Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pounding A Few With Pound

It has been widely reported that as of 2008, Dick Pound has stepped down from his position as Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Many interviews were published prior to his departure, but I was fortunate to spend some time with the Canadian recently as we waited for our flights at Denver International Airport. I now proudly offer the following vague recollection of one of Pound’s first post-WADA interviews, conducted over a few $7 Coors Lights at the Cowboy Bar in Concourse A.

Note: I’m not sure if it was the multiple beers or what but I found it somewhat odd that all of the responses to my questions came in the form of Homer Simpson quotes. I would not have envisioned Pound as a Simpson’s fan but you can see for yourself below:

Jeru: “I know this may be a sore subject but what are your thoughts on the defense strategy and evidence employed by Floyd Landis and his legal team? Do you have any thoughts about the fact that the French Lab mishandled the samples?”

Pound: “Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true.”

Jeru: “Hmmm…okay then. But I recall there being some pretty serious issues regarding the chain of custody and labeling of the samples. Do you remember the specifics of this evidence and how it negatively portrays the labs responsible for the testing?”

Pound: “Oh, everything looks bad if you remember it.”

Jeru: “It seems pretty obvious that you don’t really care too much about the performance of the testing labs. Are you aware of how complicated the testing procedures are and how high the error margin is for much of the equipment being used?”

Pound: “Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.”

Jeru: “Okay, that wasn’t really an answer but…fair enough. No surprise there. So anyway, it seems that there would be some kind of opportunity for WADA to develop a closer relationship with the riders and cycling’s governing bodies such as the UCI and various national federations. Do you think more open communication between all interested parties would assist in the effort to establish clear standards and foster a sense of teamwork in the fight against doping?”

Pound: “The problem with the world today is communication. Too much communication.”

Jeru: “Interesting point there. So if communication is not the answer, then what are your thoughts on the potential benefit of creating a system to educate the riders and Anti-Doping Agency representatives about the testing procedures and analysis methods in an effort to help them understand the science behind the WADA Code?”

Pound: “How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?”

Jeru: “Ummm…no, I actually don’t remember that. Well, if better communication and education are not the answer, then what do you recommend to help bridge the gap in the relationship between the riders, the UCI and WADA?”

Pound: “Doughnuts. Is there anything they can't do?”

Jeru: “Okay, now that didn’t make any sense at all. How many of those beers have you had, Dick? I thought Canadians were supposed to be big beer drinkers. We may need to cut you off.”

Pound: “Son, when you participate in sporting events, it's not whether you win or lose: it's how drunk you get.”

Jeru: “Now, that is something I would expect from a country famous for ice-related sports. I’m not sure how that plays in the cycling world though. Maybe cyclocross I guess. Speaking of which, what would you say to all of the Americans that just recently competed in the Cyclocross World Championships?”

Pound: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

Jeru: “Wow, that was kind of harsh. Are you sure that’s the best encouragement you can give? What happened to being an advocate for athletes and supporting healthy, fair competition?”

Pound: “If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing.”

Jeru: “So, how hard was it being Chairman of WADA? With all of the turmoil and public arguments over the last few years, it had to have been challenging to say the least. If it was so hard and you were not dedicated to the position, why didn’t you just quit a long time ago and save cycling fans the pain of listening to your hostility?”

Pound: “You don't like your job, you don't quit. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way.”

The Canadian then went on a profanity-laden tirade about how “Americans” were largely responsible for the current dilemma of performance enhancing drug use in sports and should potentially be banned from the Olympics and other international events. The rant devolved into a number of slanderous comments about many prominent U.S. citizens including Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and even Oprah Winfrey for some reason. Dick Pound apparently has serious issues with Oprah.

Anyway, I considered attempting to explain that Canada is technically “America” too, but decided that I was better off ending the conversation there. After lying about my boarding time to San Jose to get away from him, the realization hit me that Dick Pound, whether you agreed with him or not, was a truly entertaining character during his time at WADA. Often inflammatory and insulting, but entertaining nonetheless. I think I will miss his clownishness.

Not to mention the fact that John Fahey (the new WADA chief) is nothing compared to Dick Pound in the comical name department. We will not likely see another Perfect Storm of name, demeanor and professional circumstances like Dick Pound’s reign at WADA in our lifetime. I guess you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Just watch out for him at your local airport bar. He can get a little rowdy.


Kk said...

ROFL!!! The x-ray put me over the edge.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

Homer has an extra-thick skull which acts a kind of natural helmet.

Like the Velo Fro but bone.

Sometimes I wish I had that too.

The skull thickness, not the brain size.