On pages 170 and 171 of its report, the CIRC looks at the case of the French rider Laurent Brochard, road world champion at San Sebastian, Spain, on 12 October 1997.
It is very striking that the CIRC takes as its authoritative source of information the books written by Willy Voet and Bruno Roussel. Willy Voet was the ‘soigneur’ of the Festina team in 1998 and Bruno Roussel was its sports director. They organized the doping in the Festina team that was brought to light in the infamous Festina affair. Both men were found guilty of this by a criminal court (judgment of the ‘tribunal de grande instance’ of Lille, France, 7th chamber, of 22 December 2000) and their sentence was subsequently confirmed by the court of appeal in Douai (on 5 March 2002).
The CIRC makes no reference to all of the information and explanations about the Brochard case that I had sent to the Commission on 19 December 2014, nor does the CIRC refer to the UCI file on the matter.
It is very telling indeed that the CIRC has decided to rely only on the testimony of two people guilty of organised doping as its authoritative source of information, rather than the documents that I provided, or the UCI files.
The facts of the case are these:
After the race at San Sebastian, Brochard was subjected to an anti-doping control. His sample showed the presence of lidocaine.
Lidocaine is an anaesthetic that is no longer on the WADA prohibited list. In 1997, it was on the UCI’s list as a substance which was permitted to be administered by local and intra-articular injection provided its use was justified on medical grounds. That justification could be provided before, during or after the doping test. However Article 43 of the then UCI anti-doping rules required that the rider mention the use on the doping control form on pain of being sanctioned as if he/she were positive (see more details under the section that follows concerning Lance Armstrong).
The UCI referred Brochard’s case to the French Cycling Federation (FFC), as cycling doping cases were until recently handled in the first instance by the rider’s national federation.
Brochard provided a medical prescription to the FFC. So what the CIRC writes is false: the medical prescription was not requested by the UCI nor was it supplied to the UCI. Rather, it was supplied to the FFC. Afterwards, the FFC showed it to the UCI.
What Brochard provided was a medical prescription from his team doctor for a local injection of celestone (a corticosteroid) and lidocaine. If am well informed, lidocaine is used for aleviating pain caused by the injection of the main substance, in this case celestone. However, the laboratory did not report the presence of celestone.
Brochard’s medical prescription was dated 7 October 1997.
The FFC forwarded the medical prescription to the UCI’s anti-doping unit and asked whether the substances on the medical prescription could have caused the adverse analytical finding.
The UCI’s anti-doping unit replied that the second substance on the prescription, the lidocaine, had caused the adverse analytical finding. As a result, the FFC took the decision to close the case and not to initiate anti-doping proceedings against Brochard. It is telling that the CIRC completely ignores the role of the FFC. At that time, Daniel Baal was president of the FFC, a man who is correctly described by the CIRC report as someone who was assertively committed to the fight against doping.
As the UCI’s anti-doping service was apparently satisfied that the lidocaine had indeed been used for medical reasons, it did not make an issue of the fact that Brochard had not mentioned its use at the doping control and it did not appeal the FFC decision on the grounds of the then Article 43 of UCI’s anti-doping regulations.
But the CIRC report, which is apparently only interested in my alleged role in the incident and not the whole story, singles out the following: “The fact that Laurent Brochard provided a backdated medical certificate was not contested by UCI” and it goes on to refer to a quote attributed to me in Vélo Magazine dating March 1999, a full year and a half after Brochard’s test on 12 October 1997.
This reference in the CIRC report raises some serious questions.
First, I was not asked by the CIRC to comment on this statement, for example about whether I had actually been quoted correctly. I was not shown the interview, nor do I have the text of it.
The reference by the CIRC suggests that I was aware of the fact that the prescription had been backdated as early as October 1997. This is not true. In fact, I was not involved at all in the handling of the Brochard case.
The fact that the prescription had been backdated came out during the criminal investigation into the Festina case, which happened in the first half of 1999. Investigators interrogated the staff of the FFC and of Festina, Brochard’s team, about the Brochard case. Testifying to the court in Lille, Brochard declared that the injection had been administrated to relieve the pain he still suffered from an earlier slipped disc. To the best of my recollection, the prescription was not an issue at the trial.
I cannot find the interview with Vélo Magazine that the CIRC refers to. It is possible that, even back then, rumours were floating that the prescription had been backdated. However, this does not come out of the interview excerpt quoted by the CIRC. The words attributed to me are: “And even if it is backdated, what does that change”. This quote is almost certainly in answer to a question from the journalist, who may have been referring to a rumour that the prescription had been backdated. It is even possible that I had just learnt about this rumour from him. In any event, the words “And even if…” surely express an hypothesis, rather than stating a fact that I was aware of. I can’t remember when I first become aware that the prescription had been backdated, but it was certainly not before this fact became public knowledge.
The text of this article was written in June 2015. Afterwards I could not get hold of the copy of Vélo Magazine that the CIRC is referring to (no. 351, March 1999, page 52). It is an interview with both Daniel Baal and myself. The CIRC does not mention Daniel Baal as interviewee nor does it refer to the statements made by Daniel Baal.
The following question was asked to both Daniel Baal and myself (I translate from French):
“Can you inform us about the medical certificate, seemingly backdated, of Laurent Brochard who tested positive for lidocaine after his world champion’s title?”
Daniel Baal answers first and states in particular (I translate from French): “It seems to me, being familiar with the product in question and with the problems that Brochard had at the time, that this is not a case of doping with lidocaine. I want to say with this that there is no doubt about the fact that there was a therapeutic justification for the use of lidocaine.”
Then follows my answer as quoted by the CIRC on page 171. When one reads it together with the question (that was not quoted by the CIRC) it is clear that I just addressed the possibility suggested by the journalist that the prescription had been backdated. I did not accept or confirm that it was backdated, as I didn’t know.
So it is pretty mean of the CIRC to write that the UCI did not contest that Brochard provided a backdated medical certificate.
In the next sentence of my answer I add that the UCI would never conceal a test result and no-one would ever find that a test result had been concealed. This was not quoted by the CIRC, but the CIRC had to confirm it in its report.
In 2000 and 2001 Willy Voet, ‘soigneur’ at the Festina team up to the Festina scandal, accused me in public statements on Flemish and Dutch television of having a hand in the ‘trick’ of antedated medical prescriptions and that I had been aware of the fact that Brochard’s prescription was antedated. He had also written these allegations in his book ‘Prikken en slikken’ (translated into English under the title ‘Breaking the chain’). These accusations were false and both the UCI and I took Voet to court in Amsterdam. On 14 July 2004, the court ruled that Voet’s statements were false and slanderous, that UCI and I had been falsely linked to doping practices and that the UCI’s and my own honour and reputation had been damaged. The court ordered Voet to refrain from repeating these or any similar statements and also to correct the next edition of his book. Voet appealed, but the Amsterdam court of appeal dismissed his appeal and upheld the first judgment.