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4 Sep, 2020 12:37

‘The consequences could be severe’: American athletes may be barred from Olympics after US threatens to withhold WADA cash

‘The consequences could be severe’: American athletes may be barred from Olympics after US threatens to withhold WADA cash

US threats to withdraw funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could lead to that country’s expulsion from international sporting events, including the Olympic Games, which are guided by the anti-doping watchdog.

If the US pulls funding from WADA its athletes could be barred from international competitions as part of countermeasures which could be imposed by the body as a response.

In June the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) presented a report to the US congress which claimed that WADA needed immediate changes and reorganization.

READ MORE: ‘Look after your own backyard’ – WADA chief hits back at US critics amid White House summit row

The report also said that the US, which is WADA’s largest single contributor, could quit funding the body if not given greater
representation in the anti-doping organization, along with a “proportionate voice in decision-making.”

WADA president Witold Banka told Reuters that a great number of countries were outraged by the US approach to WADA funding, revealing that there were proposals to declare the US non-compliant with the anti-doping code, which would automatically leave its athletes without major competitions.

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The consequences of a withdrawal of WADA funding by the U.S. could be more severe and far reaching for American athletes. We have been approached by a number of governments of the world that were shocked by the threats from the U.S. government supported by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency)” Banka said.

These governments want us to consider an amendment to the compliance standard meaning that non-payment by a government of its WADA contribution could lead directly to that country’s NADO (National Anti-Doping Organization) being declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Inevitably, this could have serious repercussions for athletes from that country, including their participation in major international sporting events,” he added.

The head of WADA also noted that if the US were to withdraw funding it would also lose its seats on the WADA Foundation Board and on all committees.

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US sports leaders who have been critical of the WADA policy have been continuously ignoring calls to revise their own anti-doping programs and enforce doping rules domestically.

The vast majority of US professional sport leagues, including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL), and National Basketball Association (NBA) are not subject to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) procedures, prompting accusations that they have less-effective anti-doping programs.