The United States Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has submitted a report on World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) governance to Congress, which highlights 10 challenges facing the organisation and leaves open the possibility of reducing American funding for WADA.
The global anti-doping watchdog has "already shown a willingness" to reform, according to the ONDCP, but the Government agency wants to see "real progress and a path for more substantial future reforms" at this month's Foundation Board meeting before making a funding decision.
The United States is due to pay $2.9 million (£2.2 million/€2.5 million) to WADA in 2021 - more than any other country.
WADA has acknowledged the report, saying it is glad to see "the hard work and considerable progress achieved by the Agency during the past year" recognised.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has also commented on the report, welcoming "ONDCP’s leadership and clear willingness to engage in actionable discussion regarding reform of WADA".
The report has been filed following a period of frosty relations between WADA and the ONDCP, which is now under new leadership with Regina LaBelle acting director as of January.
It outlines governance reforms already made by WADA, the areas the ONDCP sees as the biggest challenges moving forward, and what is billed as "a roadmap on how to begin addressing them".
"The core question with regard to WADA reform is not whether or not it is possible for the organization to make necessary reforms; it has already shown a willingness to do so," according to the report.
"Those steps are appreciated and recognized.
"Rather, the fundamental issue is whether, as WADA proceeds forward with incremental reforms, this momentum for reform will grow to the point where it can bring fundamental change to the organization."
On that note, utilising "the opportunity for governance review to foster major reforms" is the first of the 10 challenges listed.
Making sure "WADA appointees are fully Independent and free of the appearance, or at times, the reality of a conflict of interest" is another of the identified challenges, and one of the major issues facing WADA.
The report outlines concerns with the existing General Standard of Independence, which it says is not indicative of true independence, and suggests a two-year cooling-off period which would prohibit anyone from taking on a WADA role if they held a position in the last 24 months which could represent a conflict of interest.
WADA should also consider further reforms to its Executive Committee as it "may not be sufficiently independent, is duplicative of the Foundation Board, and is subject to the appearance, or the reality, of conflicts of interest," according to the report.
The 14-person Executive Committee features five International Olympic Committee members, three of whom are International Federation Presidents, compared to only two independent appointments.
There are also five representatives of Public Authorities, plus the WADA President and vice-president.
WADA's Foundation Board, it says, should be altered to address "potential undue influence by the Olympic Movement", with the inclusion of independent athletes and national anti-doping bodies suggested.
Eighteen figures on the 38-member Foundation Board come from the Olympic Movement at present.
Increasing both "participation of National Anti-Doping Organizations within its structure" and the number of "Independent Athletes inside the organization" are also on the list of 10 challenges, along with expanding stakeholder engagement.
WADA must also consider how to offer struggling signatories of the World Anti-Doping Code further support, says the ONDCP report, as well as identifying and implementing a policy on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Finally, the Court of Arbitration for Sport "lacks transparency and independence and has failed to adequately sanction state-sponsored doping", is is deemed.
"WADA’s voice is needed to help address this," says the report.
In response, WADA President Witold Bańka highlighted reforms already made and expressed hope that US would play a "constructive leadership role" within the organisation in the years to come.
"WADA takes note that the ONDCP recognises the hard work and considerable progress achieved by the Agency during the past year," Banka said.
"Enhancing our governance model, increasing our independence and ensuring that athletes remain at the forefront of everything WADA does continues to be a key priority of my Presidency.
"On that front, I am proud of WADA’s accomplishments to date.
"There is more work to be done in this area and, in collaboration with all of our diverse stakeholders, including the US Government, we will continue to make meaningful improvements, following a democratic and consultative process, on how the Agency is governed to ensure it evolves together with our role and with the global fight against doping in sport in general.
"The long-standing partnership between WADA and the US Government is important for the protection of clean sport around the world.
"As a founding member of WADA, the US Government has historically played a significant and constructive leadership role.
"We anticipate that the Biden-Harris Administration will work with us to maintain that position."
Bańka said he looked forward to welcoming LaBelle to her first meeting of the Foundation Board on Friday (May 21) and had invited the acting director to "play a leading role in WADA’s development of a Code of Ethics and formation of an independent Ethics Board".
The WADA President also highlighted once more the fact that the vast majority of professional American sports leagues, like top-level collegiate athletics in the US, do not follow the World Anti-Doping Code.
"WADA continues to offer its support to the US Government, the ONDCP and the United States Anti-Doping Agency in their efforts to strengthen the fight against doping in their country," added Bańka.
"Currently, approximately 90 per cent of American athletes do not compete under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code, with the main professional leagues and college sports so far operating outside that protection.
"WADA was formed 22 years ago on a foundation of international cooperation and collaboration between Public Authorities and the Sports Movement, with the US Government very much to the fore.
"We are focused on moving forward and meeting today’s challenges together in a spirit of partnership."
USADA, in a joint statement with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council, welcomed the ONDCP report.
"We commend ONDCP for its review of WADA’s governance model, identifying the predominant challenges facing the global anti-doping system, and for its constructive approach in identifying 'Ten Challenges' facing WADA governance and needing reform," said the statement.
"As well as providing concrete and specific proposals for these major reforms included within the report.
"ONDCP’s leadership and clear willingness to engage in actionable discussion regarding reform of WADA is at an inflection point in anti-doping history and is welcomed by athletes and clean sport advocates."