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Sunday 24, Nov 2013

  Anti-Doping Policy’s Criticism Unfair, Says ITF

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Anti-Doping Policy’s Criticism Unfair, Says ITF

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has labeled recent criticisms of anti-doping programs of tennis by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic as unfair. The world governing body of tennis said it is confident that its anti-doping programs are working effectively.

ITF’s anti-doping manager Stuart Miller remarked he thinks tennis is doing a good job in the programs it has and we’ve had two fairly high-profile cases recently with Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki and let’s not forget both of those cases resulted in violations for the athletes concerned. Speaking at the World Conference on Doping in Sport, Miller said to him that shows that the program is successful in catching the people it is supposed to be catching so he doesn’t think it’s necessarily fair criticism.

Miller added that anti-doping programs of tennis includes in-competition and out-of-competition testing, with both urine and bloods samples taken and the recent introduction of the athlete’s biological passport, another tool in the fight against doping. He also remarked the game of tennis has also been increasing proportion of out-of-competition testing.

Recently, Serbia’s world number two Novak Djokovic said he had lost all trust in tennis’ anti-doping program after a ban of 12 months was imposed on his compatriot Troicki for failing to provide a blood sample at the Monte Carlo Masters in April after he complained of feeling unwell. The now-banned player said he believed he could be excused from the test if he provided a reason to the International Tennis Federation.

Djokovic, the 17-times grand slam winner, said he feels like he used to get tested more and said he believes he was tested 25 times in 2003, 2004 and he thinks it’s been clearly going down this season. However, Miller remarked there had been no real change in the number of times the ITF had tested the Swiss and added we have got the exact number of tests on Roger Federer and our information does not match what he says and added the number of tests completed have remained remarkably constant as far as we are concerned.

Miller also added that isn’t to say that there aren’t other organizations that were testing him to some extent previously and now doing so less and we just don’t know about those figures, but as far as we are concerned the number of tests remains pretty constant for 10 years or so. The ITF’s anti-doping manager said he is confident the tennis anti-doping program is using all the tools available to it to maximize its efficiency but we must remember, you also need a deterrent effect and prevention effect and education as well.

Meanwhile, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey has remarked that he doesn’t think Novak Djokovic has the faintest idea what his organization does. Fahey dismissed the comments of the former world No. 1 that he had lost faith in the system and said the six-time grand slam winner’s comments are unhelpful and it was up to the sport to do more to fight against doping.

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Friday 26, Jul 2013

  Hefty Doping Ban Expected For Alex Rodriguez

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Hefty Doping Ban Expected For Alex Rodriguez

Former Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Fay Vincent says he has a feeling that Alex Rodriguez could be in for some harsh treatment. Vincent, though privy to details of the latest doping sweep overshadowing the sport, said his current MLB chief Bud Selig may decide to make an example of the famed New York Yankees slugger.

MLB’s active home run leader and highest-paid player, Rodriguez, has been implicated in a scandal that has already resulted in former National League MVP Ryan Braun being suspended Monday for the rest of the 2013 season. Braun decided not to contest the case made against him by MLB investigators and accepted a 65-game ban, plus any potential playoff games.

The 75-year Vincent remarked it seems to him that A-Rod is trying to make a deal like Braun and he thinks he’s trying to make a good deal and added that he doesn’t think a good deal is do-able. The ex-MLB chief said his guess is that A-Rod is going to be out for a very long period of time and it may be that his case is worse (than Braun) and if it is, they may be telling him he may be out for good and that’s a deal he can’t make. Resolution of the cases tied to the now-shut Biogenesis clinic in South Florida was an important step in the fight against doping, says Vincent and added that the performance enhancing drug problem is a threat to all of competitive athletics, from the Olympics to cycling to all sorts of sporting events that are threatened to the extent we let people use performance enhancing drugs. The former commissioner praised the cooperation of the players’ association and its chief Michael Weiner in the current doping case and said stamping out doping would have a fighting chance if the players joined team owners as partners in MLB, in contrast of their approach to the way the player’s association fought him in 1990 when he wrote a commissioner’s memo about the dangers of steroids to the game.

Rodriguez admitted before the 2009 season with the Yankees that he had used anabolic steroids earlier in his career and he according to media reports may have more evidence stacked against him than the MLB probe unearthed on Braun. The 38-year-old Rodriguez is guaranteed about $100 million on a deal that runs through 2017, with an additional $30 million in a series of home-run milestone bonuses due, if he reaches them. Vincent said he can see a very, very tough result for A-Rod that may be cushioned a little bit by a deal on the money side but he doesn’t see Bud giving A-Rod much of a deal and that will send a message that one of these days I’m going to throw someone out for life and we’re not going to have this anymore. Vincent added that would be a very popular move and he thinks it would really go a long way to putting his legacy in very strong shape.

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Tuesday 16, Jul 2013

  McQuaid Pledges To Continue Anti-Doping Fight

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McQuaid Pledges To Continue Anti-Doping Fight

UCI president Pat McQuaid has pledged to continue the fight against doping if he is elected again as president of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

McQuaid said he has introduced the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport to cycling and it is now possible to race and win clean. The UCI president is facing stiff competition from British Cycling Brian Cookson, who is a member of the UCI management committee, for the presidential post.

Cookson, the current president of the British Cycling, pledged to establish an independent body to manage anti-doping if he is elected president of the International Cycling Union (UCI). His candidacy is based on restoring credibility in the UCI after the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The 62-year-old Cookson remarked the reality is that the UCI is not trusted, our anti-doping is not seen to be independent and we don’t have the trust of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and the other key anti-doping agencies. He went on to remark that the anti-doping service within the UCI headquarters at the moment is just down the corridor of the president’s office so that can’t be right. He also added that he would quickly establish a completely independent anti-doping unit, in co-operation with WADA if elected president and it will be managed and governed outside of the UCI so people can have absolute confidence in our sport.

In his manifesto for running for the UCI presidency, McQuaid pledged to make the UCI’s Cycling Anti Doping Foundation more independent and help fund it by increasing the UCI World Tour teams’ contributions to anti-doping and modernize how cycling is presented as a global sport. He also pledged to  establish an independent audit of the UCI’s actions when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France, from 1999 to 2005 and set up an independent UCI Women’s Commission with responsibility for developing all disciplines of women’s cycling. McQuaid added that his mission now is to preserve the changed culture within the peloton and team entourage and foster the global development of cycling.

McQuaid also remarked that the governing body of cycling now invests over USD 7.5million (£5m) every year to keep the sport clean and to catch and prosecute those riders who refuse to embrace the new culture of clean cycling. The UCI president also added that the misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of cycling or today’s riders. He added that Lance Armstrong and issues related to him should not affect the September vote and added this election should be about cycling today and cycling tomorrow. Cycling officials worldwide were not as concerned with the Armstrong case, McQuaid suggested. The chief of cycling’s governing body also remarked they see it as a scandal that has happened in the past. He also revealed that they are more interested in how they see the UCI developing the sport and that is the basis he is standing on and there is work still to continue.

McQuaid is seeking a third four-year term in office at the UCI’s election congress on September 27.

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Friday 28, Jun 2013

  Armstrong Urges Cycling To Come Clean

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Armstrong Urges Cycling To Come Clean

Lance Armstrong recently surprised all by jumping in to play the role of an anti-doping crusader, during a question and answer session on Twitter.

The American rider raised a question for British cycling boss @Brian Cookson who is campaigning to unseat Pat McQuaid as president of the International Cycling Union when elections come around in September. Armstrong asked Brian if he has any plans to convene a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to fully understand the mistakes of previous generations. Brian replied that he would back such a process, if legal and other issues can be worked out.

Lance Armstrong: “Question for @cooksonforuci – any plans to convene a Truth and Rec Commission to FULLY understand the mistakes of previous generations?”

Brian Cookson: “@lancearmstrong See my reply to @CrisTT Also would support a full truth and rec process if legal and practical hurdles can be overcome.”

(The reply to @CrisTT read: “I would prioritise the allegations which implicate the UCI in cover-ups. Must be investigated independently and quickly.”)

The president of British Cycling also remarked that he would prioritize the allegations which implicate the UCI in cover-ups – must be investigated independently and quickly. Cookson also remarked that he was also in favor of longer bans for convicted dopers, but wanted teams and the “enablers” of doping to be targeted as well as riders. The British Cycling chief added that he wanted to see cycling grow, with a particular focus on women’s cycling and was determined to safeguard place of the sport at the Olympics. The road to his election may be smooth with an extraordinary general meeting of Cycling Ireland’s members voted 91-74 against putting McQuaid forward for another term in charge. Also, McQuaid’s attempt to qualify for the presidential vote via the Swiss cycling federation is the subject of an appeal.

Cookson decided to stay mum on questions raised by journalist Paul Kimmage who had asked if he has a party to sue Floyd Landis and if suing whistleblowers is in his manifesto. He replied that Paul is one of many journalists who deserve respect for the work they have put into exposing doping in cycling and he cannot answer his concerns directly because they involve legal actions which are still live but committed to answering them in full as soon as he is able to. Cookson added that the UCI, if he gets elected in September, will not use the courts to silence whistle-blowers, journalists or other dissenting voices and this should not be taken as UCI’s inability to communicate its own point of view or correct inaccuracies or unbalanced comment when appropriate but and added that he is a firm believer in freedom of debate as being good for the long-term health of any sport.

In the last few months, there have been rumors that Armstrong has given an impression to cycling authorities about his doping activities but they have so far come to nothing. Cycling authorities have been talking for a while about a “year zero” commission for dealing with the blood-doping era of the sport since the Lance Armstrong doping scandal but the process has failed to even get started due to legal concerns about how it would work in practice, and more fundamental worries about who would pay for it.

In another development, UCI president Pat McQuaid is waiting for a visit and an apology from Lance Armstrong and said the cyclist should travel to UCI headquarters in Switzerland to tell all about his doping history and offer to help clean up the sport. He also defended himself, former president Hein Verbruggen, and the UCI by saying the facts show the UCI was always the most advanced federation in the fight against doping and the problem was the products that couldn’t be tested for at the time. McQuaid added that there were no tests available for the products and the UCI was not to blame.

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Thursday 27, Jun 2013

  BOA Lifetime Ban On Drugs Cheats Is Impending UKAD Work

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BOA Lifetime Ban On Drugs Cheats Is Impending UKAD Work

The chief executive of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), Andy Parkinson, has warned that the lifetime ban on drug cheats by the British Olympic Association (BOA) is impeding the battle to stamp out the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport.

The new rule of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on banning an athlete from competing in the next Games after they have tested positive was also criticized by Parkinson who said it would be easier if everyone followed the standards set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which have established a suspension of two years as the fairest penalty for an athlete testing positive for banned drugs for the first time. Parkinson added that we seen in the United States and also in the United Kingdom how going beyond the anti-doping rules established by WADA creates confusion and impedes our role and also said the World Anti-Doping Code, agreed at an international level, encourages athletes to provide substantial assistance which can be grounds for a reduction in the sanction period.

Any athlete who tests positive for banned drugs is automatically prevented from representing Britain in the Olympics, under the rules of the BOA but the Britain’s anti-doping chief believes that athletes would be more willing to cooperate with them if there was an incentive for them to be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

Parkinson said if, as is the case with the eligibility rules of the International Olympic Committee and here in the UK the British Olympic Association, we remove all incentives for athletes to share their stories and information with us, then we will continue to struggle to catch those who are supplying performance enhancing drugs and often operate on the edges of sport with relative impunity and it is clear that this is a hard message to get across and to agree on, largely because these eligibility rules are easy to defend, but if we cannot be seen to be working with all athletes, then what hope do we have in really getting to the heart of the doping problem and to those that traffic and supply. He also added that the fight against doping now more than ever requires a mature and coordinated effort to work together and UK Anti-Doping has firmly established itself in its first year and offers the chance to continue to play a lead role at home and overseas to better protect the rights of athletes to compete in doping-free sport.

The views of Parkinson echoed that of Dick Pound who claimed in 2008 that he did not believe that the BOA rule would survive, if it was challenged legally.

Since 1992, by-law 25 has been on the BOA’s statute book when it was decided by the then chairman Sir Arthur Gold that Britain must take the moral high ground in the fight against doping. The British Olympic Association is now the only national Olympic committee to maintain this hard-line stance but have always maintained that it will “vigorously” defend any attempt to remove the anti-doping by-law.

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Tuesday 21, May 2013

  Armstrong Has Evidence Against UCI, Says Tygart

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Armstrong Has Evidence Against UCI, Says Tygart

Travis Tygart wants disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong to come forward with information detailing the alleged complicity of the governing body of cycling in his doping.

Speaking at a French government hearing in Paris to discuss ways to improve the fight against doping, Tygart said he had “evidence of the UCI’s involvement in this affair,” and Lance could hold the key to revealing the extent of that involvement.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from elite sport for life after a damning report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency on systematic doping by Armstrong and his teams. The UCI, cycling’s governing body, has been accused of covering up suspicious samples from the cyclist and accepting financial donations from him and helping him avoid detection in doping tests.

“Armstrong led us to believe — during the course of our interaction with him — that he had evidence of their complicity in this situation, and of course we’ve developed additional information that will come out through our process, that I can’t comment on right now,” Tygart said in an interview. The USADA chief hopes Armstrong changes his mind and details what happened during his reign as the undisputed superstar of cycling.

Tygart said after speaking before the Senate that he is hopeful at some point Lance will come in and be truthful and added that he could provide a lot of information.

In a statement, the UCI said it categorically rejects allegations of collusion and said the fact is that Tygart has no evidence of any wrongdoing and has chosen to make headlines on a convenient interpretation of a conversation he had with Lance Armstrong. The UCI, in the statement, added that Tygart should establish the facts before jumping to conclusions and the governing body of cycling welcomes any assistance and clarification that Lance Armstrong may wish to give Tygart on the matter.

Tygart thinks there is still much more to come after Armstrong openly confessed to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January and said we are hopeful that (the UCI) are going to take decisive action and we’re fully prepared to participate in a meaningful process, not a setup, a self-scripted outcome. The anti-doping chief answered many questions concerning the UCI’s alleged role in covering up doping practices by Armstrong. He said the UCI was clearly aware of several (suspicious) samples returned by the cyclist in the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and 2002 Dauphine Libere race, and the six positive EPO samples from the 1999 Tour — first reported by sports daily L’Equipe in 2005 — but had failed to proceed on any of this data. He went on to add that 30 percent of samples from the 2010 Tour were not tested for the blood-booster EPO and said these holes give dirty athletes a runway to fly their planes through.

In a separate briefing, Tygart told reporters that the only decisive action they’ve made is to disband the independent commission right at the moment when the independent commission was finally taking off the blinders and undoing the handcuffs to truly act independent.

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Saturday 16, Feb 2013

  Football Not Doing Enough To Fight Against Doping, Says WADA Chief

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Football Not Doing Enough To Fight Against Doping, Says WADA Chief

Speaking at the WADA Media Symposium in London, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency said football authorities are still not doing enough testing for the banned blood booster EPO.

John Fahey said football should make more efforts in its fight against doping and his organization would be on hand to support that cause. He added that football authorities are not testing enough for Erythropoietin and WADA encourage them to do more and they should also be using intelligence and not just more tests to prevent doping in football.

The WADA president expressed his dismay at the refusal of the sport to adopt the Athlete’s biological passport as part of its weaponry in the fight against doping and went on to question the effectiveness of the current protocols of the game. He continued that more tests are a good deterrent factor and could be an effective way to catch but argues that the Athlete`s Biological Passport is a very effective tool and adding that would make them more effective.

A few days, former Real Sociedad president Inaki Badiola claimed the Spanish club made payments for banned substances between 2001-2007 although this has been denied.

The director-general of Wada, David Howman, cited the example of Major League Baseball for football to follow. The MB conducts more tests than many national anti-doping agencies and baseball players are subjected to four substance tests every year. On the other hand, top-level footballers and other players of team sports can go an entire career without encountering a single blood test.

Last month, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung claimed that the Bundesliga could not afford blood testing for its players despite annual turnover topping €2 billion last year. Fahey remarked that he can understand that anti-doping tests cost money and some sports have the capacity to pay much easier than other sports and he can only encourage all of them to see why this must be a priority to ensure the integrity of their game.

The president of the world anti-doping agency also emphasized the importance of non-analytical evidence in the global doping fight and said high-profile cases involving Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong were not primarily dependent on blood and urine analysis but on testimonies and investigations. He said we are not in the business of reacting to rumor and nor is any other anti-doping agency and one has to be obviously careful with the information received. Fahey also remarked that WADA gets anonymous information frequently at its headquarters on a daily basis and it ensures that the appropriate body is given that information to follow up, and one has to act on facts. The WADA chief some senior tennis players have remarked they were not tested terribly on a regular basis and tennis and football can do more.

Fahey’s mandatory maximum six-year term as the president of WADA ends this year and the former premier of New South Wales who also played a key role in Sydney’s successful bid for the 2000 Olympic Games says he had no intention of returning to front-line Australian politics.

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