China has provided a significant boost to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), becoming the first country formally to announce its contribution to a fund for new anti-doping research.
Vice Premier Liu Yandong said China would contribute $1 million (£610,000/€770,000) to the fund which was unveiled last December by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
Bach said the IOC would invest $10 million (£6 million/€8 million) to fund innovative, athlete-centred anti-doping research, including new techniques for the detection of prohibited substances and methods.
He called on Governments to match this amount; because of WADA’s structure – the agency is funded broadly 50 per cent by the IOC and 50 per cent by Governments – insidethegames understands that the ultimate IOC contribution is dependent on the sums Governments commit to chip in.
China’s commitment – finalised during WADA President Sir Craig Reedie’s recent visit to Nanjing for the Summer Youth Olympic Games – is thus an important step towards ensuring that the full potential $20 million (£12 million/€15.5 million) for the fund is raised.
In a further significant development, the United States has indicated it will make $6 million (£3.5 million/€4.5 million) available over the next three years, via the Partnership for Clean Competition, a body part-funded by major professional leagues that has its own research programme.
Finally, insidethegames understands that the Turkish Government has quietly paid in $250,000 (£153,000/€192,000) to a new bank account opened for the fund.
Other Governments have until the WADA Foundation Board meeting in Paris on November 16 to make further pledges.
With $7.25 million (£4.4 million/€5.5 million) now committed, the prospects of reaching $20 million look relatively bright, notwithstanding the severely stretched public finances in many countries.
Vice Premier Liu said: “I would like to thank WADA for its significant contribution to the development of anti-doping in China over the course of many years.
“Sport is an integral part of social development.
“The Chinese Government always attaches great importance to the development of sport and its instrumental role in society, and anti-doping plays a critical role in the healthy development of the Olympic Movement.
“The Chinese Government is continuously committed to the fight against doping in sport, and the promotion of clean sport and upholding a ‘zero tolerance’ of doping.
“China has always paid great attention to cooperating with WADA, and is committed to making its own contribution to the international fight against doping under WADA’s leadership.
“The Chinese Government commends and supports the IOC’s investment in anti-doping research and President Sir Craig Reedie’s promotion of this initiative among Governments to match the amount.
“China will contribute $1 million to fund innovative anti-doping research to develop more effective ways of detecting doping substances, and to help protect clean athletes and maintain the purity of sport.”
Sir Craig said WADA was “hugely appreciative” of the support shown by the Chinese Government; its move marked “a significant step forward for the anti-doping community.
“The IOC’s initial commitment to the research, and the signal sent by the Chinese Government, provides an excellent example of how sport and Government can work together for the greater anti-doping good.
“Following a very productive personal meeting on a wide range of anti-doping matters with the Vice Premier of China, Ms Liu Yandong, I would like to offer my thanks to her Government and also to Mr Liu Peng, the Minister for Sport for China and President of the Chinese Olympic Committee, for their strong demonstrations of support in the protection of the rights of clean athletes.
“China has led the way and set an example for other national Governments to follow.”
China’s contribution was also warmly welcomed by IOC President Thomas Bach.
In addition to staging the recent Youth Olympics, China is closely involved in the current race for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics via the Beijing 2022 bid, which is up against Almaty and Oslo.
The injection of money that the new fund will provide will come as a huge relief to WADA, whose finances have been squeezed so much in recent years that it has asked Executive Committee and Foundation Board members to meet their own costs in attending WADA meetings in 2014.
In July, the agency reported a deficit of $151,433 (£89,800/€113,100).
This took to more than $2 million (£1.1 million/€1.4 million) its cumulative “excess of expenses over income” in the past four years.
This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.