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New Wada president calls for sponsor support; IOC pledges $10m

Witold Banka, who will take over as Wada president on 1 January 2020 (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images for IAAF)

Witold Bańka, the Polish Tourism and Sports Minister who will take over as the new president of the World Anti-Doping Agency on January 1, has called on sport’s commercial sponsors to contribute financially towards the fight against doping. 

Bańka told delegates at the ongoing World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice, Poland that Wada urgently needs to increase its revenues and annual budget of around $40m (£31m/€36m) in order to maintain its fight against doping. He claimed that brands should contribute as part of their corporate responsibility. 

He said: “I am not the Christopher Columbus of anti-doping policy. It is not a new idea to engage big sponsors as part of their corporate social responsibility.” 

Bańka said that getting sponsors to help fund Wada would be “one of the biggest tasks” facing him when he replaces Scotland’s Sir Craig Reedie as Wada president from the start of next year.

Wada reported income of $35.4m in 2018, up from $32m in 2017.

Meanwhile, Bańka’s plea for extra funding from the International Olympic Committee has been answered, with the body’s president, Thomas Bach, announcing that it will commit $10m to support a four-point “action plan” to strengthen Wada’s fight against doping. 

A total of $5m of that amount will go towards storing test samples from pre-Olympics testing for ten years, while the other $5m will be put towards stepping up scientific research efforts and strengthening the investigative powers of Wada itself. 

Bach also called for stronger punishments for those supporting athletes who are found to be doping, saying: “We need zero tolerance for everybody: athletes and entourage.

“By putting the focus more on the entourage, by holding everybody implicated in a doping case accountable in a robust and deterrent way, and by close cooperation between all anti-doping stakeholders, we can take a major step forward to strengthen justice and credibility for the protection of the clean athletes and to drain the doping swamp.”

Bach was also keen to underline progress made since the last Wada World Conference (in Johannesburg in 2013).

He remarked: “The creation of the ITA was made possible by start-up funding of $30 million from the IOC. The overarching goal of the ITA is to make anti-doping testing independent from sports organisations. In today’s world, where perception is unfortunately so often becoming reality, it is more important than ever to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest.

“We have also increased our financial support to Wada. Together with the governments, we have approved a 47-per-cent cumulative budget increase from about $30 million in 2017 to about $44 million in 2022.”

He added that the financial contribution from sport’s combined stakeholders is estimated at $260 million during the four-year Olympic cycle.