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Norwegian politician Helleland launches bid for WADA presidency

Norwegian politician Helleland launches bid for WADA presidency
FILE PHOTO: A sign is on display outside the office of Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov   -   Copyright  Maxim Shemetov(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Norwegian politician Linda Helleland launched her campaign to become president of the World Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday, unveiling a platform built to restore athlete and public confidence in the body.

As a WADA vice-president, Helleland, who has often sided with athletes’ groups over current president Craig Reedie, opposed the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) at a heated meeting in the Seychelles in September.

The WADA executive committee earlier this week voted not to re-impose a suspension on RUSADA despite missing a deadline to turn over data. At the meeting, Helleland repeated her call for Russia to be declared non-compliant until all anti-doping data from the Moscow laboratory has been received and verified.

WADA is currently examining the extracted data after Russian authorities relented and allowed entry on Jan. 3.

Helleland has also called for an independent investigation into WADA’s handling of the Russian crisis which has divided the global anti-doping effort.

RUSADA was suspended in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

“Since the founding of WADA 20 years ago anti-doping has made great strides, however WADA needs to evolve and modernise if it is to prove itself to be fit for the future,” Helleland, who served as Norway’s Minister of Children and Equality from January 2018 to this month, said in a statement.

“The Russian doping crisis presented the world, and above all WADA, with the gravest sporting scandal this century.

“This is an issue our Clean Sport Movement will be defined by for decades to come, and that is why I am determined to take my vision to re-inspire athletes and sports fans and restore their confidence in clean and fair sport.”

The WADA presidency rotates between government representatives and the sports movement.

WADA will vote on a new president at the World Conference on Doping in Sport which will be held from Nov. 5-7 in Katowice, Poland. Britain’s Reedie will not be in contention having previously said he would step down when his second term ends.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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