By Tim Maloney, European Editor
In a tersely-worded opinion column in a Canadian newspaper, Dick Pound, ranking member of the International Olympic Committee and president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, took aim at 2006 TdF winner Floyd Landis and the United States Anti-Doping Agency, claiming the latter may subscribe to a theory that Landis was "ambushed by a roving squad of Nazi frogmen".
Pound appears to be struggling to contain his cynicism in his capacity as WADA chief. In the August 9, 2006, edition of the Ottawa Citizen, he authored a column titled "It's time to come clean", where he beseeches Landis and 100 metre sprinter Justin Gatlin - who's also tested positive to testosterone - to inform on their "enablers".
An extraordinary aspect of Pound's column - given he is chief of WADA - is his seeming assumption that Landis is already guilty, well before the American cyclist has faced any official charges that may be brought against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for a positive test for testosterone at the Tour de France.
"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," Pound wrote.
The WADA chief doesn't stop at Landis, however; he also targets the USADA and cycling in general. "We will have to wait for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to organize an appeal process, since both (Landis and Gatlin) are American athletes, before any formal sanction can be pronounced.
"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. But, if USADA does not bite, Mr. Landis faces a two-year suspension."
In his Ottawa Citizen op-ed piece, he went on to connect Landis' positive test for testosterone to the Operacion Puerto affair in Spain, then makes a plea for cycling to enter a twelve step program.
"As in alcoholism, or other addictions, if one refuses to acknowledge the existence of a problem, no cure is possible. The next step is to reach out for help."
Pound was scathing about cycling in general, making more generalisations in one statement than any ill-informed tabloid columnist has achieved thus far following the Landis announcement.
He wrote, "Take cycling in 2006. If 2006 were to be measured in the Chinese cycle, it would be the Year of the Excrement". Pound cites the fall-out of 'Operacion Puerto' with several big names in the sport also withdrawn prior to the start of the 2006 Tour de France.
Pound believes the "Spanish investigation" (Operacion Puerto) has "established that there was an organized scheme to cheat, involving riders, teams, doctors and even UCI officials".
He doesn't name the "UCI officials", but adds, "Whatever has been done to date is sadly lacking in effectiveness".
(Alternatively, it's claimed that cycling is currently the most stringently-controlled sport worldwide. An opposite, statistical, view is that if a sport does more testing, then it's likely to result in more positive dope tests.)
The answer is WADA - with raids and interrogation?
In Pound's column, he says the answer to the issue of doping in cycling, "lies in the formula established by the World Anti-Doping Agency". Working with governments on "all five continents", it would appear that Pound sees a greatly enhanced role for WADA and its signatory agencies in the future; one where the scientific specialists acquire the power of law enforcement agencies.
"Sports authorities have no power to seize evidence, to compel people to provide evidence and to enforce trafficking rules. Possession and use of most doping substances without medical prescriptions are already illegal (as in Canada), so the combination of the sport and public authorities provides a means to get at the full range of the evidence needed to stop doping," Pound wrote.
In the absence of any likely interrogation for Landis, the WADA chief insists that Landis' lawyer (Howard Jacobs) instruct his client to offer a full confession.
"If I were Floyd Landis's lawyer (which I am not), I would say that, 'if you love your sport and want to get back into it as soon as possible, tell it like it is - like it really is. Give everyone who has been subverted into the conduct that has exposed you the chance to clean it up, or take the risk that, in the Year of the Excrement, your sport may be flushed into the toilet."
Pound said that Landis should seemingly launch a counter-suit against what he calls "the enablers" (presumably the people who allegedly provided doping products and services).
"You will never, ever, have more credibility than you do today," Pound wrote of the American. "They are the ones who wrecked you and your sport. The athletes are not acting alone and may well be the compliant victims of a system that coerces them. Mr. Landis, exposed as he is now, could become the saviour of his sport. Continued denial will only consign him to a life of ridicule and obscurity."
Pound's column seems to add weight to the argument of Landis that he won't get the opportunity to fairly defend himself against doping charges. He recently told AP sports columnist Jim Litke that, "By what I've seen so far, I don't expect to get a fair chance, but I'm hoping that will change."