WADA President Declines Invitation to Testify at Congressional Hearing on Anti-Doping

by Riley Overend 29

June 21st, 2024 Anti-Doping, News

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Witold Banka has declined an invitation to testify at Tuesday’s Congressional subcommittee hearing on the anti-doping system.

According to a spokesperson for the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Banka did not provide a reason for turning down the invite. The hearing, titled “Examining Anti-Doping Measures in Advance of the 2024 Olympics,” will feature testimonies from 23-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps, 10-time Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt, and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.

Banka was also invited to a hearing before the Sports Committee of the German Bundestag in late May, but he declined due to prior commitments.

Last month, Katie Ledecky said her faith in the Olympic anti-doping system was at an “all-time low” following reports in April that 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ) seven months before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. They were never provisionally banned, and three (Zhang YufeiWang Shun, and Yang Junxuan) went on to win Olympic gold medals in Tokyo after their positive tests were chalked up to contamination from their hotel kitchen.

“(Allegations of) mass doping of Chinese swimmers and a deliberate cover-up by WADA are entirely false,” Banka reportedly wrote to the German Bundestag last month. “The analytical results in these cases were simply not compatible with doping.”

A separate House committee on China called last month for the Department of Justice to investigate WADA’s handling of the 2021 Chinese doping controversy. In April, WADA appointed a Swiss prosecutor to review the case after catching criticism from the White House, USADA, and international swimming federations. Findings are expected to be released right before the Paris Olympics next month. Among the main questions is why the Chinese swimmers were not provisionally suspended after testing positive for TMZ.

The U.S. is a major contributor to WADA, funding almost $3 million of the organization’s $43.4 million budget in 2021. Half of WADA’s funding came from the International Olympic Committee.

The hearing will be streamed here at 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday.

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20 days ago

Why are US tax dollars being spent on WADA? What do they do exactly? It seems like they are not accountable to anyone.

20 days ago

Notice how every time the US swimmers complain about doping it’s always the harshest towards the Russians and Chinese. Why are they never quick to give the same hate to a European, Oceanic, African, etc athlete? Example: Lily King needs to be hit with a defamation lawsuit for her comments made in 2016 that were basless

Reply to  TheSwimCritic
20 days ago

The Russians and Chinese are the ones with state sponsored doping programs in their history. It’s exactly the same how people criticized the East Germans, they just no longer exist. This is like a convicted criminal complaining about being called a criminal.

Reply to  TheSwimCritic
20 days ago

I do hear you on the perception of bias. But in reality, its more so that the doping is not only allowed but somewhat coerced and protected by the states.
Without getting too political, of course every country wants to look its best, but at the same time, they should at least not be caught facilitating the cheating.

Also, a slight counterpoint – nobody was outwardly protecting KENSEY MCMAHON or Lance Armstrong.

Philip Johnson
Reply to  TheSwimCritic
20 days ago

Russia was literally banned from the Olympics for doping. They deserve every bit of scrutiny. Have you been paying attention to all the retro medals that are being taking away from them?

Sapiens Ursus
20 days ago

As much as I thnk this is yet another shambolic waste of time when congress has been neglecting much more important issues, uh WADA these guys decide if you get paid or not

MT Pride
20 days ago

This is not surprisingly shady. I wonder if congress can subpoena non-citizens.

Reply to  MT Pride
20 days ago

I mean, the US is one of his organization’s biggest donors. It’s insane that the China nonsense can just happen and nobody has to answer the US (or anyone else) for it. Maybe more nations should come together on this and demand answers.

Last edited 20 days ago by FST
21 days ago

What’s he got to hide?

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

🔥 🔥 🔥

21 days ago

I think both things can be true

  1. The decision-making related to the 23 athletes who tested positive through CHINADA seems questionable and needs to be examined, and Banka deserves to be scrutinized
  2. A republican lead congressional circus (sorry… hearing) is not going to be productive or lead to anything actionable, it’s just to pick up a few jingoistic soundbites in the leadup to the Olympics and an election cycle later this year. Turning down the invite is the only correct move
21 days ago

Why go to a clown show of a hearing where they only care about creating headlines and not affecting real change.

Reply to  Breezeway
20 days ago

Right. Ridiculous. I would decline too.

Long Strokes
21 days ago

The Chinese and Russians have him wrapped around their finger.

Viking Steve
Reply to  Long Strokes
20 days ago

compromising info?

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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