Minister Witold Bańka is running for the presidency of the World Anti-Doping Agency
I intend to build unity within WADA, to strengthen the partnership between the governments and the sports movement and to look for compromises on issues most difficult for both sides Minister Witold Bańka
On 27 June 2018, at a press briefing, Minister Bańka confirmed that he plans to run for the Presidency of the World Anti-Doping Agency. The election to replace the current president is due to take place at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice in November 2019. Europe’s candidate for the position is likely to be recommended by the end of this year. Witold Bańka also presented the main objectives of his programme.
Strengthened anti-doping system "Strengthening the system requires capacity building at all levels"
Media like to focus attention on big doping scandals. However, the most troubling issue seems to be the quality of the everyday global anti-doping activities at national level. Analyzing the testing figures from 2016 and information on the nationality of all the Olympic medalists from the Rio 2016 Games, athletes representing countries where anti-doping systems did not exist at the time of the Games or where the number of samples collected during the whole of 2016 was less than 100, won almost 10% of all medals. Moreover, only half of the countries represented at the Rio Olympic Games had in 2016 a National Anti-Doping Organization established with a national doping control system in place. Is this a fair environment for the clean athletes?
Therefore, we need to focus on capacity building at national level. A network of properly functioning National Anti-Doping Organizations is crucial for the whole system.
Sport is well known for its solidarity mechanisms based on support given by the well developed to the less developed. A similar mechanism might be established in the anti-doping field.
I see the following way to achieve it:
Developing the partnership program between the NADOs but without any fees paid to the helpers (for now the NADO providing assistance decides on the fee, but the truth is that demanding a fee from a less developed NADO that lacks sufficient resources for everyday activities is unfair);
Establishing a separate financial mechanism, the so-called Anti-Doping Solidarity Fund, to finance the capacity building and partnership projects at national level. The Fund should operate in close cooperation with WADA but in an independent way (no WADA staff or ExCo and Foundation Board members involved in managing the fund). The sponsors, the sports movement and governments might supply the Fund. However, it needs to be discussed with the sports movement and all the governments around the world. Poland is ready to contribute to the Fund once it is established (by finding sponsors in the country) and to host its office.
The Athletes "The anti-doping system should serve the athletes not the other way around"
The following issues should be addressed:
The anti-doping system is very complex and bureaucratic. There are ad hoc procedures and many ongoing processes. As a consequence, it is not easy for athletes to become familiar with all the aspects of the system and get the proper information that he or she needs.
WADA at the global level and NADOs at the national level should focus their efforts on the proper and well-structured communication with athletes. They are the reason for which the anti-doping system was established. Therefore, all the major changes to the system (at both levels) should first be discussed with the athletes. All athletes should receive sufficient and very well tailored information about what is going on in their countries and globally and what their rights and obligations are.
One of the major weaknesses of WADA exposed by the Russian crisis was a lack of communication, especially with athletes. The outcome of all the investigations and follow-up processes was not properly shared with the athletes. In consequence many of them lost their confidence in the system.
Athletes should be engaged in anti-doping activities, including the decision-making processes. Only if they feel they are part of the system, will they be confident enough to defend it against cheats. Therefore, the Athletes’ Commission should be established within every NADO and athletes should be represented on its Board. Moreover, I strongly support appointing an independent athlete ombudsman to represent athletes in front of WADA.
Laboratories "Quality first but quantity follows"
Most WADA accredited laboratories are located in Europe. There is a huge geographical disproportion in this respect between the continents. Nevertheless, even in Europe there is room for more laboratories, especially when the total number of samples collected by all the European NADOs is taken into account.
There is a need for more WADA accredited laboratories worldwide, including in Europe. Any considerations regarding potential new laboratories, especially in Europe, should be based on more complex criteria than the capacity of the existing laboratories and the opinion of the Anti-Doping Organizations should be taken into account. Having more laboratories – on the condition that they provide high-quality services - help to reduce the costs of anti-doping programs in general even if they require constant investments.
My priority is to enhance the establishment of more WADA accredited laboratories worldwide, including in Europe, when there is a need expressed by different stakeholders. It should result in the overall increase in sample collection and a decrease in the costs of doping controls.
Cooperation among all stakeholders "Only together can we make WADA stronger"
WADA is based on a partnership between public authorities and the sports movement. It was created because the individual attempts of both stakeholders to fight doping had failed. The existing model proved to be effective and stable. WADA needs this partnership to move forward.
My task is to build bridges between the two major stakeholders and to seek compromise in case of challenging issues