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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 22:59 GMT
BBC Sport special report




By Matt Slater

He probably should not expect Christmas cards from the heads of any of the major US sports, any number of cyclists or his former boss Juan Antonio Samaranch, but there are some people who will miss World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound when he steps down, and that's us journalists.

Wada president Dick Pound
Pound has been raising eyebrows as Wada boss since 1999
In the usually copy-free zone of sports politics, the 65-year-old Canadian is a walking, talking headline-machine.

A former Olympic swimmer turned lawyer, Pound has never met a sports administration post he did not like and is physically incapable of passing a microphone without saying something that will upset somebody, somewhere.

But then what should we expect from a man who has written a controversialist's handbook called "High Impact Quotations"?

The four-time Canadian 100m freestyle champion is in Madrid this week for Wada's Third World Conference on Doping in Sport and among the more pressing items of business are the need to elect his replacement after three, never boring terms as boss.

Even on this seemingly sensitive issue, Pound is unable to say something dull.

When asked to comment on how former Australian politician John Fahey became the sole candidate for his job after early favourite Jean-Francois Lamour pulled out of the race, Pound said: "It was left to the governments to decide their candidate.

"The way it unfolded was messy and embarrassing, more for Lamour and France and Europe."

But any expectations that he would sidle off quietly, leaving the floor to those who must continue what he has started at the Montreal-based organisation, were unrealistic.

POUND'S GREATEST HITS
Ahhh yes, the peloton full of brave asthmatics riding at the Tour - it's not just in cycling either
On the vexed issue of "therapeutic use exemptions" for asthma drugs that also boost performance

I thought about sanctioning myself but decided against it
After the UCI accused Wada of withholding information about allegations Lance Armstrong doped in 1999

You'd think he'd be violating every virgin within 100 miles - how does he even get on his bicycle?
In response to Floyd Landis' positive for elevated levels of testosterone

If you're captured and held down by a squad of Nazi frogmen and injected with something, there's nothing
On the room for discretion in Wada's list of sanctions
In fact, no sooner had Pound landed on Spanish soil than he started to take aim at his hosts.

Not usually a friend of professional cycling - his spats with Lance Armstrong and the International Cycling Union are the stuff of legend - the two-time former International Olympic Committee vice-president decided to put a stick in the spokes of the Spanish authorities' attempts to quietly bury "Operacion Puerto".

Spain's biggest doping scandal erupted in May 2006 when police raided clinics in Madrid and Zaragoza and found bags of blood, blood transfusion equipment and anabolic steroids.

The ensuing 18 months have seen huge repercussions, a number of high-profile confessions and a total of 34 athletes named and shamed as cheats.

Unfortunately, all of the above affected only one sport, cycling. This is despite the fact that the doctor at the heart of the scandal, Eufemiano Fuentes, has himself suggested that footballers and tennis players were among his alleged 200 clients.

But Pound, who has been remorseless in his attacks on cycling's doping culture, threw the sport's beleaguered fans a bone on Wednesday when he asked the question so many of them have been asking - what about the others?

"We are concerned that some reports would suggest that the only athletes on the face of the planet that were involved in Puerto were cyclists," he said.

"That seems to me not to be credible and we hope that the case will go on and that the Spanish will pursue this to the point of making sure that all the information comes to light and not just in cycling."

The judge leading the investigation closed the case in March without making any charges - even against the cyclists named - after concluding that no offences were committed under Spanish law with regard to offences against public health. The Spanish government has appealed against the ruling.

Pound said the judge was mistaken in concluding that the provision of artificial forms of the blood-boosting hormone EPO, which was found in eight of the 99 bags of blood found at the clinics, was not dangerous.

He also said he was dismayed to hear the evidence gathered could not be used by sporting authorities to hand out sanctions.

Floyd Landis
Pound has been a vocal critic of disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis
And he is right. He usually is. That is why Pound, for all his badgering and blustering, should be thanked for his work at Wada.

It hasn't been pretty or particularly dignified - the row with Samaranch last month did look uncomfortably like a case of sour grapes at missing out on the top job at the IOC - but Pound has forced the issue of doping up the political priorities list, especially in the US, where many were in complete denial for far too long.

"Getting doping on the radar screen was important," Pound said recently in a rare reflective moment.

"More people are now aware of the existence of the problem and the degree to which it destroys everything that sports should stand for.

"I think even the (American) professional sports leagues and cycling are really back on their feet now. They're not able to get away with all the fluff they've been hoisting on the public for so long."

What Pound does next is uncertain, although sports writers will be hoping there is some truth in the rumours connecting him with a post at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Lausanne-based tribunal where many of Wada's more controversial cases have ended up.

But whatever role he gets it is unlikely to be the result of a popularity contest.

"I'm not a very electable person," he admitted to Reuters. "It's the jobs that are important.

"I've done more good for the Olympic movement in this job than cutting ribbons and kissing babies as president of the IOC."

Touché, Dick, touché.



SEE ALSO
Cycling's image 'in the toilet'
02 Jul 06 |  Cycling
Drugs tsar on fighting doping
06 Mar 06 |  Sport Homepage
Pound suspects skiers were doping
16 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports
Blatter responds in doping debate
17 May 05 |  Football
Pound rounds on Rusedski
21 Mar 04 |  Tennis
Warne fury at doping chief
08 Aug 03 |  Cricket
Verbruggen quits in drugs row
05 Aug 02 |  Cycling
Pound to continue anti-doping role
03 Aug 01 |  World Athletics


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