KATOWICE, Poland — Witold Banka, the sports activities minister of Poland and president-elect of the World Anti-Doping Agency, is stuffed with concepts. His largest one, although, may be a tricky promote.
Banka, who at 35 is lower than half the age of the person he’ll succeed on Jan. 1, this week proposed the creation of a so-called solidarity mechanism that would supply drug testing in components of the world the place, presently, it’s virtually nonexistent. It is a daring initiative, and an costly one, however Banka is proposing that or not it’s financed by company sponsors.
“This is ridiculous we have less than $40 million and we are the global regulator of antidoping,” Banka stated. That determine is a reference to WADA’s price range, which is made up of contributions from public our bodies — the biggest contribution comes from the United States — and the International Olympic Committee.
Banka, a former 400-meter runner, stated this week that sponsors ought to kick in, too. He raised the concept of a solidarity fund in remarks Tuesday at a WADA convention held in his hometown, then expanded on his proposal in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.
While his optimism was plentiful, the probability of success could also be low. An analogous fund-raising arm created by WADA a number of years in the past — additionally aimed toward drawing in private-sector donations — yielded nothing. And when Banka revealed his preliminary proposal this week, the pinnacle of worldwide sponsorships at Coca-Cola — among the many largest buyers in international sports activities — took to social media to say any dialog in search of funds would doubtless be “very brief.”
The I.O.C. this week pledged to present as a lot as $10 million extra to WADA, however that’s not sufficient to fulfill all the necessities positioned on the group to police doping world wide. WADA additionally continues to wrestle with the aftermath of the 2015 Russian doping scandal, and subsequent month it’s anticipated to decide on Russia’s latest transgressions, which could lead to a new, more sweeping sporting suspension for the country.
It was when the Russian scandal first broke that WADA’s outgoing president, Craig Reedie, went public with longstanding complaints bemoaning how a lack of financial firepower was preventing WADA from fulfilling its mission. Reedie, 78, said at the time that sponsors and media companies in the $145 billion sports industry also needed to play a part in keeping sports clean.
Reedie said then that he would begin knocking on the doors of the biggest corporations to ask for contributions. But as he plans to depart, those efforts have been met with silence.
“The problem with the corporate world is WADA doesn’t provide the corporate world with any marketable benefits,” Reedie said, conceding that he may have been too ambitious in his plans. He suggested Banka would do better reaching out to officials he knows who have access to government coffers.
The demands on WADA are higher than ever. Doping investigations in Russia and elsewhere have at times overwhelmed its investigative arm, while attempts to hack WADA’s computer systems have required expensive investments in defending against cyberattacks.
“I am not naïve, I am optimistic,” said Banka, who became Poland’s sports minister at 31. He suggested he had a commitment from the head of Poland’s main oil company to contribute to his antidoping fund, which he said would focus mostly on countries, particularly in Africa, where he said precompetition testing programs are inadequate or nonexistent.
“We are forgetting it’s not fair on athletes from the United States, Britain, Poland or Germany which are from countries with strong antidoping policies that they are competing with athletes from countries without controls.”
Banka has been more tight-lipped when it comes to WADA’s ongoing dispute with Russia. He said he did not want to prejudge the most recent investigation, in which Russia is accused of making thousands of changes to an athlete database in an effort to cover up failed drug tests by former athletes.
WADA investigators are in the process of making a final submission to a committee led by a British lawyer, Jonathan Taylor. That committee will make a recommendation to WADA’s board about whether Russia should face new penalties, which could include a ban from global sports. Taylor told The Times in September that Russia would need to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” to provide a legitimate explanation for manipulating the database.
Banka, at least this week, was urging caution. “Please wait for the future decision,” he said. “I need to remind you my term in office starts Jan. 1 next year. My attitude to this case and other cases regarding antidoping will be very tough.”
Like his departing colleagues, though, Banka said he had concerns — which are shared by the International Olympic Committee — over proposed legislation in the United States that would criminalize international doping conspiracies.
Banka said that although he supports some aspects to the legislation, which has passed the House of Representatives and now requires Senate approval, its implications need to be better understood. If passed, the act would give the United States authorities far-reaching powers to tackle international sporting bodies.
Globally, sports officials have been wary of the reach of American law enforcement since 2015, when the Department of Justice unveiled a sweeping indictment and arrested dozens of officials linked to soccer’s global governing body, FIFA.
“WADA has some concerns about extraterritoriality,” Banka said, declining to elaborate.