Witold Bańka has defended WADA from criticism ©Getty Images

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Bańka believes time has shown the watchdog made the correct decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in 2018, while he has again defended the organisation from American criticism.

Bańka, speaking to Polish website The First News, addressed recent tensions with the United States following the publication of a White House Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) report and efforts to pass the Rodchenkov Act into law.

The Pole inherited the fall-out of the Russian doping crisis when he assumed the WADA Presidency earlier this year, following his election last year to replace Sir Craig Reedie.

RUSADA was controversially reinstated by WADA in 2018, with the move breaking a period of deadlock and leading to access to Moscow Laboratory.

In December, WADA’s Executive Committee approved the recommendation of its Compliance Review Committee (CRC) to again deem RUSADA non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, for failing to provide an "authentic" copy of the laboratory's data.

The CRC has alleged that this data was manipulated before being handed over to investigators, which was a requirement for restoring RUSADA's compliance with the code in September 2018.

Among the sanctions WADA has imposed on RUSADA is a four-year ban on the Russian flag flying at the Olympic Games and World Championships.

Russia has also been barred from bidding for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is set to be stripped of any World Championships it has been awarded.

RUSADA has appealed the WADA decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Bańka believes gaining access to the data and the possible disqualification of athletes involved in doping cases proves WADA made the correct decision to reinstate RUSADA back in 2018.

The Russian doping crisis has been one of the major challenges for WADA in recent years ©Getty Images
The Russian doping crisis has been one of the major challenges for WADA in recent years ©Getty Images

"Time has shown that it was the right decision," he told The First News.

"Thanks to the decision, it was finally possible to obtain samples and data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.

"Although the re-analysis of these samples is still ongoing, we already have samples of more than 50 athletes in which prohibited substances have been detected and whose disqualifications can be expected.

"In addition, data from the Moscow Laboratory, which we would not have obtained without the RUSADA reinstatement decision, allowed us to prepare 298 case packages that we have handed over to the relevant anti-doping organisations to take further steps against these athletes, if possible.

"Finally, without this decision, there would be no RUSADA non-compliance case that is currently being reviewed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

"As you can see, it was a difficult decision, maybe controversial at the time, but good.

"However, there was not enough explanation on what it could bring."

WADA has faced criticism throughout the Russian doping crisis, with the US a vocal critic of the organisation.

Last month, the ONDCP threatened to pull its funding of WADA unless the international body undergoes major reform.

In a report to the US Congress, the ONDCP questioned whether the country's investment was "value for money" and that it expected WADA to "operate in a transparent, accountable and independent manner".

The US pays more to WADA than any other nation, with its annual $2.7 million (£2.17 million/€2.39 million) contribution matched by the International Olympic Committee..

WADA's handling of the Russian doping crisis was singled out for criticism, with the report claiming there were "inadequacies" ahead of the key CAS appeal in November.

Doubts were expressed over WADA's "independence" and its capacity to "firmly, effectively, and in a timely manner, enforce compliance with the code, hold major countries accountable under the rules and uphold the expectations of clean athletes".

The US has also asked for greater American representation within WADA.

Bańka questioned the motivation of the report, which the WADA President deemed to be "full of inaccuracies and errors".

"It outlines some expectations towards WADA to take concrete actions, part of which does not even fall within WADA's accountability," he said.

"This completely undermines the credibility of the report.

"A few people know what motivates this report.

"Some time ago, the Congress decided that the US Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) budget and the US financial contribution to WADA were in one envelope.

"This therefore may indicate that this report is an attempt by USADA to raise more funds for its activities at the expense of WADA.

"We know that USADA was heavily consulted in the drafting of this report."

Bańka said he was looking to meet and talk constructively with ONDCP director James Carroll, saying there needed to be "good cooperation" between WADA and the US to help combat doping in sport.

He expressed concerns that the ONDCP report was designed to undermine WADA's role.

"I don't want to speculate on motives," Bańka said.

"However, I have the impression that USADA would like to take control of the global anti-doping system.

"This entire report is an attempt to undermine WADA as a global regulator for anti-doping by framing WADA as an organisation that's allegedly not up to the task."

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) issued a statement on Friday (July 3) which backed calls for WADA to have more independent members and a greater participation of athletes in the decision-making process.

The Polish Anti-Doping Agency (POLADA) and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) have both distanced themselves from iNADO's statement.

The former described the ONDCP report as an attempt to have a "political or financial influence" on WADA.

WADA has been heavily criticised in a recent ONDCP report in the United States ©Getty Images
WADA has been heavily criticised in a recent ONDCP report in the United States ©Getty Images

"Concerns brought up by US ONDCP should be discussed in constructive dialogue not with use of threat or blackmail," a POLADA statement read.

"That doesn't increase the credibility of the anti-doping community and it is a try to discourage the world anti-doping system which was built for years based on efforts made by Governments and the sports movement.

"The proposal of matching funding with representation in the Executive Committee and Foundation Board of WADA is deeply undemocratic and against international principles and good practices.

"Also we would like to inform that POLADA do not share the statement released by iNADO, which was in a misleading way made in a name of all member national anti-doping organisations."

AFLD President Dominique Laurent said the anti-doping community should be united in its efforts.

"The effectiveness of the fight against doping relies on international cooperation and harmonisation," Laurent said.

"It requires a global, multilateral, strong and legitimate regulator.

"This role falls to the World Anti-Doping Agency under the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sport, which brings together 189 countries.

"One should be able to criticise a regulator in a constructive way, but any action undermining WADA's position actually weakens the fight against doping.

"The promotion of good governance rules, the prevention of conflicts of interest and the fair representation of stakeholders, in particular athletes, are essential to an effective and sustainable global anti-doping system.

"The work initiated by WADA must continue with all members of the anti-doping community standing united."