WADA invigorated by USADA probe

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Sunday that sport has the power to expose cheaters, and one of its earliest crusaders against the drug-soaked culture of cycling has been its founding president Dick Pound.

WADA Chairman John Fahey lauded a ground-breaking probe by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that exposed the supply, use and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs involving teams associated with Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong, who was accused by the USADA of using drugs and blood transfusions to cheat, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

Fahey said the investigation resulted in "the most comprehensive, irrefutable outcome of a culture of doping in cycling and certainly the most sophisticated sham in the teams associated with Armstrong.

"That indicates that we can achieve outcomes. We can bring things through to a point where these cheats are exposed."

Fahey said Pound has been vindicated for the stand he took against Armstrong and the people who enabled cheating in the sport. But the Canadian was put under scrutiny by the International Olympic Committee and later sued by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

"Dick Pound was vocal. He was sued in defamation, in my view in an attempt to silence him in those days," Fahey told AFP at a WADA meeting that proposed changes to the code on anti-doping.

The draft would stiffen sanctions from two to four years for cheaters, and give WADA the power to investigate cases that national governing bodies refuse to look at.

"It does have a bit of sobering effect on you if you are going before the court. He made some statements that there's now absolutely no doubt had full substance in them. I have to say that he was dealt with on complaint by Armstrong by the ethics committee of the IOC of which he is a member. That was wrong, if you look at it today."

"So he was certainly vindicated in the stand that he took," Fahey added.

Pound also attended the Montreal meeting, as did a subdued Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Pound said the USADA investigation was proof that the system could be effective, and has been embarrassing for the UCI.

"I think USADA's report indicates what a good and serious agency can do. That's a vindication of the system," he said in his inimitable forthright manner.

"It's immensely embarrassing to the UCI that the people who are running the sport, who were there every day, seeing these athletes and teams for years and years couldn't seem to find it. And so now they are, in quotation marks, 'shocked'," he said.

Pound acknowledged the bitter push back against efforts to clean up cheating that he received as chairman of global anti-doping body between 1999 and 2007.

"But the pushback I got was the pushback that I invited as chairman. The pushback comes from the bad guys, not from the good guys. A number of people keep saying 'keep at them' which is great, and others say 'oh you're trampling on our rights, you're against cycling, you're against football,' - well they've sort of opened their shirts and the bull's eye is right in the middle of their chests."

In response to concerns raised by delegates about the time and costs associated with effectively cracking down of the scope of cheating in sports, Pound was unequivocal in urging national governments to take responsibility.

He also said the costs of regulation and testing could be tolerated, given the spending in other areas.

"So when you sit around and hear them talking about 'oh we're all so poor that we can't afford even a one percent increase'....it's like 12 million dollars for the world governments."

He also urged the International Olympic Committee to take a tough love approach.

"Well I think the IOC has sort of punted to some degree to WADA. They don't really do any anti-doping tests. They do tests on occasion for the Olympics, but that's about it. They've been very good at amending their charter to say that you need to become compliant or you can't take part but they're reluctant to use that power."

"They've been saying...'well you can't exclude cycling because what about all the cyclists around the world who aren't doping?' Well, it's tough love."

Head of the World Anti-Doping Agency John Fahey takes part in an anti-doping conference on November 12 in Paris. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Sunday that sport has the power to expose cheaters, and one of its earliest crusaders against the drug-soaked culture of cycling has been its founding president Dick Pound.

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