After an 8 month long process on 28 May the venerable Ethics Panel has informed me in a letter dated 24 May that they could find no solid ground to start formal action against a post published on this blog.
The IOF has submitted a complaint against this blog on 25 September 2018. The offending post raised questions regarding the IOF’s Anti-Doping activity. The Ethics Panel launched an investigation despite not being able to identify a single specific comment to investigate, and despite they knew that they had no right to investigate a journalistic activity. After 8 months they still could not find a single statement or fact in the post that required correction, or could have been used as a basis for formal action. You may find the letter of the highly respected Ethics Panel at the end of this post.
The case is closed, forget it.
My legal adviser referred to the overall process as “funny”. He particularly enjoyed that the reputable Ethics Panel demanded “clear factual evidence” to allegations they could not even specify. He also found professionally interesting that the Ethics Panel asked the IOF for factual evidence only 7 months after the initial complaint by the IOF – and then it never revealed the details of those apparently convincing facts.
I think it was more than sad.
The interesting bit that warrants a longer post is the style of the letter of the highly respected Ethics Panel. It is a quintessential example of a witch hunt. With all respect to the authors, it is a masterpiece of condemnation without any factual substance whatsoever.
The letter of the Ethics Panel with all respect contains a number of unsubstantiated comments and underlying innuendo that calls into question my integrity and honesty with implication, but no factual evidence whatsoever. There are also numerous groundless assertions and incorrect statements that I will not address here in detail due to the lack of space, but they give an overall impression of a heavily biased approach by the venerable Ethics Panel.
Yet, because there was never a formal process, there is nothing to complain about. So all I can do is to share their letter for the edification of the general orienteering public. This is the way the highly professional IOF Ethics Panel works.
It was the style of the letter of the respected Ethics Panel that really felt familiar to me. But for a long time I could not put my finger on it. I knew that I saw this style before, but could not remember when and where. Only a month later, while watching the trailer of a very interesting new HBO miniseries, it suddenly dawned on me:
The communication of the Ethics Panel has reminded me of the style of Soviet bloc communication right after the Chernobyl incident, when it was clear that something was seriously wrong, but communist authorities desperately tried to hide it:
– A positive picture projected with no tangible substance, no hard numbers to support it;
– A blatant disregard of facts and information that may contradict the projected picture;
– A call to check facts and avoid spreading rumours, but without providing a single fact or suggesting a reliable source for information.
I am grateful to the Ethics Panel for evoking long forgotten memories of my youthful years. I was a student of Physics in Budapest in 1986. During the spring semester I was attending a nuclear lab where we were doing a series of measurements on various isotopes and in various settings, including a training reactor. On our last lab session in April there was quite a bit of gossipping that a nuclear incident happened in the Soviet Union, but there was no data. The authorities were in denial. On our first lab session early May we could measure high activity in soil samples, especially from the ones gathered from under drain pipes. In fact, the activity of some of the samples brought in from gardens was so high that by lab rules we should have kept them in special containers. Cruel jokes were spreading, like one suggesting that the May 1 demonstrators in Kiev were radiating happiness at levels never seen before. Yet, the official press communicated that everything was fine, that people should not spread negative information, and that one should check the facts, but – of course – no official facts were provided.
So let’s have a closer look why the style of the letter of the highly respected Ethics Panel reminded me of the style of communication by Soviet authorities.