That’s well dope! Sports minister and former athlete becomes new chief of World Anti-Doping Agency
Minister of Sport Witold Bańka has been chosen as the next President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The former athlete was one of the favourites and his appointment was confirmed yesterday, during a meeting of the WADA’s Executive Committee comprising of member states representatives. His main opponent was Dominican’s former long-distance swimmer Marco Diaz.
The 34-year old Bańka was born in Tychy and comes from a family of sportsmen. A runner himself, he won the 2007 World Championship bronze medal in 4x400 m relay. In 2015 he took on the role of sports minister.
Even if he knows the life of an athlete from the inside out, his task won’t be easy, as the sports world has been shaken by several major doping scandals, including the exclusion of Russian athletes from the Olympics and its continuing aftermath.
Commenting on his appointment Bańka said: “This is an important moment for Poland, this choice is a great honour, but also responsibility. It's also the success of Polish diplomacy, and I thank the Council of Europe for their commitment.
“Next to the International Olympic Committee, WADA is the most important sports organization. I had to present myself, answer questions. It was a difficult moment that required keeping my nerves in check ."
From 2017 Bańka’s bid was supported by the Council of Europe, when they chose him over Norwegian Linda Hofstad Helleland and Belgian Philippe Muyteres to be the Old Continent’s candidate.
The former runner’s programme includes an idea to create a solidarity fund, to help poorer countries implement their anti-doping policies.
In an official announcement on their website, WADA congratulated Bańka and set the date for his formal appointment: “The new President will be formally elected by the Board at the World Conference on Doping in Sport 2019, which takes place in Katowice, Poland, from 5-7 November, and will assume the role for a three-year term from 1 January 2020,” it read.
WADA was established in 1999 as an international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring.