MONTREAL: Witold BAnka, the new president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has said that the organisation is  “more determined than ever to protect athletes and to promote clean sport.”

Banka, a 35-year-old former Polish sprinter, has succeeded the retiring Sir Craig Reedie at the start of what promises to be a highly pressured year with the Russian doping saga still hanging over the forthcoming Olympic Games – as it was four years ago.

In a new year message Banka said:

“WADA, as the global leader of anti-doping, has significantly matured and is stronger than ever before. The athletes of the world, their fans and every parent encouraging a child to follow their sporting dream deserve nothing less. To this, I add my personal commitment to see that WADA goes from strength to strength in the coming years.

“It is certain that WADA will face challenges this year as in others. It is also certain that in the face of those challenges, our determination to stay the course remains extremely solid. [It] will not hesitate to do whatever is necessary to protect clean sport.

“Where systems and cultures allow – and even enable – the use of prohibited substances and methods, we must work to make sure that athletes are not the only ones sanctioned. The cultures and systems must change too and those responsible brought to justice.

“This has been WADA’s approach to the Russian doping crisis, as shown by the strong consequences endorsed by our executive committee that target the guilty parties and protect the innocent.”

Banka paid tribute to Reedie’ work and “for his 20-year commitment to WADA and the protection of clean sport.”

He added: “I do believe the system can still do more but doing so will require more than just the professionalism and dedication already shown by WADA’s expert volunteers and highly dedicated staff. It will require greater resources.

“That is why I have proposed the creation of an anti-doping solidarity fund. I believe there are many socially responsible, private organizations (sport, pharmaceutical, etc.) that would have an interest in enhancing their image by investing in the integrity of sport.

“Nobody wants to watch events that are tainted. Given that broadcasters benefit from the global anti-doping system, I believe that they too could have an interest in contributing to it.”