Analysis: Are Longo’s claims that she was not eligible to be tested realistic?
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Analysis: Are Longo’s claims that she was not eligible to be tested realistic?

by Shane Stokes at 8:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
WADA rules lay out clear guidelines for athletes

Jeannie LongoJeannie Longo’s lawyers yesterday defended their client before the French cycling federation (FFC)’s disciplinary committee, fighting a possible suspension of up to two years for committing three out of competition testing violations.

Representing her, Pierre Albert and Burno Ravaz said that the offences were said to have been committed between June 11th 2009 and June 30th 2011, but claimed that she should not have been in the testing pool for that length of time. According to L’Equipe, they referred to Order No. 2010-379, passed by the French 14 April 2010, which sets regulations relating to compliance of the code of sport with the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code.

According to article L. 232-15 of that order, it states that the sports people in the target group ‘are required to provide accurate and current information on their location to permit controls to be carried out,’ and that these are ‘appointed for a year by the French Agency for the fight against doping (AFLD).

Albert and Ravaz state that she was included in the target group on March 14th 2008 and by the time that law was introduced, she had been in the system for two years and two months. They claim that she was never officially added after the law was passed, thus arguing that she was not eligible for the whereabouts testing. Their suggestion appears to be that even if she had been notified, that this period of testing would have expired after a year.

VeloNation contacted WADA for clarification of its rules on out of competition testing. Its spokesman Terence O’Rorke said that the “Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) or International Federations (IFs) are responsible for which athletes are included in their respective registered testing pools,” and that the criteria for establishing the testing pools plus the responsibilities of both sides is laid out in Section 11 of the International Standard for Testing.

O’Rorke also stated that the WADA Code didn’t lay out a limit for how long athletes could be controlled. “Within this International Standard there are guidelines for which athletes are generally considered for the RTPs,” he stated. “There is nothing within the World Anti-Doping Code which limits the amount of time an athlete can be included in an RTP.”

Clear conditions for those eligible for testing:

According that section 11 of the International Standard for Testing, there are clear guidelines for those who should be controlled: “As a general principle, it is expected that an international Registered Testing Pool will include Athletes who compete regularly at the highest level of international competition (e.g. candidates for Olympic, Paralympic or World Championship medals), determined by rankings or other suitable criteria,” it states.

Longo would appear to fall within this group due to her participation in the Beijing Olympic Games, where she was fourth in the time trial, plus the 2008, 2009 and 2010 world championships, where she finished thirteenth, tenth and fifth in the same event.

The WADA Code continues by stating that the testing body should both lay out the criteria but also name those who will be controlled. The wording of article 11.2.2 states that “each NADO shall define the criteria for Athletes to be included in its national Registered Testing Pool from the sports that it has included in its Test Distribution Plan, and shall publish those criteria as well as a list of the Athletes meeting those criteria (and so included in the national Registered Testing Pool) for the period in question.

It is unclear if the AFLD or the FFC did publish this list or not; that will presumably be verified by the disciplinary committee.

A comment on that section further lays out a guideline for those who should be subjected to out of competition testing.

As a general principle, unless good reason exists otherwise, it is expected that the national Registered Testing Pool will include (i) Athletes over which the NADO has jurisdiction that have been included in an international Registered Testing Pool; (ii) Athletes who are part of national teams in Olympic, Paralympic or other sports of high national priority (or who may be selected for such teams); and (iii) Athletes who train independently but perform at Olympic/Paralympic or World Championship level and may be selected for such events.

Again, Longo would appear to fall under this criteria. As for the suggestion that she would drift out after one year, WADA’s own Code doesn’t provide any basis for this. It states that unless an athlete is given clear notice that they are no longer part of the testing pool or officially retires, they remain within the system.

Article 11.2.5 states that “an Athlete who has been included in a Registered Testing Pool shall continue to be subject to the whereabouts requirements set out in this Section 11unless and until: a. he/she has been given written notice by the Responsible ADO that he/she is no longer designated for inclusion in its Registered Testing Pool; or b. he/she retires from competition in the sport in question in accordance with the applicable rules and gives written notice to his/her IF or NADO or both (as applicable) to that effect.

However if the dates suggested by her lawyers are indeed correct, namely that the whereabouts violations occurred between June 11th 2009 and June 30th 2011, WADA’s rules appear to suggest that this range of slightly over two years could be ruled inadmissible.

Article 11.1.6 lays out the maximum timeframe that pertains to the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ penalty: “An Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool shall be deemed to have committed an anti-doping rule violation under Code Article 2.4 if he/she commits a total of three Whereabouts Failures (which may be any combination of Filing Failures and/or Missed Tests adding up to three in total) within any 18 (eighteen) month period, irrespective of which ADO(s) has/have declared the Whereabouts Failures in question.

Further clarification of the case will likely come later this month when an official ruling is made. In the meantime, on the basis of WADA’s Code, it appears that there are several relevant questions to be asked of both sides. They are as follows:

1) Was Longo informed that she was part of the testing pool, as might be expected from her results and her participation in the Olympic Games and world road race championships?

2) Was she ever told that she was no longer eligible for testing, or did she indicate to the AFLD or FFC that she had retired? (editor’s note – given that she has raced this season, the latter is presumably not the case)

3) Does the span of the three whereabouts violations exceed the 18 month period stipulated by WADA as being the maximum range?

4) Is French law fully compliant with the rules and requirements of the WADA Code?

These and other questions will presumably be addressed when those judging the case make their ruling.

Whatever happens in relation to the whereabouts system, Longo’s husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli plus the rider herself may also be questioned about accusations about the purchase of EPO. The former rider who claimed Ciprelli made the purchases from him in 2007, stating they were for his wife, insisted yesterday that he told the truth.

“Under penalty of perjury, I provided a sworn statement detailing the allegations & specified all of the facts of case,” Joe Papp stated in a message to VeloNation. His claims will presumably also be part of the investigation.


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