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Dick Pound and Charles Yesalis Have Been Discussing Anti-Doping's Quest for Independence Long Before Fancy Bears

Dick Pound and Charles Yesalis Have Been Discussing Anti-Doping's Quest for Independence Long Before Fancy Bears

Dick Pound, the first President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and Charles Yesalis, a Professor of Health Policy and Administration of Exercise and Sport Science at Penn State, have been discussing the need of total independence for anti-doping authorities from Olympic officials for years. If the Russian Fancy Bears Hack Team intended to surprise the public with this information, it failed miserably.

Pound has praised the science behind the doping detection technology currently in place. But even the best technology is useless when you have humans involved who are not committed to anti-doping objectives. Pound thinks some sports officials don’t actually want the anti-doping movement to succeed. These officials are more concerned with money and profits than clean sports.

“The system is quite sound and the science is quite robust,” Pound said recently, “but the issue is the people who don't want this to work. They get in the way of clean sport.”

Yesalis believes a major conflict of interest exists between the IOC and WADA. Exposing steroid use by high profile sports stars is bad for business. For this reason, it is fundamentally a bad idea to have the “fox guarding the hen house”.

“We’ve all heard the rumors that positive drug tests are being squashed," Yesalis said. “There is big money in sport, marketing and therefore it is entirely possible that some authorities might not really want to expose high profile stars for doping”.

The anti-doping authorities’ quest for independence is clearly nothing new. Nonetheless, the Russian hackers known as Fancy Bears thought they could embarrass anti-doping and Olympic officials by leaking a series of stolen email communications on January 10, 2018. 

The stolen emails revealed internal discord between WADA and IOC officials. WADA officials were frustrated by the IOC’s reluctance to act on the information exposing systematic Russian doping. Meanwhile, IOC officials were irritated by WADA’s pursuit of a Russian ban without first consulting them.

Travis Tygart, the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), pointed out that the stolen emails proved exactly why WADA needs to have total independence from the IOC.

“If anything it shows what we’ve said since Day 1 of our existence: You can’t both promote and police,” said Tygart. “You have to have independent organizations handling anti-doping operations.”

The Fancy Bears hackers just made the case for anti-doping independence.


The Telegraph. (December 20, 2018).  Anti-doping authorities are not independent, former Wada head warns. Retrieved from

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