Former World Anti-Doping Agency medical director Alain Garnier has lamented “the immense failure of the fight against doping”, saying that “the responsibility for this lies with the International Cycling Union and WADA.”
Speaking on the French Rfi radio network, Garnier said that the situation has got so bad that, “The sporting movement should not be trusted with the battle against doping.”
Garnier, who held his WADA post between 2000 and 2010, was speaking on a programme dealing with the recent revelations about Lance Armstrong. Stating that he was not looking to “settle personal accounts” nor was he looking “to take any kind of revenge”, Garnier said his only wish was to shed some light on the Armstrong affair as he saw it during his decade at WADA.
He described the Armstrong affair as “an immense admission of failure for the institutional fight against doping”, explaining that, in his opinion, the UCI and WADA had the ability to act much sooner against the American.
“A number of elements were in place, in fact most of the elements were there and certainly all of the scientific elements, which would have permitted them to carry out the same work as USADA but several years beforehand,” he said.
The two organisations, he claimed, had “all of the information in their hands to open an inquiry.”
Garnier said that the reason no inquiry had been opened was due to of a lack “political willingness”. He added that he felt that the UCI knew that Armstrong was doping. “I remember having discussions at the UCI where a group of informed people were saying that the question wasn’t knowing if he was doping, but knowing which products he was using to dope himself…”
Garnier also alleged that his former employer, WADA, had protected Armstrong after 2005 by holding meetings about the American behind closed doors. “They made all of the directors leave the meetings and they continued as they say ‘in camera’, behind closed doors.” He added that the only people left in the meetings were “the members of the executive committee, WADA’s director general and WADA’s president.”
Garnier said he never saw similar meetings take place when other cases that were politically sensitive were under discussion.
Asked if he felt that the sporting movement was still best placed to impose sanctions on drug cheats, Garnier responded: “Today we can see all too well that the system isn’t working. If you look back, no major doping affair has been revealed by sport’s anti-doping system. It’s always the
police, the courts or customs who bring scandals to the surface. And, in the case of the Armstrong affair, it was once again a federal agency, independent of the sporting movement, that revealed the affair. The sporting movement should not be trusted with the battle against doping.”