WADA, US Government, Hold “Positive Meeting” about Future Cooperation

The World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy released a joint statement last week citing “positive” meetings in the ongoing feud between the US government and the global anti-doping body over funding and control.

Last Friday, November 6, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President, Witold Bańka, and the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the United States (and an Americas public authority representative on WADA’s Foundation Board), James W. Carroll, held a virtual meeting to “discuss matters of interest to the two organizations with the goal of better working together for the good of athletes and the global anti-doping system.”

In the joint statement, the two organizations agreed that “the U.S. Government was vital for the protection of clean sport around the world, and that they would pursue strong and open bilateral communication going forward.”

Both Banka and Carroll said that they viewed this as an “important meeting,” and Carroll “reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to work with WADA, from within WADA.”

This comes after growing tensions caused when the ONDCP threatened to withdraw its $2.7 million in annual funding from WADA in June over concerns of how WADA is handling Russia.

That escalated when WADA said that a US withdrawal could result in blocking the Americans from participation in the Olympic Games.

Specifically, the ONDCP says that WADA “failed to hold the Russians accountable for their actions.”

This is in spite of the fact that WADA levied harsh sanctions about Russian sport in December, which included a ban on official Russian participation under the Russian flag in the Olympic Games for four years, removing major hosting rights from Russia, and blocking Russians from serving in administrative functions within international sport federations that are WADA signatories.

The international Court of Arbitration for Sport heard an appeal by the Russian Anti-Doping Association (RUSADA) over those sanctions last week, and the outcome of that hearing is pending.

WADA said that much of the information in the report was false.

The ONDCP continued that they believed that Americans should receive a “tangible return on their investment” into WADA in the “form of clean sport, fair play, effective administration of the world anti-doping system and a proportionate voice in WADA decision-making.”

WADA noted in its response in June that with 11 American representatives in WADA governance roles, it already had more representatives than any other nation, which has been true every year since WADA’s formation.

“It is very unfortunate that the report was written without due regard for the facts or context and with the clear intention to discredit WADA,” WADA said at the time. “It is beyond WADA’s comprehension that such a report is produced when representatives from the US Government have never raised any of these concerns around the table of the WADA Foundation Board table over the past 20 years.”

The US annual contribution in 2020 represented the largest piece of $18.7 million in funding pledged by world governments to WADA. Those government contributions make up half of the organization’s annual funding.

Carroll was sworn in as the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy on January 31, 2019 as an appointment by US President Donald Trump. He previously served as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff and a General Counsel in the Office of Management and Budget. He also served in the Office of the White House Counsel under both Presidents Trump and George W. Bush.

Full Joint Statement

Yesterday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President, Witold Bańka, and the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the United States (and an Americas public authority representative on WADA’s Foundation Board), the Honorable James W. Carroll, held a virtual meeting to discuss matters of interest to the two organizations with the goal of better working together for the good of athletes and the global anti-doping system.

In what was a very positive meeting, the two organizations agreed that the U.S. Government was vital for the protection of clean sport around the world, and that they would pursue strong and open bilateral communication going forward.

Mr. Banka and Mr. Carroll were united in the view that this was an important meeting, where WADA and the ONDCP were able to discuss a number of areas of mutual concern in an open and honest way. Mr. Carroll reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to work with WADA, from within WADA. They both agreed that the partnership between WADA and the U.S. Government was vitally important for the protection of clean sport around the world. As such, they committed to strengthening this partnership going forward and saw this meeting as an important step along a renewed path of dialogue and collaboration.

The main topics covered in the meeting included:

  • The ongoing reforms to WADA’s governance, including U.S. Government and athlete representation within WADA’s committee structures;
  • How the two organizations can work together to strengthen and harmonize the anti-doping system; and
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the global anti-doping system.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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