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WADA founding president Dick Pound retires from board

Canadian emerged as antagonist to Lance Armstrong after helping to found WADA in 1999.

World Anti-Doping Agency founding president Dick Pound retired from the WADA board at the end of 2020, WADA officials announced.

The 78-year-old Canadian was a former Olympian and remains a mover inside the International Olympic Committee. After a failed bid to become IOC president, Pound was one of the founders of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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As a lawyer, he was instrumental in founding WADA in 1999 and helped create the WADA code that is at the center of the global struggle for clean sport. Pound served as its first president, serving from 1999 to 2007. Pound later chaired a commission that investigated doping within the Russian Olympic program.

“Dick Pound was the right person, in the right place at the right time,” said WADA director general Olivier Niggli. “He was a pioneer. Starting from scratch, he had to dig the trenches while also managing to move things forward. He led the successful project to harmonize the anti-doping rules across all sports and all countries – I don’t think people realize what a singular achievement that was.”

Pound, who was an Olympic swimmer, became one of the most powerful IOC members from the 1970s into the 1990s, and remains its longest-serving member. He helped bring the Olympic Games to Calgary in 1988, and served on the IOC executive committee for 16 years, including two stints as its vice president. He also helped expand TV broadcasting rights within the Olympic movement, helping to transform the Games into a multi-billion-dollar empire.

It was during his tenure at WADA, however, when Pound often crossed swords with former UCI president Hein Verbruggen and now-disqualified Tour de France winner Armstrong.

Pound was not shy about criticizing any sport where he suspected doping, and he often threw barbs at cycling. During the height of the Armstrong era, it was almost a guarantee that Pound would be one side of the argument, and Armstrong and Verbruggen were on the other.

“Yeah, there was hostility, for sure,” Pound told VeloNews in 2010 of his relationship with Armstrong. “For one thing, he’s always thought he could huff and puff and blow the house down, and I don’t respond very well to that. There were always daggers drawn.”

In 2013, Armstrong admitted that he took banned performance-enhancing products throughout much of his career, and was subsequently banned for life and saw his results removed from the record books.

Pound was back in the headlines last week, saying that Tokyo-bound Olympic athletes should have preferred access to COVID-19 vaccines to allow them to travel and compete safely.