- What is WADA’s reaction to the indictments against four individuals in the United States?
These indictments are a significant step forward in the fight against doping in sport. The fact that the U.S. Attorney General has announced them, following up on comments made by President Bush in his State of the Union address, indicate the strong leadership position the U.S. is taking on this issue. This action is clear recognition that drugs in sport is a major societal issue, one with serious public health consequences, and that cheats in sport and those who advise them will be caught.
Other governments would do well to follow this example by cracking down on those who manufacture and distribute doping substances.
It is also important to note that the indictments at this point target those who supply athletes with doping substances and those who help them cheat. It is not just athletes who will pay the price for doping.
- What exactly do the indictments mean?
The indictments mean that a trial process conducted by the Federal Courts must now determine innocence or guilt of those who have been charged. In the United States, as in most countries, those charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
- Why weren’t any athletes named in the indictments?
It is the jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney general to issue indictments and WADA is not involved in or privy to these matters. However, in announcing the indictments, Attorney General John Ashcroft indicated that other indictments may still be coming in this matter. “We have not limited prosecutions in this setting to those who are being prosecuted today,” he said.
Also, the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Terry Madden, said: “We fully expect that developments in the U.S. Attorney’s proceedings and our ongoing investigation will lead to the initiation of more doping cases against athletes and others”.
- What can athletes be charged with?
Athletes could be indicted for a number of the same charges that have been listed in the indictments issued yesterday.
- Why exactly are steroids bad for sports?
Under the WADA World Anti-Doping Code, a substance is banned if it meets two of the three following criteria:
- The product is performance enhancing
- It is harmful to the athlete’s health
- It is contrary to the spirit of sport
Steroids and all doping are bad for sports for precisely the same reasons: If a product is performance enhancing, it gives an athlete an unfair advantage. Steroids harm an athlete’s health and by taking them, an athlete is damaging the spirit of sport, where fair play and obeying the rules should be paramount.
- One of those indicted is an Olympic coach. Can he go to Athens? Can he continue to coach Olympic athletes?
Our understanding is that even prior to the issuing of the indictments, USA Track and Field decided not to accredit Remi Korchemny for the World Indoor Championships in Budapest. WADA will be in touch with USATF, the US Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee to see what other actions they will take regarding events that fall under their jurisdictions.
- Are there other ‘designer” substances out there that you are aware of?
We are aware of at least one other designer substance, which was identified in one of our anti-doping laboratories. We have a research program dedicated to the “hunt for designer steroids.”
- Can any evidence brought forth during this trial process be used in sanctions proceedings against athletes?
There is no reason why a statement given under oath in a federal court cannot be used by an international federation in a disciplinary procedure. The sports disciplinary process stands on its own in relation to any sanction it metes out. Those sanctions are completely separate from decisions made in federal courts. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has said publicly that it may ban athletes from competition if they admit before a grand jury that they took prohibited substances.