Idea: New sheriff to police sports doping
Mr. Pound may not charge his foe in shining armor like Ivanhoe, but he's on a crusade of his own – to rid sports of illegal drugs – and he sees a vast army gathering pace to join in the fight: governments.
Until recently, catching dopers was primarily done through testing athletes for an alphabet soup of banned substances. But increasingly, governments are casting a wider net, deploying everything from police investigations to congressional hearings to catch not only suspect athletes, but doctors, coaches, and others who have abetted their illicit behavior.
Pound rattles off a number of government probes starting in 2002 with the BALCO scandal in California, which eventually resulted in indictments against track star Marion Jones and baseball great Barry Bonds for perjury, noting that such actions serve the end goal.
"It doesn't matter to me whether you catch Marion Jones, Bonds, or [Roger] Clemens sticking needles in themselves, as long as you get them out of the competition," says Pound. "It's kind of like getting Al Capone for tax evasion."
As the inaugural president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Pound spearheaded a global push to create a united front against dopers. Crucially, WADA got buy-in not only from sports federations, but 202 countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
Going forward, Pound sees a 50-50 partnership between sports and government authorities, where sport insiders serve as a CIA of sorts to provide intel on which drugs are hot, when it would be most advantageous for athletes to take them (to better target unannounced testing), and which athletes and coaches are suspect. Right now, he says, the policing is more like 90 percent sports officials, 10 percent government, but heading in the right direction with tougher laws and longer jail sentences. "The needle is moving," he says.