As a global financial crisis drags on, WADA admits that backing anti-doping efforts could be viewed as a luxury item that governments – which contribute half of the organisation’s $28 million budget – can no longer afford.
“Certainly there have been discussions about finding other sources of revenue,” WADA spokesman Terence O’Rourke said. “At our recent Foundation Board meeting there was a general agreement to start exploring other avenues of funding.”
WADA could seek help from corporate giants such as Nike, a company that has strong ties to high-profile athletes and uses them to market and develop products that generate billions of dollars in profit.
Nike has not yet been involved in the anti-doping effort but has shown some corporate social responsibility supporting dozens of agreements on a national and international level, including 14 basketball and 11 athletics federations.
Nike brand president Charlie Denson, keynote speaker at the SportAccord convention on Wednesday, told Reuters the company has not been approached by any anti-doping agencies but said the world’s top sportswear retailer would listen to proposals.
“I’m not familiar with their proposal or how or what they are looking at but we are always open to engaging in that conversation,” Denson said.
“We’ve taken a pretty strong stance on doping and performance enhancing drugs situation. Obviously we have severed several relationships over the years.
“We would sit down and listen to what their approach and proposal is and we would be willing to do that and go from there.”
Nike, which earned $560 million for the third quarter ended Feb. 29 while revenue rose 15 percent to $5.8 billion, has a large fan base in America where the company’s product launches are met with extreme enthusiasm.
WADA would like to see Nike and other companies step up and make small contributions to an anti-doping effort that it says is being stretched to the limit.
“We could always use significantly more money but we recognise the world is a tough place to find money these days from sport and governments,” said WADA chief John Fahey.
“Whatever it is we will work within that budget but if we can get more money I have no doubt we could be far more effective.”
Nike, who endorses hundreds of athletes, is among the companies that have been stung by drug cheats. But despite ties to disgraced athletes such as former Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, the Nike brand has remain untainted.
“It’s our goal and challenge to continue to supply the best,” explained Denson. “The good comes with the bad and hopefully the good outweighs the bad.”