Outgoing World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound criticised the UCI on Thursday, calling the doping issues surrounding the sport "a problem with a capital P". The world championships are set to begin in Stuttgart, Germany next week, and even though the UCI has announced that it has stepped up anti-doping controls to a never before heard of level for this event, performing hundreds of controls and saving samples for future testing, Pound questioned the UCI's decision not to invite his organisation to participate.
Normally, WADA does not perform in-competition testing, which is the jurisdiction of the UCI, but instead focuses on out-of-competition testing. However, the agency can participate as an 'Independent Observer' if invited by the UCI. WADA participated in an 'anti-doping steering group' on an invitation from the German government earlier this year, and offered its services as an Independent Observer, but was never invited by the UCI to fulfill that role.
Pound said that if WADA had been invited, "we would probably have gone there, because we criticized - rightly so - the efforts of the UCI in regards to doping for several years," Pound told AFP, adding that his outspoken views were "perhaps one of the reasons why WADA was not invited."
UCI president Pat McQuaid responded to Pound's comments, telling Cyclingnews, "For [WADA] to be invited to an event as an observer, you need to invite them a year in advance, so they can put it in their budget. There was no question that they turned it down because of any rows with the UCI. That is not the case. The fact is that it was never in their budget to do it, and they are not an actual testing organisation at events."
The issues of doping in cycling rose to such a fervour in Germany during and after the Tour de France that the world championships were nearly cancelled. "At one point," Pound recalled, "the German government was about to say that it would not hold [the world championship] if it was not satisfied with the anti-doping controls. When one comes to this stage in a sport, you have a real problem with a capital P."
He further emphasised the problems in cycling, referring to the German media's pull-out from the Tour following the positive doping control of Patrik Sinkewitz. "When you get to the point that media refuse to cover your event, and sponsors are bailing out because they don't want to be associated to a bunch of people who are cheating, you've got a real problem in your sport," Pound told CBC news. "And they're having to wrestle with the consequences of letting it get out of control."
Pound will have his last chance to offer his views on what cycling should do about the Problem next month when an anti-doping summit will be held in Paris. Pound assured that he never said cycling was the only sport affected by doping, but the situation is "particularly serious" in the sport, noting the cases from the last two Tours de France.
Pound has had a tumultuous relationship with the UCI, but the outgoing president, who departs from his position in December, conceded that the current administration "understands the extent of the problem". He added: "The question is to know if they will be able to develop a sufficiently robust program to deal with the problem."