Wednesday, 11 February 2009

WADA... journalistic coup?

NB: prior to finishing this Post, WADAwatch was reading (again), the brief presented by Floyd Landis in his US Court case, that which was 'settled' before going to court. We had not remembered, in light of our championing of the Quigley Rule, any article mentioning the attorneys who had been involved.


Thus it was with a knee-banging jawline, that we noticed that cher Richard Young was the attorney of record for USA Shooting, the NF which suffered a loss in the Quigley Case. It behooves us to wonder how it took RY at least fifteen years to have a decision 'overturning' that clean, strident and transparent (former) Rule offered by CAS, pre-WADA, in 1993.


Journalistic Coup d'Etat?


An interesting article was published in the French weekly paper Le Canard enchainé (literally 'the Duck enchained', hereafter 'LCE'), known for both sarcastic satire and probing investigations.

Dateline: February 4, 2009; its headline would translate as:


Pedalling softly on doping at L'Equipe”


Authored by “Jérôme Canard” (Ed: hence the quotation marks), the story offers a viewpoint on a press communication of January 21, 2009, from the Société des journalistes (SDJ) de “L'Equipe” (and which made the French press across the week of its publication, in early February). Described as a relatively unnoticed document, Le Canard enchainé and author Canard published an excerpt. We offer their (LCE's) original text and our own translation versions.


Original

Lors de sa rencontre avec la SDJ, en mars 2008, Mme Amaury avait en effet exprimé son souhait qu'on ne s'attarde plus sur ce sujet. Souhait qu'elle a répété à plusieurs reprises ces derniers temps et qui a été largement relayé par plusieurs médias.

Depuis, des consignes ont été données aux rubriques, au sein du journal. Il a également été expressement demandé à Demion Ressiot de ne plus générer de révélations et de se contenter de traiter l'info dopage en réactivité, ce qui constitue une remise en cause de son poste et de sa mission.

La SDJ ne peut donc que s'inquieter du message catastrophique envoyé implicitement aux lecteurs. Et s'interroger : La rédaction est–elle indépendante ? Y a t-il volonté de détourner les yeux du dopage?
(Le Canard enchainé: N° 4606 4 février 2009)


Translation:

From her meeting with the SDJ, in March 2008, Mme Amaury had in effect expressed her wish that we wouldn't tarry on this subject. A wish that she repeated on several occasions during these last months, which were largely relayed by several media services.

Since [then], advice has been given to sections, at the heart of the journal. It was equally demanded expressly of Demion Ressiot to cease generating revelations and to content himself to treating doping info retroactively, which constitutes a devaluation of his job and its mission.

Thus the SDJ can only mull upon the catastrophic message sent implicitly to readers. And to interrogate itself : Is the editorial staff independent? Is there a willingness to turn the eyes away from doping?
(translation provided by WADAwatch)


In keeping with our wary viewpoint on the exceptional relationship of any French entity (official and commercial) and that entity's relationship with WADA, the ten–paragraph article may be summarized as being highly sceptical of the rational for Mme Amaury's piloting of her empire's flagship publication in a new direction.


An 'ethical new direction', WADAwatch would say; 'harshly censorial cover–up!' says SDJ. To summarize the article's thrust, it begins by offering the title of the SDJ communication:

“Doping, what doping?”


Witness the contrast between their description (mentioned above) of this communiqué being relatively obscure, while the communiqué claims to have been widely relayed throughout the (French) media. Thus, the LCE casts its slant instantly, claiming this notice bears witness to the journal's management's (lack of) respect for the independence of the editorial/writing staff.


The SDJ had met with Fabrice Jouhand, the managing editor ('directeur de la rédaction'), in a meeting whose ambience was described as 'hot' ('ambience chaud'). The SDJ reps in that meeting specifically asked how one could evoke Lance Armstrong's return to competition without evoking doping? (Ed: of which Armstrong was never tested positive)


Then the fun begins, as one French publication pointedly rides the waves of an international sporting 'scandal' (which works either way, if you think about it):


En août 2005, en effet, “L'Equipe” avait consacré une enquête fouillée aux potions magiques (EPO, entres autres) absorbées, en 1999, par l'Américain septuple vainqueur du Tour. Or, dans les deux pages consacrés au grand retour d'Armstrong, le journaliste spécialiste de ces prises de compléments vitaminés et fortifiants, Demien Ressiot, a été prié de laisser sa prose dans la seringue.



[In August 2005, in fact, L'Equipe had published a detailed investigation on the 'magic potions' (Ed: plural?) absorbed, in 1999, by the seven–time American Tour winner. in the two pages consecrated to the great comeback of Armstrong, the journalist specialized in these takings of vitamined and fortifying 'supplements'. Demien Ressiot had been beseeched to leave his prose in the syringe. (Ed: !!)]


LCE continues with its 'analysis', declaring that the SDJ, without a doubt, concluded that the directives offered by M. Jouhand were manifestly this: a request by Mme Amaury (head of the French conglomerate Editions Amaury, whose print journals include L'Equipe and Le Parisien):

... qu'il n'était plus question de faire du zèle sur ce sulfureux sujet.


[... that it was no longer a question of zealous work on this sulphurous subject.]


The LCE asks “why?”, and instantly blurts out the only (apparent) reason: “commercial reasons, of course” ('des raisons commerciales, bien sûr'). LCE reminds the readers of this page–five article, that the Amaury family has the rare position of being the Organizer of events upon which its papers write, such as the Paris Marathon, the Paris–Dakar rally, and cycling's Paris–Roubaix, as well as the 'Golden egg': the Tour de France.


Describing the accounts of this race Organization (la Société du Tour), and thus its profits a secret as tight as a Swiss bank account, it offers a view that 'various investigations' concluded that the Société du Tour runs a profit margin of over 20 per cent ('Et sans EPO...').


LCE surmises, via SDJ, that the current reigning attitude at L'Equipe is, that one shouldn't discredit such Tour giants as Armstrong prior to the event. Yet it describes readers and the TV audience as relatively blasé about the doping issue. Polls undertaken by Tour Sponsors (!!!) have concluded that people now follow the Tour as much for the doping scandals as for the event(!). And these sponsors hardly get amused at the repetitive doping controls. Meanwhile, the cyclists can lose their career from a positive test, or even decamp if the atmosphere of the Tour is infested by the police.


Author Canard and LCE consider the riders would 'defect' from the Tour to 'concurrent' UCI events (Ed: which?), with less regard for the money offered and more an eye to the other competitors. To 'avoid this defection of the calf muscles' (Ed: voilà a finely translated French idiom), Marie–Odile Amaury concluded a 'non–aggression pact' last year with the UCI, even 'sacrificing' her too–zealous President, Patrice Clerc. And:


Pas question de laisser les journalistes saboter ce gentleman's agreement en démoralisant les forçats de la route. Après tout, la triche fausse un peu l'exploit mais le rend tellement plus spectaculaire...



[No chance to let these journalists sabotage this gentleman's agreement by demoralizing the prisoners of the route. After all, trickery falsifies the exploit a bit, but renders it so much more spectacular... ]


END of Article



WADAwatch offers several observations.


Firstly, we generally hold a high regard for Le Canard enchainée: there really is no other publication in France that seems to put forty pages of truth in a slim eight–page weekly (Note to Self: today's the day to buy LCE's weekly edition...).


That being said, we admire, through the eyes of a French 'competitor' (NB: LCE has no 'sports coverage' at all), the power and eminence of L'Equipe, and especially its 'SDJ' (a construct of Ressiot's himself? One may wonder...), to turn against its superiors in this manner, pursuing its quest to continue...


aiding and abetting violations of the WADA CODE


Certainly not the SDJ or L'Equipe, nor Ressiot nor author Canard, posed a single sentence to describe how Amaury Sport Group, as a Major Event Organizer, has legal duties, the most basic being: to tell the Truth.


ONE:

Refer back to the portion describing 'Armstrong's magic potions'. Ressiot's 2005 article never mentioned anything but EPO, in its portrayal of the seven–time Tour winner, yet Canard does this for this LCE article. Faithful readers of WADAwatch and sister blog crystelZENmud can recall here (en français) or here how L'Equipe created its own 'magic portion', by claiming that unknown (unverifiable, unpublished?) 'research' of over–aged Samples (then five years old, and described elsewhere as '... unstable, even if stored at minus 20 degrees' (Montreal Lab director Dr. Christine Ayotte; Vrijman quoting Velonews article of Aug. 23, 2005)) was worthy enough to destitute the Tour's Greatest Champion of his 1999 title.


TWO:

There isn't a word about the authoritative UCI–Vrijman report, commissioned as an independent investigation by the UCI (and denounced with fanfare by Dick Pound's WADA staff), which reminds all who had read Vrijman's work, how utterly lame was the cooperation (really, the lack thereof) offered to the UCI, especially by the French authorities (at LNDD (lab) and the CPLD become AFLD), and WADA. Moreover, the 'science' – unknown, un–reviewed by peers, without chain–of–custody reports or B Samples (since this 'research' was on 'B Samples' to begin with!) – was in no way state of the art, nor had it any legal basis, in the end, to stand as either 'research', or as an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF). It did qualify, simply, as a witch-hunt to destroy the reputation of the one man who single-teamedly restored the Tour to its glory, after the French, homegrown Festina Affair of 1998.


THREE:

By publishing Ressiot's 'pseudo–investigation', in August of 2005, Amaury Sport Group appeared, itself, to be aiding LNDD (or the French Agency AFLD?), to violate the WADA CODE's confidentiality requirements (LNDD and L'Equipe being situated in a Paris suburb not more than a few hundred meters from each other...?). However, neither SDJ nor LCE, nor author Canard probed the issues beyond the tautological model that centered the universe of what they 'knew'.


SIDEBAR:

Interestingly, the ISL on Laboratories' conduct may have an 'out' regarding 'confidentiality'. Here's the text of ISL Annex B, Article 1:



1. Confidentiality

The heads of Laboratories, their delegates and Laboratory staff shall not discuss or comment to the media on individual results prior to the completion of any adjudication without consent of the organization that supplied sample to the Laboratory and the organization that is asserting the Adverse Analytical Finding in adjudication.


One could surmise that an official, from the Agency under which that Lab is mandated to operate, may read this and assert the right to 'leak', since the obvious reading of this Article is directed to the Lab's head Officer, and those hierarchically underneath that person.


However, such people (AFLD (and its predecessor CPLD)), as Signatories to WADA, are bound by WADA CODE Article 14 in its entirety. Relevant text includes this portion of its chapeau paragraph:


Article 14 Confidentiality and Reporting

The Signatories agree to the principles of coordination of anti–doping results, public transparency and accountability and respect for the privacy interests of individuals alleged to have violated anti–doping rules as provided below:

[.....]


14.2 Public Disclosure

The identity of Athletes whose Samples have resulted in Adverse Analytical Findings, or Athletes or other Persons who were alleged by an Anti–Doping Organization to have violated other anti–doping rules, may be publicly disclosed by the Anti–Doping Organization with results management responsibility no earlier than completion of the administrative review described in Articles 7.1 and 7.2.

[.....]


FOUR:

Interestingly, this LCE article emphasizes an SDJ-described 'clamp–down' instituted from March 2008, by the person of Mme Amaury, which was reasserted in the events leading to this SDJ press communication. That would have begun in the weeks following the WADA Press Symposium held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in February 2008. It was at that Press Symposium that WADAwatch requested a response (scroll far down to paragraph starting: "It's not embarrassing...". to why France was not being 'admonished' for its multiple violations of the WADA CODE, as regards LNDD, AFLD, L'Equipe, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis.


It would also parallel Ressiot's publication of the original damning 'investigation' story in 2005, which (informed authorities believe) must have been prepared long prior to the kck-off of the 2005 Tour de France: is Ressiot less complicit now, than in 2005 when he (apparently?) withheld his story for perhaps three to five months?

FIVE:

The SDJ communiqué itself deplores the lack of 'independence' this policy affords to L'Equipe journalists. Conveniently avoiding any self–examination of the ethics of premature disclosures of incomplete procedures, LCE expounds that this calls into question the 'mission' of Ressiot.


But Ressiot's mission is (IWwHO) apparently that of one in search of infamy, personally and to those who he 'outs' through a well–connected network of lab rats (or Agency senior officials?) whose desire to destroy a sportsman or sportswoman's career is manifestly more enticing than upholding confidentiality rules, to which they are all bound. Citizens of other nations than the USA, have enjoyed the small benefit that accrues to journalists that receive no leaks, prior to Article 7.1 and 7.2 being achieved.


However, we point out that such cases are rare in today's media-driven planet.


CONCLUSION:

WADAwatch watches the pendulum swaying, curious as to the sentiments that reign at Editions Amaury. Perhaps Mme Amaury realizes (more than WADA itself),the enduring value of the Quigley Rule, which was overwhelmingly repudiated by the CAS Panel that confirmed a previous decision against Floyd Landis.


While previous experience confirms that commercial interests indubitably play a role in this affair, Ww hopes that Amaury Sport Group, and its flagship publication L'Equipe, have 'come aboard' in support of Ethics in Sport, by turning its back on an unwritten policy of outing unconfirmed doping suspicions.


Perhaps Mme Amaury is aghast at the lack of morals embodied in her publication's penchant for leaks of premature, legally non–confirmed A Sample analysis results?


Sadly, however, Le Canard enchainée and its author Jérôme Canard appear to be guilty of that universal affliction of sports writers around the globe who rely (relied?) on L'Equipe: jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions based on these 'they must be right!' presumptions of unwarranted credibility.


France is currently exploring a potential return to NATO membership: maybe its “return toward WADA” is simultaneously underway?


................@...................WADAwatch

copyright 2009 Ww


2 comments:

Tom said...

I wrote about this in a straight opinion piece just a couple days ago and my readers thought I was off base and smokin' crack.

Thank you.

ZENmud productions said...

Tom!!! sorry I've been boycotting my own blog this last few days!

Thanks for your comment and I apologize...

Ww

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