Thursday, 30 July 2009

What WADA needs isn't... Greg LeMond

Oh that Gregario...

... did Papa LeMond ever read the fable of Peter and the Wolf to his knee—riding son
, during his early formative years, long before the future American cycling star-to-be became one?

Greg LeMond was a teen hero for many in the USA, and for some of us in Colorado, it was a privilege to see his rise to elite racing, with appearances (and then victories) in the Coors International Cycling Classic each summer. Greg's win in his first Tour de France, arranged by the team La Vie Claire (to whom he was contracted, along with Bernard Hinault), was a marketing tour—de—force, bringing greater exposure in the USA for the Eurocentric cycling world.

The victory (victories) in France brought LeMond instant American glory, and sales of racing bicycles shot up in as a result. It also brought a quid—pro—quo for LeMond; the La Vie Claire team was brought to Colorado, re—baptised the Red Zinger Team, and Bernard Hinault was 'selected' by team management to lead it to victory. A 'Dream Team' of its era, with Greg, Bernard, Jean—François 'Jeff' Bernard, Steve Bauer, and others.

(Photo (C) 1986/2009: from
the personal collection of
author of WADAwatch)

Bicycle racing in Colorado is rigorous, due to the extreme altitudes.

In the pre—EPO era, long—distance runners and cyclists flocked to the high valleys of Colorado, in and above Boulder, Aspen and elsewhere, to reap the benefits of 'high—altitude training'; physiological modification of the racer's blood and oxygen intake manifested in the altitudes of Western Colorado, with its greatly thinned air. Blood cell—growth was accelerated as the body compensated for lower oxygen intake. Remember, while the Tour de France often 'peaks out' at altitudes ranging a bit high or lower than 2,400m, that is the valley—floor altitude in Vail, Colorado. And the highways can rise up to 1,000m above those valleys... or more!

In Vail, one decisive Coors Classic stage was won in spectacular fashion, that momentous year of 1986; the Vail Pass Hill Climb Time Trial was a course of 10 miles distance (16 kilometers), with a vertical climb of 457 meters in the last three miles (4.8km). As an employee of the hotel that hosted the La Vie Claire/Red Zinger Team for two nights, a privileged view of their training and comportment 'off—bike' was and remains a sacred memory. Their choice of dinner menu came at my suggestion, on the evening before the Vail Pass stage, in our hotel restaurant, the Café Colorado.

(Photo (C) 2009 ZENmud productions:
this cap was given to me by the
manager of Greg and Bernard's team)

SIDEBAR (non—legal): Their energizing 'menu'? A creamy angel—hair pasta with shrimp and chicken breast (same plate for all the riders), lightly spiced with hot chili peppers (and a request for four kilos of buttered pasta on the side, for the table of 16 riders and staff). White wine, and water, salad 'à go—go' and probably 16 baguettes...

On that following race day, members of La Vie Claire / Red Zinger came in 1 (Hinault: 26m56.40s), 2 (LeMond: 27m46.88s), and then an amazing sequence (which I don't remember, but could have been fourth, seventh and ninth (guessing)): the RZ Team was obviously in prime shape from the previous month's Tour. A lot of water has passed under the bridges, since the year 1986 for Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault and this author, since our chance 'meeting'.

Greg and Bernard both left the world of competitive cycling, to join the competitive world of bicycle—manufacturing companies. Both have achieved mixed success with their companies; Hinault cycles appear to be no longer on the market (dead link): a 1998 Bernard Hinault Lord Mega enjoys semi—retirement, now parked high on the wall of this author's apartment. Bernard's company seems to have lost impact on the market, while Greg's company has been mired down by a barrage of cross—litigation with his manufacturer: the TREK Corporation ® of Wisconsin, USA.

One reason for the decline of during these last few years, is a result of Greg LeMond's becoming a 'freelance spokesman' for anti—doping in cycling.

An admirable concept, say many: a 'necessary voice', perhaps in the movement to clean up only one of many sports which require this. But Greg has lost customers, some who'd purchased a new LeMond cycle each year, due to his repeated statements (never proven) against Lance Armstrong, and 'today's professional cyclists'. He has made global headlines in these last years, discussing the generation of riders that have replaced him. Greg, whose claims to have raced clean, did so between Laurent Fignon, the last Frenchman to win the Tour, having recently confessed using amphetamines and cortisone (anyone who was watching FR2 TV after the last stage of this year's Tour, and saw Fignon break down in tears... knows that his fight against cancer is 'arduous' to say the least, and we think about his fight daily...), and Miguel Indurain (whose reign on the Tour de France paralleled the rising influence of EPO and the concurrent withdrawal from Colorado's high—altitude training ground, of those many athletes who let their leases expire).

Greg has never explained how only he could win the Tour 'clean', in a hundred—year history of doping in this massively exhausting sport, but can accuse almost every other winner of not being clean...

Now, one week after the final stage of the Tour de France 2009, we examine Greg LeMond's latest verbal assault against cycling, questioning publicly the sensational victory of Alberto Contador into Verbier, Switzerland.

As reported in the French TV media this week, LeMond is viewed as questioning the 'impossibility' of Contador's pace up to Verbier, in the 15th stage on Sunday, 19 July 2009. Paraphrasing LeMond's words: “... watching Contador set a new all—time record for climbing to Verbier... was like a show—room Mercedes going onto, and winning, a Formula One race.”

Damning words from a self—proclaimed 'anti—doping' expert... or Judge and Jury?

One may wonder at whether LeMond's article in Le Monde, (Ww won't offer readers a link to their pay-for-archive page) published in French, was either 'ghost—written' (by a French journalist?) or translated from LeMond's native English: his multiple appearances on FR2 TV revealed the current state of his French linguistic abilities.

What point did LeMond force upon a global audience, itself perhaps 'disappointed' by the dearth of doping(!!!) stories in this year's Tour? That Alberto Contador 'must have been on something' to achieve his victory in Verbier... The new record Alberto achieved: 8.5km (on an average grade of 7.5pc) in 20m55s (or 2.47 minutes/km
± 24.3 kmh). According to former Tour champion LeMond, that cannot happen without 'help'; he'd have to be one of a million, “one of fifty million”, to be able to accomplish that. LeMond 'cited evidence' of Alberto's VO2 max of “99.5 ml/mn/kg”, as stated by former FESTINA team staffer Antoin Vayer.

WADAwatch has now mulled this over for some time... wondering what LeMond's point is.

One could think that LeMond does not believe that Tour champions are very unique human beings; we tend to think that someone like Contador, as was Armstrong 'in his day', is actually a one—in—seven—billion human being.

Greg's repetitive strikes against the sport that made him a millionaire may be virtuously motivated. Or do they come otherwise, from some latent psychological cycling guilt complex? Coming on the heels of Laurent Fignon's recent confessions and revelations regarding his fight against cancer, one wonders at whatever 'motivation' stimulates LeMond to lash out.

Or, perhaps it's a career move?

His bicycle company is not growing, as the long—running lawsuits between he and TREK Corp. are still moving forward: one can hardly predict, but the 'marriage' between LeMond Cycles and TREK Corp. now seems inexorably bound for a divorce... How will LeMond continue without TREK? Perhaps LeMond sees himself in a more—friendly environment, engaged by someone like WADA or USADA (the US Anti—Doping Agency) as a show—boating spokesperson?

In reply to questions and comments at the post—Time Trial press conference regarding his victory in a 'tainted sport', Alberto Contador replied with a 'No comment'. And, following the race Monday, Contador reminded the world's press that such insinuations carry so little weight, with his 365—day per year availability for testing, the multiple controls performed on him during competition, etc..

One wonders why LeMond didn't mention that the 'record' for climbing Mt Ventoux was nowhere near broken, in the 20th Stage of the 2009 Tour on Saturday, in his newest diatribe against the sport that has provided him 'his daily bread' for some 25 years or so. At some 64 minutes, this hot ascent (with a headwind) represented a time even slower than Charlie Gaul's achievement in an early Sixties Time Trial, and certainly slower than the Time Trial record set five years ago (Iban Mayo, in the 2004 Criterium Dauphinée: 55m51s). Time Trials are typically faster than those stages whose finish includes this historic, mythic climb, because the legs are fresher and the intensity is better focused.

Now many factors can influence the time taken to climb the 21km and some 1600m (from Bedoin, at an altitude 291m above sea level). Temperature, wind speed and direction, race conditions, bicycle technology and 'motivation' make cycling records much different, say, than track—and—field or swimming.

LeMond, in casting forth his world—media—wide insinuations, didn't address the hardest factor facing Alberto Contador: having 'his team' include seven—time Tour champion Lance Armstrong amongst its ranks. Alberto raced as if he was 'alone' (psychologically, if not physically) on a nine—member squad (eight after the broken wrist of Levi Leipheimer), and perhaps felt over—dosed with adrenaline in watching his 'team' promote Lance's performances over his own.

With 'final' anti—doping results unknown for the Tour's hundreds of laboratory analyses (by AFLD, under UCI/WADA regulations), for several more weeks (or months) will have passed, one finds it interesting to note, as Laurent Jalabert pointed out on FR2 TV, late Sunday afternoon, that this race seemed more 'human' than in prior years. More riders seemed to have 'bonked' on the steeper hills, or had slower—than—anticipated Time Trial times.

As for 'witnessing' Contador's victory, only Andy Schleck was able to maintain a pace that rivalled Alberto's. Lance could not; whether age or 'cleanliness' was the major component, Armstrong stood to the side on the final podium, with a less than hearty handshake to compliment his teammate's impressive, open victory, witnessing Alberto's moments of glory from the unknown zone of the third—place podium step.

Between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, their spontaneous, enthusiastic handshake was so much more enjoyable to watch, as these two sporting rivals had shared the supreme moments of this year's Tour. That gesture should have dominated after—Tour press conferences... Alberto called Andy 'a great rival and competitor', and looked forward to coming competitions between them. Andy, who'd enjoyed the superb accomplishments of the entire SaxoBank team and his elder brother Frank, brought new meaning to 'brotherly love'.

What does Greg think of the Schlecks?

Or of Bradley Wiggins (fourth at 6m01s behind Alberto), whose winter training included the loss of some six or seven kilograms (
± 13 – 16 pounds): was his performance 'impossible' as was Alberto's? How about the newly—reborn French cyclists, who won three stages in this year's Tour? Naturally Greg did not mention Lance Armstrong by name: his tenuous relationship with TREK Corp. and their lawsuits have perhaps muzzled any direct comments; this could be why the rest of the cycling world has become the target of LeMond's arrows.

Are they all the dopers that LeMond imagines? Moving into fifth-gen programs of new-to-market products? Are the monumental testing programs, the 365 day availability, the ever—stronger laboratory analysis by WADA—accredited labs, the UCI biometric passport... the expense and infamy of being declared 'positive'.... are all these internationally constituted components a laughing—stock in the eyes of a professional cycling peloton , forever-married to the Devil of doping?

That is apparently the mind—set of Mr. Greg LeMond. And he is not alone; we recall with chagrin the breezy attitude displayed by former WADA president Dick Pound, who seemingly never met a reporter to whom he wouldn't voluntarily slander any Athlete.(off the radar screen, also, is the 2008 lawsuit filed in Swiss Courts by UCI and its former VP Hein Verbruggen, against Pound).

Wanting to find doping wherever it may exist, is a damn fine and admirable goal. Living up to the Fundamental Rationale displayed in the WADA Code, requires important reflection and commitment.

But in keeping with those worst traditions of former WADA president Dick Pound, of the gueule (mouth) of AFLD Directeur Pierre Bordry, or the très discriminatoire Ministre Rosalyne Bachelot, Greg LeMond stands amongst the feared and fearful list of those who seem to speak continuously before knowing, or who 'know' without offering proof.

Having an opinion is certainly allowed; but one has to remember the adage attributed to Mark Twain, famous 19th
Century American author:

Tis better to keep one's mouth shut and appear to be stupid,

Than to open it and remove all doubt...

This year's apparent 'lack' of doping revelations reveal a new—found, miraculous harmony that WADAwatch supports.

It has been many months since an 'A Sample' result was leaked, prematurely and unlawfully, to the press, in France or elsewhere. Congratulations goes to those who have finally (apparently) understood that one cannot denounce any 'doping case' before same was actually proven: WADAwatch has been trying to communicate that regulatory concept, as found within the very Code to which WADA's Signatories agreed, in its first (2003) and second (2009) versions. Proving an AAF (Adverse Analytical Finding) occurred, as many readers know, requires a Confirmation via B Sample re—analysis, after an A Sample's results have been communicated confidentially to the IF, NF, NADO and Athlete concerned.

WADA must now become as vitally concerned with restraining the voices of its allies, as it has with the known laboratory 'leaks' that apparently have been halted successfully. Greg can say anything he wants, but 'shooting from the hip' as we've described, is neither conducive to greater credibility, nor increased bike sales.

"Dad, Dad! There's a WOLF!"

one hundred percent pure

copyright 2009 Ww

Monday, 20 July 2009

WADA ya get? Another Eight years and...

... deeper in Debt.

What is WADA: Janus, Gemini or Jekyll and Hyde?

While WADAwatch has been known to castigate various World Anti-doping Agency actions that seem to betray its Fundamental Rationale (CODE introduction), we are starting to wonder if WADA has a front face/back face, is twins, or the Evil that comes out of Every good man? Because somewhere in Montreal, someone who wears a hat saying 'Legal Advice' is taking new and lower roads in seeking another bout of 'judicial interpretation' by CAS, of the meaning of the CODE, written by WADA.

In 2007, WADA's budget showed a line-item for 1.5 million USD, for the purposes of 'litigation'. That amount remained unchanged (other than Swiss Franc conversion values) in its budget for 2008, according to the financial statement issued by Price Waterhouse Coopers. PWC did not advise WADA to separate out of 'administration' the costs for various of its divisions: a dollar value/number for 'Legal' would be heartily received.

What the audit also did not reveal (nor are we convinced it should), is what percent of that fund was used by WADA to perform its diligent aggressive displays of judicial 'zeal', given the WADA CODE's allowance for universal appeals by WADA.

Sadly, the history of WADA shows that it has a bizarre tendency to self-induced judicial suicide, given a certain limited series of cases appealed to CAS, in which its arguments became the bane of any Athlete caught in its cross—hairs: the common denominator is WADA's penchant for 'judicial interpretation' – by CAS – of the extent of WADA's powers. Lest we forget, 'Judicial Interpretation' is a concept that lawyers endorse, for its ability to generate great fees as they argue 'what the Regulation means': this is hand-rubbing-time for them, while it breaks the back of a 'Defendant' (such as Floyd Landis, or others mentioned below).

Sadly, no Defendant has taken WADA to the European Court of Human Rights, with an argument against the patent deficiencies in WADA's CODE, which are so prevalent, that it must be 'interpreted' for nearly every case. Administrative law is not that difficult, unless you purposefully want this to be...

Let us begin by stating this article is about Tyler Hamilton, and begin by offering readers a history lesson, which may show why there is some trepidation as to Hamilton's future health, as long as he is pinned in the WADA legal spider—web.

Back in the year 2006, WADA called upon CAS to determine its rights to appeal against a decision taken at the national level, by a Federation that had not (yet) agreed to join WADA.

The case was CAS 2006/A/1190 - WADA v/Pakistan Cricket Board & Akhtar & Asif (link to the decision at CAS is no longer functioning; we know no reason why CAS could not sustain its preceding cases via Internet links for longer periods of time, considering their value).

WADAwatch wrote an extensive article, offering several citations from the Decision. Briefly, WADA had hoped CAS would rule in its favour, of 'universal jurisdiction' simply because it should be (sarcasm mode off). WADA sought this, in spite of the fact that the Pakistan Federation rules included an Appeals Board (the 'PCB'), whose decisions were 'final', that WADA should be allowed to intervene and, if successful, overturn the case (naturally WADA was appealing because the PCB found in favour of the players).

CAS reminded WADA with the following paragraph, of the limitations WADA faced in such a situation:

In the present case, the statutes or regulations of the relevant body – the PCB – do not contain any reference to a right of appeal to CAS. In fact, clause 11.5 of the PCB Regulations states that the decision of the PCB Appeals Committee will be final and binding on the parties to the appeal. (Paras. 7.2 & 7.3)

With that legal reasoning, CAS reminded WADA that the limitations on the system are solely derived from the body of Rules (centered on the CODE itself) that were drafted under its 'expert' guidance, in plenary and working sessions with certain of its Signatory members.

In November of 2007, WADAwatch offered our sentiments regarding that Decision:

WADA has clear jurisdiction from Signatory approval and express inclusion by reference towards appeals to CAS.

But WADA may be spending valuable resources to short-circuit its limitations via Federations that have not yet modified statutes, or adhered to its program.

Fast forward only a month, when WADAwatch analysed the Karapetyn case. In December 2007, we described an attempt by WADA to seek the return of a Gold Medal won by Australian weightlifter Alexsan Karapetyn (See our report for full details), in the interim of his having been tested, and then being 'disciplined'. Yet the gist of the matter was that the clearly—worded WADA CODE Article (10.7; WADC 2003) included one clear phrase: '... unless fairness dictates otherwise.', as a fallback if the quasi—judicial process found the penalty too harsh. WADA presumed, as it inevitably does – time and again – that 'judicial interpretation' can go far to relieve the repeated lacunae existing in the very CODE it fought hard to produce (and live under). CAS ruled otherwise, WADA lost again, as the Decision found that the appellate process had fairly used the Article specifically as was written and approved for WADA by its Signatories.

A recent case, only decided in April 2009, once again saw WADA riding its horse to battle against the windmills of its own CODE.

WADA had presented to CAS, yet again, another request for 'judicial interpretation' of a decision that ultimately placed an Italian soccer player, Cherubin, under a one—month suspension for not providing the 'required cooperation' (Read our Cherubin case analysis at Is WADA 'aiding and abetting' Lance?). As it turns out, that case was relevant to past and current problems faced or facing Lance Armstrong, and his Astana team (more below, in this two-part post).

So, Tyler is now the latest in a long line of Athletes, for whom the stigma of a suspension has not satisfied the 'beast' in WADA. Eight years, is the duration of Tyler's newest penalty; eight years that would make him forty—six if he attempted a comeback in competitive cycling. Eight years, for taking a homeopathic remedy for a serious case of depression. Visit the blog Rant Your Head Off (Scroll down to 'Vindictiveness, thy name is WADA') for a biting analysis of the situation.

Yet now, WADA seeks 'judicial interpretation' of its CODE, wanting to inflict the ultimate stigma – a lifetime ban – on this second–time offender. This comes from 2008 CODE Article 10.7, which is one of the most confusing Articles WADA ever approved, offering a matrix of coded penalties and the range of years that entail violators. Some who think the US policy of 'three strikes and you're out' as being severe, are slowly waking up to the realities of what WADA (or its 'Legal Service') are doing with its Two-strikes policy. A 'Legal Service' as we've named it, for it is not publicized on the WADA website (or if it is, the publicly available links to it are well–hidden!).

On the one hand, the Hamilton case as it stands now, seems to be exactly what WADA hoped to achieve by seeking severe alterations to its CODE in Madrid, in November of 2007. There, by offering its enthusiastic endorsement of the concept of 'judicial interpretation'... for its newly–drafted Article 10.6: Aggravating Circumstances, WADA hoped to induce Athletes not to create legal procedures that 'prolonged out the inevitable'. Now, on the other hand (the Janus/Gemini/Jekyll and Hyde paradox), WADA is hoping to create a long, expensive and 'Judicially Interpreted' court battle to find out what its own CODE means, when an Athlete faces a penalty that ranges (by WADA's choice) from 'eight years to life' (as in banishment).

WADAwatch has repeatedly focused on the injustice of an organization placing the financial burden (of 'telling WADA what its own drafted rules mean') on the Athletes facing appeal. Our first was the most in-depth: WADA: Aggravating Arrogances.

Thus readers can be sure, while WADA seeks 'judicial interpretation' by CAS, its 'Court of final Appeal', regarding the 'duration required' for Hamilton's admitted offence (another aspect that WADA ostensibly hopes for more 'busted' Athletes, 'admission') that someone like Hamilton (and the USADA, for that matter), does not have the right to 'agree' via negotiations to an eight–year ban (exactly what the CODE calls for), in lieu of the obligation (as WADA perceives) of a finance – draining legal war with no survivors.

WADA, not having learned its lesson from the Landis case, which could only be won through a highly unusual 'reverse subsidy' from WADA to its Signatory, the United States (a Signatory which certain sources claim seems to be perpetually very late in payment of its obligatory annual dues), of over a million dollars, is now publicly On The Record for increasing maximum Legal expenses for Athletes, NADOs and itself. It is On The Record, as being against negotiations that reduce legal costs.


WADA should publicly renounce inflicting 'judicial interpretation' onto the chequebook of USADA, itself and, of course, Tyler Hamilton. That it may not do so, seeking to justify a role of heavy–handed headline seeker, must fall under some perverse sense of justice. We can only surmise, that WADA is again prepared to offer USADA even more cash–on–hand to augment the USADA 'war chest' and achieve what WADA evidently seeks: the total annihilation of Tyler Hamilton, a former champion (who can forget his Tour de France with a broken clavicle?) now in the lurch from a propensity for serious depression.

Whose moneys does WADA have to spend on this appeal, which seems to be a sure loser at CAS? If the Secretariat of CAS were motivated to do some good, it would get on the phone to WADA-Legal and suggest the withdrawal of this spurious appeal. It is not likely to win a case that has so many parallels to the precedent losing 'positions' taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, WADAwatch seeks to reason (from a distance) with Madame Roselyne Bachelot, French Minister of Health, Sport and Youth, who recently became 'particularly interested', in what we perceived as her headline–inducing interest (means promoting exposure of her own importance, at a time when President Sarkozy had just 'shuffled' a few ministerial posts) at 'welcoming' Lance Armstrong back to the Tour de France.

She of course supports 'her' AFLD (Because French taxpayers' money is passed to the AFLD through her official capacity as Ministerial controller of their budget allotments: at least 95pc of that), and supports the shoot–from–the–hip comments of AFLD directeur Bordry, about lax UCI testing controls.

If only Minister Bachelot could open her mouth and display wisdom... alas (a Ww translation):

“The UCI saw itself this year invested with the responsibility for the fight against doping. I therefore want to recall for each (presumably UCI, and AFLD) their responsibilities.”

The UCI had held exclusive jurisdiction of testing at the Tour de France, for 'every' year in which testing/controls were performed, Madame. This is proper for an International Federation, one of the oldest in the Olympic Movement, and retained that jurisdiction after becoming a Signatory of WADA. Given a Franco–centric viewpoint is okay, Madame B., yet surely one of your advisers reminded you that the only reason you could have said such a thing, is that Pierre Bordry or certain journalists made such a fuss over the 2008 'renegade' Tour de France, and its battle with the UCI.

That Battle–of–the–Titan–Egos was virtually limited to the issues of whether: a) the ProTOUR concept itself (See -c-) would prevail (ASO having led a long fight against it); b) Floyd Landis could possibly race in it, and; c) Patrice Clerc's unproductive 'war' with UCI vice–president Hein Verbruggen. From that, the Fédération française de cyclisme (FFC) was suspended from UCI activities, the renegade Tour 2008 was run under its 'homegrown' and ad hoc rules, and AFLD found itself in the Captain's seat for those three weeks (apparently, the first year in several in which the Laboratoire National (now 'département des analyses') didn't go on vacation after announcing 'A Sample' results).

But Mme. Bachelot warned the UCI last week, after Pierre Bordry cast his hip–shooting insinuations at them a day earlier, that certain lax procedures would not be tolerated towards certain teams.

And we must refer again to Cherubin, where WADAwatch once suggested that an 'Equal Protection' argument (as one would see in the US Supreme Court) should have been raised, and should be part of the rules that control: any team–based control should be adequately staffed. (We are also curious about the attitude mentioned, of the DCO relaxing over coffee for an hour...) Simply put, it is not reasonable to place only one DCO in front of a team of nine people, and expect their two eyes to control nine pairs of legs, given the limited time for certain 'recuperation' methods to be achieved (showers, massages), and the complexities of team displacements pre– and post–stage.

Mme Bachelot says as much, in her quaint French soliloquy:

The riders, of whom one understands well that they cannot be controlled all in the same time, well understood, must stay within the sight of the Controller so that no suspicion occurs apropos these controls.”

Justify Full

The concepts in the Cherubin case, where one player was 'busted' for a misunderstood 'departure from the scene' from the view of the collection of DCOs, are nearly comical. Recapping briefly: one DCO observed two opponent players as they showered, and three DCOs followed Cherubin's teammate as he went to give his urine sample(!).

The CAS ruling in Cherubin against WADA, who evidently could not stand the thought that an Italian team's player could 'escape' with only a four–week suspension(!), may have had some small influence upon the contemporaneous AFLD decision not to prosecute Lance for perceived 'absences' (while the DCO's credentials were being checked by team director Bruyneel, Lance showered 'upstairs'; what could have been a case, wasn't, perhaps because that DCO never ascribed any 'deviations from protocol' on the form which Lance signed). Certainly from Lance's point of view, Cherubin could not have come out of CAS at any more advantageous moment: that is clear.

Lance, being the most controlled rider on the Tour (increasing the chances for a 'false positive'?), had been personally selected, previously, for discriminatory observation by the powers of Mme Bachelot's office, in striking similarity to the spirit of the Tom Boonen, pre–Tour fiasco, where 'discriminatory practices' by Tour organizers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) against Boonen were shot down by the French national version of the CAS.

While most of the Tour's audience(s) are breathlessly waiting for Bourg–St–Maurice, le Grand Bornand, Annecy and Mt Ventoux, some in the audience are waiting to see if Pierre Bordry is going to 'bag' his prize: Armstrong.

Wherever you are, Lance, Bordry and Bachelot are not far behind (except when you're climbing)...

one hundred percent pure

copyright 2009 Ww

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Continuing our public service utility at WADAwatch sometimes takes powerful help. Thus it comes as no small pleasure, to read last week's Le Canard Enchainé (LCE), our latest source of pertinent information from within the French political theatre.

In a small article on the paper's 'tidbits' page (mostly those 'we heard from an anonymous source'... type of stories), no less a French authority than Nicolas Sarkozy himself, was interpreted by the authors of this weekly satiric, biting journal, regarding his use of Tour metaphors to stimulate the promotion of Sarkozy's liberal program.

NB: We began writing this while observing the 'Radio-Free Tour' UCI experiment ('remerciements' to FR2 TV) on Bastille Day, the French national holiday. At the same time, FR TV commentators and cameramen were fixated on a side-race: three escargot were attempting to edge out onto the road surface while the breakaway and peleton approached...

The LCE article was entitled (as usual, a WADAwatch translation)...

The Doped of the Elysée (FR: 'dopé)

Communication from Rama Yade, new Secretary of State for Sports, during the Council of Ministers held on July 1. She evoked the fight against doping, three days before the beginning of the Tour de France. Sarkozy jumped on the occasion to recount his childhood memories at age 12, when he enjoyed the 1967 Tour and harvested some autographs from the champions of the epoch. And then he launched into a elegy ('panégyrique'):

Stop stigmatizing the Tour de France, the world's largest bicycling race!” he said to his ministers. “It is a victim of doping and not a guilty (Ed: party). And while not ignoring the past errors, one must recognize the efforts agreed to by the racers in the matter of controls.”

The Chief of State continued: “The Tour de France, is really a Fête, really a mass event, be on the side of the French. It's because of the Tour that people see and discover what France is.”

And then, regarding [newly appointed Minister of Culture] Frédéric Mitterand, he pursued his thoughts: “Take these sports affairs seriously. Sportsmen, the racing cyclists, are not only people that practice a sport. This [event] goes way above that. At this level of exploit, this is more than sport. This is 'culture'.” (sic). And when a minister of Sports and Culture?

His conclusion: “Take a look at Armstrong, this guy who surmounted cancer, who has won seven Tours and who begins again this year. He's really a courageous guy, in the image of all these cyclists, who battle themselves and competitors just to the most extreme.”

A minister's translation: “In fact, he wanted to transmit to us the following message: 'Be as courageous as Armstrong and the pro cyclists in order to pass my reforms.'”

Little matter the contents of the syringe.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What makes this story pertinent, and highly informative, is its correlation with other current news, as customarily transmitted via L'Equipe, and emanating from Pierre Bordry, head of l'Agence française du lutte contre le dopage (AFLD).

After the French government's signing of the accord with the UCI for this year's TdF testing controls, and ample warnings that the accord afforded independent 'competence' for the AFLD to institute its own tests...

SIDEBAR: a reminder for the uninitiated, on anti-doping 'legalese': in WADA parlance, 'Testing' is the taking of the Sample (tissue or bodily fluid(s)), by officials, from the Athlete (in competition, here), it's observed division and sealing into Samples A and B, and its secure transfer to the appropriate Laboratory. 'Control' is also used for the sense of Testing. Doping Control Officers are those with the authority to act in this intervention; under the authority of WADA's International Standard for Testing (IST).

'Laboratory analysis' is the (hopefully) scientific, careful, documented receipt, storage, and analysis of the 'A Sample', by very competent scientists, doctors or technicians, with the full knowledge of the legal, scientific and ethical standards that their job entails; these are controlled by the International Standard for Laboratories, and the various Technical Documents. WADAwatch, as much as WADA and other system participants, wouldn't mind a bit of conformity amongst the world's sporting press.

... Pierre Bordry chose the Monday rest day for announcing his agitation (disappointment?) with the UCI testing program, shared with the world widely via RTL. And, bien sûr, M. Bordry did so by stating a classic contradiction, clearly described in an article found in French, in M. Bordry's 'personal press agent', L'EQUIPE. In the interests of public education, WADAwatch provides a translation of that Equipe article (13/07/2009; entitled Bordry: «L'UCI complaisante»):

The Complaisant UCI

One has the impression of a bit of complacency towards these cyclists.” This is what Pierre Bordry declared Monday on RTL on the subject of the UCI inspectors charged with supervising the antidoping controls. According to the president of the AFLD, the controls are "less professional from the UCI. I am not sure that they're applying the same rules to everyone in identical conditions."

The president of the AFLD nevertheless refused to develop his thought: "I will not say more at this point because I have an intention to discuss these with Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI." "I do not suspect anything at all, we are in a competition of great importance, and the same rule must be applied to everyone," added Pierre Bordry.

The AFLD, sole in charge of controls for the 2008 Tour, is collaborating with the UCI, which is responsible for antidoping controls on the 2009 edition of 'le Grand Boucle' ('Great Buckle'... ring around France) Under virtue of the accord signed the 10 June, the AFLD is the service provider on the Tour, but the French agency can bring about certain unannounced controls. During the race, the riders designated for a control are escorted by chaperones from the finish line just to the point of sample collection. The stage winner and the bearer of the Yellow Jersey are the central concern. Unannounced tests can also be practiced in teams' hotels.

(with AFP: Agence France Presse)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It saddens WADAwatch to witness a man who seems oblivious to so many different factors, using the power of his station to shoot from the hip in so many directions.

After ASO was chastised by the French Court for Arbitration of Sport (a rare Ww article in French) regarding discrimination against Tom Boonen, an admonishment that contrasted with Minister Bachelot's 'particular' warning, welcoming Lance Armstrong back to his first Tour since 2005, along comes Bordry, to remind the world that he has an insinuation to offer, but that he's not going to make an accusation, because he hasn't talked to the man (Pat McQuaid, UCI president), concerning a situation that is no less his Agency's fault, if it exists.

And as a result, McQuaid has to respond (scroll to 'Testing Questioned') to a flock of press inquiries without any idea of the basis for which this non—accusatory insinuation has generated hundreds of headlines.

So this article is published, as many others prior, not knowing what part of the 'Testing' or 'Control' (or choice of chosen riders? Or this or that...) are the factors that Bordry 'observed' or 'noted', while having contractual authority to simply augment the efforts by instigating AFLD—based tests.

To believe past articles from Le Canard Enchainé, there's a financial reason for ASO instructions to the writers of L'EQUIPE to 'back off' on doping story reporting, which is opposite the WADAwatch position, regarding what certainly appeared to be an internal ASO conflict of interest.

It is in the interests of all parties, that effective, standardized testing methodologies are implemented around the world, in the family of WADA—accredited labs.

Perhaps Bordry's rash remarks, without the 'politesse' of prior conferencing with his contractual partner (UCI, McQuaid), are truly exposing certain lacunae in UCI methodologies. So be it, if true. But coming from a partner in the effort, who didn't have to shout the news across the world, while the ASO/FFC/UCI 'family' is trying to re—establish decent working conditions, only seems like a yellow—card low blow.

Vive le Tour, vive the fight against doping, in a harmonized standardized regime... otherwise: the French say it best: 'The more things change, the more they stay the same'...

one hundred percent pure

copyright 2009 Ww

Friday, 3 July 2009

L'Homme qui entrait de (la douche) froid(e)...

Excusez-moi de vous écrire en français... chuis un peu 'cowboy' dans la langue de Molière...

Mais ce blog-post est destiné seulement aux gentil(e)s lecteurs et lectrices francophones...

Avec les nouvelles que Tom Boonen serait autorisé de courir dans ce 96ème Tour de France, c'est une signe que le Chambre arbitrale du sport du comité olympique français, qui a annoncé leur décision jeudi, une décision définitive qui met fin de cette histoire ; c'est un Chambre neutre, avec des compétences hautes, dans des circonstances pour lesquelles Boonen était jugé. (I do so hope my Cowboy français is concise and clear...)

Dégueulasse ? Mais non ! Un coureur qu'est momentanément stupide, n'est pas mis hors de travaille par ses stupidités, dans le sens legal que Boonen était traité, d'une façon différente que d'autres coureurs du Tour 2009.

L'avocat de Tom l'a dit mieux « Il était évident que Boonen a été traité par ASO de manière discriminatoire ... plusieurs autres coureurs ou directeurs sportifs pouvant eux aussi porter atteinte a l'image du Tour avaient pourtant été déclarés bienvenus ».

Mais c'est bien plus qu'impressionnant, de savoir qu'il y a ceux dans la belle France qui comprennent qu'il leur faut d'être objectif et neutre...

Malheureusement, ce n'est pas Madame la Ministre Rosalyn Bachelot qui a montré ce qualité. Aujourd'hui, le vendredi avant le Grand Départ du Tour, Mme la Ministre a ouvert ses beaux yeux du fait que le Tour commence demain : le 4 juillet, comme 'booster' américain pour Lance, Levi, et tant d'autres. Et comme fidèle lieutenant du M. le Président de la République Sarkozy, elle utilisait ses techniques mediatiques... elle s'est prononcée au dernière moment pour maximum effet, en parlant de Lance Armstrong.

Comptez-vous bien sur le bien-être d'un égo français, à postériori, qui pourrait exprimer devant un micro français, le nom de Lance, ce cher Texan et vainqueur.

Elle a accueilli le septuple vainqueur de Tour avec ces gentilles paroles: « les contrôles se multiplieront et je dis à Lance Armstrong qu'il sera particulièrement, particulièrement, particulièrement surveillé ».

Mais quelle comédienne est-elle ? On se demande les ages des journalistes, vraisemblablement avec une manque dans leur formation, nécessitant la répétition de l'adverbe trois fois. Ou peut-être c'était un exclusif pour l'Équipe ? C'est qui, quelle personne a réveillé Madame, ce jour avant le Jour 'T' (pour "Tour") ? Évidement, sa tête était ailleurs ses dernières mois, avec le remaniement du gouvernement Sarkozy ; faire assurer qu'on gardera son poste est bien plus important que de suivre l'Affaire AFLD/Armstrong : "L'homme qui entrait du (de la douche) froid".

Mais c'est aussi bien de savoir comment l'AFLD est financée. Madame nous indique :

« Il faut mener une lutte vraiment très très active. C'est l'UCI qui est maîtresse d'ouvrage (.....) Mais à ses côtes, il y a l'Agence française du lutte contre le dopage, un organisme financé à 95% par mon ministère. »

Donc l'autre 5% vient de... des tarifs payés pour toutes ces analyses ? Nous l'espérons tous... que notre chère Ministère a pris conscience, elle aussi, des paroles et la décision dudit Chambre, faisant forte une pression, d'une forme neutre, vers (on se demande) l'effacement de discrimination vers certains individus dans le peloton des cyclistes du Tour de France.

On se demande aussi, si Mme Bachelot, une pharmacienne par formation et vie professionnelle, était au courant que Lance et personne d'autre frôle le chiffre de 35 contrôles dans ces dernières mois, soit plus ou moins 4 - 5 fois plus souvent que n'importe quel autre professionnel.

Si on peut pas faire de la discrimination vers Boonen, reconnu positif pour cocaïne, même parce qu'il est une substance jamais (encore) mise sur la liste des produits dopants de l'AMA (WADA in EN), c'est bien difficile de voir comment la gouvernement de la France puisse encourager ses Agences compétentes de promouvoir de la discrimination envers Armstrong.

Au lieu de postuler que, pour Mme la Ministère, elle est nullement au courant de rien concernant des sujets des Agences qu'elle finance à 95%. Mais méfis toi, Lance, car un vingtaine d'analyses de tes fluides vont augmenter les risques qu'un autre erreur du département des analyses puisse sauter des fours magiques de le très médiatisé Professeur de Ceaurriz, pour lequel les arbitres de Floyd Landis n'avaient eu aucune bonne note concernant l'état de travail de vos employés.

Comme mentionné dans un blog-post il y a quelques jours, Mme Bachelot avait été soutenu dans son poste, et elle avait aussi été renforcé par la venant du Madame Rama Yade, ancienne Secrétaire de l'État pour des Droits de l'Homme (c'est dire les êtres humaines, on n'est pas (officiellement) 'des sexistes' en France...). Yade, jeune et tellement capable, même belle comme les fleures d'Afrique, est la nouvelle Secrétaire de l'État pour le Sport (Qui a blagué, si on croit le Canard Enchainé, que dès maintenant, elle qui a déjà touché les cœurs des Français pourrait toucher leurs corps aussi), choisi par Sarko pour remplacer Bernard Laporte.

Ici, on félicite une telle choix. Car Rama n'aura pas besoin des semaines d'aide pour parler de discrimination contre les athlètes sur leurs vélos. Boonen, fais serrer les vises de tes dérailleurs... Armstrong, fais le 'Cool', toi, car tu n'as qu'à pédaler fort pendant les prochaines vingt-trois jours.

(Quelqu'un devra appeler Mme Bachelot pour qu'elle se rende compte que ses paroles idiotes, venant de nul part, vont partir dans une vague d'indifférence : la même indifférence qu'elle portait aux cyclistes ces derniers mois...)

Vive le Tour anti-discriminatoire!

(Et s'il y a quelqu'un(e) qui insistera que le cocaïne doit être exclu, banni par la liste des produits interdites par l'AMA, qu'il(s) (elle(s)) le fasse(nt) !

(en regardent quelques-unes des chauffards dans le Tour publicitaire, on se demande si... entre eux... non : laisse tombé...)


copyright 2009 Ww

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