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Former WADA president calls for 'tougher' action on doping

2019-11-04 12:49
Dick Pound (Getty Images)
Dick Pound (Getty Images)

Katowice - The first president of the World Anti-Doping Agency Dick Pound has called for "tougher" treatment of athletes and nations who are found to be doping but remains optimistic about the fight against cheating.

"Many sports now know that someone is looking over their shoulder," the 77-year-old Canadian told AFP ahead of the 20th anniversary WADA meeting in Katowice.

Pound, a former Olympic swimmer, has long beaten a vocal and often controversial path in the bid to uncover the drugs cheats.

He led WADA from its inception in 1999 to 2007 and remains an Olympic Movement representative on the WADA Foundation Board.

He is proud of what WADA has achieved but regrets missed opportunities to take the fight deeper.

"What I find the most disappointing is the reticence in going in really hard against the those who sign up to the World Anti-Doping Code but only go halfway in implementing it," he says.

"After 20 years, everyone knows the code, everyone knows the rules and they aren't always applied. We must be more persuasive."

Pound cites the ongoing suspension of the Russian athletics federation by the International Association of Athletics Federations over state-organised doping as an example of how to tackle the problem.

"That's been going on five years now and they are still not allowed to compete, that is the way things need to be done.

"We must be tougher. You know the rules, you fail to apply them, then sorry, you are suspended.

"If you do that three or four times then people will get the message."

Pound is frustrated by the inconsistency between sports, especially the way team sports have negotiated certain arrangements.

"In a football match, for example, two players are randomly selected for testing. And it is only if both players are positive that we can target the team (with other controls). It's a lottery.

"You can suspend an individual who tests positive but that has no effect on the outcome of the competition. The match isn't lost which is what happens with a relay team in athletics."

With a positive worldwide rate of less than two percent, anti-doping controls are often considered ineffective, a view that Pound appears to endorse.

"That shows that the monitoring of anti-doping programmes is not good because we know that more than two percent of athletes are doping.

"WADA lacks the means of controlling the way in which these programmes are carried out.

"You can have thousands of tests in a sport and come out with no positives because you select the athletes who don't dope, you avoid testing the high risk athletes.

"The investigations yield far more results than controls.

"The simple fact WADA exists and can set up investigations is at least a partial deterrent.

"The results obtained are good. The work that was done on the Russian 'lab' is remarkable. And we passed on information to the Austrian police about the biathlon scandal.

"These are good examples. It is a work in progress."

In spite of the problems that Pound sees in cleaning up sport, the Canadian is genuinely proud of the work and achievements of WADA over the last 20 years, especially the World Anti-Doping Code which was implemented just before the Athens Olympics in 2004.

"It signifies that every sport in every country is subject to the same rules.

"It was one of our first missions. There were 200 countries, 40 Olympic federations and each one had its own rules with different list of (banned) products, different sanctions, procedures, it was chaos.

"Then there is the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping, through which governments agree to apply the World Anti-Doping Code - 188 states have acceded to it.

"It is the most effective convention of UNESCO."

The third great success, according to Pound, is the creation of an independent committee within WADA that verifies whether a signatory organisation (a federation of national anti-doping agency) is compliant with the code.

"It virtually eliminates any political consideration of its decisions."

Read more on:    wada


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