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WADA vice president Yang on US ONDCP report: collaboration best way to achieve clean sports

Beijing, Jun 30 (Xinhua) The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) vice president Yang Yang said on Tuesday that collaboration was the best way to achieve drug-free sports, after the United States threatened to cut off its funding for the agency.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently released a report concluding that the US was not fairly represented in WADA proportionate to its contribution - 2.7 million US dollars per year to the core budget of WADA - and that WADA had not made enough efforts in reform. The report claimed that countries should have more representatives in WADA governance bodies if they provide more money to WADA.

WADA responded that the agency was very disappointed with the report by ONDCP and has subsequently issued a response detailing the inaccuracies in the ONDCP report.

"WADA is an international organization that protects the rights of clean athletes and sports. We have to ensure athletes from all over the world enjoy the same rights and fulfill the same obligations and are without any privilege or discrimination," Yang said.

"ONDCP's request, if granted, will lower the global representativeness of WADA governance bodies, and deprive less advanced countries and regions the opportunity to be heard. Ultimately it will undermine WADA's fight to protect clean sport and clean athletes. Whereas equality among all athletes is what WADA has always safeguarded," she added.

The ONDCP report concluded that the US "should have the explicit authority to withhold and/or decrease its funding if WADA fails to meet basic standards for effectiveness, independence, transparency, and responsiveness to the athlete's voice, and fails to promote US representation commensurate with the United States' financial contributions to WADA." It regarded the move "a powerful tool" to push WADA to reform.

To this, Yang said, "If the US stops funding, it will surely damage the global fight against doping because the US also shoulders important responsibilities in this cause."

"Hopefully they could be open to various opinions and facts to help them come to the right decision," she said. "But if not, WADA will continue its work and collaborate with all stakeholders to protect clean athletes and clean sports."

Since assuming the post as WADA vice president six months ago, Yang has gained more insight into the anti-doping cause.

"At the beginning of WADA, a framework for cooperation between Sports Movement and Public Authority representatives was established to fight doping. At the same time, athletes are considered an important part of Sports Movement. Both the Executive Committee (ExCo) and the Foundation Board of the WADA have athletes to vote to ensure that the rights and interests of clean athletes are protected," said the former short-track speed skater.

"From history to future, close cooperation between Sports Movement and Public Authority is the best way to help achieve clean sports for athletes. WADA ExCo and Foundation Board members have unanimously approved a strategic plan of WADA for the next five years. I believe that through our efforts and close cooperation we can really make positive changes," Yang stressed.

To the future, Yang admitted that "the anti-doping system is very professional and complex as it involves investigation and intelligence gathering. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to communicate with the public in a timely manner, and sports are increasingly influential around world today and many countries and regions are also paying closer attention to anti-doping. But sports and the fight against doping should transcend politics and other differences."

"Of course I think there are also aspects we can improve, such as more frequent and effective communication with all stakeholders, including athletes, and we can simplify the presentation of complex anti-doping work to the media and the public."

Yang added that WADA has always been challenged by the lack of sufficient funding.

"That's the reason behind current President Banka's installation of a solidarity fund to call for the people, organizations and enterprises who believe in clean sports to join the fight against doping," she concluded.
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