After the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) withheld nearly $3 million in dues owed to the World Anti-Doping Agency amid calls for reform to the agency, the United States paid off over half of it’s debt, giving WADA roughly $1.6 million.
Last Wednesday, Richard Baum of the White House Drug Control Office spoke in front of a congressional committee, announcing that the payment would be made to WADA. Unlike in the past, the debt would be paid off in multiple parts instead of the traditional lump sum.
“We believe half the payment is appropriate. There have been some good conversations in WADA about reform, but we still believe that in order to be comfortable with making the full payment, we’d like to see additional steps forward.”
The United States initially began withholding payment to the WADA amid the Russian doping scandal that led to the country’s athletes being forced to compete as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Games instead of as their own nation. As the US questioned the urgency with which the WADA moved to deal with the situation, the nation complained that it was not getting enough from it’s yearly contribution to the organization. After threatening not to pay it’s dues and the WADA suggesting they would penalize country’s who failed to pay on time, a standoff between the two began.
As the WADA has begun making changes in the way of reforms that increase athlete representation and transparency of decision making, the United States has now subsequently begun the process of paying back their dues. In a statement regarding the change in circumstances surrounding the standoff between the two, the WADA said:
“In collaboration with all of our diverse stakeholders, including the U.S. Government, WADA will continue to make meaningful improvements to ensure the Agency’s governance evolves in line with its role and with the global fight against doping in sport in general. We are confident that the U.S. Government will ultimately accept the outcomes of this democratic and collaborative process.”
While relationships between the US and WADA have shown improvement with this first payment, there are still multiple steps before complete reconciliation between the two. The United States is still asking for greater separation between the WADA and International Olympic Committee. Currently, multiple members of the WADA also serve on the IOC, creating a potential conflict of interest with issues that relate to both organizations.