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Critical. “Unbeknownst to my own free will”, a delightful collection of the finest doping excuses


“It’s not my fault…” Here is the strong argument of many sportsmen suspected of doping. Apologies, all based on this argument, Christophe Duchiron, journalist and documentary maker and Manuel Tissier, deputy editor-in-chief at Stage 2, have listed a hundred in their book, “Unbeknownst to my own free will”, the best doping excuses *, in bookstores this Thursday, October 22.

Through these many stories, the two journalists, both great reporters, who worked together for more than ten years on the editorial staff of France 2 where they covered sports news, identify the most beautiful doping excuses drawn by athletes. caught red-handed. Mom’s culinary blunders, Auntie’s coca candy, Pamela’s cocaine kiss, morphine poppy seeds, the simple wish to grow a mustache or even toothpaste stuffed with nandrolone … sportsmen go to great lengths to clear customs, because it is never their fault. And their imagination has no limits to explain why traces of doping products are found in their body.

Over the pages, in an ironic writing style and with a lot of hindsight, we discover or rediscover stories each more wacky and incredible than the next. Spectacular excuses, which almost every time provoke laughter, so much the scenario is gratiné. Moreover, if some grotesque justifications turn out to be a tissue of lies, others do prove to be genuine, despite the athlete’s whimsical account. Among the great stories, we find in particular the great affairs such as those of Lance Armstrong, of Richard Virenque, or Javier Sotomayor. A wide range of disciplines is also represented, from cycling, to athletics, including tennis, rugby, football, skiing, swimming or even billiards and cricket.

“We didn’t have to add more because the athletes add enough themselves”

For each story, the authors recall through the verdict the sanctions imposed on the athletes, whose files are mostly closed, and allow themselves a little moral in the second degree. “Even if we treat things with lightness and distance, they are first treated with respect for the facts. We didn’t have to add more because the athletes add enough themselves. In view of the treasures of imagination that are displayed by athletes and sometimes by their entourage, the verdict falls like a sentence, and puts things in their place. And the moral in a way is our comment. With her, we allow ourselves to say what we want ”, highlighted Christophe Duchiron.

“We didn’t want to be a moralist, press Manuel Tissier. And that’s why we turned this moral in a somewhat burlesque way sometimes, to say ‘it’s not that bad, we can have fun’. And at the same time, we wanted to be rigorous about the facts, because we are a journalist, and what interests us above all are the facts.”A small pirouette which allows, like the writing style of the book, the reader to take a step back on these stories for many widely publicized. “This does not prevent some of these stories from having dramatic springs too. That’s why we don’t want to be moralistic or scenic, nor too mocking, because each time this has involved people in very personal, intimate areas, with a lot of violence ”, continues Manuel Tissier.

Doping, “medical preparation gone wrong”

Far from bearing suspicion on each performance achieved by an athlete, the authors only look at proven cases of doping because “What interested us was to hear how the athletes defended themselves”, confirmed Christophe Duchiron. “The sport of very high level is an industry which mobilizes a lot of means and money, and where the margins of progress are tiny. Everyone trains to be better than the others and the victory is played within a few millimeters. Margins are also found in the deltas that can be put in relation to the regulations. In fact, doping is medical preparation that has gone badly. Because they are all medically prepared in a very precise way ”, explains Manuel Tissier.

The authors have only one regret, the one that Richard Virenque did not agree to write the preface to the book. As a reminder, the Frenchman Richard Virenque was at the heart of the scandal of the doping affair of the Festina team in 1998. The affair shattered the career of the cyclist, who was widely mocked as he was entangled in a bad situation. communication. She was blessed bread for Info puppets, which will make the expression “Unbeknownst to me of my own free will“, pronounced not by Virenque but by his puppet. “He was tempted, but quickly refused. He explained to us that this affair had hurt him too much, that it had ruined his life, that it would plunge him back into the image of himself that he no longer wants to see, that is to say that of the man laughed at, ridiculed, when he was an immense champion. It was too complicated for him to make fun of it ”, tell Manuel Tissier.

“I found it very touching because what I wanted was for him to resume writing to tell his story. Even if his story is a story of lies, it is also the story of someone who found himself crushed in a form of media machine, with a bad choice of communication which is not only his ”, emphasizes Manuel Tissier. Because for the authors, this book is also a means of “To pay tribute to all these sportsmen who were victims of a great machinery, who reacted badly, and who were badly advised in their media and sports story”. After the suspicions of doping during the 2020 edition of the Tour de France, around part of the Arkéa-Samsic team, of which notably belongs Nairo Quintana, this book finds its place in the news, some characters could in turn take their place in this lineage, but always without the knowledge of their own free will.

* “Unbeknownst to me of my own free will”, the best doping excuses, by Christophe Duchiron and Manuel Tissier, Solar Editions, 176 pages, 12.90 euros. In bookstores.

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