Friday, 4 July 2008

In the World of Anti-Doping: a translated Interview from Switzerland

From the Swiss TSR TV network and the Swiss TeleTEXT service comes an interview with Martial SAUGY, director of the Swiss Anti – doping Laboratory in Lausanne. This interview is available to over a million (or two if counting the Pays de Gex (Ain) and Haute Savoie French départements) television viewers. For those following these subjects, Monsieur Saugy was the individual last autumn who told the press that, under his agency's analysis, some 47 samples from the 2007 Tour de France showed signs of EPO use.

That was a shocking story to read, after the massive revelations already stemming from last year's TdF, 'les affaires' that implicated Rasmussen, Vinokourov, Mayo and others. Moreover, it was a story that seems to have disappeared from view, ever since that first initial declaration.

WADAwatch translates this interview as a linguistic public service, to provide information to English readers that would not otherwise have access.

In our humble opinion, this
translated interview falls legally within
the 'education' exception to copyright law.

A link has been provided to the source web site.

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CYCLING: a Tour based on spring–water?

The Tour de France celebrates a sad anniversary this year. It was just ten years ago that the 'Affaire Festina' exploded, a verifiable revelation on the organized and generalized doping in bicycle racing.

Since then, the will to eradicate the flood has been repeated often by all the directing agents of cycling. Alas, the 'Tour of Renewal' announced in loud voices at each and every July debut has not brought but disillusions and scandals to this point.

Will this be otherwise this year, on the routes of the Tour? Martial Saugy, director of the Laboratoire suisse d'Analyse du Dopage, responds to the interrogations of an ever more sceptical

TXT: For some ten years and since the Festina affair, one speaks each year of the 'Tour of Renewal'. And at each occasion, the disillusion is total. Do you think that this will be different this year?

MS: I am living evidence of moderate optimism. I don't think we can talk of a Tour of Renewal or of a revolution in cycling. One cannot go abruptly into an idyllic situation with zero positive cases. Nevertheless I do think that a true taking of conscience has occurred in the world of cycling. The repetition of these affairs has created many problems for cycling and mentalities are evolving.

TXT: Has the introduction of the blood passport after the Astana scandal last year, in your opinion, forced a change in the comportment of cyclists?

MS: Yes, I think that the riders are more attentive and fearful of being nailed. Sadly, the passport cannot be used this year because the Tour de France is not part of the UCI calendar. And, the UCI refuses to put the passports to use for the Tour organizers (ASO).

TXT: Doesn't the conflict between the organizers of the Grand Tours and the UCI put an efficient fight against doping in peril?

MS: Unfortunately yes. These conflicts are really troubling. Alas, the financial stakes and prestige don't contribute enough to bring forth a greater credibility in the heart of the greater public. We really need to see that these different agents recommence to hold a dialogue so that we arrive at a global optimization of the fight (against doping).

TXT: The juridical aspects of the blood passport equally pose certain questions. Without proof of administration of substances, don't we risk observing more and more such interminable procedures such as that of Floyd Landis?

MS: Effectively, that is one of the key points that will have to be resolved as rapidly as possible. We must find a different route to prove manipulation.

TXT: So, what would this other route consist of?

MS: Certain jurists estimate that instead of penal sanctions, it may be better to apply medical sanctions. As such, on could instead retire racers from a competition if their blood characteristics are suspect. We have to find a just solution, so as to avoid to enter into judicial procedures of incredible length and which put down the credibility of the antidoping fight, as it was in the Landis affair.

TXT: Other than blood doping, there exists a mass of more classical doping forms (anabolisants, testosterone). The antidoping fight is it really more efficient for such products?

MS: I think that there are always people that will try to trick the system with these genres of products. The testosterone is for example difficult to discern if one is restrained only to post–race urine tests. Because of this fact one has to be more creative in the harvesting of samples, in going to test at the right moment, often at their home. This is what has become known as 'intelligence testing' (Ww note: en Français – “l'intelligence testing”).

TXT: That could implicate intrusions of more and more gravity in the private sphere. Will cyclists accept that?

MS: Unavoidably this will get down to a supplemental loss of liberty. But the racers will have to accept this, so as to arrive more rapidly to the goal of a clean sport of cycling. So that the public, the media and the sponsors continue to follow, cyclists are more than ever ready to make extra efforts. There is certainly an 'old guard' that shows itself as a bit more reticent, but the young are conscious of the sacrifice that will bring a better gloss to their races (Ww: FR – “redorer le blason”).

TXT: Other than the forms of traditional doping previously evoked, a new menace is appearing, that of 'genetic doping'. Does that cause any fear to you?

MS: At the moment, I am of the sentiment that the implantation of modified genes in a human body is not really on the menu. On the other hand, what causes me worry is metabolism modification by utilization of 'inductive substances' (Ww: FR – “substances inductrices”), that's to say substances which are going to stimulate the production of red blood cells or of endogenous EPO. For this reason, the introduction of the veritable biological passport and not only blood is necessary. There is an urgency to find these 'parades' (Ww: ???).

TXT: Finally, in view of the difficulties of the anti-doping fight, isn't it necessary to simply legalize the taking of prohibited products in the elite sports, which have become 'sport–business'?

MS: Personally, I think that there is no future for any legalized doping in sport. This would be a very sad message for our society. It would be as if someone demanded that I took amphetamines before going to work! One has to accept the body's limits and learn again the pleasure of performance. Competition of itself has to rise above the search for new records.


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