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Wada formally responds to US report demanding reform

Saturday June 27 2020
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Picture of the logo of World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) at the headquarters of the organisation in Montreal. PHOTO | FILE | AFP

By AFP

MONTREAL

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) formally responded to a US government report that recommended lawmakers be given power to withhold funding from the global drugs watchdog in the absence of governance reforms.

In a letter to James W. Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Wada president Witold Banka reiterated the agency's "disappointment" at what Wada says are factual inaccuracies in the report as well as a lack of consultation as it was compiled.

"Given that, during our 12 June telephone meeting, we discussed a renewed spirit of cooperation, I would have expected your office to have consulted us on the Report; or, at the very least, to have verified the factual veracity of the allegations being made against Wada," Banka wrote.

"Instead, in the days before publication, you informed us of the impending Report and asked us to verify three paragraphs by a certain deadline; and, when we did so in good faith, you chose not to incorporate our clarifications.

"As the saying goes, 'why let the truth get in the way of a good story'?"
Banka attached a summary of Wada's views on the report, reiterating the agency's view that it was littered with "multiple inaccuracies, misconceptions and falsehoods."

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The ONDCP study released this week questioned whether the United States was receiving value for money for its contribution of $2.7 million per year to Wada.

It urges reforms to include independent athlete and anti-doping representatives on Wada committees and decision-making bodies.

It also called for Wada leadership to be "free from undue influence by sports organizations with a direct financial interest in Wada decisions".

Wada noted that governance reforms have already been undertaken, with the approval of US representatives.

Reforms already implemented include formation of a nomination committee to ensure independent, appropriately skilled people are recruited for senior governance roles, and stipulation that seats on all standing committees be reserved for both athlete and national anti-doping organization representatives.

Term limits have been set for members of the Wada board, executive committee and standing committees.

"I remain convinced that the U.S. Government has an important role to play in protecting Clean Sport," Banka wrote, "and, it is my sincere hope that, going forward, we can work collaboratively rather than Wada having to defend itself against unfounded attacks via the media, which do absolutely nothing to advance the global anti-doping program for athletes worldwide."

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