Friday, 30 May 2008

Riders! On the Tour...

Riders on the Tour...

Riders on the Tour...
Into this house were born;
Into this Lab were thrown:

Like a dog without a bone;
An actor out on loan -
Riders on the Tour...
(Parody of the Doors: "Riders on the Storm")

Riders of the Tour!

The Tour de France beckons (unless you are with Astana: then this won't concern you, we are sad to state)...

How do you feel, Riders of the Tour de France, about the French National anti–doping Laboratoire, the LNDD?

Is it the best in the world?

Or is it the most over–ruled anti–doping Laboratoire in the WADA system?

Do the names Armstrong, Landaluce, Landis, Mayo, if found in the same sentence as “LNDD”, fill you with some mixed emotions? That sinking feeling in your gut?

If you are a Pro Tour or 'other' team cyclist whose group have been invited to the Tour 2008,
its time to think about the newly-devised race control system that is about to be offloaded onto your shoulders. You, who we admire if and when we know you are clean, are entering the Biggest (cycling) Show on Earth, which for the first time perhaps in its modern history, shall be organized and implemented outside the UCI Rules.

Riders of Paris–Nice already have their experiences. Same for the Paris–Roubaix... and we can only hope that the experiences of March and April have given the French enough input that they can put on the race that they think is best achieved away from the UCI.

In fact, be aware that there remains a question as to whether the Fédération française de cyclisme, or FFC, can in fact host a race that is not run within the structure of the UCI.

Anyone reading the FFC rules, which control any French, non–UCI event (local citizens' races, cyclosportifs, and junior national programs, etc), must be aware that nearly every clause makes at least one reference to 'the UCI rules', whether those be 'under the UCI', 'as established by the UCI', or any of the hundreds of stipulations.

But since the Amaury Sport Organisation, or ASO, broke ranks by leading a revolt against the UCI, and 'promised' to hold its race independently of the global cyling organization, the turbulence promised by such acts falls, ultimately, upon your shoulders. Where does that leave a rider?

If the UCI is officially 'unwelcomed' by the ASO group that owns the Tour de France, and if events happen that call the FFC rulebook into question, how is any rule, with a reference to the corresponding UCI Rules, going to be interpreted?

Only subsequent justice would answer that question, and a swift read of the AFLD Decision (Mais bien sûr! C'est en français) involving a second, and perhaps–illegitimate process taken against Floyd Landis, from 2006 to 2007, reveals that 'French Administrative Justice' comes down to being 'whatever we want it to be'.

In the Decision that emerged from this extraordinary second French case against Landis, no judges are named, no expert's testimony appears to have been cross–examined, and the sum total of damning evidence that is contained in that record, was that the Agency published its 'Decision' (Derision?), miraculously on the same calendar day as it received the bulk of Landis' Attorneys' legal filings.

Unclear as these legally damning items were, even more so is the questionable legitimacy of the legal regulation under which Landis was prosecuted in France. The one clear part of this ultralight decision, is that it states categorically that France holds jurisdiction over this man as an 'unlicensed cyclist'.

But, you, as a peer of Floyd, know that he has always held a license from USACycling. He has been a 'licensed American pro cyclist' every year his foot touched a pedal in the Tour. How then, can the French Agence française du lutte du dopage, or AFLD, prosecute him as unlicensed? How could any French Appellate Court, whether administrative or otherwise, not overturn such a blatantly unreal reality?

Boggling the mind...

So this is the Strangelovian world you all enter, as our friends, our heros, or... as goats if found 'positive'.

And as the focal point of the French anti–doping world, the LNDD laboratoire – that will process your collected tests for doping control purposes – is only the most notoriously incompetent laboratoire in the system of WADA–accredited labs.

LNDD already lost one case from 2006 (Landaluce: failure to uphold ISL testing requirements), lost a contract to run doping controls on the ITF's tested players at Roland Garros last year, to the WADA–accredited lab in Montreal (only 3400 km from the stadium, itself being no more than 18 km across Parisian suburbs from LNDD!), and, the real topper: it went on vacation in the middle of its busiest testing season of 2007, perhaps as an un–notified 'work stoppage' action (?!) in protest of the growing animosity between anything French that is related to Cycling and the UCI.

SIDEBAR: The UCI had published the famous Vrijman report, in the spring of 2006, which objectively and neutrally thrashed that laboratoire's infamous 'research' that had led to an article against Lance Armstrong, which was published in the French sports–rag l'Equipe. Vrijman noted, in a very linear and clear fashion, how French government officials, the former WADA president Dick Pound, and the l'Equipe journalist had unanimously appeared unable or unwilling to assist the UCI to investigate the Armstrong allegations. Recalling paragraph 1.14 of Vrijman is very important:

Despite the recognition of the proper jurisdiction of the independent investigator by all individuals and organizations that were contacted, the French Ministry, the LNDD and WADA, all refused to provide the investigator with the documents and full cooperation necessary to reach definite conclusions on certain issues that remain unresolved. The refusal by the LNDD, the French Ministry and WADA to provide documents and information that are necessary for the proper conduct of a complete investigation is extremely troubling and is inconsistent with the principles of the Olympic Movement. The fact that WADA President Dick Pound and the LNDD’s Professor De Ceaurriz were willing to discuss the research project and its results in great detail with the media, while they at the same time were unwilling to cooperate with a proper investigation by the organization with jurisdiction over this matter, raises substantial questions regarding their reasons for doing so and makes one wonder as to what complete cooperation would disclose.”

Consequent to the sum total of these events, it remains astonishing that ASO could even consider opening its organizational 'voice' against violations against the WADA CODE, as it has, consistently throughout the years, through its one – hundred per cent ownership of the l'Equipe paper, been in continuous recidivism as to violations of WADA regulations that guarantee Athletes' rights to confidentiality, by 'scooping' information about not only Tour riders' A Sample doping control results.

As a internationally–contracted laboratoire in the WADA system, perhaps it is a good thing that it proved, once and for all in 2007, which of its priorities were the most dear:

Going on vacation?

By stopping the process, after unveiling an A Sample positive control held against Spanish rider Iban Mayo, and shutting down its facility “because we are French, and this is the French vacation month” (which WADAwatch is unaware that it ever 'stopped' work on previous years' samples), its outrageous acts forced the UCI, the IF that had contracted and paid it for more than these manifestly sub–standard services... to track down another facility, which was itself an unjust act, falling outside the conditions of WADA ISL Articles ”B” Sample analysis should occur as soon as possible and should be completed within thirty (30) days of notification of an ”A” Sample Adverse Analytical Finding. AND Article “B” Sample confirmation must be performed in the same Laboratory as the “A” Sample confirmation.).

Leaving the details of these matters aside, there is only one common element that runs throughout: an
entity within the French Government, which is accredited by a global international Sporting association (which isn't per se in the business of 'accrediting' Labs: it's happy to take the word of any national body that belongs to ILAC...), has much support from WADA, in its quest to achieve convictions... if only they could remember that they themselves have strict rules to follow.
(PHOTO: Professeur De Ceaurriz and M. Lamour,
ex-Ministre de la Jeunesse et Sports, colleague unknown)

Here at WADAwatch, we consider it a good thing that the 2012 Summer Olympics were awarded to the British.

After all, how could you run a
Summer Games when the laboratoire
staff are all down in St. Tropez,
over in Guadalupe or up in Chamonix,

how important their work is?

But hopefully you follow me...
"Riders of the Tour... daa da-da da daaaa..."


The opinions expressed by WADAwatch are
strictly formed with the purpose of inciting WADA to adhere
to its Fundamental Rationale, achieve its goals and fulfil
the aspirations of its Signatories, in achieving the
highest possible level of objective, neutral
science in sport-doping control.

Watching WADA, and LNDD... and more,


2008 all copyrights reserved

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