Dubai: Witold Banka, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has decided that a novel one-on-one engagement with athletes is the best way forward.
Banka has kickstarted a series of meetings with athletes and athlete groups, following up on his personal pledge to engage meaningfully with the athlete community and on WADA’s overall commitment to be more athlete-centered as outlined within the agency’s recently published five-year strategic plan.
A former international-level 400-metre runner from Poland who took over as the WADA President from the start of this year, Banka has shown seriousness while starting a series of meetings with individual athletes, groups and associations that represent different sports, regions of the world and perspectives.
Given current limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic, Banka has been relying on virtual sessions with athletes that are already within the agency’s governance structure, calls with a range of athlete commissions.
Recently, WADA announced its new Strategic Plan to guide the Agency’s activity over the next five years with the core of this plan - displaying a desire and commitment to ensure that the activities and priorities are athlete centered.
Themed ‘Leading Anti-Doping in a New Era’, WADA’s new Strategic Plan has six strategic priorities with the main one centred around the athlete. This priority also involves WADA engaging and empowering athletes to contribute to the development of anti-doping policies, building an easier anti-doping journey for athletes and increasing the contribution of programmes that deliver for athletes a healthy and sustainable career in sport.
“As a former elite athlete, I understand the importance of listening to the views of athletes worldwide and addressing the matters that are of most interest to them. The agency will be looking for every opportunity to engage with them to further enhance the global anti-doping system,” Banka said.
“Over the last few months, I have personally met with many of the athletes that sit on our Foundation Board, Executive Committee, Athlete Committee and expert committees and I will continue this engagement and much more throughout my presidency,” he added.
Banka has further decided that starting with September’s Executive Committee meeting, WADA will have a dedicated agenda item on athletes’ matters during each Executive Committee and Foundation Board meeting, which will be in addition to the report by the agency’s Athlete Committee Chair.