Poland's Banka poised to be next WADA president after winning vote
Witold Banka, the Polish sport and tourism minister, is in line to become the next president of the World Anti-Doping Agency after prevailing in a vote to decide the successor to Craig Reedie.
The 34-year-old Banka (pictured), an elite 400-metres runner, was chosen ahead of Marcos Diaz, the vice-minister of sport and tourism in the Dominican Republic, to be the preferred candidate at a meeting of the 21 government representatives on the WADA executive committee in Montreal on Tuesday.
The vote came ahead of full meetings of the executive committee and foundation board in the Canadian city today and Thursday.
If there are no other challengers, Banka will be confirmed as the fourth president of WADA at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in the Polish city of Katowice on 5 to 7 November, and start his three-year term at the start of 2020.
Anyone else who comes forward would require the support of at least one foundation board member and to submit their candidacy to WADA before the deadline of the end of this month.
Banka told Polish television news channel TVP Info: “This is an important moment for Poland. Being chosen is a great honour, but also a great responsibility.”
Banka was put forward by Europe and Diaz, a former international swimmer, by the Americas, amid calls for athletes to have greater influence at WADA in the wake of various controversies.
The organisation came in for heavy criticism, including from many athletes, over its decision last September to lift the suspension on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency even though it had not met all of the conditions laid down for reinstatement.
RUSADA was suspended in 2015 at the height of a major alleged state-supported doping scandal.
Briton Reedie, who became WADA president at the start of 2014, steadfastly defended the lifting of the suspension, insisting it was necessary to break the deadlock in negotiations.
WADA has this year gained access to data and samples from the Moscow laboratory that was at the heart of the scandal, one of the conditions for the reinstatement of RUSADA.
An update on the case is due to be presented at the meetings over the next two days.
Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and an outspoken critic of WADA’s approach to Russia, is looking forward to working with Banka, saying: “We are excited and ready to get to work with him and those committed to protecting clean sport to achieve the mutual goals of restoring trust to the organisation with athletes and the public, most importantly giving all athletes a true voice in the fight against doping.”