Polish head of WADA responds to US criticism

The Polish head of The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has commented on some issues following a dispute with the US government on what it does not deem sufficient reform.

Witold Bańka

Witold BańkaSource: PAP/Andrzej Grygiel

In an interview with Polish news agency PAP, Witold Bańka, Poland’s former sports minister, said WADA rejected accusations raised in a report  by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) submitted to the US Congress late June. It criticised WADA for failing to have made enough efforts in reform and being slow in its actions against Russia.

“This entire report is an attempt to undermine WADA as a global regulator for anti-doping by framing the agency as allegedly not up to the task,” Bańka told PAP in an interview published on Saturday. “I don’t want to speculate on motives. However, I have the impression that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) would like to take control of the global anti-doping system,” he added.

The ONDCP report concludes that the US was not represented enough in WADA proportionate to its contribution – USD 2.7 million per year to the core budget of WADA, and threatens to withhold funding if WADA does not make what the US considers appropriate reform.

Commenting on these suggestions, Bańka remarked: “No international organisation makes sitting within its governing bodies conditional on the amounts paid to it. This is undemocratic. Control of WADA is not for sale”.

Bańka also noted that if two strong powers, like the US and Russia, are criticising WADA equally, then it may be the best evidence that the agency is an independent organisation and can respond to criticism.

“I will never let WADA become part of the political game. I agreed to hold this position as a president who is to serve the athletes and to strengthen the anti-doping system. I will not let WADA be played by the stakeholders,” he stressed.

Bańka is a Polish former 400 metres sprinter. Between 2015-19 he held the post of Minister of Sport and Tourism. In May 2019, he was elected President of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

(mo)

Source: PAP

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