NOT AS PURE AS THEY PRETEND TO BE (PART 3)
POWERLESSNESS, INSULTS, TRICKS, LAPSES AND CONFUSION
BY ENRIQUE MONTESINOS
(Granma daily staff writer)
And now we come to the "famous" doping cases within the Cuban delegation. They wanted to taint our athletes with the label of contamination but, in real terms, the entire process was contaminated to the core with contradictions, a lack of the most elemental medical and human ethics, and totally irregular procedures.
The first thing that wounds the sensibility is the violation of the athlete’s right to the protection of his or her honor, and more so in the case of Javier Sotomayor. One of the "squeaky-clean" members of the PASO Medical Commission and the Executive Committee leaked the news of a positive result when only the A sample had been tested, in flagrant abuse of rules created precisely to protect anyone implicated until the results of the B sample’s test are known.
The immediate unleashing of certain newspaper reporters avid for sensational news was only natural, although not to the point of the numerous tales that began to be woven, more the product of the enemies of Cuba and its sports movement in their desire to discredit us in one way or another, and on whom we passed harsh judgment in this newspaper at the time.
However, in the press conference called to announce the already confirmed doping case against Dominican Juana Arrendel, there was absolutely no reason for PASO President Mario Vázquez Raña to let himself be tempted to the extreme of commenting in response to a journalist’s question that there was another case in progress and "you have stated his name."
At this point I should point out here, in an indirect response to imputations made by Granma in relation to the many leaks prior to the B sample’s test result—and I still haven’t mentioned some irrefutable ones—that the very same Mario Vázquez Raña amazed me a few days later with a statement of his powerlessness: "In the case of such a well-known person and with so many people involved, it’s impossible to avoid information leaks."
Thus, far from opening an investigation to establish who was guilty of leaking information and punishing them, as well as personally apologizing to the offended party, the official responsible for maximum discretion attempted to justify the unjustifiable and, to cap it all, publicly formulated it as something relatively unimportant, a triviality, thus—incredibly—not realizing that he was putting his foot in it even more.
The indiscreet individuals were not from the ranks of the translators or typists, as he tried to insinuate. Or was he not aware that Dr. Bernardo Chernilo, Chilean member of the "irreproachable" PASO Medical Commission, opened his mouth on his country’s television and confirmed that there was a big doping case, in clear violation of the rules requiring obligatory confidentiality prior to the analysis of the B sample?
That medical professional, who refers to himself as a hunter of athlete drug abusers in an apex of self-aggrandizement—according to comments sent into our news department—also offered a statement to the written media.
Speaking to the Chilean daily La Tercera, he offered the following information: "In the case of Sotomayor, levels of this drug in his blood were 40 times higher than permitted. This is thus a recent doping. He consumed the drug four or five days before the sample was taken."
What conduct for a professional! He not only talks of "consumption," which absolutely nobody can prove even with a positive urine result, but refers to levels 40 times higher. But if Brazilian Eduardo Henrique De Rose, president of the PASO Medical Commission, told the press in Winnipeg that there is no minimum level with cocaine and infractors are sanctioned with any quantity present, then which of those illustrious and infallible expert witnesses is right?
Nevertheless, they coincided in employing the fictitious and intrinsically offensive term "consumption," and there was no retraction, since the journalist reported what Chernilo said, and video tapes of De Rose’s statements are freely available.
De Rose likewise confirmed the recent ingestion of cocaine, four or five days previously. Thus, according to their "accurate" calculations, Sotomayor, whose sample was produced on July 30 and who had arrived in Winnipeg on July 24, must have fleetingly made the relevant contacts with suppliers—are there any?—located in the city or in the rigorously controlled air base serving as the Cuban athletes’ village between July 24-26, in order to immediately assuage his alleged addiction. Preposterous, absurd, irrational are the inadequate adjectives that spring to mind.
Or is it that Sotomayor took the substance with him from Cuba and managed to smuggle it into Canada, fooling the dogs specially trained to detect drugs, especially in baggage coming in from Latin America? It’s not even worth considering.
And then there’s the form of measurement. The most excellent Dr. De Rose confirmed—and I never tire of watching the recording—that 200 nanograms or 200 parts per million were found in Sotomayor’s urine. This is a major blunder in terminology, because a nanogram is one billionth of a gram and parts are equivalent to micrograms (millionths). He used both terms of measurement, but his emphasis is on the second, which was the one recorded in all his broadcast interviews.
Given that existing data confirm that just seven micrograms of cocaine in the body are enough to produce death, at a recent PASO Executive Committee meeting, Cuba made reference to the incongruency of references to 200 micrograms (or parts) being found in Sotomayor’s urine. And in his defense, that gentleman De Rose clarified that he had quoted 200 nanograms and not 200 milligrams (thousandths of a gram), thus further confusing the terms.
And now what’s happened, Dr. De Rose? Are you thinking of attributing the error of stating milligrams (another even greater measure) instead of micrograms to those responsible for writing the official press bulletin for the above-mentioned meeting? It’s really impossible to understand such confusion in a personage to whom so much rigor is attributed, given that the PASO Executive Committee agreed by an almost absolute majority (11 in favor and one against) that he had not committed any blunder, and decided to maintain him in his post without a whiff of the mildest criticism.
It would seem that Mario Vázquez Raña, the top authority of the Pan American sports entity, is also "allowing himself to be deceived," as he demonstrated while answering questions in Winnipeg after the official announcement of "Soto’s" doping, when he confirmed the following: "It (test B) came out normally and fully in accordance with the rules."
What is absolutely true is that, inexplicably, the sample could not be properly tested, and the rest of the urine contained in the recipient had to be used, supposedly the original, although it was not sealed or kept in the sight of those who were supposed to monitor it, but held in refrigeration, unnecessarily so. All these factors were subsequently confirmed as anomalies by Cuban doctors Mario Granda and Rodrigo Alvarez Cambras, who were present at the Montreal laboratory. And, if they did not communicate this immediately, their reasons were not the same as those of the laboratory or the PASO Medical Commission representative, forced to go into detail so that their superiors could make a truthful report.
According to notifications received, International Olympic Committee officials are extremely rigorous with these laboratories and suspend their operations in the case of the slightest lapse. The fact that test B failed to provide results in the first place is unusual enough, and possibly worthy of investigation, but the fact that test B failed to coincide with test A implies a much more serious fix, given that both tests were from the same urine, treated with the same instruments and techniques, and should have identical results.