(ATR) The European candidate for WADA president will be chosen by the sports ministers of the Council of Europe at the end of the month.
Witold Banka (Polish Ministry of Sports and Tourism)
The Polish Minister of Sport Witold Banka is the favorite, having secured the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Doping of the Council of Europe in a vote late last month. He received 28 out of 49 votes, the Norwegian Linda Helleland finishing second with 16.
The chairman of the committee is Rafal Piechota, who was also Banka’s campaign director. Piechota's primary occupation is deputy director within Banka's Ministry of Sport and Tourism. He also serves on several WADA commissions.
Helleland's hardline stance against Russia in the fallout from the state-run doping scandal is responsible for her election result, it is said. Helleland, the WADA vice-president, said in a press release that one has to pay for opposing Russia in international sport. She had not chosen an easy path, but she was convinced that she had chosen the right one.
When the ban against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency was lifted, she voted against it.
Banka attributes his success to his planned reform program for the World Anti-Doping Agency, which includes additional accredited doping control laboratories, more transparency and a solidarity fund for financially weak states. He also said that he had reformed the Polish Anti-Doping Agency very quickly.
As Polish Sports and Tourism Minister, Banka also wants to regulate the organization of Polish sport.
"It is no secret that many sports federations are involved in internal conflicts, that funds will not be spent efficiently and that there is a lack of transparency. That is why we are preparing a major reform. From January 2021 onwards, an institute will be set up to finance sport. It will be under government control and employ several dozen coaches for different disciplines."
These coaches will work directly with coaches in clubs and also with professional athletes. The associations will therefore be bypassed. They should continue to be responsible for which athletes Poland sends to international competitions. But Minister Banka makes no secret of the fact that he wants more control.
"Only the Ministry of Sport will decide which disciplines the government wants to support and how. But of course there will be a broad discussion before the reform."
But his big goal is the office of WADA president. "Never before has a Pole held such a high office in international sport," he says.
Linda Helleland is the current WADA vice-president (ATR)
Banka already feels that he is about to be nominated as a presidential candidate.
"According to the recommendation of the ad hoc commission, the election at the Sports Ministers' Conference in the Council of Europe at the end of February is only a formal act. In May, the group of governments in WADA in Montreal then elects the president from among the continental candidates.”
For Banka, these are all just formalities. But his competitor Helleland does not want to give up yet. At the conference of sports ministers on February 27, she will again challenge Banka when it comes to the final vote for the European candidate.
In addition, Marcos Diaz from the Dominican Republic is expected to apply later for the continental nomination from the Americas. Experts also expect an applicant from Asia.
The election of the new WADA President will take place at the World Anti-Doping Conference in November in Katowice, Poland.
Homepage photo: Wikipedia
Written by Heinz Peter Kreuzer
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