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An Open Letter to Wada Chairman Dick Pound
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 8/20/2006
An Open Letter to Wada Chairman Dick Pound
 

An Open Letter to Wada Chairman Dick Pound
A cat 4 rider speaks back to Mr. Pound's recent editorial comments in the Ottawa Citizen.

Richard W. Pound
Chairman
World Anti-Doping Agency
Stock Exchange Tower
800 Place Victoria (Suite 1700)
P.O. Box 120
Montreal (Quebec) H4Z 1B7
Canada

An open letter to WADA Chairman Richard W. Pound:

This letter comes with deep remorse for the current state of cycling throughout the world. I am a USCF Category 4 racer, and as such never have nor would have any reason to have taken performance enhancing drugs. It is disheartening when I see news of doping scandals revealed in the professional peloton, especially with news of Operation Puerto breaking just before the start of the Tour de France. I would dearly love to be able to watch a bike race, or any other sporting event for that matter, without wondering whether the athletes I am cheering are competing free of artificial enhancement.

That being said, as saddened as I am by the state of doping in sport, I am even more saddened by the manner in which those in authority, yourself particularly Mr. Pound, have responded to the recent developments, specifically in the case of American cyclist Floyd Landis. Before saying anything further, I wish you to understand that I have no agenda in writing this. I do not hope or expect to convince anyone that Floyd Landis did not, as he stated, use testosterone prior to his stage win on stage 17 of this year’s Tour. I am writing because I wish to take part in a sport that is contested fairly at all levels and because I am severely disappointed by the manner in which those in authority have responded to the current situation in the sport of cycling.

I could raise grievance with the French testing laboratory and UCI which allegedly leaked information of a positive drug test after stage 17 prior to testing and confirmation of the result in the B sample, a clear violation of the rules of public disclosure. I could also chastise the governing bodies, anti-doping agencies, and general population for “condemning in the court of public opinion,” as Mr. Landis so aptly predicted would occur. However, what was particularly disappointing was to read excerpts of a recent column of the Ottawa Citizen, authored by none other than you Mr. Pound, which out rightly condemned Mr. Landis.

True, Landis’s urine sample failed both the “A” and “B” tests following stage 17 and apparently also demonstrated evidence of synthetic testosterone. Also true is that Landis, from the beginning, has denied any voluntary or involuntary association with doping, just as Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras and countless others have in their respective cases. Many of these denials have later proved to be desperate attempts to save face when the guilty party knows they have been uncovered. The flurry of recent doping activity makes it even more difficult to trust the credibility of cyclists when it seems that authorities are uncovering one high-profile case after another. It is bewildering and infuriating that in this time of more stringent anti-doping measures athletes would continue to believe they can bypass the system.

However, instead of contributing to the solution, your recent comments serve only to fuel an already volatile controversy. As WADA Chairman, I believe you bear the responsibility to conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism. The cynicism you exude in your column, sir, was anything but professional:

“Landis, winner of the fabled Tour de France, following a Cinderella comeback late in the race, erasing a disastrous day-before, now seems to have taken a morning-after pill to recover from the previous failure and will likely be stripped of the crown that is the dream of all cyclists – the Yellow Jersey in the showcase event of cycling.”

This statement surpasses unprofessional and I would contend that it is nothing more than malicious and spiteful. Not only do you attack the character of Mr. Landis, you invoke an even more controversial social issue by tastelessly tying this event to the morning-after pill.

“Who knows, USADA may subscribe to a suggestion that both athletes (Landis & Gatlin), in separate sports, were ambushed by a roving squad of Nazi frogmen and injected against their will with the prohibited substances.”

Here you back yourself even further up against the wall by condemning the very organization you should be working so closely with to bring justice and closure to this case. If WADA cannot peaceably work with the various national anti-doping agencies, what hope is there of any of us every seeing a sporting world free of drugs? Moreover, you tie the current situation to dramatically incongruent historical events by suggesting a connection between Mr. Landis and “Nazi frogmen.”

“Take cycling in 2006. If 2006 were to be measured in the Chinese cycle, it would be the year of the Excrement.”

In this final statement you have again not only demonstrated your cynicism and inability to respond appropriately to this situation, but you have also slandered cultural traditions.

Is it unfortunate that anti-doping authorities do not have greater ability to put a halt to doping practices in all sports? Yes. Is it disappointing when elite athletes accused of doping immediately denied wrong-doing only to later be found guilty of the offense? Of course. Do comments like yours, that alienate you from other anti-doping agencies and cast a shadow of doubt on the credibility of those in authority, do anything to aid the situation? Not in the least.

Any party that occupies a position of authority, especially one as illustrious as yours Mr. Pound, must act and speak in a manner that is above reproach. In your message on WADA’s website, you conclude with “Play true. This is for you.” But I have not seen a shred of evidence to demonstrate that you care in the least for the well-being for those athletes who do compete honestly. Rather, you are consumed by your pompous desire to exert your authority. You declare that you want to create a sporting environment free of doping and then make statements like cited above. As much as you condemn athletes accused sporting fraud, sir, I condemn you – for your lack of decency and professionalism in a situation where both are in short supply. I believe that little headway will be made in the fight against doping while you remain at the head of it.

Sincerely,

Jason Schisler
 

 
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