In Lausanne, Switzerland, for the Third WADA Press Symposium, in February 2008, WADAwatch (and ZENmud) had occasion to be presented to Monsieur Damien Ressiot, the reporter singularly responsible for publishing “Les Mensonges Armstrong” ('the Lies of Armstrong' FR-language edited version here), an article which appeared within weeks of Lance Armstrong's seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France, the nec plus ultra of the cycling world. The basis of his writing, was that 'ongoing research efforts' to improve r-EPO detection, undertaken by the French laboratory LNDD, had analysed six-year old samples of Armstrong's, and that these samples allegedly 'tested positive for r-EPO when analysed by the LNDD'.
That meeting came moments after confiding, to a WADA Press Relations officer, that this author's interest in the world of sport antidoping controls, germinated with the publication of that article cited above. An interest that really did not flower until a very thorough reading undertaken early in 2007, almost a year after it was published, of the investigative report commissioned by the UCI regarding this incident. Prepared under the competent leadership of noted Netherlands attorney Emile Vrijman, the independent report covering the LNDD 'research', the Equipe-WADA-UCI leak (and publication of that) clearly indicated that, no matter who precisely breached the confidentiality rules (which allow retained urine or blood samples (usually B Samples which aren't exhausted through use to confirm a positive A Sample control analysis) to be converted to 'research purposes' as long as strict confidentiality is observed).
But this short column isn't about the wrongdoings noted by Attorney Vrijman.
The WADA Press Officer had mentioned “Oh I could introduce you to M. Ressiot if you'd like?', and before a chance to even think, WADAwatch was being presented to himself, with the line (in French), “I'd like to present you to the author of WADAwatch, whose interest in the subject came from reading the article about Armstrong.”
Now if you don't understand 'les Français', this may not have much impression, but as we shook hands, Ressiot's first comment came from the tip of his nose, as he said “Never heard of it (WADAwatch)”, while the Press officer continued speaking, and then came “But that's nothing but 'ancient news'!” (about the article he'd written for L'Equipe)
Elegant in black pants, his black turtleneck and sport coat (overly Gucci, it appeared), every moment spent in the company of his ferret–like eyes, was a moment spent in awe of arrogance, in a reek of pretentiousness; a sensation, as if he was expecting that WADAwatch should offer subservient compliments...
Far be it to confront another guest so ungraciously before our host(s), so a dignified retreat seemed to offer promise, allowing thereby that those two could continue discussing, based on whatever marching orders Ressiot had been issued, no doubt, perhaps on the successful election of John Fahey, or the Athlete's Passport.
Only hours later, did a sincere sentiment – of having 'touched Death itself' – bring forward recollections of “Damien”, forever associated with Hesse's writings, or Hollywood's fear-mongering film.
The world waits and wishes that this year's Tour de France is going to be 'dope free'; but other priorities exist as well: here at ZEN Central, we hope that the new rules from FFC are sufficiently robust to withstand the Tour caravan, and that this year's Tour is less dangerous, than was last year's Tour.