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For integrity of the sport and health

October 30th, 2007 by kornum · 2 Comments

The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency Richard W. Pound answered questions from the users of thepulse2007.org about a dopingfree world, his future in WADA and cyclists not telling the whole truth. See what the controversiel president has answered in this interview.

- Why is the fight against doping important?
- There are two answers to that. First, even though athletes might think they know its dangerous, they really don’t. It is like my 12 year old child saying: ”Dad, I’m old enough to drive the car, I know how to drive the car”, and I will say: “You do not know the risk”. The other answer is that people don’t take drugs to level the playingfield, they take it to get an advantage. So if everyone is taking 10 milligrams of whatever the substance, then the people who want to win will say: “Well then Ill take 20”, and then everyone will take 20, and then someone will take 30. And before you know it, you have uncontrolled use of a potential leathal amount of drugs. So it is important for the integrity of the sport and the health of the athletes.

- Why do you think athletes don´t know about the danger of doping?
- Because they´re not too smart, or because the people who are controlling them do not care about them - they only care about making money on the athletes

- Some say that your hard and cynical way of dealing with doping has cost you a future in IOC. What do you think about that?
- It is entirely possible. The IOC is an organisation that does not like controversies, but when you are dealing with doping, you are dealing with cheating. These are rules we all agree to, and if somebody is breaking these rules, you have to confront it. You can’t just sit around holding hands. Then it is not going to go away. And frankly, I think that is more important than becoming the President of IOC.

- Do you have any regrets?
- I regret nothing. If in order to become the President of IOC, you have to ignore all those things and not take the controversies, I would rather not be president. It is too important for athletes and for the sport. I’m still a member of IOC and will be a member until 2022, and I’m happy to work for them, but I’m not prepared to compromise fair play, fair competition and the Olympic spirit in order to have a position in IOC.

- What do you think is the biggest threat in the world of sport - corruption or doping?
- Doping is corruption. As far as the effect on the athletes, I think doping is the greatest threat. It is not the only one, but the greatest.

- Jörg Jaksche said that it would be right in the future for WADA to do all out-of-competition testing in cycling. What is your opinion of that proposal?
- I hope we can find some other solution than that. Basically UCI (Union Cyclists Internationale) should take responsibility. WADA should not have to do their work. UCI needs to know that if they want to run the sport, they have to take the responsibility. And they shouldn’t try to pretend that it should be somebody else.

- Do you think they try to do that?
- I think they have so far. I hope the big summit we had in Paris made them finally understand, that unless they do something dramatically different then what they use to, their sport is in serious jeopardy of disappearing.

- Jaksche also voiced the proposal of pre-samles. He wants athletes to give samples that can be used for tests three or four years later. What do you think about that?
- We already do that. The Code (the international rules about doping) says we can keep a sample for 8 years. That’s how the frenchs caught Lance Armstrong. They had samples from 1998-99, before there was a test for Epo. When they did the test afterwards, they found 15 positive cases from 1998-99 of which 6 was identified as Lance Armstrongs. He is not convicted, because the UCI refused to do anything about it. They put down a so called “independent commision” to study it, which decided that everybody was wrong - except the UCI and Armstrong. The labs, the test and the science were wrong.

- Why do you think Armstrong is so angry with you after these test?
- Because he claims he is innocent, and unlike most people - I don’t go away. So he tried to get rid of me as President of WADA.

- But why do people go away from this conflict?
- Because they are afraid to get sued. And I’m not afraid of being sued.

- How many times have you been sued?
- None, because I’m not afraid of being sued.

- What does it take to get the world of cycling totally clean?
- It is like society in general, 99.9% obey the laws, even if they don’t all agree with them. But there will always be some people who don’t obey. That’s why you have the police, the court system and the prisons. You will always have that in sport as well, therefore you will always have the tests. But you need to change the attitude of everybody; athletes, trainers, parents and society, so that 99.9% of the athletes and their teams do not cheat. And we are not at 99.9 % yet, that is for sure.

- Why is cycling a sport with so many reckless people?
- I think the teams, managers, international federation and athletes over a period of years have allowed the whole culture of doping to creep into the sport, and now it clings all around the sport.

- What do you think about the case of Michael Rasmussen?
- What I have heard is that during a period of time he missed at least four test - two Danish and two UCI - and the rule is if you miss three tests it counts as a positive test. The two federations didn’t seem to be able to coordinate it, but they should have. In my opinion a missed test is a missed test, no matter the federation. Michael Rasmussen missed four tests, and that is too many.

- Bjarne Riis confessed about his doping abuse, but said he did it alone. Can you force the riders to say who helped them to use dope?
- We encourage people to tell it in the Code. The problem with saying: ”I did it all by myself and nobody else was involved”, is that nobody believes in it. And it is almost certain, that it is untrue. So when you pretend to confess and say what happened, you are not really confessing, you are telling another lie.

- But can you force them?
- No, we can just give them the penalty, that is the only thing you can do at the moment.

Tags: Theme: Anti-doping

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