A threat from the Donald Trump administration to withhold funding for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could lead to the United States being banned from the Olympics and other major international sporting events, a new report claims.
Citing top world leaders, Reuters reported this week that the American government’s apparent threat to withdraw funding could prompt officials to bar the country’s athletes from international competitions.
“The consequences of a withdrawal of WADA funding by the U.S. could be more severe and far reaching for American athletes,” WADA president Witold Banka told the news outlet this week.
Banka added that the group had been approached by representatives of other world governments who were “shocked” and wanted them to consider an amendment saying that non-payment could lead to a non-paying country being declared out of compliance. That would put all sports and athletes at risk of being banned from major competitions.
As the Associated Press had reported, the conflict was sparked in June with a U.S. government study finding that the country is underrepresented in policy-making committees within the world organization, which is empowered to address the use of performance-enhancing drugs in world competitions. The report concluded that Congress should consider giving the American office the ability to withhold future funds, noting that the group had failed to implement the necessary reforms after a Russian doping scandal that played out over the course of many years.
The report added that the United States gave $2.7 million to the agency this year — more than double the amount of all but two of the nearly 200 countries that are signatories.
It was not clear when the action could go into effect, if at all. As Reuters reported, the Tokyo Olympics that were originally scheduled to take place this summer had been delayed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The timeline for the return of other international sports remained unclear as well.
American officials have expressed doubt that the agency would follow through on kicking out American competitors. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency president Travis Tygart told Reuters that it was “pretty remarkable and disappointing” that the WADA would threaten American competitors over what he called the organization’s “failed governance model.”
The Trump administration has come under fire for other threats or actions to pull out of international arrangements, including pulling out of the Paris climate accord and lodging threats to pull out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if the other members do not increase financial commitments to defense spending.