Monday, 2 November 2009

Cycling War II: the UCI shows its honour

The UCI has responded to the AFLD report (a report which has never been published on its web site by the accusing French Agency) with a fact-based series of observations that stimulate the thought, previously expressed here at WADAwatch, that there is an agenda at AFLD.

WADAwatch notes an interesting presse communiqué dated 30 October, 2009, from the AFLD
web site. It's text was short:

L’AFLD a pris connaissance des réponses de l’UCI à son rapport sur le Tour de France 2009.

Elle remettra des observations détaillées sur les réponses de l’UCI au Ministre chargé des sports, à l’UCI et à l’Agence mondiale antidopage. D’ici là, elle s’abstiendra de tout commentaire public sur ces questions.

Our in-house translation:

The AFLD has taken note of the responses from the UCI regarding its report on the Tour de France 2009.

[The Agency] will submit detailed observations on the UCI responses to the Ministry controlling Sports, to the UCI and to the World Anti-Doping Agency. Until then, [the Agency] will abstain from all public commentary on these questions.

Before analyzing the confident observations emitted by the UCI, one should note that it is interesting to find the AFLD has now found it 'sage' to withhold premature public commentary. That distinction wasn't evident when it engaged the shrill pen of Stéphane Mandard to write his series of biased, and immature articles in Le Monde, regarding Plucky Pierre's rages against cycling.

One should also hope that the French Secretary of Sport, Rama Yade, draws up a list of questions that call into question the competence, and continued support, through which Pierre Bordry sustains his prominent, if not illustrious, career as head of the Agence française pour le lutte contre le dopage. She has been quoted as 'demanding responses' from the UCI, and 'hoping for a rapprochement' between the French Agency, and the UCI, especially as to future collaboration.

But Yade's priorities may now be leaning towards hoping that the UCI would consider collaborating with such a treacherous 'partner' in the future. And, with a career pharmacist as Minister of Health and Sport, in the person of Mme Rosalyne Bachelot, one can wonder how long the maintenance of AFLD as a 'monopoly anti-doping agency' can exist.

A second recent communiqué from AFLD discussing a recent French meeting, between Plucky Pierre and WADA President John Fahey. In short summary, those issues, which appear to have
not been specifically oriented towards this Cycling War II, are:

  • The evolution of respective competences of the International Federations and the NADO, and the research of a new equilibrium;
  • The support of demands by NADOs addressed to IFs once they have a possibility to effect additional controls;
  • The limits of classic antidopage controls, in the face of the growing sophistication of doping activities, which situation incites recourse towards complementary procedures of a judicial nature, and with closer collaboration with Customs and police Officials.

Interestingly, the 'general' nature of those 'discussion points' run in strict parallel with the leaked AFLD 'findings', of which we now have the UCI response (a 12p report on-line since the weekend), to the mystery AFLD report (evidently the only thing that Bordry and Le Monde refrained from publishing).

The UCI response offered an anticipated disappointment - that the AFLD has degenerated once again - and catalogues the IFs that are not using AFLD's 'services' at this date (without naming them, although clues are attached: we know that one is the ITF for tennis, and are guessing another might be the Fédération internationale de ski, whose World Championships were in Val d'Isère last February; we won't guess if that is the second or third listed example). But take it from the source:

[...] the UCI is aware of at least three other major International Federations who have experienced significant problems working with AFLD. One International Federation now arranges sample collection and analysis of samples by parties outside of France for its premier event on French soil; another International Federation had to severely reprimand AFLD for failing to conduct sufficient tests on the French national team members before a major World Championships in 2009. Yet another International Federation experienced the same breakdown of anonymity of a sample sent to the laboratory with the athlete’s name included.

UCI's report writer (who Ww congratulates for her or his objectivity) starts by noting the concept of 'partnership':

A relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, for the achievement of a specified goal.

The only component missing would have been a citation to the WADC, Article 20.5.2, as we had written two weeks ago:
To cooperate with other relevant national organizations and agencies and other Anti–Doping Organizations. It is evident from reading these 12 pages, that the UCI has a long history of 'AFLD stories'.

Start with the comment that the AFLD had requested information so that it could carry out 'extensive pre-Tour testing':

On 14 May 2009, Mr Bordry and some of his staff members met with the UCI and ASO in Aigle. AFLD and ASO expressed a desire to conduct a large number of targeted out-of-competition tests in the six weeks before the Tour de France. We agreed to provide AFLD with whereabouts information of teams who were training in France during this time. This was to enable AFLD to conduct the large scale out-of-competition testing that they considered necessary. By the start of the Tour, UCI had conducted 190 out-of competition tests on riders short listed for the Tour, while AFLD had conducted 13 tests. Of these, 6 were on French riders whom they have access to test all year round.

Sacré bleu, Pierre!

Where, between all the press conferences and your constant 24/7 tracking of Lance Armstrong, did you find the time to send your staff out to test seven foreign riders on French soil (in two months)?! The UCI commentary that six of those thirteen tested riders were "... French... whom they have access to all year round." seems compelling evidence that, as one once said about GW Bush (and as is said about half of the Western-clothing-wearing transplanted 'ranchers' to Texas), Plucky Pierre is...

'All Hat No Cattle'

The UCI response reminds us, that in the two months in which AFLD took to 'verify' and publish it's 'J'Accuse!' report, it failed to remind itself that the Tour was in Barcelona on 9 July, not the 7th.

It reminds readers that UCI was accused of 'speaking of forthcoming tests in public in a loud voice (we are not aware of the specificity with which AFLD cast that observation)', and responds in saying that "... on the night of 9 July
[Ww: not the 7th], the UCI DCOs shared a dinner table with UCI race commissaires and did not discuss their anti-doping activities at all."

(Maybe the AFLD staff were not at the next table?)

The UCI response recalls AFLD allegations that 'chaperones were not used for early morning blood tests', while the UCI asserts that its standard procedure mimics those of 'team sports', where the Team Manager (or director, coach: responsible) is notified, commenting that if you have to do 200 tests in one morning, it's not efficient to have individual notification. Sadly, AFLD didn't seem aware of that possibility, and Ww suggests that more collaborative relations would rendered
moot the 'point' raised by AFLD's accusations.

The UCI presents its own allegations, in several places. It responds to the comment regarding no chaperones on 11 July, by stating that there were fears in the UCI contingent that there could be leaks from the AFLD chaperones regarding which riders would be chosen, and a more simple explanation: "because the chaperones were lodged a long way away from the hotels at which testing would occur." Maybe the AFLD report should have faulted ASO for assigning lodgings so far from its work zone? Hmmmmm...

Another day AFLD chose for this type of complaint, was the Team Time Trial stage, and (we were not aware of this competence) due to the fact that UCI DCOs also are fully-vested Race Commissaires, and their presence was required and fulfilled to ensure a proper race control. The UCI did acknowledge one of its DCOs informed one team director about an upcoming control, and that this was originated only five minutes before that stage ended, in the effort to make sure the director knew to look for the AFLD chaperone. UCI discussed this seeming 'impropriety' with that DCO, and takes the stance that such information 'was not a necessity', and thus is preferable to avoid. Hardly seems, as one instance out of some 700 to 800, to require the cry of 'scandal!' that AFLD's initial acts of war generated.

SIDEBAR: The AFLD six-months' activity report, of which WADAwatch posted a summary here, discussed a total of 537 samples being submitted (185 urine and 352 blood samples, of which 180 from the start of the race) by the riders: in the UCI response, the number cited was 762 (185 urine samples, 246 blood samples and 331 'biological passport samples').

Has anyone noticed the discrepancies in these variously-published numbers? Are we missing some 106 blood samples? One would think the numbers, of anything, could match between these two control-oriented bodies...

The points
in the UCI response continue ad infinitum, and we encourage the faithful to read that report, linked here (again). We prefer to use our independent (and under-funded) status to offer a series of quotes that the UCI offers, regarding the unprofessionalism of the AFLD report, and its manner of publication to the press, prior to receipt by this fellow WADC Signatory and WADA itself. A long page-worth of extracts follow:

The role of the AFLD according to the agreement was modest. In short, they provided the doctors to assist our Doping Control Officers.

The AFLD’s unilateral decision to conduct an informal observer programme, with the unfortunate result of an untimely, incomplete, misinformed and inaccurate report is puzzling and disappointing. It calls into question the motives of AFLD.

Most importantly, a true partner in the fight against doping in sport does not take actions which may substantially undermine athlete and public confidence in the harmonisation of the international anti-doping effort.


One of the gravest and most unfounded of AFLD’s assertions relates to favourable treatment given to Astana riders. This was an issue which was raised by the AFLD during the Tour in mid July. President Pat McQuaid investigated this issue immediately upon becoming aware of it during the Tour and responded in detail to Mr Bordry. The fact that he raises the issue again shows his complete disregard for the facts and the partnership.


Astana riders, who comprised 5% of the total number of participants, were subjected to 81 antidoping tests, or over 10% of the total tests conducted. In fact the top individual Astana riders received more than three times the number of tests of most other riders in the race.


Before responding in detail to the public assertions made by the AFLD against UCI staff, the UCI wants to make two things clear. Firstly, these sort of unfounded criticisms should not be raised in public.


However, with the UCI’s reputation already shattered by Mr Bordry’s actions and rhetoric, there is no recourse but to set the record straight in the UCI’s correction of his mischievous and misinformed statements.


Secondly, it is important for everyone to understand that AFLD is far from perfect in the implementation of their own anti-doping activities. The common saying which seems relevant here is “people in glass houses should not throw stones”.


... five [Ww: of the six tests carried out on French riders, all from the same team, all on the same day] were declared invalid [Ww: due to improperly labelling (by AFLD) of the sample containers with “full names and details”] makes us question the competence of the AFLD and their authority to point the finger at others.


The leakage of highly confidential anti-doping information from French authorities is well known in anti-doping circles and UCI has experienced this for many years. This may be a structural deficiency in that AFLD encompasses both the testing department and the laboratory, which it openly refers to as its analysis department. Even as recently as the 2009 Tour de France, the UCI continued to suffer from a lack of confidentiality from AFLD. As an example, immediately following an early morning blood test, an AFLD staff member informed a representative of ASO, the race organiser, about issues relating to one particular rider and his sample provision.

The UCI did not make this public.
The UCI did not put AFLD in the pillory over this.
(Ww: emphasis added)


In addition to matters arising from the Tour de France, on 8 June 2009, the UCI President had previously written to Mr Bordry expressing concern over the unreliable manner in which AFLD doctors were undertaking their role at UCI events. These concerns were mostly related to AFLD doctors simply not attending races to which they had been assigned or to giving riders completely incorrect instructions about the nature of their sample provision. Several UCI international races went without adequate doping control because of the failure of AFLD to fulfil their commitment to the French Cycling Federation and the UCI to send doctors to conduct testing.

It serves now, to recall that WADA has a problem with non-compliance from Signatories, and this has evolved into a systemic problem: Italian Football leagues misunderstand rules-implementation, small IFs have not the funding to perform out-of-competition testing as required, a certain country has been known to arrest DCO on official sample collection trips, and confiscate duly-acquired samples... and now we seem to read that a Agency head has acted in such a way as to have the 'victim' IF wondering what possible motivations exist?

And thus, by the benefit of AFLD trying to accuse the UCI of 'malingering' in its duties, we spot evidence that it may, in fact, be the accuser, AFLD, who should stand at the Bar', facing the first-ever WADA 'Compliance Investigation'... or would Bordry be forced to stand down, and resign from the AFLD director's chair?

What outcome from WADA, would result from the unprofessionally-dispersed allegations publicized by the AFLD, and its analysis of these proper UCI response(s)?

This is a separate issue from the 'Case of the Medical Waste', in which one hopes the 'DNA evidence' that comes out, goes as far as to investigate any fingerprints found on the material itself: after all, one of the parties that became aware of this case, has full access to riders' blood and urine samples, and could easily plant such damning 'evidence' on materials that were collected from who-knows-where, and introduced as potentially incriminating evidence.

Mr Fahey, whose visit to France wasn't (highly) published until the AFLD published its communiqué, may have also visited the UCI while on the Continent. WADAwatch would hope that to be the case. And WADAwatch does not see the need for WADA to conduct an 'open trial' of Bordry... there are times when political discretion can achieve more, especially when superiors, or former superiors of someone like Bordry would show lingering regrets for the publicity that has attached to this boding situation.

Fahey may have to call in the services of someone like Hans Blix, world-renowned legal
'weapons investigator' authority, whose competent services in Iraq were acknowledged by all the world, other than the US administration of Dick Cheney and GW Bush.

Chère Madame la Secrétaire Rama Yade,
on serait ravi d'entendre que
vous en avez eu assez ;
le temps pour une décision est maintenant :
quel avenir pour l'AFLD?

[Dear Mme Secretary Rama Yade,
we would be happy to hear that
you've had enough;
the time for a decision is now:
what future for the AFLD?]

To be continued....

one hundred percent pure

copyright 2009 Ww

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