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Inside Dope: How Drugs Are the Biggest Threat to Sports, Why You Should Care, and What Can Be Done About Them

by Dick Pound

Dick Pound has been likened to “the sheriff of the wild west,” and indeed the situation he describes in Inside Dope resembles an out-of-control frontier scene.

Pound, a Montreal lawyer, is chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. As he sees it, the sports world is chock-a-block with athletes taking a chemically assisted ride to fame and fortune, coaches all too willing to push them in that direction, and pro leagues and other sports bodies that don’t seem all that interested in stopping them.

The WADA co-ordinates efforts to catch offenders, and Pound is an outspoken frontman. His frankness in asserting that drugs in sport are a very big problem has made him the butt of considerable criticism. In Inside Dope, he continues to present his case stridently, and it is a convincing one.

For readers unfamiliar with this complex issue, Pound provides considerable background information. The drugs in question are most often of the prescription variety, and he lists the main substances, which include anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, and erythropoietin (EPO). And while he acknowledges that the cheaters are ahead of those pursuing them, he refuses to accept that this will always be so. Instead, he provides a 10-point plan that he says can eventually eliminate the problem.

Pound writes passionately about why he is sticking his neck out so far. For him, it is about maintaining the integrity of sport, protecting the rights of athletes who don’t cheat, and protecting athletes – and the many young people who emulate them – from the dangerous and sometimes deadly side effects linked to some of these substances.

If Pound is going to establish law and order over sport’s drug problem, it seems the key is to convince others to care as much as he does. This book is a forceful effort aimed in that direction.