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Pound: Cycling in shambles because of ineffective doping fight
Jul 16, 2006, 12:09 GMT
Hamburg - Cycling is in shambles over a Spanish doping probe and only has itself to blame because of a totally ineffective fight against substance abuse, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) head Richard Pound said in an interview published on Sunday.
Pound told Germany's Welt am Sonntag that the ruling body UCI must get its act together and that cycling sponsors should also take more care that the sport can finally be cleaned up.
'The whole affair is a disaster for the sport. Cycling had a doping problem in the past, but this new dimension even further damages its image,' Pound said.
'I see no serious progress in the UCI's effort to gain control of the existing doping situation,' he added.
Pound was referring to a Spanish probe by the Guardia Civil into a doping scheme involving doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, with evidence seemingly revealing that former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich of Germany, Italian Giro d'Italian winner Ivan Basso and other riders used forbidden substances and methods.
Ullrich, Basso and others were suspended from their teams on the eve of the July 1 Tour de France start. Ullrich faces expulsion from T-Mobile after failing to explain himself and further evidence seemingly dragging him deeper into the affair.
With Ullrich possibly riding on drugs in the 2005 Tour but never testing positive, T-Mobile has called for a more efficient drug testing programme.
Pound also wants the UCI to act, mainly by raising the number of out-of-competition tests and moving race checks as close as possible to the start time.
'The control personnel arrive at 5 or 6 in the morning. The riders are not under constant observation until the race starts at 10 or 11. That leaves enough time for manipulation or to take in forbidden substances which can't be detected after the race. Doping control is more effective the closer it takes place before the start,' he said.
Pound said the lack of doping control efforts also showed in the fact that until recently, the UCI did not publish a report about a growing blood transfusion manipulation problem since 2003.
Cycling has long been plagued by doping, mainly through an affair in 1998 which led to expulsion of the whole Festina team from the Tour over systematic substance abuse.
The Festina scandal was one reason for the establishment of WADA to streamline doping control measures, but the main responsibility still lies with the international federations.
The involvement of goverments has also been achieved, an aspect Pound named very positive as it was the Spanish authorities which uncovered the last scandal. Pound said the UCI was now under constant pressure for instance from France with its stiff anti-doping laws.
Looking at the future, Pound said: 'Cyclists must find a way to show the public that they are in a sport which takes place in a fair and doping-free fashion.
'If cyclists do whatever they like with their bodies you can't call cycling a sport any more because those who cheat and break rules will be successful,' he warned.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur