WADA President Witold Bańka held a virtual meeting with James Carroll ©Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and United States Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have held a "very positive meeting", which appears to represent a thaw in the relationship between the two parties.

A report published by the ONDCP sparked a public row between the United States and WADA earlier this year.

The ONDCP had claimed "insufficient progress" had been made by WADA working groups convened in November 2016 to explore options to reform.

The ONDCP also questioned whether the country's investment into the organisation is worthwhile and was critical of the country's lack of representation within WADA's governance.

This prompted a threat from the US to withhold its annual payment of $2.7 million (£2.03 million/€2.27 million) in WADA funding, more than any other nation.

With the International Olympic Committee matching Government funding, this amounts to $5.4 million (£4.06 million/€4.55 million).

WADA President Witold Bańka later claimed the organisation had been approached by nations to encourage it to introduce legislation which would see the US become non-compliant with the WADA Code should it withhold funding.

Non-compliance can potentially have an impact on countries' ability to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as bidding for major international events.

A joint statement confirmed WADA President Bańka and James Carroll, the director of the ONDCP and the American public authority representative on WADA’s Foundation Board, had held a meeting yesterday (November 6).

The meeting was billed as covering "matters of interest to the two organisations with the goal of better working together for the good of athletes and the global anti-doping system."

WADA and the United States have clashed in recent months ©Getty Images
WADA and the United States have clashed in recent months ©Getty Images

"In what was a very positive meeting, the two organisations agreed that the U.S. Government was vital for the protection of clean sport around the world, and that they would pursue strong and open bilateral communication going forward," the statement read.

"Mr. Banka and Mr. Carroll were united in the view that this was an important meeting, where WADA and the ONDCP were able to discuss a number of areas of mutual concern in an open and honest way.

"Mr. Carroll reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to work with WADA, from within WADA.

"They both agreed that the partnership between WADA and the U.S. Government was vitally important for the protection of clean sport around the world.

"As such, they committed to strengthening this partnership going forward and saw this meeting as an important step along a renewed path of dialogue and collaboration."

Discussions reportedly centred around the ongoing reforms to WADA’s governance, including US Government and athlete representation within WADA’s committee structures.

The meeting also saw discussion about how the two organisations can work together to strengthen and harmonise the anti-doping system in the US, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on the global anti-doping system.

United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief executive Sarah Hirshland last month confirmed the USOPC has nominated athletes to sit on WADA bodies, including the WADA Athletes’ Committee.

The meeting potentially marks a soothing of the relationship between the US and WADA, who have also clashed repeatedly over the former's attempts to pass the Rodchenkov Act into American law.

The Act could enable fines of up to $1 million (£766,000/€845,000) and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.

Individual athletes who get caught doping would not be subject to punishment under the law.

WADA has claimed the law could undermine the anti-doping system by creating overlapping laws in different jurisdictions, while the organisation has repeatedly highlighted that it would exclude professional leagues and all college sport in the US.