MEET THE ELITE
NAME: Raphael Rezende
AISTS CLASS: 2017
POSITION: Coordinator of IF and NADO Relations with WADA
Raphael Rezende, lawyer and sports manager graduated from the AISTS Class of 2017 and has been working with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) here in Lausanne since October 2017.
Raphael, from Brazil, moved to Lausanne with his family after spending 17 years as a lawyer and co-founding his own firm. Raphael was originally hired to work on the annual WADA Symposium and now has the title of IF (International Federations) and NADO (National Anti-Doping Organizations) Relations Coordinator. We caught up with Raphael this month and asked him how his journey into the sports management world has been going.
AISTS – Your passion is sports and you come from a strong law background in Brazil, having your own firm. Why did you want to move to Lausanne and combine these 2 things?
After thirteen years as a partner of a law firm, I felt the need to shift my career plans: work with something different; find a new meaning to my life. After an enlightening coaching process, I decided to work with sports which, as you said, is my passion. I was not sure how to make this transition until a friend introduced me to an AISTS alumnus from 2004 batch – now an estimated friend, Saam Momen. After he explained to me what AISTS was all about, I had no doubt it was what I needed to start my new life in the sports industry. I was sure I could use my legal background as a bridge to enter the sports world, especially inside the Olympic movement.
AISTS – Tell us about what you are doing now with WADA?
I am currently working as a Coordinator for the IF and NADO Relations Team. It is an exciting role to be in contact with many different sports organisations. Our job is to give support to these organisations in a handful of different activities related to anti-doping. Our role is to provide them with guidance for their application of the World Anti-Doping Code, in conducting tests and in managing their results. This though is just one part of the job. The last couple of years we have been very focused on the assessment of the signatories’ level of compliance with the Code. This was a very constructive exercise for both parts, as we are now aware of their main needs and were also able to enhance their programs while giving them regular feedback. It was particularly rewarding to be able to transfer the know-how from the more developed institutions to the growing ones and to foster their cooperation. Recently I was designated to follow up with the development of the anti-doping programs of Eastern European National Anti-Doping Organizations and non-Olympic International Federations, which is a very exciting opportunity. It was also remarkable to represent WADA in events such as the European Commission Erasmus+ Sports Cluster Meeting on the Integrity of Sports and the World Health Organization “Walk the Talk” health promotion event.
AISTS – What one thing did you learn at the AISTS that you still keep in mind for your work today?
It is not easy to choose a single one! For example, Professor Chappelet’s introduction to the Olympic movement structures during the very first module of AISTS – my daily work now involves all those acronyms that sounded so unfamiliar to me at first: ASOIF, AIOWF, ARISF, AIMS, GAISF, TAS/CAS, IFs, NFs, etc. The Legal module with Professor Landrove was also remarkable and I constantly apply many concepts learned during his classes on my daily tasks. Not to mention the Medicine module, where amongst other important learnings, we had a full week of anti-doping presentations held by the main experts in the anti-doping area, including a few colleagues from WADA office. But I think key learning for me is the strong network inside the sport industry offered by AISTS and its close relationship with numerous sports organisations. The speakers AISTS has in its classroom are the decision makers and trendsetters of the sport business and these learning sessions are instrumental.
AISTS – Do you have any advice for those looking at the next step in their sports career and wanting to get into the sports management world?
Be humble and make yourself available for new experiences in the industry, even if at first this is not what you’re looking for. I invited a colleague from my class to volunteer during the 2018 WADA Symposium and he promptly accepted. Long story short, this got him a permanent job at the recently created, and already a huge player, the International Testing Agency (ITA). My second piece of advice, and this I heard from an AISTS alumnus Diogo Jurema, and now I pass it on – take the opportunities to network but be genuinely interested in the people you meet, not just in a future job position. These people can eventually take you to your dream job.