Dick Pound's Righteous Fury Causes Lawsuit

Story written by Eric.

You either appreciate his hard stance or you don't.

Richard "Dick" Pound's subtlety has on more occasion than not been in serious deficiency, and he's been warned by athletes and their attorneys as well as entire sporting entities alike to pipe down on his negativity toward them without having proof to substantiate claims they had either complicitly participated in on-going doping or were covering it up.

Pound had even backed himself and WADA into corners at times due to his brazen style and in-your-face manner of speaking.

Pound has been a one-man marching band who's played a tune which strikes out hardly and loudly out at suspected drug-takers, and he has not been shy at defending a set of values to which he upholds the insitution of sport.

He has bumped heads with Marion Jones, and he's clawed and boxed against the entire sport of cycling, stating on occasion that they - like USATF (the American track and field governing body) - had been slow in dealing with apparently open problems within their sport and had not acted in good time to prevent further scandal from breaking out.

Pound's unrelenting nature has gotten him into an issue with UCI, who, on Thursday, released a statement that it was suing Pound before Swiss courts for "continual injurious and biased comments" against world cycling's ruling body and its president Hein Verbruggen.

"On many occasions Mr Pound has publicly questioned the extent of the UCI's efforts in the fight against doping," the short statement concluded.

"He shoots any target he can, left and right. I'm fed up of him discrediting my athletes," Verbruggen once stated of Pound following the 2003 L'Equipe leak which stated the way riders were notified about being tested allowed room for cheating.

Pound appears to be facing issues stemming from his having questioned the UCI's willingness to fully investigate a 2005 L'Equipe's accusation that Lance Armstrong doped and wondering whether UCI was merely looking to accuse UCI and use it as a "scapegoat."

Pound may (not) deserve the lawsuit he’s believed to have brought upon himself, this despite having been construed as being a brash, take-no-prisoners dictator. His goal is now - and has always been - to keep sport clean, even as he attempts to head to the vacant Court of Arbitration for Sport position open.

Pound believes in clean sport, but has less belief in athletes' ability to play within the rules - and between the lines.

"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 had justice on his side through WADA as far as world-wide disciplining is concerned, but the UCI is taking Pound to a justice department in Switzerland for disciplinary procedures for flapping off at the mouth - a tool which he has used to state in no uncertain terms that he has believed the USA had drug issues it had swept under the rug.

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 a New York Times piece dated 2007-January-7, 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.”

On another occasion last year, Pound told the UK Telegraph:

"It's a matter of confronting cheating when you see it," he says.

"There is organised cheating going on and it's not going to go away if we all hold hands and say 'ummmm'. These are people who know the rules and in 99.9 per cent of cases they don't give a shit about them. They're destroying sport and taking rewards away from fellow athletes.

"If you're not being confrontational, you're not doing your job. Being confrontational, you're going to attract some static. It's like when you're fighting. The most dangerous time for any boxer is when he's just scored a very good punch. It's the retaliation you've got to look out for. I'm happy to be known by my enemies. Nobody who is playing fair is mad at me."

One question which arises, however, is what kind of fingerprint he wants to leave on the sport of athletics, and what kind of legacy he will have left imprinted on sport in general if UCI has their way and has a muzzle put on Pound.

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.

He has changed a bit over the past year, meeting Victor Conte in January and going over war stories and strategies to build a better, more viable drug-testing method to test the crooks.

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, and he may be taken to town again by less enthusiastic folks than UCI.

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 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.

One thing is for certain, however, Pound, a tax attorney, won't be afraid to stand before a court full of his peers.

Pound photo #2 courtesy of Wired Magazine

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