Former WADA Chief Dick Pound Urges Lance Armstrong To Co-operate

Dick Pound of WADA
by Greg Heakes

LOS ANGELES, Jan 16, 2013 (AFP) – The former head of the , Dick Pound, has called on Lance Armstrong to co-operate fully with
drug-testing authorities if he wants to have his lifetime ban from the sport
lifted.

Armstrong has given his first interview since being stripped of his seven
Tour de France victories and banished from the sport. In it, the talk show
host Oprah Winfrey, who talked to the Texan for two-and-a-half hours, said he
admitted doping.

But on the eve of the much-anticipated broadcast and as speculation swirled
about the extent of his confession, Pound said Armstrong should face a proper
grilling from anti-doping and cycling authorities, naming names and details
about how he cheated.

“Simply by confessing to what everybody knows is not going to do anything
here,” Pound told AFP in an interview.

“USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) can, if Lance provides significant or
substantial assistance in the fight against doping in sport, make a
recommendation to change the ban from life to something less than life,
depending on the degree of information and assistance he gives.”

The USADA last year said Armstrong was at the centre of the most
sophisticated doping programme in the history of sport, publishing reams of
damning eye-witness testimony from former team-mates about the extent of his
cheating.

The scandal plunged the sport into crisis, raising questions about how he
was able to avoid detection for so long, amid claims that the International
Cycling Union (UCI) governing body turned a blind eye to widespread doping in
the peloton.

Pound, who is now a member of the International Olympic Committee, alleged
that professional racers were tipped off about how to evade tests for the
illegal blood booster erythropoetin (EPO).

A Swiss lab even met Armstrong and his former team manager Johan Bruyneel
at the request of the UCI to explain the EPO testing process, after the rider
had given a “suspicious” test in a race in 2001, USADA has said.

Pound said that by giving the interview now and admitting what he had
always denied, Armstrong could be hoping to pave the way for a return to
competition in marathons and triathlons and rehabilitate his tattered
reputation.

But he said mitigating his ban would depend on whether he told all.

“Redemption is something the public will or will not give,” said Pound.
“That is one of the areas he could provide substantial assistance. If he said,
‘yes, indeed, the people who are directing UCI or the people in UCI are
tipping us off.”

The choice of Winfrey for a public confessional has sown doubts about how
much scrutiny Armstrong faced, although she said that “the most important
questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to
hear were answered”.

Winfrey previously interviewed US athlete Marion Jones, after she admitted
taking performance-enhancing drugs and was jailed.

Pound’s comments echo those of his successor as WADA director-general,
David Howman, and the UCI, who both want Armstrong to give testimony to the
relevant authorities.

“From what little I know about his (Armstrong) character, he will try for
the minimum,” said the Canadian, a long-standing critic of the UCI and its
drug-testing procedures.

“If I were writing the script for him I would say, ‘I have done this and I
was wrong. I was just so obsessed with winning that I let all this get in the
way of my judgement.’

“He is the one who is making the confession, so in a sense he gets a chance
to choose what it is. What he risks is that if he gets a softball outcome like
Marion Jones got then people are going to be even more put off.”

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