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Verbruggen tempers WADA comments

UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who recently resigned from the world anti-doping agency (WADA) reportedly as a protest of the administration of the organization’s president, said on Friday that he actually resigned for purely personal reasons. Verbruggen, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who is in Beijing this week to assess the city's preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, said his decision to resign from WADA two months ago was unrelated to differences with the agency's president over an allegation that a cyclist took drugs. "I took a decision two months ago

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002

UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who recently resigned from the world anti-doping agency (WADA) reportedly as a protest of the administration of the organization’s president, said on Friday that he actually resigned for purely personal reasons.

Verbruggen, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who is in Beijing this week to assess the city’s preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, said his decision to resign from WADA two months ago was unrelated to differences with the agency’s president over an allegation that a cyclist took drugs.

“I took a decision two months ago for personal reasons, mainly for the fact that I have too many functions, and don’t forget I’m 61 years old and I’m doing this as a hobby,” Verbruggen told reporters after a news conference on the three-day visit.

“My resignation from WADA has nothing to do with the current atmosphere of different opinions we have between UCI and WADA.”

Verbruggen told AFP in France Monday he resigned in protest at WADA President Dick Pound’s leadership.

The Dutchman, who has been on WADA’s executive committee since its founding in 1999, strongly criticized WADA and Pound for what he termed “irresponsible” statements concerning cyclists and said that future association with the UCI was uncertain.

Verbruggen said that in particular he was furious with the handling of the case of Spanish rider Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano who tested positive while leading the Tour de France but was not punished because he suffers from asthma and had a prescription.

“WADA, through Garnier and Pound, declared a rider positive and this based solely on a press article,” claimed Verbruggen of the publicity surrounding the case.

“Galdeano was innocent and for me it’s an absolute disgrace that WADA should make such statements. I find this an attitude of terrible irresponsibility which you don’t expect from an authority like WADA,” Verbruggen said.

China’s official news agency Xinhua later quoted him as saying Pound was an “excellent president of WADA.”

Verbruggen also suggested his resignation should not lead anyone to doubt the work of the IOC in fighting doping among athletes.

“There are a number of UCI people who are working in WADA, collaborating with WADA. They’re lawyers and other people, so that relationship there will continue. I don’t see there’s nothing, for the record, nothing serious,” Verbruggen said.

“We have a different opinion on an issue, which happened during the Tour de France and I still believe that WADA’s implementation of the rules is not right. I don’t want to continue talking about that but it has nothing to do with my resignation,” he said.

He also denied claims that the UCI had not wanted independent observers to examine proceedings during this year’s Tour.

WADA coordinates international drug testing and tries to ensure that testing is carried out equitably across all sports and countries.

Copyright AFP2002