In an interview with The New York Times, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president-elect Witold Banka criticized the lack of funding for the international doping regulatory organization, announcing a proposal to introduce anti-doping mechanisms to regions of the world where such operations are few and far between. Banka, the Polish Minister of Sport and Tourism, was confirmed today as the next head of WADA, and he’ll assume office on January 1st of next year.
To extend WADA‘s reach and efficacy, Banka is seeking help from corporations. He first announced his call for corporate sponsorship in his speech at the fifth annual World Conference on Doping in Sport on Tuesday.
“I call upon global sports leaders and those who represent Governments, as well as private companies, that if they want sport to be clean, they need to increase their financial support for the fight against doping in sport,” said Banka at the conference, held in Katowice, Poland, his hometown. “WADA needs you and your support, just like you need WADA.”
“This is ridiculous we have less than $40 million and we are the global regulator of antidoping,” Banka said to the Times in an interview after his initial speech. Here, he references WADA‘s budget, which is fueled by public bodies. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) just announced it will pump an additional $10 million USD towards WADA initiatives, like “scientific research,” a “new genetic sequencing anti-doping test,” and “strengthening the investigative power of WADA.”
WADA has been trying to solicit funding from companies for some time now to no avail. Already, in this latest push, Banka is being met with scoffs, like the tweet below from Coca-Cola’s head of global sponsorships. Coca-Cola is one of the world’s biggest investors in athletics.
That is going to be a very brief discussion. https://t.co/VLr5ChGfEy
— Ricardo Fort (@SportByFort) November 5, 2019
Though the IOC’s most recent contributions will help, WADA is overwhelmed as the world’s premier doping prevention agency. WADA is still busy tying up investigations into Russia from 2015, and they’ve had to invest in cybersecurity measures to mitigate hack attempts.
“We are forgetting it’s not fair on athletes from the United States, Britain, Poland or Germany which are from countries with strong anti-doping policies that they are competing with athletes from countries without controls,” said Banka, who is 35 years old.
“I am not naïve, I am optimistic.”
Banka has suggested that one of Poland’s top oil companies has pledged to contribute to WADA and its anti-doping efforts, which he said will focus on countries where pre-meet testing operations are insufficient or nonexistent.
In the meantime, WADA will also be wrapping up its Russia investigations. Jonathan Taylor, the British lawyer heading the investigation with WADA, told The Times in September that Russia would need to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” to provide a legitimate explanation for manipulating the database.