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  • U.S. Sport Leaders go before Congress, Humanplasma Chief Lashes out at WADA


    02/28/08

    Jim Scherr, USOC CEO, Travis Tygart, USADA President and NCAA president Myles Brand in Congress. (Getty Images)  
    USOC, USADA, Others, Testify on U.S. Drug Use

    USOC Chief Executive Jim Scherr and USADA President Travis Tygart were among the sports leaders testifying at a hearing in the U.S. Congress about the use of performance enhancing drugs in American sport.

    Also appearing were representatives from Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.

    "The purpose of today's hearing is to restart -- and perhaps finish -- the legislative process we started in 2005," said Rep. Bobby Rush, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.

    "Let me just say, I do resent the elitists, the cynics and cultural critics who dismiss this issue as a populist spectacle," Rush said in his opening remarks. "I believe that we can move forward in a measure, deliberative and bipartisan manner with legislation that seriously tackles drugs in sports."

    In his testimony, Scherr said he was "pleased" with the progress the USOC has made in its anti-doping efforts and said more focus is needed in research and education.

    "Athletes who choose to cheat, are increasingly sophisticated in identifying methods to beat anti-doping programs," Scherr said.

    "Substances such as human growth hormone, as well as other designer drugs being developed and refined on an ongoing basis by those who would seek to cheat, are complicated and difficult to detect through current testing protocols. Better, more reliable tests are needed and those will require considerable research. However, the resources that have been devoted to research are limited, and while other organizations may be independently pursuing work in this area, the efforts tend to be uncoordinated and fragmented."

    He added, "people, particularly young people, are educated as much by observing what happens in their world as what is presented in the classroom. And when it is disclosed that certain athlete role models have used banned substances to improve their performance, it sends a terrible message on many levels. First of all it implicitly condones cheating ... Secondly, there is the perception that aside from the ethical concerns, there are few, if any, deleterious health consequences of using these substances."

    Tygart said in his testimony, "the issue of drugs in sport strikes at the very heart of the question of what role sport will play in America’s future. USADA's interest in this discussion is driven by a motive to not only protect the rights of today’s Olympic athletes to play drug free but just as important to protect America’s next generation of athletes."

    He added, "America’s future Olympic gold medalists in track and field, swimming, bobsledding, basketball and every other Olympic sport, are out there right now learning from the example set by today’s Olympic athletes and professional athletes."

    You can read Tygart’s testimony by clicking here.

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told Congress that he is "committed to adopting Senator Mitchell's recommendations and continuing the fight against performance-enhancing substances. Moving forward I can assure you that Major League Baseball will remain vigilant and proactive in dealing with the issue."
     
    Doug Fehr, the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the group that has been the biggest roadblock in implementing drug testing in professional baseball said, "I am aware that some members of Congress, including perhaps some on this Committee, are considering introducing legislation to create federally-mandated drug testing in professional sports. With due respect, I do not think any such action is necessary, warranted or appropriate."

    This is the second time this month Congress has heard testimony on doping.

    Two weeks ago, Roger Clemens appeared before another committee, famously denying the use of performance enhancing drugs. Clemens, who has said he wants to pitch in Beijing for Team USA , may face charges as the result of his testimony. The congressional committee has filed a request with the Department of Justice to see if Clemens lied under oath.

    Humanplasma Chief Claims Innocence

    The CEO of the
    Humanplasma CEO Lothar Baumgartner says “there is no Humanplasma affair”. (Getty Images)  
    Viennese blood bank at the center of an ongoing doping investigation in Austria said on Wednesday his company is innocent. The statement came after WADA Director General David Howman said WADA had submitted more information about the company to Austrian investigators.

    "I am outraged, there is no Humanplasma affair. I have a clear conscience. I am innocent," said CEO Lothar Baumgartner.

    "We are now waiting for the report from the Austrian authorities and have to be patient," Howman said.

    "The new information contained names, which were also mentioned in the media."

    WADA received a tip in November that Humanplasma supplied blood transfusions to athletes; the organization then passed that information on to the Austrian Ministry for the Interior.
     
    Earlier media reports said that 31 athletes and three doctors were named in the tip to Austrian authorities as using Humanplasma’s services illegally.

    UK Sport Announces Anti-Doping Board

    UK Sport released names of the members of the board of the new National Anti-Doping Organization project. The project board is tasked with creating NADO and its governance.

    NADO will be an independent organization for anti-doping efforts in the U.K. UK Sport previously oversaw all doping matters.

    John Scott, Director of Drug-Free Sport at UK Sport, said, "since the announcement a huge amount of work has already gone on behind the scenes in terms
    Philip Carling will chair the board that will create the U.K.’s first independent anti-doping organization.  
    of turning the concept of a stand-alone NADO into reality. What is immediately apparent is the immense scale of the task, not only in identifying what the new NADO should look like in terms of size, structure and powers, but also in what needs to be done to get us there."
     
    Plans are for NADO to be in place before the 2012 Olympics in London.

    NADO was announced in December after a six-month study by UK Sport about how to modernize the U.K.’s anti-doping work.

    The NADO Project Board will be chaired by Philip Carling, UK Sport board member and chair of the Sports Council of Wales.

    Other members include Craig Reedie, IOC member  and vice president of the British Olympic Association; Mike Brace, chairman of the British Paralympic Association, and other officials from government, sport, and law enforcement.

    Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said, "the formation of a new NADO will be a crucial development in the fight against drugs in sport. Members of the project board will play a vital role in shaping the structure of the NADO and ensuring that we have an organization that is at the forefront of anti-doping."

    ...Briefs

    ...WADA President John Fahey says Major League Baseball needs its anti-doping program to be run by an independent agency. "The message to the average person is very clear, how can you trust in-house (testing)? If you really are serious about eliminating a problem in your sport, then you really could not argue against independent testing."

    …Magad Salama, India's weightlifting coach, recently sent his resignation to the Sports Authority of India. Salama says some of the country's senior lifters are guilty of doping. The entire Indian weightlifting team was suspending in 2006 after several athletes tested positive.

    …Kenyan marathon runner Susan Chepkemei was banned for one year by IAAF for testing positive for salbutamol in an out-of-competition test in November. Chepkemei's ban takes effect from October 2007, which means she will miss the Beijing Games.

    …Irish showjumper Jessica Kurten's lawyer says FEI secretly tested blood samples of her horse Castle Forbes Maike. Dr. Ulf Walz also says urine samples did not show traces of etoricoxib, which contradicts FEI findings. Walz said he expects FEI will drop the case because "they do not have enough evidence," and they will take it to CAS if the case isn't dropped.

    …The Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Anti-Doping Authority are working together to create a more intense anti-doping program for Australian athletes in the run-up to the Beijing Games. "The Australian Government, through ASADA will invest more than $1 million this year to ensure the Australian team going to the Beijing Olympics is subject to the most rigorous anti-doping measures ever," says Kate Ellis, Australian Minister for Sport.

    … The Italian Olympic Committee has requested a two-year ban for Danilo Di Luca, last year's Tour of Italy champ. Di Luca produced abnormal test results during the Tour.

    Written by Ed Hula III.

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