International Cycling

Armstrong a 'disappointment'

2015-04-22 14:39
Lance Armstrong (File)

New York - The director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency is disappointed Lance Armstrong has not apologised for costly and time-consuming lawsuits before the former cycling champion admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

In an interview on Tuesday, David Howman said NFL and NHL players need to change their attitude towards drug testing and professional soccer clubs should coordinate efforts with FIFA and continental confederations.

He also said WADA policies would not prohibit mixed martial arts star Anderson Silva from competing in taekwondo at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Armstrong was given a lifetime ban from elite sport in 2012 and admitted the following year his denials had been lies. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

"He was able to beat the system in ways and means where others were complicit and others understood what he was trying to do. And I'm not just talking about his team. There was a healthy disrespect for the rules. I don't think that will happen again," Howman said. "We spent a lot of time, a lot of money. We fended off a lot of legal action (that was) all for nothing. And we're not going to be compensated. We haven't even been apologised to, and that's regrettable."

Howman was in New York to announce a collaboration between WADA and the Partnership for Clean Competition that includes $6 million in research funds, of which $1.5 million will be matched by the International Olympic Committee.

In discussing professional sports in the US, he criticised the NFL Players Association for not agreeing to more stringent anti-doping policies.

"(The NFL has) a bit of an issue with their collective bargaining agreement, which has not lent itself to the same, let's say, progressive anti-doping program that the Major League Baseball people have, and similarly at the NHL," he said. "I think there needs to be an attitudinal shift from the players."

NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah responded: "We know that WADA has to demonise athletes and unions to stay relevant. Our collectively bargained drug policies are strong and fair."

Howman said five positive tests in Major League Baseball in the last month are "worrisome" to that sport.

"I think they're conducting an inquiry to see why they have occurred, whether there was some link with any supplement or any other substance that might be spiked intentionally with some banned substance," he said.

Howman said WADA policies would not prohibit Silva from competing in Rio in taekwondo because his failed drug tests did not come under the WADA code. Silva tested positive for steroids in January before a UFC fight. He has insisted he is clean.

Silva has been temporarily suspended by UFC and could be further sanctioned by the Nevada Athletic Commission, a ban the UFC would respect. He and Brazilian taekwondo officials are planning a news conference on Wednesday about his hopes of participating in his home country's Olympics next year, which the national federation has called a "wonderful possibility."

Howman said the decision on whether Silva could take part in the 2016 Games would need to come from taekwondo's international governing body.

Positive tests in soccer have been rare, in part Howman said because not enough testing is conducted.

"They will say they don't fail tests because they're all doping free," he said, saying international governing bodies must coordinate with national federations and leagues. "They need to be dovetailed, so there is a consistency and a profile built up of players that is across all these particular programs."

He anticipates golf will be improving for the 2016 Olympics because "the PGA Tour is developing a program that will be Olympic standard to ensure that the golfers who are on the tour can compete in Rio."

A WADA team was in Nairobi last week as Kenya works to establish its new anti-doping agency to combat a spate of positive tests.

"I'm hopeful in a few months' time they will have an active program," Howman said.

Read more on:    wada  |  lance armstrong  |  cycling

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