During a teleconference on September 14, WADA chief Richard Pound has defended the anti-doping tests which led to the result of a too high testosterone/epitestosterone ratio in Floyd Landis' samples during the Tour de France. Landis' lawyers had recently asked to dismiss the case.
"The UCI has been quite vociferous its in support of the lab in this particular case," Pound said. "These labs are not accredited unless they are very competent. If they found something I'm satisfied that it was there. I haven't seen all the evidence, and that's why we sit and wait to see what USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) and the UCI do about it."
Pound explained further that the World Anti-Doping Agency could act on a higher level than the USADA or even the UCI, implying that WADA could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if they thought that the case was not handled correctly. "We're a monitoring agency," Pound continued. "USADA will consider the evidence and I think it invites submissions on behalf of an athlete even before it makes his determination, as to whether or not there is a positive case. They're presumably in the process of doing that. We watch and we see what the dispositions are. The UCI have the right, on their rules, to intervene if they don't agree that the national agency has done the right thing. And we have an even higher level of oversight over both USADA and the UCI, and if we don't think that they deal with this in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code, then we have a right on our own initiative to go to the CAS and get what we think is the right decision."
But Pound was confident that USADA would not accept any flawed defense. "Just because someone is making excuses does not mean a responsible anti-doping agency is going to roll over and play dead," he said.
Pound was also asked if he was concerned about athletes publishing press releases on the Internet, attacking science, while the anti-doping establishment was not enabled by protocol to respond. "It would be useful for some of these labs being attacked, or the sciences being attacked, when people see these statements, some of which are irresponsible, to take issue with them," he said. "But, in the long run, the system works. Tyler Hamilton persisted with the most absurd explanation you can possibly imagine, heavily reported in the media. The panel of independent arbitrators said, 'It's complete nonsense, we don't accept it.'"
Pound also said that WADA's next executive committee meeting, scheduled on Saturday, would address the question of banning hypoxic tents, which simulate high altitude and boost red blood cells. The agency found that the chambers have an effect on performance, and are "against the spirit of sport", making them eligible for be prohibited.
"The moral question is simple," Pound said. "It is one thing if you are prepared to go physically endure the rigours of training at altitude. But to be at sea level and climb into a tent and go to sleep pretending you're at altitude, and getting the same result, is artificial." He added that the decision-making would not be easy: "It's an issue that probably attracts more heat than light in the discussions. There are entrenched positions on both sides."
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied