Dick Pound, who formulated the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), serving as its president until 2007, was always strong in his belief that Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat. Now he is equally convinced that tennis has a deep underlying drug culture that needs to be exposed.
Of course Pound, now aged 71 and a Canadian lawyer who swam for his nation in the 1960 Olympic Games, does not believe tennis is the only sport that falls into the tainted category and he said: “I don’t know that, if you went through the whole athletics world with a fine toothcomb, you would find everybody was lilywhite. Clearly, weightlifting has not solved its problem. I’m sure it exists in swimming and tennis — there’s no sport without risk.”
Pound’s remarks come in the wake of former player Christophe Rochus’ accusations last month that tennis has a problem with players resorting to outlawed substances and revelations that there is serious underfunding of tennis’ drug detection program in a sport that is obviously cash rich.
More recently the likes of world no.3 Andy Murray called for a reduction in prize money to ensure the International Tennis Federation’s drug testing program get sufficient money to finance proper blood testing in the game.
Pound continued: “It used to be fun during rain delays at Wimbledon to see matches of McEnroe and Borg of a few years ago. They looked like little old men. Even Lendl, who was notoriously fit, would look like a little old man compared to these folks now, running, lunging, lashing for three hours at a stretch.
“Look at the difference in build and sustained level of activity. If the tennis authorities don’t believe there is EPO or HGA use now they are not paying attention.”
EPO – or erythropoietin – is the infamous endurance booster used by cyclists such as Armstrong, but most experts who work in tennis believe that HGH – or human growth hormone – is a more serious threat to the integrity of the sport.
HGH helps to repair damaged muscles more quickly and can also promote rapid gain of muscle bulk when used with steroids. Its presence can be detected by a blood test, but the ITF’s recent testing program has been heavily biased towards urine tests.
©Daily Tennis News Wire