Questions over the Baugé case

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Last Friday was the day of Epiphany. In France it is traditional to take down the Christmas decorations and share a cake called a galette des rois. I don’t know if they were eating any galettes at the French Cycling Federation (FFC) but they were probably taking down their Christmas decorations in haste because their Christmas card prominently featured Grégory Baugé who was stripped of his world championships that day.

Yet the case is an odd one given the 11 month delay and there’s even the possibility of a cover-up.

To recap, Baugé won the track sprint and was part of the winning team in the team sprint at the 2011 track world championships in the Netherlands. Only prior to this he’d missed three out of competition tests and this is an anti-doping violation and he was banned by the French cycling federation.

Only the ban was imposed on 8 November 2011 but nobody heard a word until last Friday. The FFC has a duty to send the info to the UCI within eight working days and then the UCI is supposed to pass on the news to WADA and the AFLD. We could be impressed this news did not leak but normally such news is supposed to be made public yet we got nothing for two months. That’s odd but stranger things have happened, who knows what was going on.

What is odd though is that Baugé did not attend the last round of the track world cup in Cali, Colombia in December. He couldn’t ride since he was banned. But the news had not come out and instead he gave a story about an injury. When asked why he was not going to Colombia he told French cycling news specialist Velochrono (my translation):

“Because I’m injured… I’ve got quadriceps tendinitis, with two tendons of the quads. So I need to rest”

The primary reason why he could not compete was because he was ineligible. Was he actually injured? Was this a white lie from an embarrassed Baugé, unable to communicate the news? Were others complicit in this?

Can the UCI take away Baugé’s wins?
On a separate matter the FFC were not happy with the UCI’s decision to release the news and strip Baugé of his world championships titles. A strongly-worded press release on Friday sets out their view. Here’s an excerpt (my translation):

The FFC notes the unilateral action of the UCI in revoking the results and titles won individually and with a team by Grégory Baygé [sic] at the 2011 track world championships in Apeldoorn, going against the decision taken by the national disciplinary commission of the FFC which expressly out ruled the invalidity of any results… …the FFC wonders on what grounds a disciplinary body can base itself without recourse to an appeal body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In plain English the FFC is saying its disciplinary commission decided against stripping Baugé and the French team of the wins in Apeldoorn – quelle surprise! – and that it wonders how the UCI can take away Baugé’s rainbow jersey.

The answer is Article 313 of the UCI rulebook to which the FFC is a signatory. Here it is:

Disqualification of Results in Competitions subsequent to Anti-Doping Rule Violation
313. In addition to the automatic Disqualification of the results in the Competition pursuant to article 288 and except as provided in articles 289 to 292, all other competitive results obtained from the date a positive Sample was collected (whether In-Competition or Out-of-Competition) or other anti-doping rule violation occurred, through the commencement of any Provisional Suspension or Ineligibility period, shall, unless fairness requires otherwise, be Disqualified.
Comment: 1) it may be considered as unfair to disqualify the results which were not likely to have been affected by the Rider’s anti-doping rule violation.
2) an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under article 21.4 shall be deemed to have occurred on the date of the third Whereabouts Failure found by the hearing panel to have occurred.

To explain this, Baugé’s three no shows are an anti-doping violation under article 21.4 and the date of his third “no show” was in December 2010. Therefore “all other competitive results obtained from the date [the] anti-doping rule violation occurred shall, unless fairness requires otherwise, be Disqualified“.

So it seems the UCI is able to strip the results but the wording on fairness in the rule itself and the comment. For me given Baugé had missed three tests prior to the worlds then he shouldn’t even have been there, indeed the FFC applied the ban retroactively. In fact the whole question of how he was riding the worlds despite three missed tests is a big question because alarm bells should have been ringing somewhere (and if the UCI and other authorities “did a Rasmussen” and didn’t file the paperwork on time then Baugé could find a way to appeal his ban). But that’ll have to be addressed another day. For now the FFC has said he’s missed three tests, that’s a ban and so it seems normal to take the titles away since he shouldn’t have been at the worlds in the first place.

Summary

  • Why did it take 11 months to ban Baugé after three no shows?
  • Baugé claimed injury prevented him from travelling to the world cup when a ban was the prime reason. Perhaps he was injured but he was also banned from competition by the FFC and there’s a whiff of a cover-up here although the FFC boss has saidwe didn’t try to hide things“. Let’s hope so.
  • The FFC might question the UCI’s authority to strip the world championship wins but Rule 313 clearly sets this out and if it’s tough on Baugé – a missed test months ago need not be sinister –  we need to think if it was fair on the other competitors to take on a rider who should have been banned for his whereabouts bungling. Certainly the FFC’s claims that such a ban needed to be applied via the CAS don’t seem right.

In total we have very lengthy delays in applying the sanction, Baugé claiming injury and the FFC unsure of the UCI’s rulebook. Hopefully all involved will be setting this straight with media in the coming days. There’s a lot to explain.

Ankush January 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Is it a coincidence that so many fallouts on UCI-ADAMS whereabouts component have happened recently? I don’t know the intentions of Bauge but I’ll be interested to know if he had genuine trouble in following up with ADAMS. The whereabouts system needs an overhaul and should be made easier for riders. In this age of smartphones and 3G connection, I fail to understand the rider’s inability to file whereabouts. FFC will have their hands full in 2012 as Offredo is next in queue to be slapped sanctions. Cycling is already a physically demanding sport and the added administrative burden just makes it more difficult.

natalie January 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I noted Bauge’s absence at the Track World Cup event in Astana and that was in November. I remember being puzzled at all the other big names being preset but no Bauge. He’s just one of those guys you expect – and want – to see so his absence was notable. I hadn’t read anything about him being injured but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t so. Still, there is something not quite straightforward here.

Will this have any implications in the Olympics in terms of qualification points/ranking?

natalie January 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm

*present not preset. That would be more drama if there were preset riders ;)

Marc January 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

The delays are not great – and having predated bans always annoys me. Their results may be taken away – but you cant take away the fact that they still raced there – so the period out of competition is far less than the length of the ban. Indeed, Bauge only ended up spending a month or so out of competition.

@natalie Apparantely, all ranking points gained by Bauge or a French Team Sprint team featuring Bauge have been removed – but that almost certainly wont affect the participation of a French Team Sprint team in the Olympics, or a Frenchman in the Mens Sprint.

Sam January 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

No surprise that the French don’t want to remove his titles… I have found it odd for a long time that it is down to the individual associations, who will no doubt want to make it soft on their countrymen.

Staunton Chess January 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Interesting. As the news was not official I guess he had to try the injury excuse to get out of riding the world cup round.

@Marc I see a long delay here because he missed a test in Dec 2010 and then they get round to the ban in the fall of 2011.

Jez January 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Photoshop montages that bad, deserve lifetime bans!

Jez January 7, 2012 at 10:36 pm

In all seriousness though, this retrospective ban seems to have been engineered to ensure a clear run for Baugé to the Olympics, no?

MT Dave January 8, 2012 at 12:16 am

I keep hearing more and more of this situation happening. For me, it doesn’t bring the rider into question, but rather the system. Another site has headlines of Offredo and Cavendish also missing controls.

inopinatus January 8, 2012 at 2:44 am

ADAMS desperately needs an iPhone & Android app. But with the UCI barely able to drag itself into the 20th century, asking for the 21st seems like a stretch.

Yorkie January 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

What the heck is going on with that Christmas card? As noted above, the photoshop work is terrible, but even worse is the ‘theme’. Is this not supposed to be celebrating an annus mirabilis for French cycling in 2011? Then make the background the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower or some such other French nationalistic symbol – not popping a nose wheelie on a red double-decker in London. 2012 is next year (well, this year now, but when the card was sent…)

Rooie January 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

There already is an Iphone-App that can be used for Adams. So, that is not an excuse.

And in my view, for a track-cyclist it is much easier to be available for the out-of-competition-tetsts. Or he is at the World Cup venues or he is training near his national track-centre. Thus, missing three tests is a lot. Especially when one knows that he is not tested out of competition every month but much less frequently.

Touriste-Routier January 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm

ADAMS issues aside, the real problem here is that the 3rd missed test was before the world championships, and the rider was not stopped from competing by the FFC, UCI, WADA, or AFLD. Thus these agencies are not doing their jobs, according to their own rules; 3 missed tests is an automatic violation that mandates suspension from competition. Unfortunately this is hardly the first time that the anti-doping system as a whole has failed.

The issue isn’t with ADAMS isn’t logging onto a website via mobile phone app. or internet browser, but that the program is that it is not dynamic enough. Riders need to state where they are going to be 7 x 24 for a period that exceeds 3 months. While their whereabouts can be updated as schedules change, it is still easy to make mistakes, run late, or forget to update it in a timely fashion. Perhaps shortening the visibility period to 4 – 6 weeks might help forecasts of where one would be, but it would require more frequent data entry sessions.

Larry T. January 9, 2012 at 10:54 am

What will stop this guy from beating the rap ala Longo? Why would the law that let her off the hook not apply to him? Sad to say but the whereabouts scheme seems to require a GPS monitor setup like they use for criminals required to be confined at home in order to be fair and simple for everyone.

Big Mikey January 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Nobody does old-school corruption like the Euros. Nobody.

The Inner Ring January 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

A follow up: Baugé’s lawyer tells L’Equipe that the UCI can’t take his world championships away:
http://www.lequipe.fr/Cyclisme/breves2012/20120109_200756_l-avocat-de-bauge-persiste.html (in French)

But I think the lawyer has this wrong. The UCI has rules which require Baugé to lose any wins since the third “no show” as explained above.

Larry T. January 10, 2012 at 8:44 am

I found the answer as to why Bauge is not like Longo, it seems he acknowledges having to file the whereabouts but did it outside the required time limit.

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