[This is a three-part series regarding the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD, and the current events it has instigated. Part I offers the escalating situation as viewed by the French Press, Part II reveals information published by AFLD itself, as a report of activities is analysed, and Part III suggests that WADA has sufficient information to act objectively in investigating a 'rogue' Signatory...]
What happened to petit Pierre at the school playground?
Was he pulled off the 'balançoire' (FR: 'teeter-totter') too many times by some Parisian bully? If you could read his mind, would you see the malveillance (EN: 'spitefulness') festering? That's roughly what's happening in France and Switzerland this month...
Eddy Merckx said “It's all just publicity from them - it's crazy,” from the Cycle Show in Earls Court. (article from morethanthegames.com)
Laurent Jalabert was slightly more humerous: “These are wet firecrackers.”
What subject united the Cannibal and Jaja last week? Their common deception arose from the media frenzy over an 'official Report' issued by the 'rancunière' (EN: 'spiteful') Agence française pour le lutte contre le dopage (AFLD), and its Directeur 'Plucky Pierre' Bordry, which was published in Le Monde. The premier salvoes in this new Cycling War Two (CW II), were launched from the AFLD–France towards UCI–World.
The AFLD lobbed accusation-bombs from its position, safe behind a new, press–enabled ligne Maginot, towards the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) in Aigle, Switzerland. Those bombs are provoking reverberations, perhaps a tsunami in a teapot, at WADA, in Montreal. Do not doubt it: phone lines are burning, between scandal-per-day Paris (President Sarkozy: and his son, or Minister of Culture, the Clearstream case, France Telecom suicides and/or the dairy farmers), Montreal and Aigle, Switzerland (UCI HQ). WADAwatch charts this affair, in escalation since the unseemly publicity of cher Pierre's 'J'accuse!' UCI Report in the French press two weeks ago, while 'said Report' was still in transit to WADA and UCI. Evidently Le Monde has replaced l'Equipe as the AFLD agente-presse of choice, ending an ignoble era. A torch-passing, if you will...
SIDEBAR: we prefer to believe that equitable reasoning was what motivated the Amaury family's new-found 'compliance', as a Major Event Organizer within WADA. If true, Ww would applaud this. However, our past article mentioned alleged 'quids pro quo' through the 'good offices' of Jean–Claude Killy, an ASO director as well as International Olympic Committee member, who 'may have had some influence' as to who in France received TV rights for the 2014 Saatchi Winter Games (hint: they own Really Big Bicycle Races in France) in Russia, in return, it was suggested, for Amaury Editions agreement to desist chasing cycling/doping stories.
Whether or not ASO has clean motives for ceasing publishing 'premature, illegally–leaked A Sample control results' in its own paper, l'Equipe, it has ended this conflict-of-interest. In publishing those A Sample results, source(s) become culpable for WADA Code violations, which were no less substantial than any Athlete's AAF.
WADA has never publicly taken a decision to interdict those violations. Leaks of positive A Sample results, even if prohibited through the WADA Code ('WADC'), were certainly good publicity for its fund– and awareness–raising. Yet any leaks of this nature are the bane of accused Athletes – innocent or guilty – whose rights are violated every time WADC Article 7 Results Management, and/or Article 14.2.1 (Article 14.2 Public Disclosure; part of Article 14 Confidentiality and Disclosure) are expressly ignored. If WADA is working 'behind the scenes' to clean up these bad acts, so be it, and good luck. However, unless it does occur, it remains just one of many documented 'non–compliance issues' for WADA.
Le Monde published a second Stéphane Mandard article in mid–October. The new piece amplifies the detail regarding AFLD allegations from his previous story, which WADAwatch covered on 5 October 2009: UCI methods attacked by AFLD. Mandard starts with a slam:
Est-ce pour fuir les gendarmes et l'Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD), que le Tour de France, dont le parcours de l'édition 2010 a été dévoilé mercredi 14 octobre, s'élancera de Rotterdam en juillet prochain ?
Is it to escape the (French) police and the AFLD, that the Tour de France, of which the route for the 2010 edition was revealed on Wednesday, 14 October, will launch from Rotterdam next July?
Anyone thinking: 'what a prejudicial (and ignorant) question!'? Le Monde, usually an insightful journal for world and financial affairs, chose not to explore these angles: it's common knowledge that this year's Vuelta de Espagna earned some €3 million (Euros) to begin its 2009 race in Holland, the Netherlands. And if starting the Vuelta in Holland can generate €3 million, no doubt the cachet of the Tour de France will ratchet that up higher: perhaps €4 to 6 million?
But 'obviously' Le Tour needs to 'flee the AFLD' (?)... curious, how Mandard associates 'Le Tour' with the UCI in this setting.
Casual cycling observers would have no problem conjuring up the next image – a battalion of French gendarmes taking position next July. Their target? Perhaps hotels in the two French village(s) that the Tour 2010 will first invade: Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, where the Tour ends the 3rd stage, and nearby Cambrai, where the 4th stage starts, respectively the 6th and 7th July, 2010.
The owners of the Tour are very interested in profits, Monsieur Mandard: it's their business. Why write about a technicality-filled subject without displaying the competence to be taken as an authority on it? The AFLD UCI Report seems likely to become an escalating affair: if not against the UCI, then perhaps through a long-overdue WADA inquiry into AFLD motivations. One notices that Mandard's role is less than that of a fine journalist: he appears as a shill, parroting the position of one side in an effort to stir up an international 'conflict'.
Madame la Ministre Roselyne Bachelot !
Vous ne voulez pas retenir cette grande gueule de
l'AFLD – Monsieur Bordry?
('Do you not want to hold back this big-mouth
from the AFLD – Mr Bordry?')
The Le Monde article continues its master-of-insinuation account:
Si aucun coureur n'a été rattrapé par la patrouille cet été, c'est que, contrairement à 2008 – où le Tour ne s'était pas déroulé sous l'égide de l'Union cycliste internationale (UCI) en raison d'un conflit ouvert avec l'ancien patron d'ASO, Patrice Clerc, l'AFLD n'était pas seule aux commandes des contrôles.
If no single racer was trapped by the patrols this summer, it's that, unlike 2008 – where the Tour was not run under guidance from the UCI, by reason of an open conflict with the ancient ASO patron, Patrice Clerc, the AFLD was not alone at the commands for the Doping Controls.
Finally, author Mandard's pièce de résistance:
Et l'enquête préliminaire ouverte par le parquet de Paris après la saisie de centaines de seringues et de matériel de perfusion auprès de plusieurs équipes, dont Astana ? Les organisateurs ont appris la nouvelle "par la presse".
And the preliminary investigation opened by the Paris court after the seizure of hundreds of syringes and transfusion material (found) near several teams, including Astana? The organizers (ED: UCI) learned the news 'by the press'.
This would be funny if it weren't serious...
Recall, that the 'First Cycling War' (for which an Armistice was 'signed' in late fall 2008) was the result of ASO reactions to UCI's action begun years ago, when the UCI received a request by the major cycling Team sponsors, who'd found themselves denied entry to one or more of cycling's Grand Tours (of Italy, France and Spain). ASO contended that the UCI ProTour team license concept had taken away its ability to 'manage' their own choice of teams. Both the Spanish and Italian organizers lined up in league with this complaint. Yet this French author wants us to orient our thinking towards the UCI as 'renegade'... a classic case of 'revisionist history'. However, in every year since Festina (n'oubliez-vous pas ça, quand même!), there have been 'cases' found, and in every year but one, UCI directed those efforts. So Mandard's shrill effort is without foundation.
We are not offered the meaning behind his statement that those items were found 'near the teams'; he offers no analysis of how AFLD knew about the flasks and syringes if UCI staff didn't, and how UCI staff never took notice of the French gendarmes that flocked around Pierre's boys (and girls?). But wait!
SIDEBAR: “... hundreds of syringes?” Hundreds? Recollection of the original article was 'some syringes' and 'medicine bottles'; has Mandard inflated the claims since early October, now to huge quantities ('Festina-style'?), boxes and boxes of dirty needles? 'Hundreds' means at least two hundred: is Mandard claiming there was the equivalent of one needle for every rider in the Tour?
Are certain teams so insanely possessed by the quest for victory, that they forgot to dispose the evidence discretely, far from the snooping eyes of the honourable French police? Really, this seems ludicrous beyond the imagination of anyone but a seemingly-demented AFLD director, and a too-eager-to-please journaliste. We are loathe to conceptualize French police 'planting' evidence, but are not remiss in thinking that some 'third–party sympathizer' could have done so...
used syringes? Zee ones from zee room of
Jean-Pierre Pedalstrap*, le Directeur sportif adjoint,
where all our dopers shoot up zere drugs,
z'EPO and zere Blood transfusions?”
“Sacré BLEU, I have not zee time for you, idiot!
You must to fill zee cars with zee gas! Fill zee
water bottles, and leave zose syringes in
zee trashbins here in zese hotel!
“Merd-uh! No one eez going to find zem if
you cover zem over weese z'Equipe from yezterday...”
Next we read: “... (UCI) learned the news 'by the press'”?
We count on Bordry to convince a fellow French journalist to 'act shocked', à la Claude Raines in CASABLANCA (“...shocked! To learn that gambling is going on in this club!”), that the UCI didn't find out anything from its contracted French partner, prior to the AFLD screeching ('wailing cat' syndrome?) its accusations to the press, expressly to embarrass the International Federation. If the UCI found out by 'the press' of this official Report and its allegations, that fault can only be due to seemingly deceitful tactics and publicity-mongering (thanks Eddie Merckx) by the AFLD. The Mandard insult only compounds Bordry's neurotic display.
For good measure, dramatic effect and without taste, Mandard reminds us that Frank Vandenbroucke died mid-month (with an insinuating question mark). Although his death in Africa, while on vacation with a male friend, doing Jesus-knows-what, has nothing to do with the UCI, the Tour de France, or ASO, it certainly imports substantial suspicion on cycling, furthering the agenda in this article promoting the AFLD's 'righteous purity'. (Unlike Mandard, we offer our condolences to a Vanderbrouke family that is suffering an untimely loss...)
And how does Mandard conclude this drama?
Hang on (!):
"On va droit dans le mur. Il va y avoir un drame. Un mec va claquer sur son vélo. Et là, on n'aura plus d'autre choix que de réagir, commente sous couvert d'anonymat le directeur sportif d'une équipe française. ASO avait une occasion unique de s'en sortir avec les honneurs en rompant avec l'UCI. Cela s'est transformé en occasion ratée." Le patron d'ASO a bien promis de "tout mettre en oeuvre pour promouvoir un dialogue responsable entre les acteurs de la lutte antidopage". Mais l'AFLD a déjà annoncé qu'elle ne s'aventurerait pas dans une nouvelle collaboration avec l'UCI sur le Tour 2010. Le duel annoncé entre Alberto Contador et Lance Armstrong n'en sera que plus "magnifique".
"We're going right into the wall. There's going to be a drama. A guy's going to crack on his bike. And there, we won't have any other choice but to react, comments under anonymity the director sportif of a French team. ASO had a unique occasion to get out with honours by rupturing with the UCI. That's been transformed into an blown opportunity.” The ASO patron really promised to “put everything to work for promoting a responsible dialogue between the actors for the anti-doping fight.” But the AFLD has already announced that it wouldn't adventure into a new collaboration with the UCI on the 2010 Tour. The announced duel between Alberto and Lance will only be more than “magnificent”.
Certainly our writing at WADAwatch is no less sarcastic than the Le Monde extracts above.
Why didn't Mandard mention that the 'anonymous' Directeur sportif probably represents one of two French teams who were recently 'slapped down' by UCI, which denied renewals of their 2010 ProTour elite licenses: is this only more French raisins amers ('sour grapes')? On the other hand, how would a clean team's DS know so much about what other teams are doing, and the wall that riders may face one day? If they 'know', we should have seen police taking riders away in handcuffs: is this 'anonymous witness' reminding us that the Omerta amongst cycling teams is ever stronger?
Here's a hypothesis (hypothetical, outrageous, but incorporates all the 'facts'):
Some French 'agent(s)', tired of 'imported victors' winning its historic Tour, found access to teams' hotel room trash cans, in order to hide fake evidence, by creating a 'red Herring' police investigation, protected by a French hierarchy. A complacent press aided in that effort, complementing the AFLD report implicating the UCI and Astana.
(Well, that may display more 'Watson' than Holmes...)
The Directeur Sportif quoted anonymously, above, advocates a permanent rupture, evidently, between the UCI and the Tour owner ASO. To what end, whose benefit? Maybe those two teams who no longer hold ProTour status? If AFLD succeeds in creating a new schism, and the Tour 2010, as was in 2008, reverts to a National Event under FFC control (la Fédération française de cyclisme), then AFLD gets to write its own ticket, a conquest built on its history of hysteria to the media, and Really Bad Science.
We recall that it's been years since a French rider was 'busted' for doping, although (sadly) Laurent Fignon joined a Legion of historical cycling figures, by admitting his personal Tour–doping legacy, during 2009, on the occasion of revealing his life–threatening cancer. NB: no Tour official ever requested Laurent's Yellow Jersey (as they had for Bjarne Riis). Fignon's loud sobbing overwhelmed his sportscasting team from France 2 TV last July, in their booth at the Champs-Élysées within minutes of the sprint won by Mark Cavendish: perhaps a 'reality' moment in which the proud champion looked upon this human spectacle for the last time. Ww hopes not.
Finally, the one–sided Le Monde pseudo–news story ends with a last insinuation: the AFLD announced it wouldn't collaborate in 2010 on the Tour. The UCI press release of 5 October, 2009, however, already mentioned that the UCI would 'study the options' (as to finding another laboratory). Given that the UCI stated that immediately, the Monday following the original AFLD 'J'accuse' attack in Le Monde, Mandard reinforces his role as parrot, for this AFLD 'moi aussi!' rant.
un de ces jours aimeriez–vous faire du nettoyage ethique
chez votre Agence française du lutte contre le dopage?
(“Mesdames Secretary and Minister, one of these days would you
like to do some 'ethic cleansing' at the AFLD?”)
[The die is cast... how AFLD and Plucky Pierre actively sought media–covered reinforcement for their provocative attack against the UCI, in the months following the first Tour de France since the 'renegade' Tour of 2008. Stay tuned for Part II and Part III]
one hundred percent pure
copyright 2009 Ww