Pierre Bordry resigned from ALFD due to “lack of political will to fight doping”
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pierre Bordry resigned from ALFD due to “lack of political will to fight doping”

by VeloNation Press at 11:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
French anti-doping chief blames vested interest of sports-business

pierre bordryPierre Bordry, the controversial head of the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) has spoken for first time about the reasons for his surprise resignation last week. He initially indicated that it had something to do with ongoing budgetary negotiations with the French Ministry for Health, but in an interview with French newspaper LeMonde he goes further.

“There is no political will to support the fight against doping,” he said.

In particular Bordry cited the incident in 2005, where a number of samples taken from the 1999 Tour de France were found by the laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry to contain recumbent EPO. A reporter from French sports paper l’Equipe managed to get hold of the paperwork linked to those samples, identifying the samples as belonging to race-winner Lance Armstrong.

As the samples used were only the “B-sample”, which is held in case of a positive “A-sample”, the tests could not be used in sanctioning any riders; but it was held up at the time as evidence that the American, who’d recently retired after winning his seventh successive Tour, had cheated in at least the first one of those.

The tests were dismissed by a disputed report, commissioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI), and no further action or investigation took place. Bordry did confirm last week though, that he would be willing to lend his support to the ongoing Federal investigation in the United States, which includes Armstrong and his US Postal team, if asked.

“At the time the Ministry for Sports was the patron of the laboratory and it rejected [further testing],” he explained, as the AFLD was not formed until 2006. “So I suggested to Lance Armstrong that he should analyse the tests again, but he told me that I’d had a bad idea.”

Last week, Armstrong responded to the news of the Frenchman’s resignation by posting the words “Au revoir Pierre” on his Twitter page.

He was also critical of the current French political establishment over its relationship with the seven-time Tour winner. Particularly president Nicolas Sarkozy, whose relationship with Armstrong he cites as one of the sources of pressure on his agency.

“You can’t pay tribute to Lance Armstrong without acknowledging the doubts that hang over his performance,” said Bordry.

The result of all this, claims Bordry, is a 2011 AFLD budget reduced to 2009 levels.

“This year,” he said, “the budget does not provide for sustainable resources for the agency when it needs additional funds because the list of undetectable products is growing, and doping is much more widespread than we think . This makes me believe that there is no political will to support the fight against doping.”

Political support was also not forthcoming earlier this year, when the AFLD was locked in its battle with the UCI over Tour de France teasting.

“For the Tour de France 2010,” he said, “we asked to perform additional checks; the UCI of course refused. We then took it to the [World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)], who decided in our favour. But we had no support from the Ministry of Sports.

“There was even a minister who asked us not to deal with the Landis case,” he claimed, referring to former Sports Minister Jean-François Lamour, who also sat on the committee of WADA between 2004 and 2007, “three days before the meeting where we instructed his case in disciplinary terms.

Many French riders have complained of “ciclisme a deux-vitesses” (cycling at two speeds) in reference to the claim that, since the Festina affair during the 1998 Tour, French riders have been subject to more controls than riders of other nations; this is also something that Bordry alluded to.

“One day,” he claimed, “it was explained to me that I was not to fight too hard against doping or risk losing the organisation of major international competitions or to deprive French athletes of victories.”

Having resigned over what he claims have been disputes over the AFLD budget and political pressure on its results, Bordry feels that it is more important for certain parties to be seen to have tough controls, rather than actually having them. This he says gives the impression that a sport is working hard against doping, with the lack of positive tests proving that the sport is cleaner.

“In the face of the massive financial and economic colossuses of the sports business,” said Bordry, “the sports movement and political power may prefer to have a strong agency but to pretend.

“But if in the future,” he warned, “they do not support further work of an independent agency like the AFLD, the fight against doping will move into the domain of the judiciary and the fight against trafficking will become the sole foundation.

“This is likely to be tough for athletes,” he concluded.

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