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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 21:14 GMT
USOC defends drugs stance
World Anti-Doping Agency boss Dick Pound has criticised America's record on drugs in sport

American Olympic officials have attempted to defuse the row over their record on action against drug cheats.

The United States Olympic Committee defended itself in an open letter to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.

Acting president Bill Martin said: "I can assure you USOC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency share your assessment of the importance of this matter."

He added: "This matter should in no way become a barrier to the New York City 2012 Olympic bid effort."

Earlier this week, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Dick Pound said he wanted the US to be turned into a "sports pariah" unless it took the drugs issue more seriously.

Pound is dismayed at the White House's recent cuts in funding to WADA and the relatively light penalties being issued by Major League Baseball and the NFL for positive steroid tests.

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The USA's contributions to WADA have dropped from $1m to $800,000 this year.

Pound also said he would consider urging Rogge to pressure member sports federations to remove all international competitions from the US unless it improves its record on doping.

Martin said the $800,000 "places the United States among the top three nations in the Olympic movement with respect to providing financial support to the agency".

He said his country's contribution for 2003 would be made within the next 60 to 90 days.

Lack of funding forced WADA to cut back the number of planned random tests by a third to 5,000 in 2003.




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