As the only cycle journalist on today’s teleconference with Dick Pound in Montreal I pressed the WADA chief on the numerous inflammatory statements he’s made on the Floyd Landis affair. In a Canadian newspaper Pound had said "Who knows, the [US anti-doping agency] may subscribe to a suggestion that Landis [was] ambushed by a roving squad of Nazi frogmen and injected against [his] will with the prohibited substances."
However, for today at least, Pound was circumspect, cautious even.
Listen for yourself in an edited 22 minute tape of today’s hour-long interview. There’s this YouTube video version and here’s a direct link to the iTunes podcast version.
Hear Pound’s views on Nazi frogmen, athletes in altitude tents, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, and the doping status of caffeine.
Pound said he was confident the US Anti-Doping Agency would not exhonerate Floyd Landis:
"Just because someone is making excuses does not mean a responsible anti-doping agency is going to roll over and play dead."
Pound said there was no reason to question LNDD, the French lab at the centre of this year’s Floyd Landis scandal and the aged urine debacle with l’Equipe and Lance Armstrong.
He said WADA-accredited labs do not comment publicly on ongoing cases but they should be free to defend themselves against allegations of poor science.
"It would be useful for … people who see these statements, some of which are irresponsible, to take issue with them. But, in the long run, the system works."
Pound also said WADA was ready to take the Landis case to CAS, the sports arbitration body based in Switzerland, if USADA fails to sanction the Tour de France winner.
WADA was aware I was the author of a petition questioning LNDD and Dick Pound’s public comments on Floyd Landis.
For a day-by-day bunch of links and comments on the Floyd Landis case, go to the Trust But Verify blog.
ALTITUDE TENTS: In today’s press conference, Pound slammed ‘hypoxic tents’ as "artificial" and he made it clear he would like them banned.
These ‘oxygen-depletion’ devices are used by many athletes around the world. They mimic the effect of training at altitude.
WADA’s ethics committee believes the sleepy-time contraptions are alien to the spirit of sport.
The tents could be banned from this weekend, if the 12-person WADA executive committee accepts the advice of the ethics committee.
"I don’t know what the decision will be," said Pound. "It’s an issue that attracts more heat that light. You have to have a list that reflects what you think is doping.
"The moral question is relatively simple: It’s one thing if you’re willing to go physically and endure the rigours of high-altitude training; it’s another if you climb into a tent at sea level and go to sleep. That’s artificial."
UPDATE: Three quarters of the way through the tape, I asked why the WADA vice president, Brian Mikkelson, had resigned in June. I based this comment on a piece in Playthegame.org. Pound said Mikkelson, the Danish minister of culture, had not resigned.
I emailed Play The Game, a fairness in sport website funded by the Danish government. News coordinator Kirsten Sparre said:
"In recent weeks we have heard that Mikkelsen might not step down after all. So there may have been a change of heart for reasons we do not know yet. At the time of our report, Mikkelsen said that he was going to step down, now we get other signals including your information from Dick Pound."