(Reuters) - A leading anti-doping official from China urged the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and U.S. anti-doping authorities to end their escalating feud on Tuesday, saying collaboration was the best way to achieve drug-free sport.
Tensions rose last week when WADA fired back at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) over a report it sent to the U.S. Congress that threatened to cut funding to the global anti-doping body if sweeping reforms were not immediately undertaken.
As the largest single contributer to WADA’s budget, the report also indicated the U.S. wanted greater representation on the agency’s decision-making boards and committee.
In a scathing rebuke, WADA president Witold Banka accused ONDCP director James Carroll of knowingly ignoring factual errors in the document and misleading members of Congress.
“Why let the truth get in the way of a good story’?”, fumed Banka in a letter to Carroll.
China’s WADA Vice-President Yang Yang urged calm on Tuesday, calling for the two sides to come together in a fight against a common enemy.
“If the U.S. stops funding, it will surely damage the global fight against doping because the U.S. also shoulders important responsibilities in this cause,” Yang said in an interview on Xinhuanet News.
The U.S. contributed $2.7 million to WADA’s $37.4 million budget for 2020 and expressed concern in the ONDCP report on how taxpayer money was being spent.
China’s contribution to the 2020 core budget was $493,399 but the country made additional contributions of $993,915 in 2018 and $992,694 in 2019.
Based on the combined core and additional figures, China was WADA’s fourth largest contributer in 2019 behind Canada, the U.S. and Japan.
Yang warned that the U.S. idea of linking representation on WADA boards and committees to the amount of money contributed to budgets was flawed and could leave entire regions without a voice.
“ONDCP’s request, if granted, will lower the global representativeness of WADA governance bodies, and deprive less advanced countries and regions the opportunity to be heard,” said Yang.
“Ultimately it will undermine WADA’s fight to protect clean sport and clean athletes. Whereas equality among all athletes is what WADA has always safeguarded.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris