The World Anti-Doping Agency's vice-president, Linda Hofstad Helleland, 41, could be prevented from running for president of WADA by a new proposal that would require candidates to be at least 45 years old.
Current WADA president Craig Reedie will step down from his position next year, but has defended the agency's decision to allow the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to be reinstated to the international sporting arena, having been deemed compliant with the WADA code.
Helleland was one of just two members on the WADA executive committee who voted against Russia being reinstated, versus nine members who voted for.
Investigative sports journalist for German broadcaster ARD, Nick Butler tweeted an image of a proposal sent by the Africa Union – the current Chair of WADA's Public Authorities' representatives – to introduce the age limit of 45, among other proposals (published below). In a WADA statement, also published by Butler, WADA confirmed that the proposal had been made, but that it had not been proposed by WADA leadership or management - though they hadn't rejected it.
It would, however, be discussed at a meeting of the Public Authorities' representatives on November 13 in Baku, Azerbaijan, the day before the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board meetings that take place in Baku on November 14 and 15, where "WADA's requirements concerning the election of the President and Vice-President by the Foundation Board... will be presented to, and discussed by, the Foundation Board on 15 November".
Helleland – who is also Norway's Minister of Children and Equality – attended a meeting to discuss the future of anti-doping at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 31, where she joined CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Travis Tygart and a number of national anti-doping agencies and athletes. WADA had allegedly not been invited, and Helleland's attendance was seen by some as defying WADA's wishes.
However, Tygart told the Guardian: "Contrary to what the WADA leadership would like to have people believe, WADA was invited, hence why WADA vice‑president Linda Helleland was in the room championing clean sport and listening to athletes."
British track cyclist Callum Skinner – a gold medallist in the team sprint at the 2016 Rio Olympics – was also in attendance, and a speaker, at the White House meeting, and is one of three international athletes who have written an open letter attacking the proposal to introduce the presidential candidates' minimum age of 45.
In the letter, published on athletesforcleansport.com, Skinner, powerlifting Paralympian Ali Jawad and biathlete Sebastian Samuelsson also underline their support for Helleland and write, "Whether this move was initiated by WADA leadership or management, or whether it was initiated by members of WADA's Boards, that is irrelevant. It is WADA's duty to lead, and leadership requires having a finger on the pulse of public and athlete opinion – and to act when something's not right."
The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) also wrote an open letter at the end of last month, attacking WADA for its handling of the Chris Froome salbutamol case, as well as the Russian doping scandal, and calling for WADA president Reedie's resignation. Reedie replied that the criticism by the MPCC demonstrated "an astonishing lack of understanding".
Here is the proposal for @wada_ama Presidential candidates to be at least 45 and have a masters degree. It was made, officially at least, by African public authorities reps for discussion at Foundation Board. Linda Helleland is 41 #dopingpic.twitter.com/kzeFdjzveK— Nick Butler (@NickJMButler) November 2, 2018