WADA and UCI in legal fight

The Verbruggen-Pound spat goes global

The UCI's Hein Verbruggen and WADA's John Fahey

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has hit back at the International Cycling Union (UCI) after cycling’s governing body announced in a press release that it and former president Hein Verbruggen had filed a law suit against WADA’s former president Dick Pound. WADA pledged to defend its former president “robustly” on the allegations stacked against Pound.

“This action by UCI in suing WADA’s former president is in fact an action against WADA,” read a statement from the agency. “WADA will be taking all steps necessary to ensure that the court is fully informed of issues and facts relating to doping in cycling. WADA will instruct legal counsel to represent WADA and its former president in this regard, and to robustly defend and reject the unfounded allegations made by the UCI.”

The UCI announced the action late last week, stating that it would sue Pound for “what they perceive as being continual injurious and biased comments by Mr. Pound against UCI and Mr. Verbruggen in the context of the efforts made by them to eradicate doping”.

WADA took the opportunity to hit back at the UCI for taking legal action, just days after WADA was forced to step in and pay the bill for the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s case against cyclist Floyd Landis. The national body had appealed to the UCI to assist with funding, however despite the case being in the organisation’s hands due to UCI rules, the governing body refused to offer any financial assistance.

“It is especially disappointing that the UCI takes these steps and commits its finances to legal action against WADA, rather than assisting in the funding of the Landis appeal. UCI specifically declined to contribute to the Landis case on the grounds that it had “no budget” to do so,” read WADA’s release. “Yet the appeal was specifically conducted under UCI rules, involved a breach of the sport’s anti-doping policy, and is a major case for the sport. (NB: USADA conducted the hearings under delegated authority from USA Cycling, the UCI’s national member in the U.S.)”

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Verbruggen and Pound waged a long, bitter war of words during their tenures with their respective organisations. Pound, who stepped down as head of WADA last November, was vocal about cycling’s need to address its doping issue throughout his time with WADA.