U.S. Government Chastises World Anti-Doping Agency But Pays Owed $1.3 Million

Despite some harsh words to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the U.S. government has paid its $1.3 million in dues.

The money was received on January 6, 2022, in what agency president Witold Banka said was a sign of solidarity. However, that was not necessarily the case, according to letters obtained by the Associated Press. In a letter to Banka, White House drug control office director Rahul Gupta expressed disdain for the executive committee and foundation board of WADA.

"Frankly, as I have learned more about the Americas distribution of WADA Board seats," wrote Gupta, "I have become more and more concerned by this sorry state of affairs."

The letter also criticized the fact that the U.S. was no longer properly represented in WADA. The country has not had a seat on the executive board since 2015, but 2022 will be the first year it has not been represented on the foundation board.

"This situation—in which the world's largest sporting country, the source of much of the funding generated for the Olympic Movement through the sale of broadcast rights and sponsorships, and the largest governmental dues payer to WADA does not have a significant role in WADA decision making—is very problematic," Gupta wrote.

In a letter to Congressional leaders, Gupta expressed his intention in paying the $1.3 million remaining of a $2.93 million commitment from 2021. However, he would not be giving it out of goodwill.

"As the largest sporting nation in the Hemisphere and a key funder of WADA, paying half the dues of all of the Americas, it is not appropriate for the U.S. Government to be excluded from WADA's key decision-making bodies," he stated.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) logo is pictured at the Russkaya Zima (Russian Winter) Athletics competition in Moscow on February 9, 2020. The agency received $1.3 million in dues from the U.S. government, but not before White House Drug Control Director Rahul Gupta wrote scathing letters criticizing the organization. Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. government has been critical of WADA for not moving urgently enough to reform itself in the wake of the Russian doping scandal that has upended international sports for most of the past decade.

The $2.93 million the U.S. provided in 2021 dues accounted for about 7.3 percent of WADA's $40 million annual budget and for half of what's provided by all participating countries across North and South America. The U.S. normally delivers the entire amount in the first quarter of the year, but held it back while it pressed for more reforms in WADA's structure.

In its own news release, WADA touted the reforms it had made, including increased representation for athletes and greater independence of some decision-makers. When WADA was formed, half the seats went to governments and the other half were controlled by the IOC, and the funding was designed the same way.

Banka said his discussions with Gupta at the most recent WADA meetings "were very positive, as were Dr. Gupta's constructive interventions during the Board meeting itself." at which Gupta was an observer.

But Gupta painted a different picture and asked for a redistribution of seats on the top boards that will provide North America "adequate" representation.

He told Banka the U.S. government would keep evaluating its role to make sure it has a meaningful role in "advancing clean sports and in having a fair voice in how U.S. taxpayers funds are expended to address anti-doping issues."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gupta and Manchin
Director of the White House National Drug Control Policy Rahul Gupta (L) and US Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV) walk the grounds of the White House, November 18, 2021, in Washington, DC. Gupta wrote a series of scathing letters directed at the World Anti-Doping Agency. Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images