Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Nettoyage Éthique / Ethic Cleansing – Part II

[In Part I of this three-part post, WADAwatch analysed the newest Le Monde article regarding the escalating CWII (Cycling War II) declared by the AFLD against UCI. In this second installment Ww presents AFLD documentation regarding its efforts in the first half of 2009 (especially the Tour de France), to integrate that information with the Le Monde series of articles; Part III discusses the role of WADA in defraying this conflict, should it undertake doing so.]

Unethical acts are not (seemingly) de nouveau at Plucky Pierre's AFLD. M. Bordry has a well–documented penchant towards 'assassination by press leak' (a fine French 'art', relying on blind loyalty from the press), to w
hich the world has habituated itself since 'l'Affaire Armstrong' of 2005–6. Incisive responses were offered by the UCI, whose President, Press and Legal Office(r)s have weathered numerous machinations by the French Agency Director's (seemingly Viagra® stimulated?) obsessions. The UCI responses are in line with the goals it shares, as an IF and Signatory of WADA, which itself has been no stranger to past conflicts regarding the UCI.

Monsieur Bordry, enjoying his up–scale, insider status inside France, has perhaps not realized, given his prior history of press–induced hysteria, how the world may legitimately question the nature of those 'AFLD doctors' deployments.

Cinema buffs fantasize Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) with his magnifying glass, although that would be an insult to fine English actors...

And thus WADAwatch has a 'scoop' for its readers: a recently published report from the AFLD 'vault' documents their first six months of activity for 2009 (let's give them a silver medal: they published this faster than WADA Executive Committee reports...).

Here's a portion of their Report (title translated):

We offer verbatim extracts (in FR) from the section Tour de France 2009 (full translation in English follows; Francophiles should follow this link and read the report's first two pages):

[.....] TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 :

Le Tour de France cycliste 2009 était une compétition internationale, inscrite à ce titre au calendrier de la fédération cycliste internationale, l’UCI.

Un protocole d’accord détaillant les modalités des contrôles, basés sur le ciblage comme le préconise l’article 5.1.3 du Code [.....

Ce protocole s’est inscrit dans le cadre du code mondial antidopage - notamment son article 15.1 - reconnu par les deux parties, [.....]

Durant la compétition, l’AFLD a missionné deux médecins préleveur, dont le référent au niveau national, pour réaliser les prélèvements urinaires et sanguins à l’arrivée des étapes et, de manière inopinée, dans les hôtels des coureurs. [.....]

Les analyses des prélèvements urinaires ont été réalisées par le département des analyses de l’Agence, laboratoire de Châtenay-Malabry, mais les analyses des prélèvements sanguins ont été, à la demande de l’UCI, conduites par le laboratoire antidopage de Lausanne.

L’UCI étant responsable de la politique antidopage et de la gestion des résultats, l’AFLD n’a pas eu communication des résultats des analyses. [.....]

Our translation:

The 2009 cycling Tour de France was an international competition, inscribed at that status on the UCI calendar.

A protocol of agreement detailing the modalities of controls, based on targeting as ordained by Code Article 5.1.3
[ED: WADC Article on Target Testing], was signed as a consequence on 10 June, 2009, by the presidents of the UCI, Mr Pat McQUAID, and of the AFLD, Mr. Pierre BORDRY.

This protocol is inscribed within the frame of the WADA Code – notably its Article 15.1
[ED: That's 'Event Testing' under Article 15 – Clarification of Doping Control Responsibilities] – recognized by the two parties, according to which the UCI is the competent antidoping organization and responsible for the antidoping controls from the cycling events on the international calendar, as well as the common wish of the IF and the Agency to coordinate their efforts in order to put into action an efficient policy in the matter of the fight against doping.

During the competition, the AFLD had conferred the mission to two doctors (for taking samples – préleveur), of which the referral to national level (?), to actualize the urinary and sanguine sample-taking at the finish of stages and, in the no-advance-notice manner in the racers' hotels. The Director of Controls for the Agency was a participating party in decisions to select targeted riders, in collaboration with the antidoping officers of the UCI. At the demand of the AFLD, a team of eight independent escorts from the competition Organizer were present during the whole of the competition to effectuate the notification of the designated sportsmen and accompany them under surveillance all the way to the antidoping location.

The analyses of urinary samples were realized by the département des analyses of the Agency, Châtenay-Malabry laboratory, but the blood sample(s) analyses were, at the demand of the UCI, undertaken by the antidoping laboratory of Lausanne (Switz.).

The UCI being responsible for antidoping policy and results management, the AFLD didn't have (any) communication of the results from these analyses. In total, 537 samplings were realized (185 urinary et 352 blood, among which 180 from the start of the race). A report regarding the process of these controls was elaborated from source notes taken by the sampling doctors (AFLD staff), that was transmitted to the UCI as well as, for information, to the WADA and the Ministry of Health and Sports.

To begin with, note that two-thirds of the Samples were not analyzed in France – the Lausanne lab directed by Martial Saugy did all 2009 TdF blood work-ups. Perhaps that is due to the Swiss facility having newer equipment (recalling the LNDD's vintage IsoPrime machine; a 'bastion of reliability' since... 1986?)?

We also find the mathematics interesting: of the 352 blood samples taken, 180 were done prior to the first day's departure. That leaves 172 blood samples extracted during the race period. Yet 185 urine samples were taken. Should we not presume that every in-competition test required a cyclist to give urine and blood? Then why have 13 fewer blood samples, or 13 extra urine samples? Ponder that...

To note from the AFLD semester report, is that AFLD drew some 5,594 Samples from Athletes, of which only 887 (or 15.8pc, they state) were done for International Federations or other international organs (such as the Association of National Anti–Doping Agencies: 'ANADO'). In this four page report, as in other past French official documents we've signalled (such as the Floyd Landis 'renegade' AFLD 'prosecution', or the COFRAC–LNDD 'ISO 17025' report), specificity is not a prime commodity: we are not sure whether the 597 samples pulled from the Tour participants were separate from, or included in, the 887 number above. If included, that makes the TdF the overwhelming leader in diligent sampling. If separate, it still offers a robust percentage of their total 'international' numbers (remember, France had the Skiing World Championships for a fortnight, in Val d'Isère, Feb. 2009). AFLD apparently performed some 24 'supplemental' tests during the ITF Roland Garros tennis tourney, stating that ITF was conducting its own program (presumably elsewhere) as well.

Of the 5,594 samples undertaken, some 73.2pc were 'inopinée' or 'no-advance-notice'; without specificity, we offer the following statistics as, perhaps, reflections as to the large number of national Associations' tested participants:

  • Soccer: 14 infractions (AAF) for 261 controls (5.3pc); cannabinoïdes* (cannabinoids) were the substance most often present;

  • Ice hockey: 12 AAF for 173 controls (6.9pc), also majority of cannabinoïdes;

  • Field hockey: 8 infractions (of which 4 AAF) for 68 controls (12pc), also cannabinoïdes;

  • Cycling: 10 infractions (9 AAF) for 308 controls (3.2pc), most often 'Beta-2 agonistes and glucocorticoïdes';

  • Basketball: 8 AAF for 248 controls (3.2pc), most often cannabinoïdes;

  • 'English' boxing: 7 infractions (of which 6 AAF) for 166 controls (4.2pc) – cannabinoïdes;

  • Water–polo: 5 AAF for 285 controls (1.75pc) – Beta-2 agonistes, cannabinoïdes and glucocorticoïdes;

  • Track and Field: 5 AAF for 533 controls (0.9pc) – glucocorticoïdes (2), stimulants and cannabinoïdes (1 each);

  • Triathlon: 4 AAF for 49 controls (8.1pc) – (no information given);

  • Tennis: 4 infractions (of which 3 AAF) for 124 controls (3.2pc) - (no information given).

*cannabinoids (marijuana component) are in the WADA list of Prohibited Substances
(the S8 class).

A comparison raises interesting observations: why does Plucky Pierre (and his preferred agente-presse du jour) display such wrath against the UCI, when there appear to be bigger 'problems' with other sports IFs or NFs? Athletes were more often found doping in five of the ten sports listed sports above (Soccer, Ice and Field Hockey (both), Boxing and Triathlon); two are identical (interestingly so) to cycling (basketball and tennis), and two are very low (Water Polo, and Track and Field). In the many years of discussing 'cycling' as 'doped', there's few articles about Pierre Bordry writing reports (and spreading publicity) about the massive problems in Boxing, or Soccer, nor of the scourge to health of Cannabinoids... pourquoi ('why')?

Maybe WADA would find it interesting to run an investigation regarding the prejudice against cycling and its origins, when other sports evidently are in need of its enlightened sagesse ('wisdom')?

Meanwhile 'back at the cycling ranch', the AFLD Semester Report said it “didn't have the results” (perhaps meaning 'access to identifying information, permitting them to trace samples to the cyclists'?) from its Tour analyses. Something is unclear, since the 'results' it 'didn't have' were produced in its 'world-class, WADA-Accredited' laboratory, which had developed the current urinary-EPO analysis. Very interesting, the Report phraseology; surely they knew whether any urine controls were 'positive' or 'negative'. However, without having the names to whom those Samples attached, is AFLD only complaining (to the Gouvernement français that funds AFLD, and for whom this report was presented?) they couldn't access the 'information' needed to leak more results this year?

The UCI press release (October 5) said, long before Eddy Merckx and Laurent Jalabert, that the AFLD report contained “accusations made by the AFLD against officials sent to the Tour de France...”, which were “... completely unfounded and indeed very serious.” 'Serious'... to the point of defamatory?

SIDEBAR: The UCI decried the unilateral nature of the AFLD 'UCI Report', issued “... without giving the UCI the opportunity to study it and correct any erroneous comments that it may contain...” Our 'elephant's memory' (and requisite polite manners: to cover our face while smiling), recalls similar AFLD/LNDD complaints regarding the 2006 Vrijman Report, which the UCI issued sans commentaire by those affected French Agencies.

UCI's investigation team had denied (with due cause, we believe) the French agencies an opportunity to comment on that Spring 2006 report, because those agencies refused to cooperate completely, denying both requested documentation and answers. So here the AFLD returns the favour: a petty tit-for-tat (UCI should have ignored announcing this).

The AFLD 2009 First Semester report (a portion of which is translated above) doesn't mention the number of involved UCI officials, but we do know there were ten AFLD officials: two doctors and eight 'independent escorts'. Without a copy of the AFLD 'J'Accuse!' UCI Report, one cannot be sure how extensive the AFLD accusations are, regarding UCI efforts connoting 'preferential treatment (towards Astana and/or other teams)' that inhibited the work of the official AFLD staff.

One can refer, however, to WADC Article 20.5 – Role and Responsibilities of National Anti-Doping Organizations, and its sub–Article 20.5.2: To cooperate with other relevant national organizations and agencies and other Anti–Doping Organizations. Comparable language for IFs such as the UCI comes from sub–Article 20.3.12. One could picture the diligent work performed by the UCI (as claimed and presumed) staff, under a protocol of agreement with the AFLD, while the French Agency's minions were lectured by cher Pierre to maintain silence if they saw 'infractions' and to take those 'scrupulous notes', instead of 'cooperating'?


Picture a Keystone Kops sequence from Mack Sennett, as UCI 'cops' pursued the Teams, and AFLD 'cops' pursue UCI 'cops'; eternal triangular scenes of frustration and... scrupulous note-taking.

How would AFLD respond to this UCI release, and its objective, fact-based commentary:

This attitude is not appropriate and does not give credit to the enormous amount of work carried out by many people during the three weeks of the event under the scope of an intensive anti-doping programme that is the most complete and sophisticated implemented for any sporting event outside the Olympic Games.

One wonders how the AFLD series of accusations, insinuendos and acrimony, against UCI responses, will play out, in face of the silence that wafts across the French media regarding the other, 'dirtier' sports? We are reminded by each Le Monde article, that the AFLD doctors were 'scrupulously taking notes' of UCI staff processes... when were they able to take notes?

Weren't they supposed to be in their on-site trailer (aka Doping Control Station), receiving the daily urine and/or blood samples (and... packing them in proper transit containers)? Did AFLD observe UCI officials telling Team Directors to 'stay out of your hotel from 07h30 to 08h45, so your guys won't be controlled'? Or were these 'notes' of UCI wrongdoings showing them deliberately getting stuck in traffic, thus missing rendezvous times? Do they have phone records from France Telecom of cellular phone calls, identifying personnel by their numbers? More importantly, does AFLD not understand its 'Roles and Responsibilities'?

In the Grand Scheme of cycling's latest internecine combat, the long and gory-ous history of the Cycling Wars merits review of current and past accusations. The credibility of this French Agency is completely tied to its laboratory, which in 2007 couldn't respect its contracted service provisions, by 'going on vacation' mid–contract, and leaving Iban Mayo's B Sample examinations in a mid-August limbo. That situation presented UCI Chief Anti–Doping Officer Anne Gripper with the dilemma of finding a substitute lab (Ghent, Belgium) that could perform Code–mandated B Sample analyses (which choice was against the WADA ISL: B Sample analyses must be performed by the same lab: ISL Article (2004)) on Mayo's purported A Sample 'positive' result.

Let the Record reflect that the UCI didn't whine to the press and issue an 'official Report' about those major AFLD/LNDD failures to comply with the WADC then, nor do we know whether prohibiting another 'mid-contract vacation' was covered in the 2009 contract between the UCI and this French Agency. WADAwatch called that 2007 failure by LNDD a 'work-stoppage/protest/strike'; nothing since has changed that opinion.

Other errors, from the Landaluce case and the 'sloppy' evidence offered in the Landis inquisition, and of course the 2005 Armstrong fiasco, remain in the public memory. Given that a majority of the French lab's work seems to be honestly performed, and yielding straightforward results, how can one understand the 'dérapage' ('skidding out of control') that abounds between AFLD, its lab, the UCI and cycling in general? A theory remains, which could be summarized as 'a French agenda to circumvent or replace the UCI' (?)... as was attributed, in our Part I, to the quote from Mandard of a French team's 'anonymous source'.

The first Le Monde article had stated that questionable transportation practices were noted (scrupulously) by the AFLD UCI Report; yet there have been 'questionable' transportation situations previously. When the WADA Independent Observers' report of TdF 2003 documented similar 'incidents', WADA's Rapporteurs evidently presumed that the functions they had observed were controlled by UCI Rules. Yet the annotated UCI response repetitively cited the controlling French Law; they evidently operated in full compliance (or strove to comply with) of French national legal requirements.

Whether Sample transport, via 2009 contract provisions, is a responsibility assigned to UCI or AFLD (or TdF organizers ASO, or subcontracted), is not a factor for which we have complete information. Yet we doubt that the legal requirements known to UCI in 2003 have been amended through French law, to pass away from French legal authority. Thus a major question arises: should AFLD staff be helpful towards a foreign entity with which it holds a cooperation contract, to understand and conform its practice(s) with French Law?

Should AFLD and Plucky Pierre be fulfilling their obligations under the WADC Article 20.5.2, as to cooperation with the UCI, a foreign IF working its event upon French soil? Or should AFLD be hiding behind trees (our imagination runneth over), scrupulously noting every deviation therefrom?

If considering vendetta or conspiracy theories, one could have predicted such a dénouement to a great Tour, anticipating such news of these last three weeks: total war... CW II

If I stab you in the back, you may not see my smile...

The UCI press release concluded strongly:

Consequently, the UCI will now study the options for collaborating with a neutral partner for anti-doping controls on French soil. Such an option has already been implemented by other International Federations.

The International Tennis Foundation was one such IF, that sought out Montreal's lab for the 2007 Roland Garros (French Open) championship, and evidently maintains its Doping Control obligations away from the AFLD. Martial Saugy (Lausanne's impressive laboratory director) could well be working harder next July; the Swiss lab in Lausanne would only have to ramp up its commitment fifty percent, to absorb the one-third of the analyses (the urinary samples) that AFLD's département des analyses had done. Labs in Madrid, or Germany are also available. The UCI has several months to put out a 'Request for Bids' and select a working partner transparently?

Perhaps Plucky Pierre can aspire to a long–deserved retirement.

Revisit our June article When is a leash not a noose?, to remember how the French legislature amended pertinent legislation, putting a 'government observer' into the AFLD last summer...

Perhaps Bordry decided, as a 'watched government official', to externalize the sentiments ('étouffement'? In EN: 'suffocating') he is suffering? Perhaps he's the point–man for a French 'Mutiny' in the world of Cycling. However, the next journalistic rants, from a scornful French press, will probably castigate the 'dastardly UCI', as well as the 'cowardly, profit-oriented' ASO and the 'doping riders', against whom AFLD has an evident vendetta (more against cycling, than soccer, etc.), and in support of which Le Monde and its writer Mandard slant nearly every sentence.

WADAwatch endorses Ethic Cleansing in
le Gouvernement français...

Chère et belle Rama Yade: on peut pas
vous aider à voir claire?

('Dear and beautiful Rama Yade: cannot
someone aid you to see clearly?')

Unfortunately, especially because of his recidivism in public, French Agency Director Plucky Pierre Bordry appears able to say anything, do anything, or ordain anyone (under him) to do anything, and unless a case is forthcoming from 'on high', it seems to be perfectly okay...

with the wait-until-2010-for-compliance World Anti-Doping Agency

[Part III of this series will discuss WADA's role in light of
'serious allegations' by AFLD, and what should
transpire if those are found specious, as UCI claims...]

one hundred percent pure

copyright 2009 Ww

No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites