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

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