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Seats cannot be purchased by richest countries, says WADA

(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Wednesday it cannot be ruled over by the world’s richest countries, returning fire after the United States threatened to pull funding from the agency unless it undertook major reforms.

WADA again found itself on defence for its response to the long-running Russian doping scandal with the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sending a highly critical report to the Congress that questioned the anti-doping agency’s use of U.S. taxpayer money.

The United States is the largest single contributor to WADA, paying just over $2.7 million to the 2020 budget of $37.4 million.

WADA immediately condemned the ONDCP report, complaining it was riddled with factual errors and misleading statements, including that the United States is under-represented on WADA boards and committees.

“WADA cannot be governed solely by the few richest countries,” WADA told Reuters in an email. “Athletes who compete against U.S. athletes come from all over the globe and in fairness to U.S. athletes, we want to ensure their competitors are subject to the same stringent rules as they are.

“To make sure that happens, there needs to be representation from all regions of the world.”

The ONDCP report indicated that among the many changes the United States wants from WADA is bigger bang for its buck.

While the United States does have a seat on WADA’s Foundation Board it has no representative on the powerful Executive Committee nor is there an American on the 17-member senior management team or the 12-member Athletes Committee.

“The notion that countries should be represented in proportion to the amount of money they provide makes no sense,” said WADA. “To allocate seats exclusively to the highest funders would eliminate the majority of nations of the world from ever holding a seat on WADA’s Board or ExCo and would not be in line with international best practice.

“Would Americans support having all Members of the U.S. Congress come from just the wealthiest states?”

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto Editing by Matthew Lewis