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WADA chief calls for faster tests

Updated: 2007-01-25 09:12
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chairman Dick Pound has suggested that athletes who test positive for banned substances should face mandatory 'B' tests within 48 hours, in order to speed up progress in doping cases.

WADA chief calls for faster tests
Richard W. Pound, President of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), looks on before the WADA Media Symposium at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne January 24, 2007. [Reuters]

Pound said the measure would prevent athletes and their advisors from deliberately delaying their 'B' tests in the hope that samples would degrade.

He also called for provisional bans to come into force as soon as a 'B' test confirmed the findings of an 'A' test -- a practice already observed by some of the sports monitored by WADA.

"The athletes or their representatives could still attend the 'B' test, as they are able to now," Pound told Reuters during a WADA conference in Lausanne. "But this would speed things up and an automatic ban would also encourage the faster resolution of any questions that might hang over a particular case.

Pound expressed his frustration at the slow proceedings in cases such as Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and the Spanish cycling investigation 'Operation Puerto'.

Spanish media have reported that up to eight professional cyclists have been implicated in the investigation.

However, the authorities have refused to pass on the information to the sports governing body until criminal proceedings can begin, enabling the cyclists to continue competing.


"I cannot understand how a new season can be about to get under way without any decisions being made," Pound said.

"In the Puerto case, the evidence has been produced under the criminal justice system which aims to protect privacy until the case comes to trial.

"What we have to do is create models where we can get the relevant information to sports bodies without slipping into the area of criminal law."

Despite the slow progress of the case of American Landis, who tested positive for high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone during last year's Tour, Pound said WADA had asked French anti-doping officials to hold off on their investigation into the scandal.

"We started discussions with France in December and we now have indications that they will wait for the result of the procedure in the United States as part of our efforts to have harmonisation in this case."

Landis denies any wrong-doing and will make his case at a hearing of the American Arbitration Association later this year.

Pound rejected Landis's claim that the testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio used by the testers was "radically inconsistent".

"For many years we operated with a ratio of 6:1 but everybody was saying that was too high as the natural ratio is around 1:1," he said.

"Now we have lowered it to 4:1 and all of a sudden people are saying that's too low, but there is more than enough leeway.

"It's the same with the test for EPO (erythropoietin), although that wasn't involved in Landis's case -- it's a good test, the science is good.

"The source of the scepticism is the Landis entourage itself which wants to create some doubts about the process, the labs or the tests.

"But we at WADA have never said anything about the guilt or innocence of the person involved. We just say that the process has to run its course, and we will see what decision is taken at the end."