WADA chief Pounds on CFL

Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, addressed the Canadian Club Wednesday at a noon...

Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, addressed the Canadian Club Wednesday at a noon hour luncheon in London, Ont. on Wednesday. (London Free Press/Ken Wightman)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Dick Pound has never been afraid of a fight, taking on the Olympic sports and the pros, often with dramatic results.

Who'll forget the uproar he created when he suggested one-third of NHL players were probably using performance-enhancing drugs.

But the world's anti-doping boss has never dropped his gloves with the Canadian Football League.

Until now.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Winnipeg Sun, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency took a run at the CFL and its lack of a drug policy, calling it a "summer camp" for drug-using NFLers.

A product of St. Catharines, Ont., Pound brought up the CFL on his own initiative, after being asked which sports were the dirtiest.

"We've got the CFL," Pound said. "It's like a bad scene from the NHL. They say, 'We don't test in the Canadian Football League because we don't need to test -- there's no drug use.' Helloooo. We're like a refuge for all the Americans... a summer camp for NFL players who have been suspended for drug use."

For years, the CFL has been a haven for players who've been banished from the NFL, the most recent and high-profile example being Toronto's signing of running back Ricky Williams.

While other professional sports leagues have been busy adopting drug policies, the CFL appears no closer to doing so.

League and team officials often cite the costs, but Pound quickly sacked that idea.

"That's complete and utter bull----," he said. "You could have a very effective program without spending millions of dollars at it. There are testing agencies that can do the testing for you, there are labs in existence already. That's just not a credible excuse.

"For a million bucks spread amongst eight teams, $125,000 a team? Give me a break."

CFL commissioner Tom Wright took exception to Pound's comments.

"Obviously, Dick Pound is entitled to his opinion," Wright said. "But $125,000 per team is a big issue in our league."

Wright also refuted the notion that the CFL is a haven for druggies, saying the league doesn't have a big problem.

"I wouldn't suggest two or three players that end up in the CFL allows us to be qualified as a haven," Wright said.

Actually, there are three such players on the Argonauts roster alone, this year.

Wright says the league has been tied up with other priorities the last few years, like dealing with franchise crises in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, establishing a salary cap system and implementing instant replay.

"As the league finds itself in a stronger financial position, which it is ... it (a drug policy) is going to become more of a priority," Wright said.

Putting it on the back-burner isn't good enough for Pound.

"Institutional denial and downplaying the problem is irresponsible on the part of the CFL," he said.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers lineman Doug Brown, though, questions whether the CFL needs to address drug use, since players earn, on average, just $70,000 to $80,000, far less than in the major sports that have drug policies.

"There's not as much at stake," Brown said.

Pound brushed that reasoning off, saying a job in the CFL is still a job.

"It's $70,000 or $80,000 you wouldn't be getting if you were running a parking lot," he said.


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