An open letter to Gérard Saillant (oh yeah Jean Todt too)

Dear Gérard,

Imagine my surprise at learning that you were in my hospital last week. You actually got on the train from Paris to come here to Liège! It’s a pity you didn’t call me ahead of the visit – we could have had a cup of coffee. Or you could have beeped me to say hi once you got here. But I guess that actually being face to face with someone is not your style. Come to think of it, it never really has been, has it? You did fire me via email!

Imagine my surprise to learn that despite having heard nothing from you or your boss since being fired, YOU ACTUALLY CAME TO MY HOSPITAL BECAUSE OF ME. You made an appointment with the Dean of my medical faculty, to speak about me. Then travelled 2 1/2 hours . . . for me. I’d be flattered if I wasn’t so . . . shocked. But let’s not dwell on the fun we could have had together in Liège, and look instead at what exactly you came here for. I think it’s important that people understand just how you and your boss work.

You came here to try to get me fired.

Not from the job you already fired me from. That one was basically a hobby. A very serious, very time-intensive hobby. No, now you’re aiming higher. You and your boss want me fired from the job that pays my rent. The one I’ve held for 25 years. Wow. Were you wearing a black trench coat and fedora? Maybe I’m glad I wasn’t there. Perhaps you also had instructions to break my knees!

You came here with a dossier consisting of printed copies of my blog posts. And a copy of a personal email TO ME (!!!) from Corinna Schumacher. OMG. An email I actually never received. Probably because it was addressed to “garry.hartstein@…”. Seriously? I get scores of emails EVERY DAY from people all over the world who spent all of 30 seconds finding my email address. But the wife of one of the world’s most famous and wealthy sportsmen isn’t capable of carrying out that difficult task? You’ve got to be kidding me. Hell, dude, even YOU (trusted advisor to “the family”) had my email (again, that’s how you fired me!).

You came here to raise the issue of whether THIS blog violated my contract at work and could therefore be a reason to fire me, or at least to muzzle me.

Now you worry me. Maybe you should sit down. That’s better. Let’s talk.

Let’s just look at the facts, ok?

1) This blog makes no claim to represent the opinions of anyone other than myself. And while my bio may mention that I studied and work at the University Hospital of Liège, no other mention is made of this fact. All blog-related activity, then, is part of my personal life. Period.

2) Doctor-patient confidentiality is never violated, for two pretty good reasons. First of all, Michael is not and (other than the stuff that came up over 15 years of F1) never has been my patient. Second, I make perfectly clear that NONE of what I wrote in the days, weeks, and months following Michael’s accident was based on anything other than conjecture and experience.

3) When opinions are expressed, they are clearly identified as such, and are never presented with an intent to harm. This intent is abundantly clear, and is even explained on numerous occasions.

So you see, Gérard, if you’d have put your thinking cap on before flitting off to “le Paris du nord”, you’d have realised the absurdity of your project. My blog has nothing to do with my job. In fact, things like “privacy”, and “free expression” come to mind – not as sterile principles, but as LAWS THAT YOU ARE ON THE CUSP OF VIOLATING. You and your boss.

You have acted like a hoodlum. What you have done was not unexpected, but was thuggish and disgusting. You might wear expensive suits and a Patek Philippe, but your tactics are from the gutter.

Be aware that I’ve referred the “dossier” you handed over to the Dean to my attorney. You are on very very thin legal ice.

Word to the wise?

Shut up, back off, and watch out.

201 thoughts on “An open letter to Gérard Saillant (oh yeah Jean Todt too)

  1. P.S. FIA said that Philippe Streiff’s critisizing “was insulting”. They hate and despice the drivers and fans,they’re not a “non-commercial organization” – they’re definitely a commercial organization, a great business, they care only about money, they live for money. Jean Todt is a great idiot himself, he’s so ignorant in motorsport and despices others.

  2. Todt and his company of butchers named FIA are arrogant and ignorant stupids (and i’m trying not to use strong words here)

  3. So now they’ve lodged a complaint against Philippe Streiff for “public defamation and insult so that the circulation of Philippe Streiff’s statements [re. Bianchi] is stopped immediately and sanctioned in an appropriate manner”?


    It’s not like poor Philippe can even “stand-up” against these thugs… :/

  4. Pingback: CeibA3D Studio | Former F1 doctor says FIA tried to get him fired

  5. You know, for the sake of balance, I’d love to hear their side. But as is too often the case with the cronies in that organisation, we’ll never get much of one. Were they to put anything out, I dare say most people would dismiss it- public (fan) support for you is too strong Gary! Maybe that’s one of their issues… Too many people listen to you and not them.
    If that’s the case, keep it up. I for one applaud your willingness to be frank and outspoken, across whatever topic you choose to discuss. I must watch your Mario Muth interview again to remind myself of some of the crap you put up with.
    You’ve my full support, sir…!
    It’s not all rosy however, I am gutted I got outbid on your charity auction of overalls. Though that’s entirely my own fault…!

  6. Pingback: Erstwhile F1 doc says FIA tried to get him fired | Trucuk

  7. If I may begin as Mortenhorn did, I am a specialist in clinical pharmacology of neurological medicines and clinical trials. I was the medic in charge of about 200 clinical trials, mainly in the early phases of drug development, so I have experience in distinguishing good projects from duds. In brain injury there is one project that stands out as promising and it is the well known, GABA agonist zolpidem because it has caused hundreds remarkable recoveries from brain trauma and strokes. Zolpidem has been used as a sedative for over 30 years but it works in brain trauma at sub-sedative doses. It seems to me to be something that Michael Schumacher should have a chance to try. The odds may be against him responding but since we know that zolpidem is safe, the risk-benefit ratio is clearly in favour of him having a trial of it.
    The evidence has become extensive with reports of cases from many countries, one successful clinical trial and, most importantly, SPECT scan evidence of fresh neuronal activity within infarctions. Until this discovery was made it was generally assumed that infarctions are irretrievable dead, but now we know that parts of them at least are only dormant. The theoretical explanation is that the normal inhibitory transmitter Gamma Amino Butyric Acid is activated at the time of the injury to shut down tissues that are at hazard due to hypoxia and it maintains a grip on those tissues long after the injury. When zolpidem is taken by the patient it competes at receptors enough to dislodge some of the GABA. The clinical evidence is to be found on this site:

    Unfortunately, the sponsor company for whom I was medical director ran out of funds so the project is stalled. However doctors may use it because it is already authorised for the sedation indication. No other molecule has this effect, not even the other GABA agonists such as zopiclone. I would be glad to help anyone who wants more information so I suggest they contact me by email at

  8. Dear Gary Hartstein,
    As a specialist in neurology, I’ve been trying to kind of correct the vast amount of misunderstandings and frank desinformation delivered by journalists in my home country, Norway, when it comes to coma patients, vegetative states and other severe neurological illnesses. It’s almost unfathomable, the way journalists keep on giving – not only imprecise – but flat out wrong – descriptions of such patients.
    Most troublesome, in my own opinion and experience, is those cases where journalists depict severely traumatized patients in too hopeful terms, using phraseology like “the struggle of his life”, “keep on fighting!”, and such.
    It’s not wrong to keep hoping, if one is the close relative of a patient with a brain injury, and your “job” is exactly that: To be the one keeping up hope, trying, despite many setbacks, to keep some measure of positivity and willingness to endure. If any progress is to be made, any at all, the injured patient needs optimism in his surroundings.

    But for the rest of us, those not immediately involved in the rehabilitation and basic care of these patients, there is also the need for some measure of realism. And while those directly involved need to, or will profit from, tackling each new day of rehab with as much cheerfulness as they can muster, the sad fact remains that brain injuries are horrible in that they often are irreversible or may only be partially repaired. And most sadly of all – the very “organ” for that “keep on fighting-spirit” is injured. The person we knew, that fighter, that master of challenges, is changed, weakened, even gone. Therefore, the rosy descriptions provided by journalists frequently feed a completely and surrealistic false hope, not useful for anybody. Possibly even harmful, in that it can hamper dialogue between the doctors/health personel and relatives of people suffering head injuries: It makes it harder for these grieving and shocked persons to come to terms with the situation that their loved one has come into.

    In the case of Michael Schumacer, I’ve read the most crazed and un-medical statements made by “experts”, or at least presented as such by journalists, all of them painting a rosy picture of his prognosis that’s hard for me to understand, given my own expertise. Actually, the only medical opinion I’ve come across, on the internet, that appears to me to be solid and nuanced and properly un-ambitious, is the one you have provided in this blog. As it is, I think this might be maybe the only “reliable” source of information of Schumachers condition available on the internet – reliable first and foremost in that you don’t seem to go to far in speculating on Schumacher’s condition, given the very limited information that has been released by the familiy and others.

    I accept the fact that Schumacher’s family don’t want neither speculation nor concrete facts about his condition in the public arena. However, the newspapers are already full with such speculations, most of them wild and distorted. In that setting, it’s been a relief to read your comments on this tragic case.
    Personally, I think a moratorium on Schumacher speculations would be a good idea, and respectfull of the patient and his family. However, that appeal would first and foremost go not to you but to others – to the sports journalists all over the world, and to our colleagues speculating despite having almost no facts on which to base their speculations.

    I wish you a peaceful holiday, and hope this affair will solve itself in a satisfactory way for you.

    • Thanks so much for your comment.

      Interestingly, as concerns my blog, I’ve written nothing about Michael since July, because there’s nothing left to say, really.

      That his entourage has descended into illegal interference with people’s private lives, sliming Philippe Streiff, and other totally crazy behaviors (Sabine denies Streiff’s comments, then procedes IN HER NEXT SENTENCE to parrot what he’d just said) speaks volumes to the devastating effects of head injury on the minds of those around the patient too.

      • Thank you for the response!
        And yes, I’ve noticed. Unfortunately, that isn’t true for the many sports journalists “out there”, who, particularly on this anniversary, keep on pouring out what seems to be ill-founded speculations, citations from “experts” and so on. What frustrates me, as a neurologist, is that they keep painting this injury as just some kind of “sports trauma”, something alike to the several orthopedic problems that athletes suffer, get an operation for, and then show their endurance and mastery through training and rehabilitating themselves, preferably with a spectacular come-back.

        The same attitude is seen in the way journalists speak about boxers suffering head traumas. A Nordic female boxer suffered a severe head trauma some years ago, highly publisized with TV footage and such. Afterwards, the media are eagerly awaiting her come-back, wanting her to “overcome” the challenge. But sadly, what has been revealed through interviews and such, is that she actually is quite traumized still – that her life has been irrevocably changed by that fateful hit to the head in the boxing ring. Still – the sports journalists (and the entertainment media) seem not to be able to accept this – it seems like they only have one story on which all stories are modelled – that kind of “struggle and overcome”, “Rocky”, story.
        What is particularly provoking is that this attitude is coupled to the recent and – unfortunately successful – campaign to legalized professional boxing in Norway. Ignoring medical evidence that head injuries differ from most other sports injuries in how profound, person- and life-changing and frequently irreversible they are.

        Your blogs here have been a medically sound (in my opinion as a neurology specialist) alternative view, and I’ve been trying to direct Norwegian journalists to your posts. I do hope you will keep up the good work in some fashion – possibly more directly targetting the journalists with their large and news-hungry public.

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