QA with Founding President of WADA: Richard Pound

Richard (Dick) Pound was one of many initiator of the World Anti-Doping Agency. We created a Q&A with the Founding President of WADA.



Richard W. Pound


Founding President of WADA and member of the IOC

Where do you work and what do you do there?

I live and work in Montreal.
In "real" life I am a tax lawyer and do commercial and sports arbitration as well as publishing in the legal and sports environments.

How did you end up working in the field of anti-doping?

Essentially by accident.
When the Festina scandal occurred in 1998, the IOC Executive Board met to assess the situation.
We had been working on a draft of an Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code prior to the Festina scandal and tried to analyze the overall post-Festina situation.
We concluded that we could not rely on cycling (among other sports) to ensure that its athletes were "clean," nor on countries to ensure that their athletes were "clean" and that the IOC was too weak to control the entire sports movement.
We thought that what was needed was an independent international organization that was not controlled by any particular stakeholder. Based on the governance model adopted for CAS, I suggested that in addition to IOC, IF, NOC and athlete representatives, we add two extra "blocks" of stakeholders, including governments and a mixed block representing coaches, event organizers and the pharma industry to help our understanding of the science. Each block would have equal representation.
That model was approved and we called for the first World Conference on Doping in Sport to be held in Lausanne in early 1999, to see if the idea resonated.
That led to the Lausanne Declaration to proceed with the formation of the new organization, which was accomplished in November 1999.
Since no good deed goes unpunished, I was designated as the founding president.

What have happened in the field of Anti-Doping since you started?

An entirely new dynamic has been created.
A worldwide agency now exists.
Anti-doping rules have been harmonized (same List, same sanctions, same procedures, standardized guidelines, educational programs created and delivered, funding formulas established) - a whole new parallel universe now exists.

What is the biggest change since you started working in this field?

Several important changes have occurred.
A World Anti-Doping Code was negotiated and adopted by WADA.
That Code is mandatory for all participants in the Olympic Movement (and other organizations which become signatories).
It applies to all competitions, not just to the Olympic Games.
All stakeholders are required to incorporate the Code in their internal rules.
For the first time in history, all sport organizations and governments have the same anti-doping rules in place.
In addition, governments have accepted that in doping matters, the CAS has the final jurisdiction, as opposed to the state courts.
The instrument by which governments have acted in these matters is the UNESCO Convention Against Doping in Sport.
No country that has not adopted the Convention may be a candidate to host the Olympic Games.

In which direction do you want to see Anti-Doping go in the future?

I want to see a vigorous commitment to doping-free sport and a willingness to take the necessary actions to maximize that outcome.
Those actions need to be universal and be applied in a completely neutral manner, no matter who is involved and from what country they may come.

Who is winning the war on doping? And why? Are the doping hunters far behind the dopers?

"Winning" the war on doping is never-ending because there are always new generations of athletes and enablers who have no regard for the rules, their own promises to respect them and who have no regard for those who compete fairly. A combination of education and enforcement will always be necessary.
The advantage that perpetrators in doping possess is that they know when the doping occurs and they initiate the conduct.
It is then for the enforcers to discover the activity.
That can be done by testing, by investigation and by way of whistle-blowers. A disadvantage for the perpetrators is that someone else almost always knows that it occurred, so the doper remains a hostage to the possibility of disclosure.
The science is better and the detection equipment is better. In Olympic competitions, the window is open for ten years.

Which doping case surprised you the most?

It is less of a surprise than a disappointment that people are willing to sell themselves out at the expense of what they know to be wrong.
When they look in the mirror, do they see a champion, who won in accordance with the rules, or a cheat, who disregarded the rules and his/her promise to respect them?
Living a lie has its daily and eventual price.

Have you ever been disappointed by the harshness or the softness of a sanction for doping? If yes, in which case and why?

Seldom by the harshness, since CAS arbitrators are not vindictive by nature and if they believe the case warrants the full sanction provided in the Code, it is because they are satisfied that it was appropriate.
Often by the seeming effort to give the lowest possible penalty and the acceptance of many of the "explanations" offered to explain positive cases.
The reduction of the four-year suspension sought by WADA in the recent Russian case of state-sponsored doping on an epic scale over an extended period of time was a case in point.

Do you feel enough is being done to protect clean athletes?

Internationally, WADA and the IOC are doing their best.
Failures tend to occur most in a domestic context, which may affect un-doped athletes in the particular country and when doped athletes from those countries compete abroad. The robustness of domestic anti-doping programs is crucial to protecting clean athletes.
On the other hand, clean athletes know when they are being cheated and need to contribute to the identification and detection of those responsible for the doping.


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