The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will officially elect Poland’s Minister of Sport and Tourism as their new president at their meeting later this week.
Witold Bańka, an accomplished former 400m runner, would replace current president Sir Craig Reedie. Bańka retired from competitive athletics after failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
He was a member of the European Under-23 4×400 gold medal team and was also a bronze medallist at the 2007 World Championships. The 35-year-old political scientist has a personal best of 21.83s in the 200 metres (Bielsko-Biała 2006) and 46.11s in the 400 metres (Osaka 2007).
Bańka will be WADA’s fourth president, commencing his four-year term on 1 January 2020
China’s double Olympic gold-medal winning short-track speed skater, Yang Yang, is the vice-Presidential candidate to replace Linda Helleland of Norway. The 43-year-old was also the overall champion at the World Championship for a record six times between 1997-2002.
After 2003 World Championships, Yang Yang took time off competing, but came back in 2004–2005 season in lead-up to 2006 Winter Olympics where she won the bronze medal in 1000m race, before hanging up her skates for good.
She was elected as an IOC member in 2010, China’s fourth member in the organisation.
The two appointments would take place when WADA hosts more than 1,500 representatives from the clean sport community to Katowice, Poland, for its fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of WADA’s formation.
Looking ahead to his final set of meetings as president, Reedie couldn’t help but reflect on 20 years of challenge, adjustment and growth for WADA.
He said: “WADA was formed as a response to a widespread doping crisis and it has been at the forefront of protecting clean sport for two decades. Since the Agency’s formation, we have made huge strides in tackling the scourge of doping in sport and we continue to move forward positively on a range of fronts.
“It has been two decades of progress in the face of complex challenges. Founded in November 1999, WADA quickly collaborated with stakeholders and delivered the first edition of the Code in 2003 during the Second World Conference on Doping in Sport in Copenhagen. This was the first time in history that anti-doping rules were harmonized across sports and countries. International Standards were added in such key areas as the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, Therapeutic Use Exemptions, testing and investigations, accredited laboratories, data protection, and compliance.
“In parallel, WADA worked with the United Nations to help develop the UNESCO Convention Against Doping in Sport that provides public authorities with a legal framework through which they can address specific areas of doping that are outside the domain of the sports movement. The Convention was written in record time in 2005 and is now ratified by 188 countries, covering around 99% of the world’s population.
“At the time, WADA committed to ensuring that the Code would be a living document, subject to periodic review. In keeping with that commitment, the Board initiated two other stakeholder review processes that led to the 2009 and 2015 Codes. The purpose of revising the Code and Standards is to leverage WADA’s and stakeholders’ experience garnered through years of practical implementation in order to strengthen the global harmonized fight against doping in sport.
“Next week in Katowice, we gather together as a community to take stock of how far we have come, assess the current landscape and look ahead to shape the future of anti-doping in sport through the approval of the 2021 Code and Standards. Over the past 20 years — as a movement that includes athletes, governments, sports, laboratories, anti-doping organizations and others that are interested in clean sport — we have faced many challenges. This did not prevent us from making significant strides. We have come this far together and there is a lot more to do to ensure athletes can compete in a doping-free environment in all sports and all countries. Clearly, there will be more challenges ahead; and so, now more than ever, it is vitally important that we move the right way together for the benefit of athletes worldwide.”
On November 7, the Code would be presented for endorsement by WADA’s Foundation Board (Board) and the Standards being presented for endorsement by WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo).