By Karolos Grohmann
KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) wants commercial sponsors to contribute financially to the fight against doping in sport as part of their corporate responsibility, the next WADA President said on Tuesday.
Witold Banka, Poland's Tourism and Sports Minister who will take over the WADA leadership from Craig Reedie on Jan. 1, said the organization urgently needed to increase revenues and being a sponsor of sports events came with a responsibility.
"I am not the Christopher Columbus of anti-doping policy. It is not a new idea to engage big sponsors as part of their corporate social responsibility," Banka told an international anti-doping conference.
"That will be one of the biggest tasks: to convince the big companies to join the Olympic anti-doping solidarity fund," he added.
WADA has a budget of about $35 million annually while the overall spending on anti-doping around the world, including by national anti-doping agencies, does not exceed $260 million.
In comparison, broadcasters pay billions of dollars to secure rights of major sports such as the soccer World Cup and the Olympics.
Olympic sponsors will pay the International Olympic Committee more than one billion dollars for the 2017-2020 quadrennium to be associated with the Games while broadcasters will pay about $5 billion for Games rights for the same period.
Banka said WADA had to find new streams of revenue if it was to continue its fight to root out cheats.
WADA has been struggling with a vast Russian doping scandal for more than four years in a process that has required considerable funds.
Russia's track and field team was banned from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 while the entire Russian Olympic team at the Pyeongchang winter Games competed as independents as a result of that scandal.
"We cannot keep raising contributions. We need to find some alternative solutions how we can increase the budget for anti-doping," said the 35-year-old Banka, a former European junior 400m champion.
"We have to convince the biggest partners that if you are a sponsor of sport you have to be a sponsor of clean sport."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)