Athletes Rights

AthletesCAN, founded in 1992, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world.  In the early 2000s, AthletesCAN began to work with a UK group to build their own association, known today as the British Athletes Commission.  Late 2017, a group of German athletes from the German Olympic Sports Confederation AC organized to build an independent association, to be known as Athletes Germany. 

As the athlete rights movement grows, more of these independent associations are being developed to provide athletes with a voice to represent their interests and a seat at the decision making tables of sport.  This is nothing new to professional sport but a welcomed trend in the high performance athlete community. 

The World Players Association (WPA), the leading voice of organized players in the governance of world sport, brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries.  AthletesCAN, now an associate affiliate of the WPA, is one of the only ‘amateur’ athlete associations under its umbrella where athletes are not recognized as employees.  With player association giants such as the NHLPA, NFLPA, FIFPro, NBPA, WNBPA, FICA, IRPA and more leading the WPA’s mission, AthletesCAN continues to leverage the valuable experience and expertise of these organizations in building a better system for our members.

On December 14, 2017, the world’s leading player association executives collectively representing more than 85,000 players and athletes announced a Universal Declaration of Player Rights (UDPR) in Washington, D.C. The Declaration addresses the persistent, systemic and long-standing violations of players’ fundamental rights in sport throughout the world. It is the first framework ever to explicitly articulate the internationally recognized human rights of athletes globally.  AthletesCAN was there to sign onto the Declaration on behalf of Canada’s national team athletes.

“Sport is among the ecosystems encountering the challenges of today’s world, while also having its own unique issues which threaten to undermine its integrity,” says Dasha Peregoudova, former AthletesCAN President. “At the same time, sport has the unrivaled ability to set standards for a world where dignity, equality, and excellence rooted in diversity prevail. To continue to do so, it must first and foremost protect and celebrate its main stakeholders, the athletes,” she adds. “The rights of athletes need to be recognized in the administration, participation and delivery of sport. AthletesCAN is proud to be part of this extensive collective effort to embed fundamental human rights into the fabric of sport, and we believe the Universal Declaration of Player Rights is a foundational piece necessary in achieving this objective. We commend and support the WPA’s work on the UDPR, and look forward to building a stronger athlete-centered sport system in Canada and across the world. We believe this work will not only benefit the athletes, but also their communities, supporters and the sport movement at large.”

For more information on the Universal Declaration of Player Rights, click here

Take a look at what some of our professional counterparts are up to:

Athletes Representation

AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, has a proud history of representing the collective voice of Canadian athletes to ensure an athlete centered sport system. As such the association, supported by an expert working group, undertook a system wide evaluation of athlete representation within the governance structures of our National Sport Organizations (NSO), known as, ‘The Athete Representation Project’. 

A board of directors is the governance centerpiece of a typical NSO’s decision-making power. The Athlete Representation Project aimed to determine how the voice of athletes can be appropriately represented at the board level within these sport governing bodies.

This project, designed to optimize the influence of the athlete voice in NSO decision making, was especially motivated by the enactment of the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (“CNCA”), which endeavored to provide the not-for-profit sector with a modernized statutory framework. As a result of the CNCA, most NSOs were required to make significant amendments to their governance structure and bylaws, which changed long-established practices in the sport sector, and, as a result, the nature of the athlete voice within NSO decision making. The Project involved three phases carried out between 2017-2020 outlined below. 

The Athlete Representation Project Phases:


The goal of Phase I (2017) of the project was to explore the implications of the enactment of the CNCA to gain a better understanding of the current landscape of athlete representation in Canada. As part of the process, in collaboration with Sport Solution Program Managers, 49 sets of current NSO bylaws were examined resulting in the identification of 6 models and current considerations around the use of athlete representation.


Phase II (2017-2018) involved the Athlete Representation Project Workshop (“workshop”) hosted at the 2017 AthletesCAN Forum inaugural NSO/Athlete session September 21st in Ottawa. The workshop brought together 90 athlete representatives and sport leaders to discuss their perspectives on the current landscape of athlete representation within NSO decision-making processes. As a result of this collaborative discussion, four key areas emerged including considerations for athlete directors, prominent concerns, areas of consensus and considerations for developing a model for best practices.


The goal of Phase III (2019-2020) was to develop tangible tools to assist the sport community in moving forward with effective, inclusive, and broad-based athlete representation. To achieve this goal, structured interviews with athlete representatives and leaders from NSOs took place to verify key benefits and issues as well as areas of learning. Further consultations were conducted to examine international best practices including athlete representation governance models from USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark and Norway. Finally, a framework of resource development was charted based on the learnings from each phase to support the optimization of athlete representation within NSO governance structures.

The findings of each phase of the project were consolidated resulting in the publishing of a position paper, ‘The Future of Athlete Representation within Governance Structures of National Sport Organizations‘ published by AthletesCAN in November 2020.

For more information about the Athlete Representation Project please email info@athletescan.ca.


AthletesCAN is a strong proponent of clean sport. We believe in the rights of our athletes to compete in a doping-free environment that provides a fair and level playing field.   

In 2015, AthletesCAN created an Anti-Doping Advisory Committee (ADAC) to provide direct feedback to CCES and other relevant stakeholders on anti-doping related policies and programs and their application. This committee also supports the AthletesCAN board of directors on matters of anti-doping affecting the AthletesCAN membership that require action.   

The ADAC includes representatives from the following groups in addition to system and subject experts as identified by the group on an ad-hoc basis:  

  • President, AthletesCAN 
  • Chair, Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission 
  • Chair, Canadian Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council 
  • Athlete Representative, CCES 
  • Canadian Athlete Representative(s), WADA Athletes’ Council 

The ADAC meets annually face to face with CCES at the completion of the AthletesCAN Forum.  They provide feedback on anti-doping related matters including existing regulations, proposed changes, disputes, key issues, major Games initiatives, education and risk management; and recommend, as required, amendments or questions regarding any document, policy or protocol related to anti-doping that affects or has the potential to affect Canadian athletes. 

For more information about the ADAC please contact info@athletescan.ca.

AthletesCAN Submissions  

Athlete Social Responsibility

  • Making a difference, one athlete at a time

    AthletesCAN understands our athlete leaders inherently possess an opportunity to promote sport and its values for social good. This drive to give back through community leadership, also known as athlete social responsibility, connects passionate high performance athletes with great causes regionally, nationally and internationally every day.

    What is Athlete Social Responsibility (ASR)?

    Athlete social responsibility is the ethical or ideological theory that as role models, athlete leaders have a duty to society; specifically within the AthletesCAN membership, it refers to positive action.

    Currently, there is a trend towards athlete leaders taking a proactive stance on causes and organizations that have a positive effect on their community and on society as a whole.

    AthletesCAN continues to encourage and enable Canada’s high performance athletes to seize opportunities to engage in their communities and contribute positively to society. Our goal is to ensure that social responsibility becomes one of sport’s guiding principles and an integral part of the AthletesCAN philosophy, spirit, and culture.

    Every year at the AthletesCAN Forum, we give the AthletesCAN Social Responsibility Award to a national team athlete or former national team athlete in recognition of a significant contribution to society through sport and volunteer initiatives. Former recipients include Clara Hughes, Brad Spence, Kyle Shewfelt, Jenn Heil, Kyle Miller, and more. In 2018, this award will be presented as part of the Canadian Sport Awards. For more information on the nomination and selection process for this award, click here.


Download documents on the following topics:

Leadership Handbook
I Tested Positive? How to Respond to a Possible Anti-Doping Rule Violation (2021)
The Future of Athlete Representation within Governance Structures of National Sport Organizations (2020)
The Future of Athlete Agreements in Canada (2015)
AthletesCAN Response to CCES on the 2015 CADP Draft 2 (September 2014)
AthletesCAN Response to CCES on the 2015 CADP Draft 1 (June 2014)
NSOs, Athlete Directors and the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (2013)
AAP Budget Increase Executive Summary (2010)
Athlete Feedback on Sport Canada Review of AAP Executive Summary (2010)

Promising Practices: Transitioning and Transitioned Athletes in Sport (2009) Status of the High Performance Athlete Survey (2009)
Effective Athlete Leadership (2004)
Athlete Representative Leadership Manual (2004)
Status of the High Performance Athlete Survey (2004)
COC Top 12 Criteria Position Paper (2004)
History of Canadian Sport & Accomplishments of AthletesCAN
Effective Athlete Advocacy (2003)
A Report to Athletes (2003)
Athlete_Declaration (2002)
Effective Athlete Leadership (1999)
Athlete-Centred Sport – Discussion Paper (1994)