WADA Could Bar Team USA From Olympics If U.S. Withdraws Funding

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Earlier this summer, the U.S. government threatened to withdraw funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Now, WADA has fired back with the possibility of leaving U.S. athletes out of international events.

In June, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a 19-page report criticizing WADA’s response to the Russian doping scandal and threatening to pull U.S. funding of WADA. The U.S. is the biggest government contributor to WADA funding, giving $2.7 million each year, and argued that nations should be represented in WADA in proportion to their funding level.

But WADA told the Reuters news service that pulling funding could have a ripple effect on American athletes.

WADA president Witold Banka told Reuters that a number of world governments are urging WADA to consider an amendment tying financial contributions to anti-doping compliance. A government not paying its WADA contribution “could lead directly to that country’s NADO (National Anti-Doping Organization) being declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code,” per Reuters.

“The consequences of a withdrawal of WADA funding by the U.S. could be more severe and far reaching for American athletes,” Banka said. “Inevitably, this could have serious repercussions for athletes from that country including their participation in major international sporting events.”

United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) president Travis Tygart called it an empty threat.

“To threaten one country’s athletes over WADA’s failed governance model is pretty remarkable and disappointing,” Tygart said. “WADA is very threatened and rattled but to illegally threaten U.S. athletes is shameful.”

The White House was critical of WADA’s response to Russia’s ongoing doping scandal.

WADA declared Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) non-compliant in late 2019. That bans Russia from international competition for four years. Russia cannot host major international sporting events, and Russian representatives cannot serve in administrative functions within sports federations during the four years. However, Russian athletes can still compete in major events – just not under the Russian flag.

U.S. funding of WADA accounts for less than .00006% of the federal government’s budget. You can see the full list of nations that fund WADA here.

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