Progress in the fight against doping in sport has been a "miracle," World Anti-Doping Agency head Dick Pound said Friday.
Pound praised governments for joining sports federations in the fight against cheating by ratifying a new UNESCO anti-doping convention.
"It is actually a miracle," Pound told a doping symposium in Athens. "An extraordinary commitment by governments."
Unanimously adopted by UNESCO's General Conference on Oct. 19, 2005, the anti-doping convention was ratified by member states and entered into force on Feb. 1.
Pound, a Montreal lawyer and senior International Olympic Committee member, said other measures were still needed, including more flexible penalties and sanctions against entourages of disgraced athletes.
"We want to go after the upstream people ... the coaches, the trainers, the doctors that supply these materials," Pound said.
(Much more after the jump)
also backed more out-of-competition testing as "an absolutely essential
element in any anti-doping program." Such tests, first used in 1991,
are administered with no warning for athletes.
More than 3,000 out-of-competition urine tests and 270 blood tests were carried out in 2006 on athletes in 41 sports and 72 countries.
Pound also defended the WADA-accredited French laboratory criticized by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong for alleged inaccuracies.
"All I've ever said was `Lance, EPO was found in 15 samples (from the 1999 Tour), six of those were linked to forms that you signed,"' Pound said. "He's gone nuts about that. I don't know why."
The French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported in August 2005 that six of Armstrong's urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France tested positive for EPO, or Erythropoietin, a performance-enhancing hormone. Armstrong has denied the allegations.
Pound, who was criticized Feb. 2 by the IOC's ethics commission for his public comments on Armstrong, defended his outspoken style.
"I'm very happy to be known by the enemies I make. I know who they are, I know where they're coming from," Pound said. "We are dealing in most cases with organized cheating, with hypocrisy beyond belief. So you've got to be in their face."
He did not elaborate.
Pound confirmed he would be stepping down later this year after eight years at WADA's helm.
"My sentence will be served," he said
Experts at the symposium also warned athletes that detection of other illegal substances, besides steroids and testosterone, was getting more advanced.
"Athletes who believe that gene doping is not detectable are in for quite a surprise," said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC's medical commission.