Advocates say the regulations have become particularly important in an era when performance-enhancing drugs have spread everywhere from Major League dugouts to Pop Warner leagues. “It’s one thing to pretend that it only affects eight people in the 100-meter final at the Olympics, but it doesn’t,” says Dick Pound, WADA chairman from 1999-2007. “It goes all the way down the pyramid.”
Yet some critics such as Jacobs believe the WADA strictures are too inflexible and ensnare numerous athletes who aren’t trying to cheat. Take the case of Zach Lund. Going into the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy, Mr. Lund was the world’s top skeleton racer – one of those people who inexplicably launches himself head-first down an icy track on a sled at 80 m.p.h.
He had tested positive for a drug present in medicine he took to fight baldness, banned the year before because it can mask steroids. Lund, who had declared the drug on all his forms for years, was granted a reprieve from USADA and cleared for the Olympics. But WADA appealed the decision, and the case went to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Hours before the opening ceremony, Lund was kicked out of the Games – even though the CAS arbitrators agreed he had no intention of using illegal drugs. They said it was his responsibility to comply with WADA’s list of banned drugs.