THE BIG PICTURE: Poland’s Banka elected next head of the World Anti-Doping Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency is headed by an elected Chair with a six-year term, rotated between a sports-organization candidate and one from governmental authorites.

Poland’s Minister of Sport and Tourism, 34-year-old Witold Banka, was nominated on Tuesday by the the “Public Authorities” representatives on the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board. He is expected to be confirmed later this year by the full Foundation Board – appropriately meeting in Katiwice (POL) – and will become head of the organization on 1 January 2020.

He won out over Marcus Diaz, the Vice-Minister of Sports for the Dominican Republic, the only other formal nominee. Norway’s Linda Helleland, a former government minister, had declared her candidacy, but failed to acquire the requisite number of endorsements to stand for election.

Helleland stood as a candidate against WADA’s reinstatement of Russia last year, but that situation has changed rapidly. WADA has retrieved the data it wanted from the former Moscow Laboratory at the center of the Russian doping scandal from 2011-15 as well as 2,262 stored doping samples for re-testing.

From that standpoint, the issues over WADA’s reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency from last year are moot. Still to be determined is what the data further reveals about the Russian doping program from 2011-15, and the possible additional sanctions that could come from the testing of the stored samples.

But Banka now heads toward the WADA leadership position with a clear docket, at least for now. He’s a former 400 m runner, with a best of 46.15 in 2007. His last competition was in 2010; he won a bronze medal on the Polish 4×400 m team at the 2007 World Championships.

At its Executive Committee meeting in Montreal (CAN), WADA also released a 133-page report from the Covington law firm on its inquiry into allegations of bullying by Athletes Commission member Beckie Scott (CAN) from last September’s Compliance Review Committee meeting when the Russian reinstatement was recommended. The outcome:

“Our report concludes that no one at the September 20 Executive Committee meeting bullied or harassed Ms. Scott regarding her objection to the conditional reinstatement of RUSADA, or even responded directly to it. The exchange between Ms. Scott and Messrs. [Francesco] Ricci Bitti and [Patrick] Baumann at that meeting took place after Ms. Scott presented the Athlete Commission report, in which she criticized the IOC Athletes’ Commission, a member of which was at the table. While Mr. Ricci Bitti’s response to that report could be viewed as aggressive and disrespectful, his behavior did not rise to the level of bullying or harassment.

“Additionally, while Mr. Baumann objected to Dr. [Edwin] Moses having spoken on a particular issue at the May 2018 Executive Committee meeting, our investigation uncovered no credible evidence that Dr. Moses was told to ‘shut up’ at that meeting or the Foundation Board meeting held the next day.”

A transcript of the relevant portion of the meeting at issue was also released. Scott and Moses did not participate in the inquiry; they have retained counsel and could still pursue legal action if they desire. The report included recommendations, including the adoption of a code of conduct for WADA meetings.

WADA also announced the extension of its headquarters agreement with the city of Montreal through at least 2031. The Canadian, Quebec and Montreal governments have been strong supporters of WADA from its start.