French TV upsets Spain

After all the talk of statistics, probability and law, here’s something quite different courtesy of French TV show Les Guignols. Fast forward to 3m35s for the relevant bit in the clip above (Flash Player needed).

There’s been some talk in Spain of a “French plot” to get Contador. I find this odd given he ate Spanish meat, was prosecuted by the Swiss-based UCI and Canadian-based WADA and Monday’s ruling was announced by the Swiss CAS. But you might have seen the French cockerel sitting on the shoulders of the UCI pirates in Marca yesterday.

Spanish feelings are running high and the French have literally poured fuel on the fire with puppet clip above featuring star tennis player Rafael Nadal. You don’t need to know French to understand the clip opens with the newsreader saying “Contador has disgraced once again Spanish sport but luckily there is a Spanish champion above all suspicion” and ends with the strapline of “Spanish sportspeople don’t win by chance” before the police tell the driver he was caught driving at 280km/h.

It is from Les Guignols (“The Puppets”), a satirical daily news show. The show is irreverent and takes on everyone, regularly slaying politicians in a way that few sections of the docile French media dare. The Nadal clip is outrageous inflammatory but hopefully Spanish readers will not hold the entire population of France responsible.

Either way it seems some elements in both countries are sending accusations back and forth over the Pyrenees like a tennis ball and this clip is has landed deep in Spain. Indeed the Spanish tennis authorites are now looking at suing the French TV channel. Perhaps the Spanish could reply instead with a clip featuring a geriatric women who mysteriously beats people half her age?

Note the Guignols has often mocked Richard Virenque, the arch-doper from the Festina team in the 1990s. Here’s one of many examples, and it’s rather similar to the Nadal clip:

Indeed the Nadal clip also reminds me of the Vittel bottled water ad campaign:

34 thoughts on “French TV upsets Spain”

  1. It’s just the same with Spanish people Matt. People abroad shouldn’t think we’re all engaged to the same opinion. Some of us respect justice, even though some of those don’t agree with the sentence. It’s the extreme which makes the news headlines, here or there in France.

  2. “Perhaps the Spanish could reply instead with a clip featuring a geriatric women who mysteriously beats people half her age?”
    Just who do you have in mind here 😉

  3. I have to say that, whilst I like Spain, I do get frustrated by their apparent lack of will in tackling doping. That cynicism could be exacerbated amongst some by their huge recent sporting success.

  4. Well, it is for sure a witty funny gag. What’s not funny is that, given the path we are following since 1998, with suspicion, rumour and probability increasingly taking the place of certainty and proof, this clip constitutes not only libel, but a possible perversion of the course of justice. 🙂

  5. Well, if “being reasonably convinced that it is very probable” that X is a doper is enough to sanction him, then spreading such a “reasonable conviction of probability” around in the mass media can cause or contribute to cause X to be sanctioned when he otherwise wouldn’t be sanctioned, thus perverting the course of justice.
    But that part of my comment was meant to be a bit of a joke.

  6. I love those puppet gags! They have some in Italy as well. The best we can do in the USA is Saturday Night or The Daily Show. I find it amusing the Spaniards are angry with the French at present. I bet they were laughing during the the BigTex years when the jingoistic Americans were ranting about some sort of French conspiracy against their hero. Now the cycling shoe’s on the other foot. It’s interesting thinking back to the US media where BigTex was the hero, then when he was done Contador, with his near-death experience was sort of the new hero UNTIL he had the nerve not to buckle under to BigTex when he came back. He was pretty much an evil cancer-lover then, replaced by the Schleck’s as the TV darlings for casual US cycling fans. Now as the persecuted one he seems to be gaining fans again in the USA now that BigTex is finall, really done. But through it all, at least from the time BigTex started his post-cancer comeback, the French have been the villains. It doesn’t seem to matter that since that time plenty of Americans have been exposed as dope cheats, the French are out to destroy anyone who isn’t French in some long-term conspiracy to get one of their own on that top step of the podium in Paris again. As they say, “ya can’t make this shit up!”
    Bundle- I would argue “certainty” is the detection of the banned substance, it’s either there or not there. If it’s not there a guy like Contador might still only be a “victim” of suspicion, rumor and probability rather than a guy now labeled a dope cheat. I look at it as if there were three courts, the criminal one where BigTex just beat his rap, the WADA/CAS/UCI one where Contador was just convicted of breaking the rules and finally, the court of public opinion where pro cycling increasingly looks like a joke. I believe it’s important to keep these separated.

  7. Yes, well, Larry… The CAS says there is certainty that the substance was there and no certainty that this means for sure that the guy doped. “The rules are the rules”, but the counter-argument would be that the rules are flawed. The present rules allow for the contradiction that someone is “guilty of an anti-doping violation” regardless of whether it is established that he actually doped or not, which is nonsense unless you think, like John Fahey seems to do, that all that matters is to catch ’em dead or alive. Someone with some credibility denouncing doping like doctor JP Mondenard says today in “l’Équipe” that the CAS twisted the facts in its verdict, and some French guy comments “I don’t care. Contador doped anyway”. This is, I think, the wrong approach.

  8. Sorry to hijack, but this really is the best site for information. TOQ question….Great stage today, what’s up with all the punctures? The roads look to be in really good shape.

  9. K200: if you’re still stuck, try the initials JL.

    Tim B: I wanted forget Noah’s clumsy comments.

    MT Dave: no idea, they used the same section of road twice in the final and each time there were problems. It’s been the same in the past too, I think Boonen has twice lost the overall lead in the race after being caught in a series of punctures.

  10. I was just about to comment on the Jeannie Longo’s affair but TimB posted the news first. According to L’Equipe Michel Lucatelli, the director of the French cross country ski team was also implicated in the affair so it looks like this might blow up at any moment. The lesson to be learned here is be careful what you say because it might come back to haunt you.

  11. I really don’t think France should start commenting on cheating in sports. From the World Cup to the recent Paris-Dakar they have a long and sordid history of cheating in sports. East Germany may have started the doping phenomena, but I am pretty sure the world sees France as the country of administrative or regulatory cheats. I don’t think Spain’s feeling that France rigged the testing results is valid in this case, but they have done it in the past and it is the first thing I think of whenever someone not French tests positive in a French race.

  12. I really don’t like it when all this “nationalistic” stuff starts, money has no borders, no matter what the currency and “money is the root of all evil” as they say. 🙂

  13. Bundle – Until some better ideas come out I think the current WADA code has to suffice. I have a tough time believing that ANY clean athletes have been sanctioned under this regime, while plenty of dopers have gotten away with cheating because of the fear of false positives in the testing. We know from experience when threshold levels are set beyond 0, quite a few will dope to the point just below whatever the level is, just as they do with the hematocrit limits.
    TimB – I WASN’T calling the French villains but merely pointing out how they were perceived as such by the rabid fans of BigTex. It will be interesting to see where the Longo case goes from here. She’s already had problems in this area long ago. Some just don’t seem to know when to call it a career.

  14. Nadal never caught doping, Gasol never caught doping, Contador never caught doping (they found tiny amounts of of an illegal substance in his blood, for wich he has been suspended 2 years. Do not compare this with Virenque. They do deliberately imply that the whole Spanish victories are under suspicion. And is not only Canal+, we have the comments of Jannick Noah, after Spain beaten France in the last basket Eurocap. Also Le Monde suggested that FC Barcelona soccer team were doping. Barcelona sued them and they had to pay. So is not only some puppets making “fun”, I honestly don´t see the fun on it… probably the family of Nadal and Gasol etc. less than me.
    Nadal has won Roland Garros several times, Contador the Tour, Spanish basket team the worlds, and the eurocup, the soccer team are the current world and euro champions. FC Barcelona, Fernando Alonso etc etc.

    There is a current line of thinking in France that all these victories is because spanish sportsman dope. In the meanwhile, every weekend the roads of my city are packed with cyclist having fun, the kids are playing soccer, and everybody seats after lunch to watch Fernando Alonso compete in F1 and in the summer hundreds of thousands of cyclist aficionados will go to cheer their idols to the pyrenees.
    Is all good.

  15. Don’t forget the comments from Fuentes about how the World Cup football results could have been different if his entire client list was made public. The REAL money sportsmen like the Spanish football and tennis stars managed to somehow keep their names out of the headlines…though there were certainly folks from other nations using his “services”. The Spaniards need to calm down before they bring more trouble onto themselves.

  16. Larry T.: I’ve no problem with threshold levels and with being sure everyone would ride with exactly that amount in their body, especially if it is considered by physicians to be an absolutely harmless level. What I have hard time with is with cursing riders for having in their bodies something that is harmless and all the other riders could well use if they so wished – with no adverse effects on their health.

  17. @Larry T: and now you trust the words of Fuentes? Insult, throw shit all around, raise doubts about every Spanish sportsmen and then ask them to prove they are innocent. Like if doping could make Iniesta score the winning goal at the world cup final, or Casillas stop a penalty. Nope, somethings cannot be bought with doping. Not even the class of Alejandro Valverde. Our neighbors in the north are just jealous we beat them at everything and win their more prestigious competitions like the tour and Roland Garros.
    As I said before our roads will be filled with cyclists every weekend (as an example: on training rides during his 2 year ban, Valverde use to ride, everyday, with 50-200 hundred aficionados), and kids playing soccer in every corner of the country so basically I don´t care. Is all good.

  18. @Tom
    the same sensitivity shown by all the “dopers suck” army that bash everybody and their mother by the slightest suspicion that somebody dope. For example Larry T above trusting the words of Fuentes.

    But not everybody in France is like the “funny” guignols and the “looser” Noah. L’Equipe before the last Rugby world Cup final cited 50 reasons to win that match. Among them: Spain is not playing. This is fun, making accusations of doping is not.

  19. Wow! Sorry if I offended anyone but let’s remember when it comes to “safe levels” of dope that DOCTOR Ferrari made the claim that EPO was as safe as orange juice while there are plenty of other MD’s who would argue this. As to Fuentes and the footballers, are you guys some of those who believe BigTex was guilty of cheating based on the claims of folks with maybe less credibility than Fuentes like Hamilton or Landis? If so, how can you then claim nobody should believe Fuentes? If none of these Spanish heroes is doped, why would they fear the list of Fuentes’ clients being made public? If the blood bags are DNA tested and compared to the sportsmen and match, it’s pretty clear they’re cheaters, just like The Green Bullet. Perhaps the Spaniards could set up an independent anti-doping agency like USADA or AFLD rather than one corrupted by political influence as was seen in the case of Il Pistolero, if they were truly interested in cleaning things up. I don’t doubt lots of folks will ride around with Contador or Valverde proclaiming them clean and the victims of a bad system, as thousands do the same in the USA with BigTex. How that proves they didn’t dope is beyond me, it just means they have lots of fans. All this emotionalism is easily explained by the fact that people will believe what makes them feel good. Challenge that and you get these kind of arguments. I’m hoping we can avoid any of the “you suck!” etc. stuff there that has infected so many other blogs. I’d hate to see the Spaniards take up a position similar to the supporters of BigTex but it certainly seems to be going that way.

  20. Larry T. : you mention again the famous quote by Dr. Ferrari, where he compared EPO with 10 litres of orange juice. I would be interested to know what you make of this statement.

  21. @Larry T.
    I don´t see a lot people here saying Lance Amstrong doped. Of course there is a lot of rivalry between Contador and Amstrong (They do have names) and a lot of people don´t like him because of this. But everybody (at least me) respects what he has done in cycling. I personally liked all the drama involved when they competed for the tour within the same team. Rivalry is good and fun. We would like to have some good French to compete against them, maybe they don´t have any or they do, and we beat them, like in the last basketball Eurocup, maybe they cannot stand anymore that the poor brother of the south consistenly beat them and win their most prestigious tournaments, maybe then they start accusing (noah, le monde) Spanish sportsmen of doping without showing any kind of proof… maybe after all this the Guignols jokes are not that funny anymore.
    If Fuente, apparently, had the names, the blood bags (were DNA can be easily tested) of half the country most successful sportsmen, why he did not make them public? Is better just to raise suspicion and throw shit all around. And the sad thing is that once you say that the damage is done. In all this thing you are guilty until you prove you are innocent. Even if they find you didn´t dope, you are still rewarded with a 2 year suspension fine. I hope somebody does not accused you of killing somebody and you have to prove you are innocent or you go to jail. That is just not right.
    BTW, You have to give credit to all the people that Contador, Valverde or Amstrong attract to the sport and make them healthier. This is a good thing. If they dope or not is not my business.
    Once thing is sure, our economy is not doped 😉

  22. Larry, agreed. Let´s spare the ring folks of my, I would say, “nationalistic” point of view. I just thought that it would be interesting to give the opinion of somebody from Spain. Not that I represent the whole country or that my opinion is un-biased, just trying to explain how a lot of people feels here.
    BTW: Sevilla FC shirt last monday:
    Who said we don´t have sense of humor?

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