Is the White House’s Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) justified in their potential threat to defund the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)?

The federal US government has threatened, hinted at, or has pulled funds from other organisations during President Donald J. Trump’s tenure including the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as 13 Covid-19 test sites. Glaringly he has sought to reduce funding to the United Nations. Currently, the U.S. pays the highest amount of $10-billion dollars.

Congress has approved higher amounts during his presidency, while he continues to seek to partially defund the peacekeeping organisation.

The latest may damage WADA’s ability to fight doping in sport. This is inconvenient when WADA and the Athletics Integrity Unit, for the first time in decades, appear to be making progress in the anti-doping movement.

Trump appears to always be looking for a deal. In 2019, the U.S. government’s annual contribution to WADA was $2,513,65. That’s a small amount of money considering the cost of other international organisations. However, the U.S. does contribute more than any other country. This may be justified by the fact that Team USA is typically the largest and the U.S.’s ability to pay is also the highest. For example, Kenya, with 50 athletes currently provisionally or fully suspended paid just $2,727 to WADA. Ethiopia $2,756 and Morocco $3,779.

Canada with approximately 10% of the population of the U.S. paid $1,256,826 dollars. In contrast, China only paid $430,539, Russia $948,747, Japan’s allotment was $1,502,800, and Brazil just $367,043.

Russia, with five times the population of Canada and a similar population to Japan, should be paying much more.

From Inside the Games

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has criticised a report by the White House’s Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that was sent to the United States Congress, describing it as written with a “clear intention to discredit” the organisation.

The ONDCP has threatened to withdraw its funding of WADA, warning that the international body needs to undergo serious reform.

The ONDCP issued a series of recommendations in a report to Congress earlier this month, criticising the structure of WADA and questioning whether the country’s investment into the organisation was value for money.

WADA claimed that the report was full of “multiple inaccuracies, misconceptions and falsehoods”, and has now sent a comprehensive response to the ONDCP.

The response, seen by insidethegames, includes a version of the original report complete with annotations, highlighting inaccurate information, as well as additional factual information that WADA claims was omitted from the original version.

In a cover letter to the full response, addressed to ONDCP director James Carroll, WADA President Witold Banka wrote: “It is very disconcerting that, although the US has been around WADA’s Board table for 21 years, the report’s allegations have never been raised by US representatives.

“In fact, the US approved WADA’s proposed governance reforms in November 2018, and, just recently you personally voted in favour of WADA’s new Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2024.”

“Quite frankly, the US’s behaviour around the Board table over the past years is simply irreconcilable with the allegations outlined within the report.”

“I remain convinced that the US Government has an important role to play in protecting clean sport, and, it is my sincere hope that, going forward, we can work collaboratively rather than WADA having to defend itself against unfounded attacks via the media, which do absolutely nothing to advance the global anti-doping programme for athletes worldwide.”

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