Dick Is Still A Featherweight, Pound-for-Pound

Story written by EPelle

Dick Pound, the WADA big boss in charge of ridding the world of drugs, is in the news again.

Pound is up to his wits in his fight to ensure life for athletes suspected of doping will continue to spin out of control, despite some of the hiccups he has faced in his pursuit of truth in the matter of Non-Analytical Positives vs. certain athletes - Marion Jones included.

The New York Times ran an extensive piece on Pound today, entitling the article, “The Scold”. The article is very long - six pages - and discusses everything from Pound's strong hand against doping to his abrasive behaviour toward those who cover up those offenses.

Pound has made no secret that he believes the USA is involved in cover-ups, especially when it comes to Carl Lewis having tested positive for low levels of drugs found in Sudafed, and being permitted to participate in the 1988 Olympics, nonethless. Pound considers the Lewis affair one of an anti-doping violation, and Lewis' participation in Seoul illegal.

Pound, engaging the United States directly – one of his biggest targets in the fight against doping due to what can be perceived as cover-ups, sounded off in the article, stating:

“There aren’t too many people who are prepared to point the finger at America and say: ‘Hey, take off the [expletive] halo. You’re just like everybody else.’ That’s a problem in America. America has a singular ability to delude itself.”

Pound was also featured in an article in Wired Magazine on 28-December-2006 entitled “The Righteous Fury of Dick Pound.”

There, Pound was portrayed as a one-man crusader who has made several enemies along the course of trying rid sports of drugs.

"It's confrontation," Pound says about his style.

"You're confronting a problem: People agree to certain rules of the game and then deliberately break them. You can't finesse it or isolate it or surround it. You have to confront it."

His critics disagree. To them, the problem isn't the rules, it's the enforcer.

"If Dick Pound is saying, 'I'm going to be an advocate in these cases,' then athletes start to wonder, 'Am I even going to get a fair hearing here?'" said Howard Jacobs in the article. Jacobs is an attorney who has represented several athletes including Marion Jones in her "A"-sample positive/"B"-sample negative case this past summer.

"When you have the head of WADA passing judgment on pending cases, whatever the intention is, certainly people can question whether one of the goals is to signal to arbitrators how you expect the results to come out."

Pound dismisses these complaints.

"I'm not getting much criticism from athletes who aren't using drugs. I'm getting it from the folks who either have been caught, are representing those who have been caught, or are representing organizations who don't want to admit that there's a problem."

There is no shortage of Pound-bashing around the internet world, nor from journalists willing to pen their names next to long articles portraying him as a man from the wild west. He's made himself out to be a tyrant of sorts, with his main goal in the latter stages of 2006 to rid the sport once-and-for-all of Jones.

Marion Jones found a temporary reprieve from WADA's outstretched arm by having her “B”-sample drugs test findings demonstrate levels inconsistent with her initial “A-sample” findings, thus eliminating her from the charges of performance-enhancing drugs use – but not removing her from any of the allegations. The reprieve seems to be nothing more than a personal satisfaction of having the law, and the upholding of it, on her side, as Pound continues on in search for answers in the case.

For those of you new to WADA - the World Anti-Doping Agency - WADA has an annual budget of $22 million and oversees the drug testing done by all of the world’s sports federations. WADA finances research for measures to stay catch up – and get ahead – of the BALCOs of the world, or those who attempt to beat the drug testing system. The International Olympic Committee established WADA in 1999 to bring together world-wide efforts to rid sports under the IOC umbrella of drugs and cheats.

WADA also credentials a network of drug-testing laboratories around the world – including the laboratory at UCLA, and conducts some of its own drug-testing of athletes. WADA also updates its list of prohibited substances in several publications as well as its home page, a list which 191 countries around the world have accepted as the binding Anti-Doping Code.

Pound has taken his role with absolute authority, ensuring the WADA mission of cleaning up drugs in sport is carried out to the greatest legal extent possible. He's been going full thrust ahead at athletes like Jones, because there are greatly circumstantial evidences against her which demonstrate she has been involved with performance-enhancing drugs, and he wants to net one of the sport's biggest fish from the nation he believes is most palpable in hiding away doped athletes.

This is not to be mis-interpreted as stating Jones took drugs, rather it is merely to establish that under oath provided by others whose testimonies have not been deemed to have been perjury, she is directly linked to drugs.

Pound has butted heads with Jones over this cleansing process.

Both Pound and Jones resemble two rams with very determined agendas and significant will-power spearing each other on to cripple and render ineffective the other. Jones may have been provided breathing room from Pound, but appearances – as folks have witnessed on so many occasions – can be deceiving.

Pound may (or not) deserve the attention he’s bringing upon himself, being construed as a brash, take no prisoners dictator. He’s become a master of quotes, and as much as he speaks, journalists continue to write. His goal, he states, is to keep sport clean. He believes in clean sport, but has less belief in athletes.

“Here’s the deal,” he says. “The shot-put weighs this much. The race is so many laps long. You can’t hollow out your shot-put and make it 12 pounds instead of 16. You don’t start before the gun. Run 11 laps instead of 12. And part of the deal is don’t use these drugs. It’s kind of an affirmation when you show up at the starting line. You are making an affirmation that you are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played.”

Pound may have justice on his side as far as world-wide disciplining is concerned. One question which arises, however, is what kind of fingerprint he wants to leave on the sport of athletics.

Pound has an opportunity to help rid the sport of cheats and uncover the other BALCO types out there, namely other lines of chemists, coaches, athletes and trainers who are involved in doping schemes hidden to the outer circle looking in. However, if he continues pressing on at all costs in a solo fashion - destroying chains of command in the process - folks will be less than willing to point him in the right direction.

Sport, according to the ancient Greek tradition, was broken down into two elements within the participants: the harmonious development of mind of body - agon, if you will, and arête - the conscious ideal of perfection.

Athletics - along with other sports within the Olympic movement - can be restored to a more even playing ground where athletes are competing clean over time, and the harmony between the pursuers and those pushing the envelop to cheat is smoothed out. As more wisdom is applied to the fight against doping, and athletes are held even more accountable for their crimes against the sport, fans can appreciate sport for what it is: entertainment and excellence.

In order to effect this change - where mind and body develops naturally in the absence of drugs, Dick Pound would be of better service if he continues his fight quietly - away from the headlines - and not create a perception of being a one-man show. If he can accomplish this, I believe people would come to trust WADA over time. If he is unsuccessful, and his desire to stand at the centre can not be quashed, folks will lose faith in the organisation as a whole - when it is Pound with whom they have their disagreement.

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