Witold Banka has been confirmed as the next president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Polish tourism and sports minister is a former elite-level sprinter.
Witold Banka was elected in a unanimous vote on Thursday at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice, Poland. The appointment was a mere formality after he had been picked for the job by a group of national government authorities at a meeting back in May. The right to choose the WADA president rotates between public authorities and sports bodies. Banka, who is Poland's Sports and Tourism Minister, is to succeed Craig Reedie on January 1.
"We have the same objective and goals in our hearts, to clean up sport and create a fair environment," Banka said in a short speech after WADA's Foundation Board rubber-stamped his election.
"I promise you to try to always build bridges with all stakeholders. I am sure together we will make anti-doping systems stronger," added the former sprinter, who specialized in the 400 meters.
Russia denies tampering with lab data
His election came on the same day that Russia's sports minister denied that there had been any manipulation of data from Moscow's anti-doping agency.
WADA has said it has identified inconsistencies in laboratory data provided by Moscow earlier this year, an issue that could jeopardize Russia's participation in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Pavel Kolobkov told reporters in Moscow that Russian experts had analyzed the data and found no "deletions" or "manipulations." He described the inconsistencies as having to do with "a purely technical issue related to how the system itself works."
Russia has been the focus of a number of investigations and has faced sanctions since the release of the WADA-commissioned McLaren Report in 2016, which revealed evidence of a vast doping network in the country.
Also on Thursday, WADA approved a revision of its World Anti-Doping Code which is to come into force on January 1, 2021, following a two-year consultation process.
"The development is positive. It is the strongest and most robust WADA code we have yet had," said Lars Mortsiefer, an executive board member of Germany's NADA anti-doping agency.
pfd/msh (dpa, SID, Reuters)