The UCI and former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound said Thursday that they had settled a lawsuit over allegedly libelous comments made by Pound in a number of media interviews.
Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen and Pound released a joint statement announcing that they had agreed to an end of a lawsuit Verbruggen filed in a Swiss court over comments by the outspoken Canadian attorney, who served as WADA’s first president.
Verbruggen and Pound often clashed when they were both in office and Pound was vocal in questioning the UCI’s efforts in tackling doping at the height of some of biggest scandals to hit cycling.
The UCI was among the last two international sports governing bodies to agree to abide by the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code in 2000. Pound was frequently critical of the UCI in general and Verbruggen in particular, noting that his agency was created as a result of cycling’s doping problem. WADA was created at the first World Conference on Doping in Sport in response to the Festina scandal at the 1998 Tour de France.
“Richard Pound acknowledges the fact that some of his comments reported in the media might have seemed excessive if they were interpreted to mean that the UCI and Hein Verbruggen were doing nothing to combat doping,” the statement said.
“This applies to an even greater extent to the allegation of collusion which was never formulated as such.”
Pound made note of the fact that the UCI has incorporated new testing procedures and invested heavily in staff and equipment.
“Richard Pound acknowledges the fact that the UCI is doing good work to eliminate cheats from their sport.”
Meanwhile, the cycling body declared that it would carry on with the anti-doping measures.
“However, it remains the duty of the bodies responsible for combating doping, including the WADA, to note any inadequacy on the part of any agency whatsoever with a view to making this fight more effective,” the statement added.
Nonetheless, both sides agreed to tone down the rhetoric that has often marked the relationship between the two organizations.
In addition to agreeing to pay legal costs for their respective sides, both the UCI and WADA said that beyond the statement issued this week, neither would make any public statements about the suit or settlement.
“Each party undertakes to refrain from making any comments,” the agreement noted.
The UCI lawsuit launched in March 2008 accused Pound of “continual injurious and biased comments.” WADA officials, however, defended Pound’s comments saying that an aggressive stance toward doping and a governing body’s apparent inaction were an integral part of the agency’s mission.
Pound’s term as WADA president expired at the end of 2007 and his replacement – former Australian finance minister John Fahey – has taken a decidedly quieter approach. Verbruggen left the presidency of the UCI in 2005 but stayed on as vice president until 2008.