WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY CHAIRMAN RICHARD POUND ANNOUNCES 3,500 DRUG
IN YEAR PRIOR TO OLYMPICS INCLUDING 1,200 IN TWO MONTHS PRIOR TO SALT LAKE GAMES;
ASSERTS "AT THE OLYMPICS WE WANT HEROES, NOT JUST WINNERS"
AGREEMENTS REACHED WITH 34 SPORTS INCLUDING ALL WINTER FEDERATIONS
(Montreal, Canada) - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Chairman Richard Pound, in a Montreal news conference, today announced 3500 drug tests will have been completed in the twelve months prior to the Salt Lake Games including 1200 in the two months preceding the Opening Ceremony. Pound today stated, "At the Olympics, we want heroes, not just winners." Pound also announced that WADA had reached agreements with 34 International Sports Federations including all seven winter sports.
Pound made the following points in his report at the news conference:
· Since WADA's founding just over two years ago, WADA - the World Anti-Doping Agency - has become more and more viable in our mission to work to free sports from the taint of doping and drugs.
· We cannot overstate the importance of informing athletes and their parents, doctors, trainers and coaches about the potential health risks of taking or providing performance-enhancing drugs. These drugs distort the body and the character of the people who use them.
· At the Olympics we want heroes, not just winners. We are determined to protect our youth and to give them the right models. We are working to assure that the upcoming Salt Lake Games are the most drug free Olympics in history, and WADA is determined to do everything possible to succeed.
· We have several items to report to you as the Salt Lake Olympics approach:
· WADA will have completed 3,500 out-of-competition tests in the 12 months prior to February 8th, the beginning of the Salt Lake Games--tests conducted at any time without notice.
· This will include 1,200 tests from December until February 8. 900 of these remain in process.
· WADA has now concluded agreements with 34 of the 35 international Olympic sports federations, including all seven winter Olympic sports: Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating, and Skiing. All these sports are conducting their own tests and are allowing WADA to conduct unannounced testing at any time. We are also near completion of an agreement with FIFA, which will bring WADA into agreement with all thirty-five sports federations.
· People invariably ask about the positives. Yes there have been positives - the media reports on these in every sport regularly. However, the positives actually help to create our overwhelming number of negatives: knowing the testing is occurring is a major deterrent.
· Most athletes will not cheat, for three reasons -- they do not want to harm their bodies, they do not want to get caught, and they want to honor the ethics of sport and the Olympic ideals.
· Of 2,600 tests through January 10, 24 or about one percent were positive or elevated, and some athletes with elevated results may have pre-approved medical declarations. .
· WADA will have twelve Independent Observers at the Salt Lake Games -- for the seven sports. We had 15 observers for 35 sports in Sydney, so this is proportionately a significant increase. This demonstrates the IOC's understanding of the importance of WADA's independence and mission. Protecting athletes' rights by ensuring all athletes are competing drug-free and enabling increased public accountability is a critical part of assuring that the Games succeed.
· The IOC, which has the authority over the testing at the Games, has invited WADA to be a partner in its efforts - fully supporting our pre-Games out of competition tests in all sports, and our Independent Observers at the Games themselves. Our observers will be present throughout the testing and confirmation process in Salt Lake, and we will receive all results simultaneously directly from the IOC accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City.
· Also in Salt Lake, tentatively on February 7 right before the start of the Games, WADA will institute an athlete's drug "Passport" to document doping control records - we will outline more about this at the Games.
· As part of that project, we will launch an educational Internet site for athletes, coaches, and trainers - an e-learning center.
· WADA will as well be creating a clearinghouse for all tests results worldwide across all international sports federations, national anti-doping agencies, and national Olympic committees.
· Another important project we are working on is harmonization of standards so that the various sports have a uniform World Anti-Doping Code. WADA will take action to clarify the confusion of many sports banning different substances.
· We are continually researching and upgrading testing, including for the banned enhancer EPO, and we are intently looking at HGH. Athletes need to know we are watching them closely. The fact that we conduct EPO testing at any time without notice is a major deterrent.
*Why are we doing all this?
· It is important for all the world's youth to see Olympic ethics at work and at their best. Athletes will take note of WADA's activity, and therefore what we do in this field should again, as it was in Sydney, be a powerful deterrent to cheating before, during, and after the Games.
· WADA's new "equal sign" logo points to the mission of guaranteeing an equal playing field for all competitors through stopping the use of performance-enhancing substances.
· In conclusion, at the Olympics we can have the heroes we all seek, not just winners, if the Games are free of doping and performance-enhancing drugs. We are dedicated to making that happen.