Wednesday, 6 February 2008

International House of POUND/CAS

We here at WADAwatch remember the summer of 2007, with explosive sport page headlines regarding doping (again...) at the Tour de France, as certain Big Names - Teams OR riders - (again...) and some domestiques were denounced, unmasked, or...?

WADAwatch and the world were anxiously awaiting the results of the 2006 TdF Landis case; we still are.

Sometime last summer, or last fall, the first salvo of an assault on the Court of Arbitration for Sport by the President of WADA, Dick Pound was announced, with a 'Shock and Awe' press barrage some time after the death of its long–lived (84 years) Senegalese president, Judge Keba Mbaye. In hundreds of similar wire–feeds, interviews and webpages, Pound's naked ambition was displayed, hot from his unstoppable mouth, a veritable machine of slander when Athletes were prematurely or falsely identified as 'proven dopers' based on A Sample analyses, or 'research gone POSTAL'.

CAS, as a staid and reticent offspring of the International Olympic Committee, born in 1984 (???) and guided from inception by the good Judge Mbaye, was not without arms for a counter–attack. After the initial Poundian assault, CAS announced a truce, with the appointment of one of its vice-Presidents, Mino Auletta of Italy, as President ad–interim.

And the press faded away, as the sporting news focus shifted, and became a non–story.

For a fall and winter, the world awaited the next grand step in the Landis case, as CAS prepared for mid–March hearings to be held in New York. But like the unexpected Tet Offensive in Vietnam, at the end of January 1968, we found ourselves witnesses again, forty years later, as the unexpected second assault on CAS by Dick Pound was only re-announced, with a flourish, these last few days.

There are a goodly number of reasons for which WADAwatch
could never support the nomination of Dick Pound for the
Presidency of the esteemed Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Never. Not from this keyboard.

If the reader is of similar mind, be heartened that a second candidature exists, that of Robert Briner, un avocat Genevois (attorney). Briner's years of competent leadership at the head of the International Court of Justice, seems to be exactly this 'breath of fresh air' that could ensure that CAS moves into this new millennium ready for the augmentation of future doping cases. A Briner presidency seems nearly as appetizing as relishing the replacement of President Bush in the USA.

The position held by WADAwatch against Pound has deep roots, beginning not long after Dick Pound used his 'good offices' to support the insupportable defamation of Lance Armstrong, origination in that perennial Bermuda Triangle à la française, between the French sporting daily L'Equipe, the CPLD (now the AFLD) and its WADA–accredited laboratory LNDD.

Lance was the proverbial primordial victim of perverse testing disclosures undertaken within the guise of LNDD 'research'. These were 'validated' by the weight and inertia of Pound's press statements, emanating from WADA HQ in Montreal. There, where Pound's organization had only recently installed its operations, he cast unmerited shadows across the path of the seven–time Tour de France victor Armstrong, adding his opinion that these were performed under EPO in 1999.

Short novel, short story; the fact that Pound's role in this 'Inquisition by media' was admonished, after Lance wrote a letter of protest to the Ethics Commission of the IOC, by reciprocal letter from the IOC–EC, was the one successful aspect from these events of 2006 and 2007:

the Ethics Commission recommends that the IOC Executive Board remind Mr Richard Pound of the obligation to exercise greater prudence consistent with the Olympic spirit when making public pronouncements that may affect the reputation of others.

Another effort, more massive, factual and methodically produced, was the UCI 'Vrijman Report' that outlined in how many ways the LNDD provoked unethical personal culpability on Armstrong, via 'unknown' new testing methods, and its unprofessional, unnecessary and unethical actions, in leaking for publication only Lance's name. This entire process was roundly condemned by Emile Vrijman, a noted sports attorney and former head of the Dutch anti–doping agency. Lance became the only named rider while there were five other 'samples' that were 'tested positive' for EPO, after five years of frozen storage since the 1999 Tour de France.

Clearly the TdF–LNDD had only one objective: destroying the reputation of Armstrong, he who dethroned the pantheon of riders whose five victories each had eclipsed cycling's turbulent histories. To do so, it willingly violated numerous Protocols, the WADA CODE and the International Standard for Laboratories' Code of Conduct.

In the summer of 2007, Pound's demonstrated his masterful press corps orchestrations towards attaining the CAS presidency, by planting incessant, innumerable seedlings. Press factoids sprouted wherever he cast them: the press loves Dick's voice. Pound hinted, pointed or finessed coverage of his proclamations to see himself as the natural replacement for the deceased CAS president, the long–lived (84 years) Senegalese Judge Keba Mbaye. But many 'insiders', and observers of the Olympic Sport scene were silently or vocally in opposition for his next promotion, and an understated effort to Muzzle the Pound was born.

While the greater balance of articles merely passed embellished wire reports on Pound's desire to install himself at CAS headquarters, one article from the dusty bookshelves attempts to portray Dick Pound as retaining a certain insouciance:

Pound said he had no shortage of ways to fill his time in the future and that a post with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was intriguing but not his only option.

"I'm not a very electable person," conceded Pound, who failed in a bid for the IOC presidency in 2001. "It's the jobs that are important.

"Realistically I've done more good for the Olympic movement in this job than cutting ribbons and kissing babies as president of the IOC." (Editing by Clare Fallon © Reuters 2007 All rights reserved)

Such humility! Keeping the actual 'post' – President – out of this story, WADAwatch points to a point Pound highlighted autobiographically: “I'm not a very electable person”. Clearly this referred to the lost campaign Pound waged for president of the IOC, after it was shaken by bribery scandals and influence–peddling, which were investigated by Pound. The Pound rebound happened when WADA formed, and Pound became its first kinetic president.

But a new frontal Tet-like assault was announced these last days by Pound with accomplices, or skeptics in the press. Most stories glossed over, or perhapd cut from the wire releases, aspects which WADAwatch localised in two separate stories this past week. They point out very telling scenarios that should worry objective sports observers.

The first, in a story by Charles Pelkey/VeloNews, offers important facts; that the CAS roster of arbitrators currently lists nearly 300 names, from 87 countries, handling some 200 cases yearly:

“The new president will be responsible for the work of the sports world's top appeals body and would control the appointment of arbitrators who hear cases before the court.”

If, as it appears likely, Charles Pelkey's writing concerns the interpretation by Pound of a future presidency at CAS, this causes great concern at WADAwatch. If not apparent, please allow Ww to add a second major piece to this puzzle.

From an article from February 1st, in the San Diego Union–Tribune online, written by Frank Jordans, comes more of the puzzling 'insouciance du jour':

Pound, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said it was important the tribunal understands the needs of sport 'so that CAS does not get lost in the clutter of general arbitration bodies dealing with commercial and other disputes.'”

There is the ghost of Machiavelli haunting that sentence – could its source be Pound, or Jordan, or the cited AP source article?

Which of these is it? Ask yourself these questions:

Certainly 'CAS' is an abbreviation for “Court... of Arbitration... for SPORT”
(in English; 'TAS' en français);

... is it not the singular body to whom WADA has filed its strong number of appeals, written by Legal Officers of WADA, in these last three to four years? Whether produced inside, or by hired outside counsel, many of these appeals often had the Poundian touch, especially in efforts by WADA to expand its jurisdiction beyond its rules, and those of its Signatories... was he not aware?

Is Pound suggesting that, in his presidency, he is going to change the procedures at CAS?

In most major private arbitrations, qualified names are offered in sets to the parties in conflict. Then, parties each elect one arbitrator, and those two would try to agree on a third arbitrator to act as President of the Panel. This theoretically promotes 'establishment' of balanced panels: from what grounds is Pound telling VeloNews (if that were the case?) that he would 'control the appointment of arbitrators'?

Finally, how can Pound say that the ultimate authority in SPORT, this Court long established in Switzerland, needs guidance to avoid taking non–sport cases, of a 'general nature'?

A former professor once spoke off–handedly of 'Cloud CUCKOO Land', from where certain students' theories were evidently produced, and swiftly relegated: this circus resembles those memories, a press–driven carousel revolving around Pound 's year–long quest to build:

the International House of POUND-CAS?

(For those ignoring United States restaurant commerce, the International House of Pancakes is a relic of more innocent times, fiftieth anniversary in 2008, a chain of solid breakfast houses, offering dozens of pancake or waffle recipes)

How is it that the EGO of Pound offers these “Poundisms”? Or, are they the tell–tail traces of the Poundian agenda? Or simple mistakes in print?

We remain confused as to who is deserving of this castigating chastisement from WADAwatch; is Jordan actually 'quoting' Pound when he wrote: “so that CAS does not get lost in the clutter of general arbitration bodies dealing with commercial and other disputes.”?

Is Dick Pound ignorant, or ignoring, that CAS DOESN'T do 'general arbitration ... commercial and other disputes.'? Is he aware, that CAS DOES do 'commercial sports arbitration' (Ie: contract disputes, including transfer questions)?

In other words, in the long, sport–oriented history of Dick Pound: former Olympic swimmer, Canadian lawyer, long–standing member of the IOC before becoming president of WADA, a man who has intimate experience of all the 'Olympic Experience' and now has achieved being the first “former WADA president” in WADA history, he still doesn't understand what CAS is?

Thus it appears that he is revealing some: a) ignorance that the tradition of CAS existed prior to the 'conceptions' he has now offered in print? Or, b) certain soft insouciances in the face of a doubting, or slightly ignorant member of the press (of the law and functions of CAS! Not demeaning the writer's intelligence)? Analysing the situation, the following points seem obvious; Pound:

  • Wants this CAS presidency;

  • Leaves WADA more frustrated than fulfilled (Ww opinion);

  • Sees CAS as a 'weak link' in the chain of possession of Athletes' souls;

  • May disparage the Press that feeds off him, OR;

  • Doesn't understand the history and role of CAS;

  • Relishes 'controlling' the appointment of arbitrators;

  • Probably WON'T change his regular, excretious proclamations;

  • Will give up a half–million CAD per year travel allowance;


At the International House of Pound/CAS, it wouldn't seem strange that they hope internally that Pound's quest for this CAS presidency would fail, if this other quotation from Jordan's article is credible. NB: it did precede the most recent publications that countered the first part, announcing Briner and Pound's respective nominations by the IOC:

“Matthieu Reeb, who runs the court's day-to-day operations, said he had not yet received any official nominations and no date for elections has been set.

CAS's governing board will convene next week to set the agenda for an April 3 meeting in Monaco, he said.

“I cannot exclude that we will have elections in April,” Reeb said.

He added that under CAS rules interim president Mino Auletta could continue in his role until the end of 2010.”

In the hands of the Board of CAS, and with perhaps some slight pressure implemented by one who has long and extensive ties to the world's Sporting Press, is a decision towards fairness and further commitment of its body to its role in acting as a reasoned house of appeals.

Robert Briner: magistrate de luxe, an Eminence Gris from the International Court of Justice.

Mino Auletta: current interim President at CAS.

Dick Pound: overly ambitious, overtly indiscrete, always controversial, constantly adversarial?

Without more information on Auletta, WADAwatch enthusiastically welcomes an era in which John Fahey, former Australian Minister of Finance, and a relative stranger to the interbred world of the Global Sporting Scene, now president of WADA, could work in alliance with another relative newcomer to the world of sport adjudication.

WADAwatch endorses Robert Briner, in the case that CAS chooses not to extend Auletta's interim presidency through 2010.

The opinions expressed by WADAwatch are strictly formed with the purpose of inciting WADA to adhere to its Fundamental Rationale, achieve its goals and fulfil the aspirations of its Signatories, in achieving the highest possible level of objective, neutral science in sport-doping control.

Watching WADA


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