Saturday, 17 November 2007

Madrid ELEVEN: stratospheric déjeuner (FR: lunch)

In the Arena of the Gods...

Hat's off to the facility catering staff, here at the Palacio Municipal De Congresos, for again providing even the exiled-in-attendance Observers (B status: Status A Observers do get to be in a balcony zone where on presumes they could see the podium discussions).

And perhaps the most unanticipated aspect of this experience, here in the 'belly of the beast', was a bonus for this author, this under-financed independent author of a tiny blog in the blog-universe.

Who could one, who loves cycling, deplores both doping and the perception of an incomplete and partial system of 'justice' towards professional cyclists, specifically, or all Athletes in general, have hoped for at the final luncheon sponsored by WADA in Madrid?

WADAwatch was in heaven, relatively speaking, to have found Mr. Patrick McQuaid, president of the UCI, sitting at a relatively unpopulated table. Approaching him, a judgement that maybe the thinning, airport-bound crowd was allowing audacity to reign.

"May I join you?" asked this author, while offering an introduction.

"Please feel free..." (or similar words), and then...

Ms. Anne Gripper came to join the (or her) UCI boss, and then Mr. Arne Ljungqvist, WADA's incoming vice-president (see this WADA Q &A for more data-points) came up.

Feeling extraordinarily privileged already, as the Lone Avenger of cycling fans, with my history of supporting Floyd Landis clearly reflected in my introduction to those who were already present, I held my breath a moment when we next were joined by Mr. Richard Young, whose history with WADA included being a major drafter of the original WADA CODE 2003, as well as the Chairman of the WADA CODE redrafting Committee, and lead prosecutor for the Floyd Landis case.

Who else could possibly join?

Try Rune Andersen, Director of the Standards and Harmonization Committee, which produced the International Standards for Laboratories and Testing (ISL, IST), as well as the Technical documents that substantially codify the work of the accredited labs.

Another two gentlemen, one who represented FIFA, and one whose name (or role) WADAwatch did not retain, made up our lively table of eight.

Requesting a bit of Ms. Gripper's time, as well then as Mr. Young ('Anne' and 'Richard' as far as table manners are implicated...), I offered them my reasoning for having worked so very many hours, as a concerned spectator with a legal degree (and attitude?), on the WADA Questionnaire for Labs, which one can download here.

Now WADAwatch will state, clearly, that in spite of feeling a bit adversarial as to what has transpired at the nexus of doping, cyling, the UCI ProTour v ASO, and the diabolical leaks perpetually non-astonishing us all, that spread from the French journal L'Equipe, meeting these men and one woman, speaking with my convictions, was an eye-opening, and incredible moment.

Mr. Young and Ms. Gripper both accepted printed copies of the first WADAwatch questionnaire. A strong hope exists, that in some day to come, the courtesy of a follow-up discussion will clarify the points that were raised.

Discussing the day in Morzine with Pat McQuaid, where this author was one of the thousands who cheered, Pat recalled being in the car that followed Floyd, along with Jean-Marie LeBlanc, and their having shared a common contemporaneous joy at 'witnessing a major feat', only to have since lost that sensation, perhaps as some of us are reluctant to act similarly.

Discussing the Mayo case, WADAwatch projected its amazement that the French laboratory had the right to shut down mid-contract, and that that amazement was reflected in some rather harsh words, mostly directed at the French facility, given its 'history' in maintaining itself in the wrong spotlight, case by case by case... she was on record that there is no problem with a 'third test' being still the 'B Confirmation test', simply as that the result in Ghent was 'inconclusive', and the 'B sample' was still maintained in the same receptical that first had Iban's fingerprints upon it.

Returning to my concept of the CODE, and its selected 'omissions', WADAwatch thanked Richard Young for his candor, and his appreciation that hours of study, as one versed in the precision of treaties and similar controlling documents, had generated a finite list of desired, labwork-directed amendments.

Mr. Rune Andersen was, in light of his role with WADA as Director of Standards and Harmonization, stridently supporting the principle that the suggestions I'd highlighted were clearly evident in the ISL and IST. WADAwatch respectfully countered that, if such were the case, and as was suggested in the Questionnaire, at the very least the CODE could be referring to the relevant ISL and IST Articles.

(While typing this, an audio feed of the WADA Foundation Board discussion of the next President, and the history of the candidatures, was slowly reduced in volume, so that may be technical or indication of a 'closed door session')

However, as he also graciously accepted a copy of the Questionnaire, hope remains that a discussion could ensue, as to how to ensure that the laboratories are treated no differently than are the Athletes who depart from the positive role of the CODE, or Federations and now Governments who are found to be outside acceptable compliance as to their CODE and other obligations.

Nearly a live report, from...

the Arena of the Gods

Watching! WADA, tableside


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