[Dear ZENers, this column has been CORRECTED and REVISED, with those actions shown in yellow text Sept. 7 2007]
Dick Pound, Floyd Landis, Patrice Clerc (nom?), Lance Armstrong, Jacques de Ceaurriz, Pierre Bordry, Emile Vrijman, Christian Prudhomme, Travis Tygart...
What do these nine names have in common?
They comprise three Americans, one Canadian, a Dutchman and four French... Two Tour de France victors, six blatantly biased detractors, and one objective investigator...
President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA: Pound); Winner of the 2006 Tour de France (Landis), President of Amaury Sport Organisation (Clerc), Seven-time Winner of the Tour de France (Armstrong), Directeur of the former Laboratoire nationale du dépistage du dopage (LNDD: de Ceaurriz – LNDD was recently 'Phoenix-ed' into the “Département des analyses”, under the French Anti-doping agency: AFLD), former Minister of the French Ministry for Youth and Sport (Bordry: scroll to EN translation of a FR press release from AFLD), former Director of the Netherlands Centre for Doping Affairs (Vrijman: download the PDF report), Directeur of the Tour de France (Prudhomme), General Counsel for the United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA: Taggart)...
Is it possible that they are a mixed salade: of manipulators, profiteers, victims and a white Knight, all due to the current RAGE against doping in cycling?
A righteous rage gone haywire, an ignoble pursuit of a noble goal, that is currently displaying the dark underbelly of the Anti-doping movement. Unarguably, the cleansing of cycling is overdue: cycling is one of the oldest sports of the modern era, a sport which, all admit, has experienced a long, historic system of doping, through seven generations.
The summer of 2007 fades: it is three months now, since Floyd Landis faced the modern equivalent of a medieval Inquisition against witches and heretics... his hearing for an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) 'found' by the French LNDD, pursuant to its tests (in its Châtenay-Malabry labs, a Parisian suburb) on participants of the Tour de France.
Floyd faced this armada of legal talent as David faced Goliath, armed with scientific data and legal analysis, paid for by thousands of believers who have chosen to fund his legal fight for legitimacy towards his victory of 2006.
This hearing was to be a slam-dunk against Landis, in the words of USADA attorney Richard Young, because of their evidence: "The science is solid."
What appeared to have actually happened, could perhaps be better described as a 'farcical comedy', 'charade' or 'fraudulent', perhaps, concerning the Prosecution's case.
Entering a world of anti-doping CODES, evidence and Standards for laboratories, 'aliquots', urinalysis, and the several hundreds of thousands of Euros in testing apparatus, the Prosecution was victim of itself, victim of a legal 'Rope-a-dope'. Only the Landis defense itself was able to do, what the Prosecution claimed they would: offer testimony of cold, hard science that was turned inside out, as the Defense showed time and again that the Châtenay-Malabry lab had failed in its duties to uphold worldwide scientific standards, of competence and confidentiality.
Past readers perhaps can recall this writer's angle on the affair, however it bears to be updated here: that there is a disbelief in certain circles of France, and elsewhere of course, that America could produce, in the talents of Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, eight consecutive victories in the Tour de France – without recourse to 'le Dopage'. These outstanding results by Landis and Armstrong relegated two national French heros, Jacques Anquetil, and Bernard Hinault, to glorified runners-up as five-time winners of the Tour de France (At least one of whom had admitted in his lifetime to ingesting 'assistance' of a chemical nature).
In the case of Lance Armstrong, the LNDD facility produced a dubious report, citing his alleged 1999 EPO use, concerning his remaining 'B Sample' urine specimens remaining from the 1999 TdF. 'Dubious', in that the testing that was achieved was 'novel', done under the guise of 'research', the use of which (for doping-control purposes) was illegal according to WADA rules and preceding IOC rules (WADA itself became an official entity in 2003: it had no jurisdiction over the 1999 samples that remained in LNDD custody), and of the bright-line separation of 'research testing' from 'doping control testing'.
In subsequent press articles, Dick Pound supported 'his' laboratory, the LNDD (Pound is far from being the most neutral mouth on the planet, as would befit the stature of his post as WADA President, and this Organization that he strove to legitimatize), and argued privately and publicly that the Union Cycliste International (UCI) should take action in light of this incriminating evidence against Armstrong.
Emile Vrijman, noted Netherlands sports law attorney and former Dutch Anti-Doping Agency Director, was mandated by the UCI to draft and produce an independent review of this 'case'.
The LNDD, and the French Ministry which controls LNDD, were never 'transparent' or accommodating, as to requests by Vrijman for documents and data concerning the 2004-2005 testing of the 1999 B Samples they retained. De Ceaurriz and Bordry, in harmonized language, denoted the impossibility of cooperation with an 'independent investigation' (Ie: not supported by a French Court's legal order to comply).
(see Vrijman report, pp. 50 (!), as well as 16, 20-22, 37, 47, 121, 126, 128)
It is not beyond objective suspicion, after publication of Vrijman's UCI-mandated report, or the timing of its release in May, 2006, to link the subsequent backlash by WADA President Dick Pound, due to its overly-negative contents, with certain following events affecting Landis and the TdF.
In apparent eagerness to avenge the Vrijman report, could cycling's heavyweights and the Gods of Anti-doping take barely conceivable steps, of which even the most lax observer could barely believe any of the actual evidence originating from what has become 'L'Affaire Landis'?
Jumping ahead, we pass over the Stage 17 victory by Landis, his epic solo breakaway, a majestic tour of assorted Haute-Savoie cols that ended in Morzine (where this author stood applauding, less than one hundred meters from the finish line).
Remember: Floyd was tested EIGHT times in the Tour, and seven of his A Samples were returned negative (four times prior to Stage 17, and three times afterwards).
We fast-forward past the critical urine test of his Stage 17 A Sample, that resulted in his positive AAF. Unlike other, typically suspicious announcements of TdF testing results being leaked by the French sporting newspaper L'Equipe, Landis' A Sample test result was announced publicly by the UCI, presumably in anticipation of publication in l'Equipe, of information that should have remained confidential until the confirming B Sample examinations had occurred.
Nevertheless, Floyd's test result was announced: apparently revealing an abnormally low level of epitestosterone, which skewed his T/E ratio (Testosterone/Epitestosterone) to 11:1, far beyond WADA's allowable 4:1 ratio.
The witch hunt began... and L'Equipe sold quite a few papers in those slow-sports-news days of August. Oh: you do know, of course, that the company run by Monsieur Clerc. ASO, owns both the Tour de France AND the Equipe journal? Interestingly for past readers, M. Clerc is a past French Tennis champion, and also former Director of the tennis club-stadium Roland-Garros, which was referred to in this column regarding the ITF's dispatch of tournament drug samples to Montreal's anti-doping facility. Read it here...
According to Floyd, he was contacted in August or September, 2006, by staff of the USADA, and offered the following 'option'. In return for a simple one-month suspension, atypically far shorter than the WADA CODE-proscribed two-year suspension for a first-time doping offense, Floyd would 'simply' have to help USADA, by turning in former teammate Lance Armstrong for his supposed doping practices, presumably while they were teammates at the formidable US Postal team during his historic streak of TdF victories.
Something in there, smacks of premeditation.
Something in there, tears asunder the threads of logic...
Could a laboratory in France, under its Ministry of Youth and Sport, which had been legally reamed by the Vrijman report only a month or two before the commencement of this 2006 TdF, seek revenge against Lance Armstrong through the person, the reputation, of one Floyd Landis?
The mind boggles... if true.
A simple recap:
1999 – 2005:
Lance wins seven consecutive Tours de France.
NB: Which relegated the five-time winners: two French, one Belgian, and one Spaniard to the new second-place tier...
LNDD performs 'research' on samples from the 1999 TdF, for EPO, samples that then were five years old.
NB: previously, in 2000, LNDD published the results of similar research it had performed, on retained B Samples from the 1998 TdF. Those results were published in the scientific journal 'NATURE' in June, 2000: no athletes were known to have complained (where 28 of 102 tested anonymous B Samples showed evidence of r-EPO presence of over 0 – 3.7 IU per liter). It remains disturbingly unclear why LNDD did not choose to have its second analysis of the 1999 B Samples also published in NATURE or another scholarly journal: unless this 'research' was not scientifically sound.
23 August, 2005:
French journal l'Equipe published its scathing article entitled (FR) 'Le Mensonge d'Armstrong' (“Armstrong's Lie”), spun out of LNDD and French Ministry information, and pinpointing Lance Armstrong, and no other rider, as being one of six 'authors' of positively-tested 1999 TdF samples.
NB: Which instantly generated a thunderbolt of negative press against Lance, his teammates and his sponsors, one month after his glorious moment in Paris, on the Champes Elysées.
NB TWO: This article is no longer traceable by title on the 'l'EQUIPE website (Title above), but you can read about it here, in FR. Mostly listing reactions to the shock, of their scandalous false "testing".
Autumn, 2005 to Spring 2006:
Based on LNDD 'research' and the incriminations in the disparaging article published by l'Equipe, WADA adamantly suggested that the UCI initiate investigations as to the feasibility of disciplinary hearings against Lance Armstrong. WADA did so, knowing well that its suggestions were reproachable, per its own regulations.
UCI contravened, however, and announced its 'independent investigation' under the mandate issued to Emile Vrijman, attorney from the Hague, and former Director of the Dutch Anti-doping Agency.
WADA, LNDD and the French Ministry, who'd thus promoted 'convicting' Lance through the press (l'Equipe), in the intervening months began to withhold cooperation from the UCI-mandated report.
(Entities acting in concert, both together and independently, to trumpet the (Illegal) use of 'research results': See Vrijman, pp. 18, 26, 43, 55, 75, 94, 96, 101, 122, 128, 129)
May – June 2006:
The Vrijman report was published several weeks before the 2006 TdF;
Dick Pound reacted quite strongly in the press.
Floyd wins the TdF this one and only time, following a massive 'bonk' or loss of energy in Stage 16, and a gloriously historic, spectacular solo breakaway in Stage 17, along with a fantastic final Time Trial finish that sealed his lead, and gave him his victory over runner-up Oscar Pereiro.
(TdF trivia: no 'Grand Champion', between Armstrong, Indurain, Hinault, Merckx, Anquetil, EVER won a TdF in a year ending in xxx6)
Late July – early August 2006:
Floyd is pronounced as Positive for an excessive testosterone/epitestosterone ratio, from the Stage 17 A Sample test, a blow which subsequently forced his team, PHONAK (Swiss manufacturer of hearing aids), to withdraw from the cycling-sponsorship business.
Floyd alleged that he was approached by USADA staff, who offered him a 'sweetheart' deal if he turned informant against Lance Armstrong; according to Floyd he emphatically dismissed the idea of squealing.
Fall of 2006 – to Spring of 2007:
Floyd prepared for and submitted, in May 2007, his arguments and evidence before a panel of Arbitrators belonging to the American Arbitration Association, while facing USADA 'evidence' and hearsay testimony by Greg Lemond, also a three-time winner of the Tour de France.
Floyd and his supporters, WADA, the AFLD and USADA await a timely, reasoned written decision by the Arbitration Panelists. Once announced as coming out prior to the 2007 TdF, this article is publishing in the last week of August.
+ + + + + +
LNDD, the same lab that failed to conduct proper research, as required under the Declaration of Helsinki and the WADA ISL and IST documents, nevertheless used those results to damn Lance Armstrong in the court of public opinion.
LNDD, which declined to assist in the Vrijman investigation as to how those results became known to the reporter from l'Equipe, is the 'player' that provided the only positive test result against Floyd Landis in his long career, a positive result that, by the testimony of experts in the Arbitration Hearing, had exceptionally disregarded most of the scientific and investigative norms found in the WADA CODE and International Standard for Laboratories.
Is this evidence of a massive State machination, by elements under the Chirac government, to cut down – to surgically remove – from the glorious, illustrious annals of the Tour de France, the greatest living racer of all time (Armstrong)?
Is this evidence of intergovernmental and inter-Agency collusion, feeding on the blind ambitions of prosecuting attorneys and specious public servants? They who, at any cost, and damn the rules and regulations that control such efforts, lusted to create scandal and seed more doubt, in hopes of bringing down these two Americans victors, Lance and Floyd?
Were their hopes restricted to restoring the mythic 'Five Victories' threshold that stood so many years?
Or, conversely, maybe perversely, is this case merely a publicity stunt? A stunt that simultaneously increases awareness and thus financial support for the Anti-doping entities that are growing fat on increasingly available public money, and demeans the efforts of the UCI Federation, through serial victimization of presumptively-innocent, distinguished World Class Cyclists?
Should an Athlete like Floyd Landis, who had to raise legal funds exceeding $2 million to fight a case against a lab result generated by a facility with a litany of seriously egregious errors, be entitled to recuperate those funds in the case where the decision falls towards his innocence of these charges, through laboratory, government or ADO malfeasance?
Questions unanswered, as of yet...
And furthermore, even more incomprehensively, is this:
If in fact Floyd's Positive AAF is reversed by the AAA Arbitrators' decision, he could be forced to face appeals, by virtue of the WADA CODE, that could or would be lodged not only by the prosecuting Agency USADA, but also from:
b– the French AFLD (if WADA CODE Article 13.2.3, which states “...and any other Anti-Doping Organization under whose rules a sanction could have been imposed;...” is the basis under which AFLD has repetitively announced that it awaits the decision of the USADA arbitration before commencing actions against Floyd on its own),
c– the UCI (doubtfully would they enter the case), and
Is that clear? Here's an imperfect analogy: if your brother is found 'not guilty' in Minnesota for stealing a car, this WADA CODE provision might allow Wisconsin, Manitoba or Mexico to appeal the case to the Swiss Tribune Federal!
WADA, aka Pound, is dripping with vitriol against Armstrong and Landis: what portion of WADA's annual budget would be subverted into chasing the appeal against Landis?
AFLD, as mentioned, remains bloodthirsty for Landis, and has merely 'extended a courtesy' to its American counterpart – USADA – by delaying their own 'prosecution' until the American Arbitration decision: this potentially allows them a supra-legal status: as initiator of a 'double-jeopardy' attack against Floyd, a potential 'Appellant' in the USADA v Landis case, and as potential 'Appellant' in the potential AFLD v Landis case...
This reeks, with the bile of disgust rising in the throats of above-average sporting-litigation observers.
We wait, pensively...
We don't understand the longevity of deliberations that continue to foster tensions, towards an announcement of this decision, now perhaps the equivalent of a seismic event of 9.9 on the open-ended Richter scale...
This fall will bring to a motley end, the First Dominion of WADA, as Dick Pound abandons the scepter of power (and benefits: unlimited First Class Travel to EVERY World Class global sporting event, anti-doping seminars, etc., which more than make up for his 'selfless' choice to draw a salary of 1 Canadian dollar/year). Pound leaves the helm of a ship that is decidedly adrift, and losing the moral support of Athletes.
Scheduled this fall are important redrafting sessions for the WADA CODE, to be held in mid-November, in Madrid, Spain. You can download a REDLINE v2 of the revisions document here.
This session will theoretically address the apparent shortcomings of these Inter-Agency documents, hastily implemented in 2003 and 2004, which have created certain innocent victims, while providing initial steps to global harmonization, an as-yet unattained goal. It would be interesting to ascertain how WADA will seek to reduce the Conflicts-of-Interest created as the WADA CODE superseded the IOC Medical Code, and began funneling 'research funds' to the 34 accredited laboratories.
As Dick Pound leaves WADA in November, a bit sullied, rumours abound that Monsieur Lamour, former French Minister of Sport, will 'win election' to replace him.
Dick... Who had himself hoped that, despite his fury, his belligerence, his bellicosity, and his disregard for his WADA CODE, that his stature would make him a natural, victorious candidate for the Presidency of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS/TAS). The news from CAS/TAS this summer, however, was for continuation of the appointment of its Interim President, apparently squashing the hopes of Mr. Pound to continuously inflict the world of Sport with his personal 'duty' to create injustice.
Egos? On the line; every day, everywhere, in each press report...
Winners? Displays of the finest and worst definitions of 'winning'...
Losers? Will we ever really know who actually loses, from the Floyd Landis case outcome?