Witold Bańka officially appointed head of World Anti-Doping Agency

Polish Tourism and Sports Minister Witold Bańka was officially appointed the next head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Thursday, during the organisation’s congress in Katowice, southern Poland.

Mr Bańka’s term as head of the Agency will begin on January 1, 2020. He will succeed Sir Craig Reedie, who has held the post since 2014.

The 35-year-old Bańka, a former track and field athlete, was the public authorities choice for WADA head, as the post alternates between a candidate from sports bodies and one from public authorities.

Mr Bańka pledged to attempt to eradicate doping, a lofty goal with WADA currently locked in one of the biggest scandals to hit world sport. For more than four years Russia has been the focus of several investigations and sanctions after a 2015 WADA-commissioned report highlighted a vast doping network in the country's sports community.

"We have the same objective and goals in our hearts, to clean up sport and create a fair environment," Mr Bańka said in a brief address after winning a unanimous election.

"I promise you to try to always build bridges with all stakeholders. I am sure together we will make anti-doping systems stronger," he said

WADA was established in 1999 as an independent foundation under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee. Its aim is to fight the use of banned substances by athletes, by creating and settling rules for anti-doping procedures. Moreover, WADA publishes lists of the illegal substances and issues accreditations for the national anti-doping laboratories.