Sir Craig Reedie was elected for a second consecutive three-year term as President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at the body’s Foundation Board meeting here today, despite the fierce criticism he has been subjected to in recent months.
The 75-year-old Briton was appointed by acclamation as he was the only candidate standing.
Norwegian Sports Minister Linda Helleland was chosen as his vice-president.
Helleland was put forward for the role following an early morning meeting of Government representatives before the crucial gathering of WADA’s 38-strong ruling Foundation Board.
The 39-year-old takes over a vacant position following the death of South Africa’s Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile in August and becomes a member of the Executive Committee.
Sir Craig was widely thought to be fighting for his future as head of WADA following an unprecedented attack during the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly in Doha last week.
A number of officials from the Olympic Movement, including ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, openly criticized Sir Craig and WADA in what represented a continuation of the ongoing feud between the IOC and the anti-doping body.
Tensions surfaced in July when WADA called for a blanket Russian ban from Rio 2016 in response to allegations of state-sponsored doping in the country, including at Sochi 2014.
The IOC rejected this “nuclear option” and instead handed responsibility to International Federations to make decisions on whether Russia should be able to compete.
Sir Craig was ostracized at the IOC Session on the eve of Rio 2016 before another period of public rowing followed in September and October as deliberations took place over how best to reform the global anti-doping system.
“I think my relationship with the IOC has almost always been warm and in an area of partnership,” he said here.
“This was slightly less warm during the ANOC meeting when I received a series of questions normally you would not expect to get from partners.
“But I am really encouraged after the debate we had today.
“If you listen to the discussion, particularly on areas such as compliance and whistleblowing, what we are doing was very strongly supported – not only by the athletes but also the Olympic Movement.
“So I will sleep very comfortably tonight.”
Earlier this month, insidethegames exclusively revealed Sir Craig had been given the endorsement of the IOC Executive Board but they also informed him that they were seeking an “neutral” President of WADA.
The issue was raised here today and a 17-member working group has been established to look into improvements to WADA’s governance, with the idea of a neutral head of the organisation likely to form part of the discussions.
In congratulating Sir Craig on his re-election, the IOC reinforced they were still looking for a change and wanted “to work towards the appointment of a neutral WADA President.”
In a statement, the IOC added: “The IOC congratulates Sir Craig Reedie on his re-election as President of WADA.
“We will be working as part of the Reform Group with our partners, the governments, to deliver an anti-doping system independent of sports organizations and national interests.
“We remain committed to the comprehensive reform of WADA to make it more efficient, transparent and independent.”
Helleland made a bold speech after her appointment as WADA vice-president was confirmed, claiming the “serious doping revelations and violations” have put the credibility of the current anti-doping system into question.
“Doping threatens the basic values of sport,” she said.
“I am strongly committed to the fight against doping in sport and this is my motivation for taking up the position as vice-president of WADA.
“We need to make some bold choices.
“It is crucial we safeguard the independence of WADA and WADA’s capabilities should be strengthened.”
By Liam Morgan
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.