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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 11:13 GMT
Drugs tsar on fighting doping
By Matt Catchpole

Dick Pound
Pound has been the chairman of Wada for six years
Dick Pound has been leading the battle against drugs in sport since he became chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency six years ago.

He has been a crusading, outspoken and often controversial figure.

Here he talks to BBC Sport about his ongoing fight against sport's drugs cheats, his differences with football's governing body Fifa, the imminent return to action of British sprinter Dwain Chambers and his frustration at the investigation into Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou.

WINTER OLYMPICS

Q. Do you think any athletes got away with doping at this year's Winter Olympics?

Well, you never know - that's part of the problem. We think it's possible some of the Austrian cross-country skiers may have, but that's an on-going investigation on the part of the International Olympic Committee and the Italian police.

It's always possible there's something out there we don't know about and that's why we keep looking.

Q. Investigators in Turin were accused of underhand tactics. Do you think they went too far?

Sometimes you have to adopt methods which may be a little indirect because you are dealing with a lot of people who may be cheating. You are simply using methods that allow you to get close to them.

You don't have to have a large target painted on yourself that you are a doping control officer and a big flashing light that says "Warning!"

That's not the way that you catch folks who are out there deliberately breaking the rules.

DWAIN CHAMBERS

Dwain Chambers
Chambers' two-year ban expired last November

Q. Dwain Chambers' two-year ban for doping has now expired. But is it right he should be allowed to compete again after admitting taking the banned steroid THG?

The consensus rule for a first serious doping offence is a sanction of two years.

And when that sanction has been completed, assuming there is no other evidence of additional doping, that athlete is free to compete.

There are many athletes on our committees who think two years is not enough.

They are in favour of four years and many would favour a life ban for a first offence.

We are going to have a look at the whole application of the World Anti-Doping code in November 2007 and that may be one of the subjects we raise.

PERSONAL CRITICISM

Q. Do you worry about the criticism that is often directed at you?

If I'm not being criticised, I'm not doing my job.

It's my job to get into the faces of the people who would prefer to leave the status quo as it is and ignore the existence of a problem.

I've never thought of this as a diplomatic assignment.

There are some people out there who are cheating and destroying sport.

If they don't get stopped, the future of sport could be at risk, because parents and the public are not going to want their children and young people to become chemical stockpiles in order to be good at sport.

I'm quite prepared to be measured by who my enemies might be. I'm not making enemies from people who are playing their sport fair.

FOOTBALL

Q. You've had your differences with world football's governing body, Fifa. How do things stand at the moment?

These differences are not yet resolved. We are in the process of seeking an advisory opinion from the Court of Arbitration for Sport as to whether Fifa's rules comply with the world anti-doping code.

I hope we'll get some kind of decision on that shortly, since it's been before the court for several months.

The World Anti-Doping Code, which Fifa adopted, is a two-year sanction for a doping offence with the possibility of it being reduced if there's been no significant fault on the part of the athlete.

Fifa is not comfortable with the degree to which a sentence can be reduced - it can be cut in half under the code - but Fifa would like more flexibility to have it reduced even further. It's there we disagree.

All the European Sports ministers have been quite firm with Fifa saying: "Look you have to do this, or there are going to be consequences."

KENTERIS AND THANOU

Q. Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were provisionally suspended by the IAAF in December 2004 after failing to take doping tests before the Athens Olympics. Yet the case still has not been resolved. Is this a frustration for you?

Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou
The CAS hearing for Kenteris & Thanou has been postponed
Any time cases get either into the hands of the public authorities or their lawyers, who try to delay the treatment of the case, it is frustrating.

We are now coming up to two years from the Athens Games and the case still hasn't been heard yet.

One of the refinements we can consider is if a case is brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, both the parties and arbitrators selected for the panel must be ready to deal with the matter and dispose of it within x amount of time so there is some closure on this.

What happens in a lot of these cases, and I'm not talking just about Kenteris here, is the lawyers for the defendants try to delay things for as long as they can in the hope people will lose interest, or forget, or evidence will disappear.

The whole process is to avoid dealing with the substantive aspect of the offence.

PLAYING CATCH-UP

Q. Can the anti-doping authorities ever get ahead of the cheats?

I don't think so - they always have the advantage of moving first.

But with the amount of research funding we are putting into developing better and better tests I think we can narrow the gap.

We are certainly gaining on them, but it's not won yet.

You win this war if you convince 99.9% of the people not to do it, either because it's wrong or dangerous.

HAS WADA MADE A DIFFERENCE?

Q. Wada was set up in November 1999. Have you made a significant difference in the battle against drugs in sport since then?

Imagine if I had said to you in 1999 that within six years we would have a recognised world body; be able to negotiate and adopt a single set of rules applicable to all sports; enact an international convention in the fight against doping; have all disputes taken out of the national courts and decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and have spent $30m on both research and out-of-competition tests.

You would have thought I was smoking a mind-altering substance.

I think we've done remarkably well in a short period - it's been spectacularly succesful.

We've established a reputation as a no-nonsense, absolutely even-handed organisation that's not afraid to look at what's under the rocks that may be out there.

Q. Should we ever give up and allow drugs to be used in sport?

I think that's a monstrous abandonment of the responsibility of sport.




SEE ALSO
Pound suspects skiers were doping
16 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports
Drugs chief hails Montgomery ban
14 Dec 05 |  Athletics
No track return yet for Chambers
16 Feb 06 |  Athletics


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