Ex-athletes vying to succeed Reedie as WADA president
The World Anti-Doping Agency is poised to choose between two former athletes to be its next president.
Witold Banka, a former middle distance runner, from Poland, and Marcos Diaz, a swimmer from the Dominican Republic, have been put forward to succeed Craig Reedie of Great Britain.
The 21 government representatives on the WADA executive committee and foundation board were set to meet in Montreal today to select a preferred candidate.
Full meetings of the committee and board are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
The next president will not be formally elected until the World Conference on Doping in Sport in November, but seems almost certain to be Banka or Diaz after they were the only two candidates put forward by the five continental regions, the former by Europe and the latter by the Americas, ahead of a deadline of the end of this month.
The 34-year-old Banka is Poland’s minister of sport and tourism, while the 44-year-old Diaz is vice-minister of sport and tourism in the Dominican Republic.
Both sit on the WADA executive committee and foundation board.
The successful candidate will be looking to restore confidence in the agency after it came in for heavy criticism, including from many athletes, over its handling of the Russian doping scandal of recent years.
Last September, WADA lifted the suspension on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency even though it had not met all of the conditions laid down for reinstatement.
RUSADA had been suspended in 2015 amid a major alleged state-supported doping controversy.
Reedie has defended the decision to end the suspension, insisting it was necessary to break the deadlock in negotiations, and 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 few days.
Meanwhile, Yuri Ganus, the director of RUSADA, has called for the the leadership of ARAF, the Russian athletics federation, to be axed to help ensure the country’s track and field athletes can compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
A letter sent to Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, and seen by Reuters, proposes the dismissal of ARAF president Dmitry Shlyakhtin, other federation leaders and all national team coaches.
ARAF remains suspended by the IAAF although athletics’ world governing body has cleared some Russian athletes to take part in international events.
The letter from Ganus reads: “Given that there is critically little time left until the start of the 2020 Olympics, and there is much to do in coordination with IAAF, work toward the transformation of the federation requires an immediate resolution.”
He also called for the creation of an international work group involving Russian and foreign officials to help bring the country back into the international athletics fold.
Ganus wrote: “The Russian athletics federation needs real change. We have to stop deceiving not only all those around us, but ourselves first and foremost.”
ARAF has yet to respond to the letter, but Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov told the TASS news agency that Ganus’ proposals were “untimely.”
Russia was banned by the International Olympic Committee from fielding an official team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and PyeongChang 2018 winter Olympics as punishment for alleged state-sponsored doping at the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics.
However, in a controversial move, some athletes with no history of doping permitted to compete at both games under the banner of ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’.