March 25, 2008 / 9:56 PM / in 10 years

WADA slams UCI for lawsuit against former-chief

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) blasted the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Tuesday for filing a lawsuit against former chief Dick Pound and said the money should have been spent on the Floyd Landis appeal.

<p>Dick Pound gestures during a news conference in Montreal May 13, 2007. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>

”This action by UCI in suing WADA’s former president is in fact an action against WADA,“ WADA said in a statement. ”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.”

Last week, the UCI and its former president Hein Verbruggen filed a complaint in a Swiss court over what they call Pound’s “continual injurious and biased comments.”

Pound, who stepped down as head of WADA in November, had a long-running and often bitter feud with Verbruggen.

WADA hit-back at the UCI on Tuesday saying that it found it strange that the cycling body found finances to launch a lawsuit against Pound after declining to contribute to the Landis appeal on the grounds that it had “no budget.”

The anti-doping agency pointed out that the Landis 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.

Landis, who has denied wrongdoing, made his final appeal in closed door sessions before a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel in New York against a decision by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) last May that resulted in his two-year ban from cycling through January 29, 2009.

The UCI later stripped Landis of his 2006 Tour de France crown and awarded the title to Spain’s Oscar Pereiro.

Landis tested positive for synthetic testosterone following the 17th stage of the race.

The American has blamed procedural mistakes by the French laboratory for his positive test.

Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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