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  • WADA Turn To Youth


    11/07/19

    (ATR) A younger generation is about to take charge of worldwide fight against doping.

    Witold Banka, WADA President elect. (WADA)
    Witold Banka, 35, will be the next president of the World Anti Doping Agency. Elected today at the World Anti Doping Conference in Katowice, Poland, Banka is by far the youngest of his three predecessors at the WADA helm.

    Striking is the difference in age between Banka and current WADA president Craig Reedie: 43 years. Reedie, now one of the IOC’s most senior members, has been involved with WADA from the start as a board member. In 1999, the year WADA was formed, Banka was a rising phenom sprinter for Poland. The rules and regulations of WADA he’ll now enforce did not exist.

    The rise of younger leaders for WADA goes beyond Banka.

    WADA’s new vice president is Yang Yang, 43, who just ended an eight-year term on the IOC as a member of IOC Athletes Commission. The speed skater won China’s first Winter Olympic gold medal.

    Linda Helleland of Norway, 42, will serve as WADA secretary general. The former Minister of Children and Equality, Helleland sought the WADA presidency but could not secure the nomination from Europe, won by Banka.

    It’s fair to say that Banka and colleagues will bring a fresh perspective to WADA at a time that it may be needed.

    For five years WADA has been mired in the miasma of the Russian doping scandal. After being conditionally reinstated, Russia could be on the verge of non-compliance
    Former speed skater Yang Yang is new vice president for WADA. (Getty Images)
    again. Even though Reedie will try to settle that question before he steps down in December, it’s a good bet Russia will be the scandal that keeps on giving in 2020 and beyond.

    At the least, Banka and the new leadership of WADA have the task of rebuilding the trust some athletes believe was ruptured over how Russia was handled. It’s not a small point. Athlete trust in WADA is fundamental to winning the fight against doping.

    Not an IOC member, Banka should
    Banka takes office Jan. 1. Craig Reedie has served since 2013. (ATR)
    be able to minimize concerns over potential conflict of interests. Reedie’s IOC status has been raised as an issue by critics along the timeline of the Russia saga, but he’s focused on navigating a path towards the truth.

    Reedie still has two months to go before his term officially ends. Two more meetings of the WADA executive as it tries to sort out the latest twists involving Russian anti-doping. Protocol demands that Banka observe, not obviate in this transition.

    Nonetheless, this week he gave a good indication he’s ready to shake things up at WADA. In remarks at the opening of the world conference, he labeled as “ridiculous” the agency’s $40 million budget. Not afraid to shame, he said average football clubs had bigger budgets.

    Governments can do more, Banka says, but so can sponsors of sport.

    “If you want sport to be clean, you need to increase your financial support for the fight against doping in sport,” he told the WADA conference.

    Coca-Cola. Visa. Samsung. Dow. Intel. Alibaba.

    Witold Banka is looking for you.

    Reported by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.
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