Officials from the African Union circulated a document calling for a World Anti-Doping Agency presidential age minimum of 45 years earlier this week in a poorly-veiled attempt to block the election of current vice president Linda Helleland, who is 41.
WADA made clear that it was not responsible for the proposal, but did not deny that it is under consideration: “Neither WADA’s leadership nor its management was involved or consulted in any way in the drafting of this document,” spokesman James Fitzgerald said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.”
Helleland, of Norway, was one of two members of the WADA Executive Committee to vote against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s reinstatement in September and is the favorite to replace current president Craig Reedie among those calling for total reform of the organization.
Reedie, 77, is retiring next year.
Helleland drew the ire of many within her organization last week when she independently attended the White House “emergency” anti-doping summit, despite WADA‘s assertion that it did not receive an invite.
Athletes for Clean Sport released a statement on the age limit proposal, calling it “totally unacceptable.”
The group added: “Given the recent direction of WADA and the lack of transparency that we have witnessed, is it merely a coincidence that just weeks before the athlete-minded candidate Linda Helleland would begin her campaign to be the next President, WADA could allow rules to be pushed through that would render Linda’s campaign ineligible?”
United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, who also attended the White House summit, echoed their sentiment.
“It’s ludicrous. Joan of Ark turned a war around at 17 and Queen Elizabeth became queen at 25, but to be WADA president, you need to be 45? Wow,” USADA tweeted on Tygart’s behalf. “Only in IOC/WADA world does this occur.”