Witold Bańka has called for WADA vice-president Linda Helleland to step down during the campaign ©Getty Images

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Presidential candidate Witold Bańka has called for challenger Linda Helleland to step down as vice-president during her campaign for the top job at the global watchdog to ensure a fairer election race.

The Polish Sports Minister also criticised Helleland's attendance at an anti-doping summit held at the White House last week, claiming her appearance did not "fall within any of the good governance principles".

In a lengthy statement issued today, which represents the latest indication of a potentially-bitter campaign to succeed Sir Craig Reedie as WADA President, Bańka said the Norwegian's position as vice-president gives her an unfair advantage.

The 34-year-old former athlete claimed Helleland, who has openly criticised the WADA leadership in the fallout to the Russian doping scandal and cast one of two votes opposing the country's reinstatement in September, should not be reappointed until May 2019.

Bańka added that this should happen "once selected as a single candidate of the public authorities".

He also spoke out on the recent divide between athletes and WADA, accusing politicians who have never had a sporting career of using their call for change for "personal reasons".

"Athletes need to be treated with respect and to take part in the decision making processes," he said.

"However, I am not in favour of putting their call forward in a highly political manner. 

"The interests of athletes should never be used, especially by politicians and other officials, to solve their personal issues with WADA."

Bańka's comments further enforce the suggestion that he is the chosen candidate of the sports movement, which has considerable influence in the election campaign.

Under the rotational system currently in place, the next President should come from the Governmental side.

WADA Presidents are elected by the 38-member Foundation Board, which consists of an equal balance of representatives from sport and public authorities.

If all the sporting members unite behind one candidate, however, it will only need one public authority figure to break ranks for their choice to be accepted. 

The timeline for the election process is among several key items on the agenda when WADA holds Executive Committee and Foundation Board meetings in Azerbaijan's capital Baku next week.

The Polish Sports Minister has criticised the recent conduct of WADA vice-president Linda Helleland, left ©Twitter
The Polish Sports Minister has criticised the recent conduct of WADA vice-president Linda Helleland, left ©Twitter

"There is a call from the European Governments for the electoral process to give equal campaigning opportunities to all the candidates," said Bańka, who won gold medals in the 4x400 metres relay at the 2005 European Under-23 Championships and the 2007 Summer Universiade.

"However, I am afraid that won't be possible as one of the candidates is the current WADA vice-president who takes the advantage of this position in her campaign. 

"For example, Minister Helleland took part in the gathering at the White House in her capacity of the vice-president. 

"I don't think this practice falls within any of the good governance principles. 

"Moreover, Minister Helleland seems to be in disagreement with the current policy of the organisation co-led by her. 

"Therefore, taking both circumstances into account, I strongly suggest that Minister Helleland should step down as WADA vice-president for the whole time of her Presidential campaign."

Bańka also attempted to appeal to the athletes who have criticised the direction taken by WADA regarding Russia, claiming his agenda for President is "dedicated to athletes' rights".

Helleland has positioned herself as the preferred choice of athletes, who condemned a proposal made by the African Union of public authority representatives that their candidate should be at least 45 years of age.

The Norwegian is 41, although should the proposal come to fruition, it would also rule out 34-year-old Bańka.

Bańka has promised to engage athletes in the anti-doping decision making process, insisting "all the major changes to the system at both levels should first be discussed" with them.

He has also vowed to establish a separate financial mechanism called the Anti-Doping Solidarity Fund, to "finance capacity building and partnership projects at the national level".

The money would come from sponsors as well as Governments and sport, the current funding model in operation at WADA, and the solidarity fund would function independently.

Developing a strong network of laboratories to address the "huge geographical disproportion" as most accredited facilities are in Europe is cited as another aim.