Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Clockwork Naranja

As the hours wind down to ...
... the commencement, Thursday, of the WADA World Conference on Doping in Sport, the declarations are coming fast and the press is siphoning them - for distillation at WADAwatch...


It is a living document, the first revision since drafted in 2003, will culminate with its acceptance by the Delegations of Signatories, for implementation in January 2009.

How do the various camps see this?

Dick Pound, outgoing President of WADA, as reported by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (seen in the Bangkok Post), said:

"I am happy with it. The new WADA code is better than the one from 2003. We have seen what works and what doesn't."

But it is an interesting perspective, to wonder what Mr. Pound 'saw' that 'didn't work'?

There are ample evidentiary items that prove that the laboratories have not been able to prioritize global harmonization, but WADAwatch does not believe that that is the angle Mr. Pound reflects upon.

Clearly, as LA Times writer Michael Hiltzik indicates in his article, Pound should be content to see the changes that make the B Confirmation tests less stringent: their sole purpose, as a protection for the Athletes, has been diminished by redrafting, say Hiltzik and attorney Howard Jacobs:

It will stiffen the penalties for several categories of drug use and water down a key procedural protection for athletes -- the requirement that positive findings from an athlete's primary, or A, sample be confirmed by tests on a backup, or B, sample taken at the same time. Several cases against prominent athletes, including Jones and Kenyan distance runner Bernard Lagat, had to be dropped after their B test results were negative or inconclusive. Under the new rules, a B test would not be needed to confirm a doping finding if the prosecuting agency "provides a satisfactory explanation" for the lack of confirmation. "That's a huge change that the anti-doping agencies have always wanted," said Howard Jacobs, a Los Angeles-based athletes' lawyer. "The B test is one of the very few safeguards the athlete has, and now they want to do away with it."

Et alors? (And so?)

WADAwatch was brought online to monitor the aspects of WADA that would lead to the 'greater harmonization' that is frequently promoted by Dick Pound's frequent press conferences.

Greater harmonization would start, for most interested and thinking citizens, with aligning the laboratories and their performances, such that they build the trust of the athletes, innocent or otherwise.

That has not yet begun.

And thus, IF... an indication by Mr Pound that 'what hasn't worked' has been the, incapability of the WADA-accredited laboratories to measure up to the job, future sport arbitrations are certainly going to follow the path established by the Floyd Landis case.

Quoting Hiltzik again:

Landis, for instance, placed WADA's Paris lab on trial as part of his public defense, and succeeded in exposing a raft of questionable actions and what even the arbitrators in his case acknowledged to be "sloppy practices." The three-member arbitration panel ruled 2-1, however, that the lab's flaws did not invalidate its findings that Landis had doped with testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France.

As a recidivist laboratory, the French facility formerly called the LNDD, and now archived hierarchically as the 'département des analyses' in the French governmental agency AFLD, whose work gave new infamy in sport-doping control practices, has become 'le lantern rouge' without receiving a Red Card from WADA.

WADAwatch has previously wondered (see, eg: Pound POUNDS Lamour's laments) if the swift and calamitous departure of Jean-Pierre Lamour, former vice-President of WADA and self-appointed 'future president', had inadvertently broadcast his personal intentions to absorb the faults of the lab he previously controlled (as former Minister of Sport for the French government).

This leads us to the next discussion, pre-Madrid (where the Executive Committee has been meeting already).

The NEW President: Fahey, or???

Monsieur Lamour was flailed in the press, for his tempestuous broadcasting of his disaffection of WADA, soon after the announcement that WADA's succession was not yet a
fait accompli. During the week of October 25th, notre cher Jean-Pierre was chastised publically by the very EU Ministers who may have been hornswaggled into believing that 'one of their own' was a shoe-in for the coveted non-paying (Pound received CAN $1./year) title.

This article was pertinent and sharp:

EU slams Lamour over WADA withdrawal, unsure on Fahey

There is continued discussion from Lamour, slanderously (perhaps?!) charging Fahey with a pre-ascribed agenda to soften the doping fight, and that he'd allow marijuana (credit to Hiltzik article again); whatever possesses a man-on-a-failed-mission to react so viperously? According to Hiltzik Lamour
has charged that:

Fahey is fronting for New Zealand officials who want to remove marijuana and other recreational drugs from the prohibited list. Fahey calls the charge "nonsensical."

Thank the stars that someone as calm and forceful as a leader, Jacques Roggé of the International Olympic Committee, has had a chance to calm the waters.

He had this to say, reported by AFP, carried by The Australian:

Nevertheless, Fahey is backed by arguably the most powerful man in world sport, the IOC president Jacques Rogge.

"He will do a good job and will have the support of the Olympic movement," said Rogge last week.

"Mr Fahey deserves to be given the time to show what he can do. His election is not in any doubt and will not affect WADA's credibility."

Somehow, however, WADAwatch presumes that WADA, and Jacques Roggé, will be happier not to have to respond to reporters' questions about statements like this:

The former Olympic swimmer, however, was not intimidated. His confrontational style and sometimes controversial comments kept the anti-doping fight in the headlines.

"There are a significant number of people who think I might be a complete asshole and they could be right," Pound told Reuters. "But I really don't care if I piss people off. It (doping) is the most important gut issue for sport right now."

So, in Madrid, WADA could walk away from its Clockwork NARANJA past, to enjoin the issue of whether the accredited laboratories are going to receive a call for more harmonized science in their testing efforts, while both Athletes and recalcitrant Federations are being more stringently controlled, becomes the issue du jour.

Can WADA save itself, and will former governmental Minister Fahey render this family of diverse interested organizations into a less-bellicose, and more objectively neutral and scientific era?

Athletes, Laboratory Directors, attorneys and others are...

Watching WADA


1 comment:

Rubber Side Down said...


I posted this at Rant but you might comment on this if the B sample elimination comes up in Madrid

WADA could get rid of the B sample if they followed a different testing protocol that included 1)lab methodology standardization, 2) testing in triplicate and 3) Gage R&R (replication and reproducability) tests for all WADA labs.

I don’t see how WADA cannot have standard testing methods and equipment in all labs? It is as if each lab has decided that their test method is better than everyone elses and/or they cannot afford the right equipment to standardize.

Research labs always run duplicate or triplicate test samples (A, B, C samples?). That helps identify the standard deviation of the test material and eliminates/identifies lab errors on single samples.

Finally, if the Gage R&R was implemented at all labs for their standard equipment/methods, poor test methods and lab procedures could be identified and eliminated over time. Poor lab technique could be identified and appropriate lab training could be implemented. A codified instruction manual could be written for all doping test methods.

IF WADA did all of this, they might eliminate false poaitives and they probably wouldn’t need the current “B” sample and they would have more reliability in their testing protocols and ruin less innocent athletes careers.

Rubber Side Down

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