The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Foundation Board (Board) unanimously re-elected the President, Witold Bańka, and Vice-President Yang Yang for a second and final three-year term in the top leadership roles of WADA.
The past three years under the leadership of Mr. Bańka and Ms. Yang has been a period of significant advancement for WADA and the global anti-doping system. Most notably, during this time, the Agency published its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan and carried out wide-ranging governance reform – both placing athletes at the center of the organization. Also, in January 2021, WADA commenced implementation of the fourth version of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) and its eight related International Standards that has strengthened the system, bringing further protection for athletes of the world.
Along with a video going through some of the highlights of the past three years, Mr. Bańka took the opportunity to address the meeting. He said: “It is my honor and privilege to be elected as President of WADA for a further three years. My first term brought many challenges, not least the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of the manner in which WADA and the clean sport community around the world rose to the challenge and maintained the system. In line with my manifesto that I laid out before I was elected as WADA President in 2019, my term has been one of collaboration and progress – having delivered significant advancement together in areas such as: athlete engagement, education, Code compliance monitoring, intelligence and investigations, increased funding for anti-doping, capacity building and scientific research.
“While there has been much progress, there is still plenty more to accomplish together during our second term. The anti-doping system still needs to be strengthened and this will require the full attention of the whole anti-doping community. We are confident that with the ingenuity, support and unity of all our partners, we will generate fresh and innovative ideas and succeed in ‘Raising the Game’ for athletes worldwide.
“I would like to thank Vice-President Yang Yang, whose leadership and wise counsel have been invaluable to me and WADA Management since we took office together at the start of 2020. As former athletes, we know first-hand what it is like to navigate the anti-doping system and therefore are sensitive to what’s required and very committed to offering the level of protection and support to athletes that they so richly deserve.”
WADA Vice-President Yang Yang thanked the Board for the vote of confidence shown in her and the President, pledging to continue to work hard to improve the anti-doping system for all athletes. She said: “These past three years as Vice-President have been a privilege for me and a real highlight of my life in sport. WADA, at its essence, is about upholding the principles of fair play and respect. In recent years, it has been rewarding to see WADA’s shift towards being more athlete centered. A major element of that shift has been making education a key pillar of anti-doping for athletes, entourage and others involved in anti-doping. I look forward to three more years of progress for WADA, to working alongside President Bańka and WADA Management, as we strive to protect clean sport around the world.”
Chair of the WADA Athlete Committee, Ben Sandford, said: “On behalf of the WADA Athlete Committee, I congratulate Witold and Yang Yang on their reelection. It is great to have former athletes leading WADA and I thank them for the work they have done engaging with athletes over the past three years and especially for their support of the Athletes Anti-doping Ombuds project. I look forward to the next three years of their leadership as WADA continues to become a more athlete-centered organization.”
Member of the WADA Board and Executive Committee (ExCo), and President of World Archery, Prof. Ugur Erdener, said: “On behalf of the Olympic Movement, I would like to congratulate President Witold Banka and Vice-President Yang Yang for their re-election today. Despite the challenges linked to COVID-19 which impacted most of their first term, President and Vice President constituted a strong team promoting the importance of clean sport and guiding the anti-doping community through the uncharted grounds of the pandemic. Both former elite athletes, President Banka and Vice-President Yang Yang have also laid the path for WADA to be more athlete centered. The Olympic Movement further takes this opportunity to commend President Banka for leading WADA through major and necessary governance reforms.
“Protecting the level playing field is no easy task, but the Olympic Movement is confident that with President Banka’s leadership WADA is in very capable hands to lead the fight against doping and protect clean athletes. As their new term is about to start, President Banka and Vice-President Yang Yang have an important task ahead of them to ensure the consolidation of the governance reforms. But not only that – education and leading innovative research are among the priorities that WADA will need to address as well ensuring that those who facilitate and enable doping can be held accountable. WADA’s leadership can continue to count on the Olympic Movement’s full support in our common endeavors to protect clean sport.”
Member of the WADA Board and ExCo, and Sports Minister in the Government of Australia, the Honorable Anika Wells, said: “On behalf of the Public Authorities, we support the re-election of the President and Vice-President. We wish to thank them for the significant contribution they have both made over the past three years of their tenure.
In particular, I am really pleased with the level of athlete engagement that they have been involved in. The feedback from athletes is that they are very pleased with that as well. This has been a very unusual tenure given the disruption caused by COVID-19. It created many challenges for all of us so the fact that the President and Vice-President were so committed to keeping us all connected and up to date on the latest developments at WADA was very impressive and much appreciated by all governments.”
The President and Vice-President’s second and final terms in office will begin on 1 January 2023 and run until the end of 2025. WADA is composed of a 38-member Board, which is the Agency’s highest policy-making body, and the 14-person ExCo, which is delegated by the Board to manage the running of the Agency, including the performance of activities and the administration of assets. The ExCo is composed of five representatives each from the Sport Movement, including an athlete representative, five representatives from Governments of the world and four independent members, including WADA’s President and Vice-President.
Other decisions and outcomes of the ExCo and Board meetings will be announced later today after the Board meeting concludes.