January 30, 2019 / 4:32 PM / 7 months ago

Europe chooses Polish sports minister as candidate to head WADA

FILE PHOTO: A technician walks down the hallway at the Doping Control Laboratory, at the National Institute of Scientific Research Centre (INRS) Institute Armand-Frappier in Laval, Quebec, Canada January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s sport minister Witold Banka has been chosen as Europe’s candidate to become the next head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has continued to face criticism over its handling of its Russian affiliate.

Banka had proposed establishing a separate funding mechanism to help countries with less developed anti-doping systems fight the problem. He also wants to improve communication with athletes and engage them in anti-doping activities, establish more anti-doping laboratories worldwide and improve cooperation between governments and the sports movement.

Poland’s Ministry of Sport and Tourism said on Wednesday that Banka had received 28 votes to be Europe’s candidate and defeated Norwegian politician Linda Helleland, who got 16 votes, and Belgian politician Philippe Muyters on five votes.

“This is a great honor, a great privilege for me and also a huge responsibility,” Banka told Poland’s state-owned news agency after winning the vote. WADA will vote on a new president at a conference from Nov. 5-7 in Katowice, Poland.

Last week, WADA decided not to re-impose a suspension on Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA despite Moscow missing a deadline to hand over laboratory data.

WADA last year voted, subject to certain conditions, to lift the ban on RUSADA, which it suspended in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

But for RUSADA to keep its accreditation, Russia had to provide WADA with data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory by the end of last year, which it failed to do. WADA said on Jan 17 that it had finally recovered data from the Russians.

The WADA presidency rotates between government representatives and the sports movement.

Reporting by Anna Koper and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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