Doping showdown

Talk about gamekeeper turned poacher. Victor Conte, the man at the heart of possibly the most infamous doping scandal in sporting history, is to meet Dick Pound, head of Wada, the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Conte’s firm Balco supplied a once-undetectable steroid called THG to several top sporting stars. He went to prison for four months for his role in a doping culture that implicated athletes of the calibre of Marion Jones and Dwain Chambers.

In an open letter published on the BBC Sports website, Conte argued that he was very well placed to help minimise future drugs use in sport, and made three key suggestions:

1. focus on athletes from countries with no anti-doping agency of their own
2. reduce the number of tests athletes can miss in an 18-month period from two to one.
3. focus on the high performers: “target the top-20 ranked athletes in each event and test them ten times during the off-season on their home soil, instead of two times during the competitive season.”
Pound has responded positively to Conte’s overtures. He tells the BBC: "[Conte] said 'Wada has never called me' – I'm calling him. We're setting up a meeting."

All well and good. But can drugs in sport ever really be fixed – or are they so entwined with the pursuit of new records and personal bests that we’ll never be able to fix this?

(Image: from jimmyharris’s flickr stream)

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