Anti-Doping Programs Are Failing, Says Pound

In a report for the World Anti-Doping Agency assessing the current state of drug-testing, former WADA president Dick Pound has written that anti-doping programs are failing despite increased testing and scientific advances to detect more sophisticated substances and drug cheats are getting away scot-free because of a lack of will among sports organizations, governments, and athletes.

Pound, in his report to WADA, blamed the failings on “human and political factors” and called out sports federations, the IOC, and the World Anti-Doping Agencyitself for not doing enough to catch serial dopers like Lance Armstrong. The former chief of WADA remarked that the entire system is undermined by bickering among different groups, political interference, conflicts of interest, and lack of incentives for nabbing drug offenders. In the report submitted to the WADA executive committee and foundation board in Montreal, Pound added that there are clearly many systemic, organizational and human reasons why the drug-testing programs have been generally unsuccessful in detecting dopers/cheats and there is no general appetite to undertake the effort and expense of a successful effort to deliver doping free sport.

The ex-WADA head chaired a five-person working group that produced the 26-page report entitled “Lack of Effectiveness of Testing Programs,” and said the report ought to be a wake-up call and added that we will see what kind of response we get from the stakeholders and it will be on their heads if they don’t respond properly.

The report includes many recommendations and is being sent to all the client groups and will be up for consideration at WADA’s meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September — two months before the world doping conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Pound singled out the case of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and said the cyclist was tested north of 300 times while taking all this stuff and never tested positive, which is not possible. It was also pointed by the report that the number of doping controls carried out around the world has increased significantly over the years and testing methods have improved but still they have not resulted in more cheats being caught. Statistics were cited in the report and it was disclosed that despite intelligence suggesting the rate of cheating is much higher, less than 1 percent produces positive findings for serious doping substances of 250,000 drug tests per year.

Pound went on to remark that athletes do not speak out against doping while national and international federations are weak on the issue and national agencies are under the influence of governments, and governments have no incentive to catch their own nationals. The report also says anti-doping organizations focus too much on the quantity of tests, rather than the quality and effectiveness and sports bodies, including the IOC, “take public, but false, comfort” from the large number of tests, which are predictable. Pound also said the international federations still think WADA is a service organization for their benefit and the international federations think it’s the responsibility of WADA to do their work, except they don’t want WADA to do the work.

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