By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Friday it was blindsided by a U.S. report that was riddled with misleading information and inaccuracies and which threatened to cut its funding.
In a strong rebuke to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) report to the U.S. Congress made public on Wednesday, WADA president Witold Banka accused ONDCP director James Carroll of knowingly ignoring errors in the document.
"You chose not to incorporate our clarifications. As the saying goes, ‘why let the truth get in the way of a good story’?," Banka said in the letter to Carroll seen by Reuters.
"I should think that you would want the U.S. Congress, and/or the appropriations committee, to deliberate and decide on WADA funding based on accurate information," added Banka.
WADA produced a 46-page rebuttal to the ONDCP's 19-page report, Witold urging Carroll to make the necessary corrections and deliver the updated version to Congress and to let him know when done.
As the largest single contributor to WADA's $37.4 million budget at just over $2.7 million this year, the ONDCP expressed concern over how U.S. taxpayer dollars were being spent and urged WADA to immediately act on badly needed reforms.
WADA insists the reforms are well underway and U.S. approved. They include term limits for all members of the Foundation Board, executive committee and standing committees, formation of an Independent Ethics Board and the addition of two independent seats to the ExCo.
The U.S. also complained that as WADA's major benefactor, outside of the International Olympic Committee which contributes half the agency's budget, it is under-represented and wanted a proportionate voice in the decision-making.
Banka said he was taken completely off guard by ONDCP criticism given that the U.S. in 2018 had approved WADA’s proposed governance reforms and more recently voted in favour of a new strategic plan for 2020-2024.
"The U.S.’s behavior around the Board table over the past years is simply irreconcilable with the allegations outlined within the report," said Banka.
WADA reminded Carroll that the U.S. has a spot on the Foundation Board and that it was outrageous to think rich nations could buy seats on various committees.
Banka noted that the U.S. government chose not to submit any nominations for the chairs to any WADA standing committees for 2020 yet still has greater representation (11) on governance bodies than any other nation.
Banka also warned the U.S. that before casting stones it should first get its own doping house in order, hinting the country has much work to do at home to ensure clean sport.
"One obvious way for the U.S. government to contribute more to the fight against doping in sport may well lie in increased efforts to protect young Americans that practise sport in an environment where the rules fall short of those established by WADA," Banka said.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)