September 21, 2007 (Montreal, QC) — Dick Pound, the outgoing President of the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) spoke to global media representatives, including Pedal, yesterday morning. The interview took place prior to the recent developments later in the day such as Floyd Landis losing his appeal and the 2006 Tour de France title, and Canada’s GeneviÃ¨ve Jeanson confession that she began doping when she was 16 years old,
Pound has a reputation for not mincing his words and for being critical of many in professional sports. His comments, and interchange with journalists underlined that cycling is very much in Pound’s focus, and revealed certain frictions between WADA and the UCI.
Pound’s first swipe at the UCI was over the upcoming 2007 Road Worlds scheduled for September 26-30 in Stuttgart, Germany. “We depend on an invitation from the UCI, but never received one,” stated Pound, explaining WADA’s absence from the Road Worlds.
Pound spoke about the controversy at the Road Worlds concerning the Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) case and German cyclist, Erik Zabel (Milram). Regarding Valverde, Pound related how the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) was taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration of Sports. (Valverde, who is currently under investigation by the UCI for his alleged involvement in the Operacion Puerto scandal, is banned from the Worlds according to UCI rules, but the RFEC is challenging this). Pound refused comment on the matter of German rider, Erik Zabel (Milram) who is racing at the Road Worlds despite admissions of doping in the past.
“There’s a lot of denial in many sports; I never said that doping is limited to cycling, but the leadership of cycling has allowed a culture of doping to develop,” said Pound in response to Pedal’s questions. “It has particularly been a problem of cycling with the past two or three TdFs (soon after the interview a two-year sanction was handed down to 2006 TdF winner, Floyd Landis).” Pound pointed out how doping scandals almost caused the German government to pull the plug on the Road Worlds in Stuttgart.
Pound also swung his bat at major league baseball, which he accused of “scorn and denial” concerning the extent of doping. “And why do they keep the names confidential of baseball players who dope?” asked Pound. Golfing was next as the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) was also singled out for “denying a few months ago that doping was a problem in that sport.” He then commended the PGA for “making quite a lot of progress since then,” but wondered why the PGA doesn’t use the WADA list of banned substances. “Is there a substance (on our list) that it’s OK for golfers to take?” Pound wondered. “This is organizational testosterone,” he added derisively.
The WADA President explained how current sanctions of up to two years were decided upon, balancing the need for punitive measures with respect for human rights. He added that in the case of anabolic steroids, for example, that the “benefit” can last longer than two years and discussions are now taking place about how longer sanctions may sometimes be necessary.
On Monday, Pound leaves for China where he will confer with organizers for the 2008 Olympics there. He hopes that a test will be in place then for human growth hormone (HGH), although doping controls do not currently test for this substance. In answer to questions about genetic doping, Pound said that there is no scientifically valid, non-invasive test yet available for this kind of doping.
A successor for Pound will be chosen November 15-17 at a meeting in Madrid. Among the contenders are Jean-FranÃ§ois Lamour, French Minister of Youth, Sport and Voluntary Work and John Vaughan the former premier of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Lamour, current WADA vice-president, is a dual Olympic champion in fencing. Fahay was premier of NSW when the state’s largest city, Sydney, advanced its bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games. Media reports suggest that Lamour is favoured to take the position.
Pound was evasive about his own future, but conceded that he is a nominee for the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS). “I’ve never had much difficulty finding things to do with my time,” added the 65-year-old Montreal lawyer and former Olympic swimmer.