Washington, United States, Jun 25 – A US government study has recommended that US lawmakers be given the power to withhold funding to the World Anti-Doping Agency if the global drugs watchdog fails to implement governance reforms.
In a 19-page report, the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy criticised WADA over its response to the Russian doping affair, saying the agency had failed to hold Moscow to account for the scandal.
“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 rejected the ONDCP study’s findings in a strongly worded statement, saying it was littered with “multiple inaccuracies, misconceptions and falsehoods.”
“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 United States provides $2.7 million in funding to WADA each year, making it the largest single government contributor to the agency’s funding.
However the ONDCP study questioned whether the United States was receiving value for money 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.”
– Report ‘makes no sense’ –
WADA rejected the suggestion however that representation should be linked to the size of a country’s financial contribution.
“The notion that countries should be represented in proportion to the amount of money they provide makes no sense,” WADA said in response.
“If governments were represented in line with how much funding they provided WADA, it would bar any representation from entire continents, let alone certain nations.”
The ONDCP report said WADA’s governance should be reformed to include independent athlete and anti-doping representatives on its committees and decision-making bodies.
The study also called for WADA’s leadership to be “free from undue influence by sports organisations with a direct financial interest in WADA decisions.”
“This can be accomplished by reducing the number of sport organization representatives in current governance, policymaking, or executive positions within sport organizations on WADA committees and decision-making bodies,” the study concluded.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency has long criticised WADA’s governance structure, questioning whether the organisation can operate independently with so many sports federation officials and International Olympic Committee members wielding influence within the agency.
The ONDCP report also called for representation on WADA’s foundation board and executive committee to be linked to the size of financial contributions, increasing the number of representatives from the United States.
“ONDCP should have the explicit authority to withhold and/or decrease funding if WADA fails to meet basic standards for effectiveness, independence, transparency, and responsiveness to the athlete voice, and fails to promote US representation commensurate with the United States’ financial contributions to WADA,” the study found.
WADA however noted that the US had more representatives across its committees and advisory bodies than any other nation, with 11 representatives in WADA governance roles.
“And this US influence is nothing new,” WADA said in its statement.
“In fact, in every year since our formation, there have been more U.S. representatives across WADA bodies than any other nation.”
WADA added that it was finalising a response to the ONDCP study that will be sent to the US Congress “in the coming days.”