups or stakeholders fails the tests of transparency, democracy and legitimacy. As the exclusive global voice of organized players and athletes across professional sport, World Players will continue to ensure that athletes’ voices are heard – and heeded – in the highest levels of international sport decision-making.




The World Players Association, a part of UNI Global Union, represents 85,000 players through more than 130 player associations in over 65 countries. Its mission is to advocate for the rights of organized players at the forefront of international sport decision-making.

Previous statements on anti-doping policy can be found:

For more information, contact:

Leonie Guguen, Senior Communications Manager, UNI Global Union

Tel: +41 79 137 5436 Email: leonie.guguen (at )


Press Release

World Players