The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has threatened to withdraw funding from the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) if the global doping watchdog doesn’t implement key governance reforms.
In a 19-page report released this week, the ONDCP criticized WADA over its response to the Russian doping scandal, saying that WADA had failed to hold the Russians accountable for their actions.
The United States provides $2.7 million in funding to WADA annually, which makes it the largest government contributor to the agency’s funding. WADA receives equal funding from both governments and “the Olympic movement.”
In 2020, pledged global funding amounted to $37.4 million, of which $18.7 million came from governments.
Other large government contributors to WADA include:
- Japan ($1.5 million);
- Canada ($1.3 million), where WADA is headquartered;
- France ($1.0 million)
- Germany ($1.0 million)
- Italy ($1.0 million)
- Russia ($1.0 million)
- UK ($1.0 million)
- China ($500,000)
See WADA’s full funding list here.
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.
“America’s athletes, as well as all of the world’s clean athletes, need and deserve our urgent intervention to make WADA independent of conflicts of interests, more effective in protecting clean athletes, and more capable of standing up against institutionalized doping,” the report concluded.
WADA responded with tension to the ONDCP, saying that the report lacked facts or context.
“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.
“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 ONDCP said that in conducting a study, it was unsure that it was receiving value for its contribution.
“The United States Government has a duty to ensure that American taxpayer dollars are spent effectively for the purpose to which they are appropriated,” the report said.
“American taxpayers should receive a tangible return on their investment in 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 disputed that countries should be represented in proportion to their donations, saying that it would both bar entire continents from participation in decision-making, and allow wealthy nations to have greater influence over the organization. The entire continent of Africa, for example, contributed a total of $93,612 to WADA’s overall budget in 2020.
WADA also noted 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.
The ONDCP also called for reform to include independent athlete and anti-doping representatives on its committees and decision-making bodies.
The United States’ $2.7 million pledge to WADA represents less than .00006% of the federal government’s $4.8 trillion budget passed for 2020.
The United States is relatively-unique in its funding for the Olympic movement, as it is one of the few countries in the world, if not the only, where the National Olympic Committee receives no funding from the United States government.
The threats come less than a month after the United States withdrew from the World Health Organization, with similar rhetoric accusing the group of helping China cover up its role in the global coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. contributed over $400 million per year to the WHO’s annual budget previously.