According to the daily sporting newspaper, L’Equipe, the French anti-doping agency AFLD (l’Agence française de lutte contre le dopage) has handed down a six-month suspension to Marseille coach Romain Barnier for alleged anti-doping rules violations. The suspension went into effect on July 6, 2017.
Barnier, who swam at Auburn, is the head coach at CN Marseille, best known as home to Florent Manaudou, Camille Lacourt, Mehdy Metella, Fabien Gilot, and Fred Bousquet, to name but a few. Barnier was the National Men’s Team director for the 2016 Olympic Games. And yet it’s not his male swimmers at the center of the alleged violation. Over the last two years, a number of high-profile members of the French women’s national team have congregated in Marseille, and they now train with Barnier. These include Mélanie Hénique, Anna Santamans, Cloé Hache, and Anouchka Martin.
In effect, the AFLD accused Barnier of opposing a doping control for three of his female swimmers during a training session in early July. It is alleged that he clearly prevented the action of the Doping Control Officers, who had come for an unannounced control at the team’s training site. After “written and oral confrontations” and a hearing with Barnier, the AFLD pronounced its suspension:
Barnier is not allowed to participate, directly or indirectly, for six months, in the organization and running of competitions and sporting events authorized by, or organized by, the French Swimming Federation, as well as the preparatory training for such events.
WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)’s World Anti-Doping Code states that coaches’ responsibilities include, amongst other things, knowing and complying with all anti-doping policies and rules that apply to them or the athletes they support; cooperating with the athlete-testing program; and cooperating with Anti-Doping Organizations investigating anti-doping rule violations.
At the same time, the Code allows that a Doping Control Officer or chaperone may allow an athlete to delay reporting to the station for an activity such as a news conference or to complete a training session (emphasis added by author).
Barnier has appealed his suspension, and his hearing will take place on August 23 at the “Conseil d’État,” France’s highest administrative jurisdiction (“the final arbiter of cases relating to executive power, local authorities, independent public authorities, public administration agencies or any other agency invested with public authority”).