Part 2: Todt & Saillant – le dénouement

(Link to first post: Todt & Saillant: le dénouement part 1)

On January 16 2015 I received an answer to my request that the FIA open an Ethics inquiry about Gerard Saillant’s trip to my hospital to interfere with my employment. Here is that answer (click on it to enlarge – open it in another tab so it’s easier to follow along):

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I think it might be useful to just consider this letter, point by point. As I mentioned in my last post, I think this letter is illustrative of just how detached from the real world the FIA hierarchy is.

The author is Todt’s chief of staff. He was previously in charge of sports-related stuff on Fillon’s (ex-French PM) staff. I have never met him. He would appear to be part of a wave of ex-political types hired by Todt, apparently desirous to be surrounded by people felt to be able to help his unquenched political ambitions.

Let’s proceed.

1) I do not PRETEND to be anything, my dear Jean. I WAS outraged, and now am left with only residual nausea. But really, sir – how Putin-esque can your language be? Private and informal? Do you really take yourself seriously? I will comment no further on this point. The ridicule and scorn of those who will now see it suffice largely.

2) For someone who worked under a Prime Minister, Xavier, you’re not doing a good job of advising Jean about the not particularly difficult-to-fathom notion of what the word PRIVATE  actually means. I’m glad you’re a chief of staff and not a judge! Private  in this sense, Messieurs, is meant to distinguish those aspects of my life that are the proper purview of my EMPLOYER, and therefore subject to a specific set of rules and regulations, from those that are nobody’s business but mine. It has nothing to do (this would be laughable if it weren’t so pitiful) with how large the AUDIENCE of that activity might be. This is not a question of 4 people at a dinner party being private, but a blog being public. Again, if you actually MEAN what you write about this, it’s totally shocking that people with such flimsy notions of fundamental principles are in any sort of position of responsibility.

3) I’m rather surprised that this private and informal (can’t help the chuckles!) visit concerned a subject about which I’d not written for 6 MONTHS. Yep. Nothing about Michael since June 2014. And the visit took place in December. WTF? I guess the FIA is a great lumbering machine, and that it took time to book the tickets for Gerard. OR . . . this was about something else. Something rather more contemporaneous to the visit. Hmmmm. Wonder what that could’ve been? Grin crosses face. Smug grin.

4) OK, I’m starting to feel bad now. I think you should have written to me in French, because it’s impossible for me to imagine that you don’t know that the word, and process of, DIAGNOSIS involves examining a patient, taking a history, doing examinations and considering a range of differential diagnoses. Why, oh why, do you conflate what I wrote about Michael with DIAGNOSIS? I surely didn’t, and if you’d bothered to read, and tried hard to understood, my writing, you’d know that. My blog has 1.5 million readers (I know, right?!) and almost none of THEM were confused.

5) Allegations? I’m growing weary of your consistent misuse of my language. I considered a range of possiblities when discussing Michael’s situation. Nothing more and nothing less. By the way, just so it shouldn’t be total loss, Jean, here’s the definition of “allegation”:

“a claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof”

Are you SURE you’re talking about Michael here, and not something ELSE I might have said???

6) While we’re still on this paragraph, rich with confusion, I’m not clear where Jean Todt was mandated by anyone, as president of the FIA,  to become involved in what was written about Michael Schumacher (as far as I know, no longer under Todt’s employ for quite a number of years now). Did the FIA Senate decide that this was worthy of the FIA’s time and money? Was this a whim of the president, or did the proper structures approve the funds for the dossier, for the hundreds of hours of secretary time to constitute it, for Saillant’s train and hotel? Did the General Assembly? Do you even realise that using corporate funds for private tasks (yeah, PRIVATE, and here I’m using it correctly) is ILLEGAL??? This is what your ethics committee was requested to consider. Your utter blindness to this speaks volumes as to your sense of good governance. Shame on you.

7) Because Michael was never my patient, the usual tenets of medical ethics, which involve the relation of the patient to the health care system and its constituent components, do not apply. My relation to the person next to me on a bus or on an airplane is governed by ETHICS, not MEDICAL ethics despite the fact that I happen to be a physician! Thus the same rules apply to what I write as to anyone else: as long as what ANYONE says publicly is neither slanderous, libellous, or dangerous, and conforms to very few other exceptions (eg, holocaust revisionism is illegal speech in France), HE OR SHE IS FREE TO SAY IT.

8) My past position at the FIA is what it is. If it increases my readership, so be it. On the other hand you again are using words you don’t understand. Slander is defined as “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation”. Find where I was slanderous. I dare you.

9) You and Gerard have your reasons for wanting me fired. In fact, you actually fired me! We’ve understood that for some time now. But let’s be clear about something: you might not like what I write, but there is absolutely nothing unethical about my blog. You, on the other hand, with your “discuss with a fellow of the medical community” line are again being disingenuous, to not say mendacious.

10) Professional ethics authorities? You keep repeating yourself. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MEDICAL ETHICS. I don’t fancy myself a journalist (I don’t drink enough!), but what I write on my blog would  involve journalistic ethics rather than those you so conveniently (and wrongly) obsess over.

11) As for your closing, here’s an analogy:

you : sincere = me : batman

There, guess that just about takes care of it.

Sound of grimy hands being wiped on overalls. Sound of overalls being burned!

I’ll post a bit about the “dossier” Jean had the FIA assemble within the next few days, then I’m done with this, and with them.

111 thoughts on “Part 2: Todt & Saillant – le dénouement

  1. ı couldnt keep myself not to write about it..a traumautic brain injury patient may need to spend hundred thousands dollars but ı dont believe treatment requires million pounds as much as 10 million pound…as a result if tbi patients requires spending million dollars for treatment ,they should all wait for die..it is illogical…

    • Happily, we dont decide who to let live and who to let die. Especially based on projected costs of care. Society, via the political process, could make some of those decisions and impose them, but it would reflect a very slippery slope of ethical/moral judgement.

      • thank you doctor for response. there are great stories about people WHO had traumatic brain injuries…people need to watch them people need to read them…recovery can take lots of time but this doesnt rule out that people can live a proper life..this is amazing…there are blogs belongs to tbi patients and videos on youtube…ı am amazed…in 3 or 5 years those patients start to lead a life almost as same they did before the injury story….ı wish every people learn what is going on with those patients and what kind of processes they live through..ı think this is very important and emotinal..thank you again you are giving me a chance to share my opinions….

      • Gary, I discovered last year that there is a move to encourage people in a vegetative state/minimally conscious state to go home in some countries. I found some examples of people being sent home in America, Franch and Germany and I think Michael Schumacher may be taking part in such a scheme which is why Jean-Francois Payen, the doctor at the Grenoble hospital is still visiting the Schumacher family at home in Switzerland. I think they are tracking such patients to see if they really do recover better than people who stay in institutions. I think this is because early evidence suggests that such patients do much better and sometimes recover consciousness even more than a year after injury. I think this is really encouraging and maybe one day this will help others not to be written off prematurely.

        At the moment it is close to impossible to care for someone in a vegetative state at home in the UK mostly on cost grounds but also because it is felt that it would be too stressful for families.

      • Thanks Gary. In theory matched patients in Liège and Cambridge could be compared based on where they were living, although I think this is more about love than science. The Catholic countries like Italy, France and Spain seem to be better than the UK too, which reflects different attitudes to the family I think, I’m pretty sure the Schumachers are tapping into the top international experts in the field and the Bianchis will be able to do the same.

      • Fascinating point, Jane. Have you done a literature search to see if there’s anything looking at this? I’ll mention it to our people and see if they can get someone on this to have a look.

      • ‘Will time heal? A long-term follow-up of severe disorders of consciousness’ Steppacher et al 2014 tracked 102 patients discharged from one German institute 2-14 years after injury and identified a group of vegetative (UWS) patients who recovered consciousness after more than 3 years. They were more likely to be younger, have traumatic injuries and be cared for at home. I doubt if there is any research on matched patients and the main finding in this study was that current predictors are too vague for single patients. Would be fascinating to compare patients in existing imaging studies based on where they were living.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4184668/

      • You are just a bitter little man whose lack of competence has been found out.

        Please stop spouting rubbish for once in your life.

      • Just a few points, to make things clear.

        1) I am 175 cm in height. While not “big” this hardly qualifies me as “little”.

        2) Anger is not bitterness. I daresay I’m rather happier than most. And from what I gather, from the small wellspring of venom that put pen in your claw, a damned sight happier than thou.

        3) It has taken surprisingly long for my lack of competence to be found out. Thank god the for the internet, right?

        4) I have not always spouted rubbish. In my early days, it was a rather cheese-like substance. Later, the remnants of the previous eve’s festivities. The rubbish is a new addition to the repertoire.

        5) We have a saying where I come from.

        “If you don’t like the rubbish, f**k off and don’t read it”

        6) I am curious as to what bizarre need writing to me satisfied. But not enough to ever bring myself to read your words again.

      • Just done some research and the author of this enlightening missive has done so on a russian ISP, registered to a “National Credit Card” company. Not wishing to cast aspersions, but this sounds about as honest as most of the rest of your government, Boris.

  2. None of my family deemed the race on Sunday worth watching – I know that viewing numbers are dwindling rapidly. However, Jules Bianchi is not totally forgotten by Manor as his 2 points saved the team. I’m sure the accident really has affected all the drivers and the sentiments below are quite genuine.
    Manor boss John Booth says the team would not have been resurrected without Jules Bianchi.
    Frenchman Bianchi, critically injured in an horror crash whilst driving for Manor’s former guise Marussia late last season, is still lying in a coma.
    “I think of Jules almost every day,” Booth told France’s Auto Hebdo, “and he should have been with us in Melbourne to share our joy.
    “We were not able to put the cars on the track, but we nonetheless won our fight. I would like Jules to also win his.”
    Booth says Manor’s emergence from administration and near-collapse can be traced back to May of 2014, when Bianchi scored two crucial points.
    It secured millions in official F1 prize-money for the struggling team that it is now set to collect in 2015.
    “Without him (Bianchi), without those two points he got in Monaco last year, we would not be here,” said Booth.
    “In the end, that is what convinced the new investors of the potential of the team.
    “Being here now is our way of saying to Jules that the race is not over until the chequered flag has fallen. I don’t know if our presence at the track is any help to his parents, but I hope it is, however small and insignificant.
    “We are the first to emerge from the worst ordeal Manor has ever been through, and I have no doubt that Jules will succeed as well,” said Booth.
    “What we were able to rebuild over the winter shows that faith can move mountains, and that there is always hope as long as you believe.
    “Jules, your team is with you,” he added.

      • Marussia left huge debts in their wake, with the creditors in the end getting 1.3p for every pound they were owed. If you were owed £1000 you got back £1.30 for your trouble. Think about it.
        And all in all those poor sods, supplying goods and services in good faith were left owed £31 million pounds.
        It seems absolutely inconceivable that a company which left such a devastating trail of financial irresponsibility and destruction behind it has been allowed to rise again – the directors should have been disbarred for life for running a company that could so comprehensively not pay its way – AND be also allowed access to funds to continue what it was doing so badly before without any notion that that money could maybe go towards repaying the debts of the old company. And John Booth’s sickening interview with Auto Hebdo only underlines the point.
        To the best of my knowledge it is only this country that allows such financial chicanery which is why the likes of Marussia, a sows ear of a company from the word go, are back where they are …. and where small companies that are owed money hand over fist are left swinging in the wind.
        Oh, and you can rest assured that Bernie is looking to Jules’ medical bills. He’s like that.

      • My understanding is Chegalakov failed to properly fund the team, according to the agreements. The fact that Booth and Lowden have managed to salvage a working team means that a lot of people have jobs that would have otherwise lost them, which is what’s weighed against the losses incurred by suppliers in this instance.

        As far as what Booth said, what exactly offended you so much? I didn’t read a full transcript of the interview.

      • PeterKirchin: “Marussia left huge debts in their wake, with the creditors in the end getting 1.3p for every pound they were owed. If you were owed £1000 you got back [£13] for your trouble. Think about it. And all in all those poor sods, supplying goods and services in good faith were left owed £31 million pounds.”

        Very good point. I wonder what the FIA have to say regarding supporting those that support the sport (bottom of the chain suppliers of goods & services).

      • I haven’t been following the story Peter so have no idea how accurate it is. I do know that Philippe Streiff believes that the whole F1 community backed him following his accident and his main fury against Todt and Saillant appeared to be because he felt they were turning their backs on Bianchi and not helping with medical bills etc. If Manor give some of the £40 million to help the Bianchis with medical bills that would seem fair – he must be entitled to his share of the money. I don’t want to believe that the drivers don’t care at all about a fallen colleague.

      • PS: I learnt last year when reading about recovery chances of those in a vegetative state or a minimally conscious state one year after injury that those in a vegetative state were much more likely to survive and recover consciousness if they went home. This was mainly because they had families who didn’t give up on them. The Bianchis must be such a family. Philippe Streiff was able to go home himself after about 3 years once his house had been adapted. His injury was very different but some of the consequences were the same. This is why the Bianchis need money and Philippe Streiff knows this – he should be shouting it from the roof tops. In my opinion the right thing to do is to either let such patients die very quickly or pay for the very best facilities to aid their recovery and never, ever forget or give up. All neurosurgeons in training should be required to visit long-term care homes for such patients to become more aware of the consequences of saving a life.

      • Peter, I know we have seen some things differently in the past ,but I could not agree with you more in the fraud perpetuated in the name of Manor. I believe I read that at one time you supplied parts and components to F-1 teams so you certainly understand the real ramifications of the fraudsters who do not pay and leave the folks with the smallest voice left to fend for themselves. I agree, complete BS.

      • Peter, what’s ‘bullshit’ is your grasp of basic mathematics; 1.3% of 1000 is 13!
        You also don’t appear able to grasp the fact that Marussia’s problems stem from the failure of their main investor to honour his financial commitment to the team. Furthermore, it was the with the creditors’ consent that the team was permitted to continue to trade; 70% voting to that effect.
        Before publishing your opinion you would be well advised to ensure your arithmetic skills are beyond those of a ten year old and that your commercial acumen is of a similar standard.

  3. P.S.
    WTF FIA? can also investigate why there isn’t a German GP this year other than the possibility the Germans really are the numbnuts Bernie says they are. (don’t blame me – I totally love Germany)
    lm

  4. Gary,
    This isn’t about you. Under your auspices you’ve attracted a mighty smart group of people to your blog and we all appreciate the work you’ve done and the bravery you’ve shown in taking Truth to (the perception of) Power. But now it’s time to begin a blog called, for want of a better name, “WTF FIA?”
    On WTF FIA? we can bring our latest bits of information to a central place and, perhaps, gather our own Dossier of Incompetence? Perhaps with a video running on continuous loop of Melbourne’s recent pathetic demonstration of a depleted sport? Or an interview with Giedo van der Garde followed by a lawyered comment from Ms. Kaltenborn who owns a third stake in Sauber and appears to represent 100% of the Sauber braintrust? Or articles describing how a seat in an F1 car is subject to auction and you too can drive an F1 car if you outbid the other guy? Or how driving for Ferrari means you have to follow only 93% of the rules? (I mean, Go Kimi! and all that, but. . .really?) Or post photos of Bernie sitting naked on four billion one dollar bills explaining why a 10 car grid is a good idea because it insures everyone gets a prize (like a 5 year old’s birthday party). Or Manor. I mean, Virgin Marussia Manor Renault Ferrari cha cha cha the team that had to pay to get to Melbourne but not run. Or, then it didn’t have to pay to get to Melbourne but still couldn’t run. (Ask Bernie) And then Helmut Marko sums up the day by threatening to remove his Red Bulls from the sport because they’ve only won the WC for 4 of the past 5 full seasons and in Melbourne his hot driver finished a lapped 6th. (as a blog fund-raiser black linen hankies could be sold with the WTF FIA? monogram)
    lm

  5. Yesterday the New York Times featured a front page story about a 24 year old who quit professional football. Ordinarily I wouldn’t read an article titled “Chris Borland, Fearing for Health, Retires From the 49ers. At 24.”, but this blog has sparked my understanding of what concussion is.

    “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” Borland told ESPN, referring to the multiple concussions he had sustained.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/18/sports/football/49ers-linebacker-citing-injury-risk-joins-list-of-nfl-retirees.html

    It appears the dire result of multiple concussions is finally getting the attention it long deserved. I think the cat is, as they say, out of the bag, with the upheaval in major sport entities just beginning. (If you want to read some outstanding writing on the subject of concussions, go to FormerF1Doc October 2013)
    lm

    • I agree that it’s starting to happen – we’ll know it’s real when the number of kids signing up for Pop Warner football (the equivalent of little league baseball) plateaus and then turns down. We know much too little, and the risks seem so extremely high, for American football, as it is currently played, to be considered a safe sports choice.

  6. Doc,

    You are killing us – we want, we NEED, the third shoe to drop! Come on, please don’t make us wait too long for the next post! 🙂

      • Hi Michael! Once I’m settled in here (and my stuff gets here from Europe), I’ll scan the dossier and write a bit about it. I’m far from those perverse clowns now, both geographically as well as emotionally; the urgency of triumphing over their putrid behavior has faded considerably.But thanks for the interest!

  7. Despite the fact that Saillant attempted to sabotage Gary’s employment, which was nothing whatsoever to do with either the FIA or Schumacher, I do think it would be better if any potential legal action which the Bianchis may take against the FIA concentrates purely on the Japanese Grand Prix. It is a complete coincidence that Schumacher’s accident happened in France and any issues raised in this blog to do with the initial response to Schumacher are completely separate and of no relevance to the Bianchi accident.

    • It is quite clear to me that todt and saillant are in mortal fear of a possible lawsuit by the Bianchis. I obviously don’t know how such a suit would turn out. That said, the elements of the case that are already in the public domain indicate that Piette’s decisions before and after the accident would appear to not conform to the regulations established for these types of situations. That spells trouble, lots of trouble, for jean et al.

  8. To Gary,

    I don’t think my comment above which references Joe S is worth adding to the discussion maybe for posterity. But I got the strongest feeling of somet.wrong about what I have experienced this weekend. It’s egregious but also it’s been shut up. I’ve been silenced and I think you can find out quickly I’m not inclined to attack Joe ever. Try to find a example or even a time I don’t defend him!!

    What I’m worried about is a more general hushing up in F1 and that is on topic here.

    Anyhow I’m not out for any blood here. Just really worried to point me being upset …

    I do dear Joe was influenced and so a independent voice this sport needs is crippled. Almost no-one less than my idols got the respect I apportion to Joe on song. At the worst I feel my vocal support was played by a matter of expedience. And look at my comments bigging up Monisha and Peter Sauber!!! All genuine.

    I don’t think you will have read all my words just to discard them but I’m so shocked I almost need counselling and I only just think my life recovered from a bad concussion last January that had wiped out much of my life in part because it was just violence not accident so upset in those ways… Having suffered three nasty assaults and traumas to my brain I always read you avidly, your writing definitely helped me patch some things together I may never have improved otherwise. Fact not sucking up.

  9. You should join Joe Saward in his campaign to have the FIA investigated by the EU. For different reasons, and by different measures, you appear to have uncovered the same truth about them.

    • Surely the EU is the biggest gravy train of them all. Walking away with morality on your side seems far more sensible to me. The wrong people are always attracted to such positions of power in my opinion, as anyone who has read Animal Farm can testify.

    • I am not sure he’s campaigning at all for that.

      We seem to have a disagreement following his reporting of the Sauber case the reasons for which I have not been able to ascertain or been told. Normally Joe is a firebrand advocate of plain decency and rule of law and even speaks eloquently for the subtleties of legal righteousness as a layman. But over the Sauber case it appeared to me he was not reporting facts, I had in any event for the first time to look to other outlets to learn the facts of importance, and I did read as far as primary sources, something I often did when Joe’s reported on legal affairs before. And I’m this instance, worried if may have shot from the hip, I questioned his stance. That stance continued to include – – and this is not without precedence – – calling out his readers / visitors as ” not sensible” for disagreement with him, one headline that appeared to be petty told you so language , and the last headline asserting then repeating in comment reply that the case was settled when nothing supports that at all.

      I have had the feeling lately that strong arm tactics are being deployed around the F1 media and I have yet to find anyone who will publish any comment of mine that explains why I perceive that to be. But I sense this in a very real and clear fashion.

      Back to why I replied:

      I think you could ask very similar questions why Bernie has been citing rules that can take out development advantage retrospectively when they are FIA rules and not only have the FIA abdicated responsibility for regulating F 1…. There’s a three cups game being played and too many are acting on false premises. This blogs host may be only the most recognized of who has been bullied recently in the name of the powers that be getting their way without recourse to any norms of civil behaviour.

    • I’ll reply to this comment, but I intend to address some other people that posted above.
      I feel the urge to clarify a couple of things about the legal aspects that emerged so far.
      The European Commission cannot investigate nor sanction individuals for anything but breaches of EU competition law. As I learn from wiki,the EC has already launched an investigation on FIA on these grounds: anti-trust, essentially.
      EU has no competence in assessing the governance of a volountary association estabilished – I presume – under French law.
      On the other hand, and this is why Doc Hartstein hired a lawyer, “some people” working at FIA might have committed criminal offences, and they can be brought forward/referred to the competent tribunal (usually ratione loci, this means the tribunal in Liège in the case of Doc).
      I hope all the legal pratictioners here won’t laugh at me for having oversimplified, and that the discussion won’t derail further into anti-Europe flame🙂

      • What these morally challenged clowns did was outrageous, but having made todt, malenfer and saillant’s actions public is quite sufficient to me. I’ve moved on, and no longer wish their apparent corruption, megalomania, and ethical rot cloud my days. I’m done with them.

      • Having worked for various voluntary organisations, people are always talking about having a ‘vote of no confidence’ when such matters arise. Despite great excitement and rumours these votes seldom happen. I have absolutely no knowledge of if this is possible at the FIA but it wouldn’t surprise me if something similar might be going on behind the scenes (and equally little expectation that it would actually lead to any action or improve anything).

      • Todt has done fairly well at gaming the system to help assure his longevity; for the rest, sycophantism and dependency on Paris for passes, privilege, and patronage (Ms Dahlberg taught us the power of alliteration in 10th grade) help to eliminate question-asking. Palace coups, by ad hoc alliances of ASN’s (national federations) are possible, but must (like real coups d’état, and for much the same reasons!) be almost certain of success.

        There is, and I know this for a fact, significant resistance to the current regime, and a surprising intensity of desire for change. This is dramatically true on the medical side, where Piette and Saillant should be sleeping with one eye open. This is a story that must be watched with patience, that might play out invisibly (count on me . . .), but that will be worth following.

  10. Aside: Following this weeks Australian Grand Prix, one gets the impression that Formula One has fallen into disarray. Smaller teams can’t afford to run cars, there is a huge gulf in performance levels between cars, especially with the engines, in fighting within teams, squabbling between teams … has someone taken their eye off the ball? I thought the aim was to make formula one more competitive and to allow smaller teams to survive financially. Yet only 15 cars actually started the race and there was an enormous gulf in performance across those starting.

  11. The FIA is hardly in a position to lecture anyone on ethics. Ethics are hardly the strong point of an organisation which allows a new FIA President to bring in his own medical people, regardless of their total lack of any practical, medical race experience. It is probably because the very experienced medical workers actually involved on the track could cover and keep the drivers sate that there wasn’t a major accident before October 2014. Fancy titles don’t make for competence. Now I just hope that the correct people will be blamed and the buck is not passed. In any ethical organisation the high command will protect their people by taking full responsibility and falling on their swords if necessary. I have few illusions that the FIA is an ethical organisation but they do now have the opportunity to prove this one way or the other.

  12. I did not have high hopes of the FIA giving a sensible answer to your letter but the response is ridiculous. It is just unfortunate that there is no way to take them into a court where their warped view would be seen in the same way as Sauber’s legal argument against Giedo van der Garde.

  13. Im delighted to have been one of your many followers, since the summer of last year, and I’m quite frankly flabbergasted to read such bullying tosh from Todt’s boy, in some bizarre representation of ‘this isn’t how it’s done, laddie, back off”.

    Your clarity of communication, openness, and respect for the intelligence of your readers makes this blog an absolute joy to absorb, and has rekindled my own longstanding interests in matters medical. All power to you, Doc. This is what the internet is for.

  14. Schumacher was always a red herring – they only got really scared when Bianchi was moved back to France. A bit too close to home maybe …… and where all the main players now reside. I’m just posting this with dates to remind people of just when threats of legal action were made against Streiff.
    PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Formula One’s governing body took legal action against French former F1 driver Philippe Streiff on Thursday for comments he made about an investigation into compatriot Jules Bianchi’s horrific crash.
    The statement said International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt and FIA medical commission president Gerard Saillant, also both French, were dismayed to learn of his published remarks.
    “Philippe Streiff’s insulting and defamatory comments are utterly unfounded and demonstrate malicious intent,” it added.
    “In view of the seriousness of this deliberate attack on their reputations, they (Todt and Saillant) have had to ask their lawyers to lodge a complaint for public defamation and insult,” continued the statement, published on the FIA website.

  15. Hi Gary,

    Been reading (and reblogging) your post for a couple of months now. I find funny how the FIA fears a blog. Why? Its a couple of words really that hurtful to them? They can try and hide all the info they want, but in this day and age, trying to hide stuff is almost impossible. Reminds me of when the video of Jules crash started surfacing on the internet and they were trying to take down the links. That just showed me the trouble that they just got into.

    BTW, kudos to your boss for standing up to them.

  16. It never occurred to me that the MaFIA’s letter used Schumacher as a stalking horse for Bianchi. Now it all makes sense. (I thought that because they accused you of violating medical ethics re MS with your “pessimistic diagnosis” it meant they were actually accusing you of violating medical ethics re MS with your “pessimistic diagnosis”. How American of me.) Because Jules’ family have been so open about his condition it seemed a very sad situation and without the intrigue of the MS epic. Now there’s intrigue and social media will be aflame. An example of unintended consequences if you ask me.
    I’ve been whining about the running of the Japanese GP since the green flag and didn’t know there were many others – besides you – who believe the FIA are culpable. I read on http://thejudge13.com/
    that some think the onus for the crash rests with Charlie Whiting. He’s supposed to be the Decider, but with so much broadcasting and sponsorship money resting on a completed race, do any of us really believe the decision to end a race is up to him?
    lm

    • Maybe the Fia wanted to show their power. If they could destroy the good Gary just with power, without him having done anything wrong, then maybe they thought they would frighten anybody wanting to look further into the Bianchi accident? Because they thought they would show that power and violence is what counts. But hopefully they (Fia) are wrong. Maybe it is like this??

  17. You are doing the one thing these half-wit bully boys fear.
    Letting the daylight into their comfortably shady world.

    From experience the one thing these types cannot cope with is dealing with someone who is actually honest.
    They all have so many skeletons in their cupboards, they cannot believe you do not.

    The clumsy lever they tried to use on you has now sprung back and smacked them firmly and accurately in the b****cks.

    Sit back and watch them squirm. How long before they are each trying to blame the other?

    Alan

  18. Just makes you wonder what kind of Ronspeak letter you might have got/get if you’d unearthed something about non-electrical, non-mechanical, non-engineering, non-fault, non-injury, non-concussion, non-accident Windgate… beyond the astute suggestion that um, perhaps, they try & explain again…?

  19. I have only one question: What is so important surrounding Schumacher’s accident that it needs to be shielded from the public to the degree that the head of the FIA is willing to expose himself as a fool?
    Various people on this blog have suggested the family’s wish for privacy, the shame of exposing Michael’s condition to the world, the loss of income from departing sponsors . . .but it has to be more than any those options, doesn’t it?
    Who said “It isn’t the crime it’s the cover-up than gets you in the end”? Catapulting into a rock is not a crime, but the Schumacher family (and other interests?) have been behaving as though it was the crime of the century that demands a full-court cover-up. Why?
    lm

    • Again, while this is a valid question, in the context of Saillant’s visit to my employer, it is only a pretext. He could hardly have asked for me to be muzzled because I risk trumpeting information that could cause them great legal and monetary damage. But THAT’S what was going on. And the coincidence of Mr. Bianchi raising the possibility of legal action will now have them diving for cover.

      • Though you hadn’t mentioned MS for 6 months, still there was a visit to your place of employment. This is what paranoia looks like. We somewhat sane people may think their fears are crazy, but those fears aren’t crazy to them. They’re real. Again, what are they afraid of? Why the cover-up? I think your tussle with them illustrates the length to which they’ll go to shut down all reference to MS’s condition. Again, you’re looking for rationality, logic, and a modicum of balanced thinking where there isn’t any. Todt is afraid, or carrying the water for others who are afraid. Who? Why? This doesn’t end with him.
        The whole scenario is a drama, a tragedy, and a mystery. My hope is Aaron Sorkin is working on the screenplay as we speak.
        lm

      • This is about Jules Bianchi, not Michael Schumacher. They want(ed) me quiet because they knew they had significant liability issues for the medical decision-making (in the tower, not trackside) at Jules’ accident. Too late now, though. That horse has bolted. Good luck Jean, Gerard, and Jean-Charles. Although good lawyers would be more useful for you, I fear.

      • That is incorrect.
        Phillips Streiff, in the face of the legal threat from the FIA admitted that he had got “carried away” with his comments on TF3 and pretty much admitted that he did not know Schumacher and had certainly not visited him, and that the opinions he expresses were his own.
        JL Moncet did a complete U-turn on his comments about talking to Mick Schumacher saying he had “seen” him but had clearly not spoken to him and that his comments about the GoPro camera were effectively rubbish.
        For what it’s worth the story about Schumacher “sitting on his patio looking out on lake Geneva with tears rolling down his cheeks….” etc etc reported in Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy turned out to be complete tosh as well.
        I couldn’t care less what the Schumachers or the Bianchis tell us or don’t, that is entirely up to them to them but where I do agree with you is that one day someone somewhere is somehow going to get a photo, at which point, as you say, the whole pack of cards will collapse.

      • Jean-Louis knows how todt is. A few years ago, todt told the owner of TF1 that the station would be banned from the Ferrari garage if he didn’t fire one of their reporters, who he felt had insulted him. The reporter was fired before sunup the next day. J-L M is not stupid and understands the danger of certain species of reptile.

      • Gary, this is very strange and probably a complete red herring but I know that Professor Sid Watkins was a founding member of the English charity, Brain and Spine Foundation in 1992 and I just have a gut feeling that Todt and Gérard Saillant wanted their own rival institute and this is partly why they set up their Brain and Spine Institute in Paris, in which Schumacher was of course involved. It seemed strange when Saillant made a point of stressing that Streiff was nothing to do with their Paris institute. I’m sure some of this comes down to rivalry between the French and the English, with others caught in the crossfire. After all Sid did warn you about the French! It must be rather unusual for an American like you to be working in Belgium and speaking perfect French and I bet they saw you as a threat in some way even before you spoke out.

      • I’m not sure what Saillant’s deal is with that institute. I attempted last year to ascertain its research output by doing a literature search and checking the CV’s of anyone mentioned on the web site. Was not a particularly fruitful endeavor. I distinctly remember the dynamic duo and Michael on a very popular Sunday afternoon TV show (on, of course, Jean’s buddy Bouygue’s personal TV station, TF1) talking the place up and soliciting contributions. But Saillant is pretty much a front man. He was medical director at a big fancy hospital in Qatar (now that Jean is persona non grata in the UAE he and his cronies mates have turned to Qatar as a source of manna- thus the General Assembly in December there, etc), but visited the place once every two months (presumably was still rather well compensated for his “work”). Reminds me of the shadow road repair workers in New York years ago who earned salaries but never existed. Similarly, he is president of the Medical Commission and Insitute of the FIA, despite never, in any capacity, having worked at a race of any sort.

      • Gary, you are getting much to close to some truths. They are under pressure from some source, perhaps for real the Schumacher clan. They need you to go away. Your questions and assumptions are making them very nervous. Don’t let them silence you. And I would love to know when voicing an opinion becomes slanderous. Wow, they are reaching.

      • I think Michael is a red herring. They are scared that they will be sued. They will then loose the golden egg-laying goose that their various positions has created for them.

    • I think Lulu’s question is the one we are all still intrigued by. WHY?
      I still believe the answer lies in part in the Schumacher family’s (particularly his father’s) avowed utter detestation of the Press and their perception that anything they give out will be distorted and over dramatized. It’s also smacks of a sort of Teutonic stubbornness not to alter course at any cost once a particular course of action has been embarked upon. They call it being “Stur”
      What amazes me is that Schumachers 2 young children, both emerging talents, one in the world of motor racing, the other in the world of horse riding, and both by all accounts friendly, normal and chatty kids haven’t let slip something about their Dad’s condition in the past year to a friend or colleague which has then been passed on.

      • But they have Peter – the first thing I read about Schumacher eye tracking came out because Giuliano Alesi races with Mick Schumacher and spoke to his friend who then spoke to Jean Alesi and this got out. On another occasion, Mick Schumacher spoke to journalist Jean-Louis Moncet who then (very unwisely) quoted this in an article partly blaming GoPro camera for worsening Schumacher’s injuries. It is true that each time the stories have been stamped on very hard by the Schumachers – this shows something about the mentality of the Schumachers but why should it be anything to do with the visit to Gary?
        My personal opinion is that it was a very bad move by Gérard Saillant to rubbish Philippe Streiff – he knows the Bianchis and it only takes a few angry people to start the ball ruling and bring the whole rotten house of cards down.

      • I’ve followed enough high profile brain injury/brain disease stories to know that people nearly always eventually get involved in a charity (or found a new charity) to help others in the same position. Often they don’t do this until the reality has really sunk in. For instance Andrew Marr in the UK is now campaigning for better long-term rehab for stroke victims and Stephen Hawking is patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and involved in their campaign “Don’t Let Me Die Without A Voice” which highlights how not being able to communicate is one of the most frightening and isolating aspects of living with motor neurone disease (also known as ALS).
        I’m sure that in the early days the Schumachers expected Michael to beat the odds and make some kind of miracle recovery – they’re not alone in this as most celebrities do in the early days. I think reality will eventually sink in even for the Schumachers and they too will genuinely give something back – not to F1 fans but to those affected by prolonged disorders of consciousness. I would like to think that they will even put pressure on Todt and Saillant to use their brain institute to do something useful and practical to actually help others.

      • Here’s the truth, Peter and we all know it. MS is tied to a wheelchair unable to speak or move and with very little chance of the situation getting any better.. We don’t need the family or the mouth piece to tell us. MS is yesterday’s news. We know it all. I’m waiting for the pictures which I’m sure will eventually be leaked. Can’t hide forever.

  20. As I sit recovering a week into hand tendon surgery, I read with amazement how the FIA perfectly recreate the fictional organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Right down to the inclusion of a pussy on the bosses lap.

    I do hope the Bianchi family probe deep and far into the circumstances of Jules accident when such a time is right for them.

    I’d also be interested to see if motoring publications will report on this affair between you and the FIA. But how far does Blofeld and the FIA penetrate such publications and its ability to stonewall such reports appearing in such publications, and indeed tv shows. I doubt Sky or the BBC would be in a position to report on this.

    Keep it up Gary. I (painfully) salute you!

    Gary

  21. I haven’t been following F1 for very long but stumbled across your blog.

    I appreciate you giving us all a glimpse into the politics of F1 and the view of the hugely important medical/safety side of the sport.

    Thank you for all the great information and I hope your contributions are recognized regardless of politics. That’s what the entire scientific/medical profession are based upon.

  22. Hey Doc, just wanted to let you know that your friends at /r/Formula1 have your back (for the most part): http://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/2ys0qv/dr_gary_hartstein_vs_fias_todt_saillant_le/

    ex.:

    Holy shit this is insane! The FIA went to his work and tried to get him fired!? For what? For speaking to us to give us an interpretation and understanding of what was being reported about Michael. His information was very helpful for our understanding. He did an excellent job. I’m really not impressed with Todt at the moment.

  23. Oh, hang on! We’ve moved on here to Le Denoument. I really must keep up! Will part 3 be called La Rejouissance…?
    First …. M. Malenfer …. I mean, you couldn’t make it up, could you!! Mr Evil Hell! And … “Chef de Cabinet” LOL etc! He really DOES take himself seriously!
    They object to your blog and most of what it contains in regard of Michael Schumacher.
    Does that mean they do NOT object to all the bollocks and tripe that has been written, all over the world, in just about every newspaper there is, more than once?
    From saying (in one) the he was dead, to “expected to make a full recovery”, to “sitting in his bath chair looking out on Lake Geneva”, to “crying when he saw his kids”
    What have they done about that lot? Nothing. Why … because they know they can’t.
    So they go at you (and by association us, your followers) and try and put the frighteners on us.
    What a way to run a country … oh, sorry, he’s not quite there yet … but what a way to run the FIA!

  24. The more the FIA fuck themselves over, will they be able to maintain their near stranglehold on motorsport outside of the States and with 4+ wheels? I somewhat hope the “mighty” will fall — though who it falls to is another question. The ACO have made enough silly decisions with sportscar racing that I don’t think I’d want them to be giving free reign over even that!

    • Given that the International Olympic Committee upgraded FIA to full-recognition status in 2013, and that the IOC’s decision ostensibly confirmed that “the statutes, practice and activities of the FIA are fully compliant with the Olympic Charter”, I wonder if there’s anything in said Olympic Charter that suggests it’s not really in the spirit of sport to have the president of your international federation using thuggish bullying and intimidation tactics against former employees (including trying to get them fired from unrelated private employment)?

      OK, the iOC is even more corrupt than FIA (iirc), but maybe they have an ethics committee that could be written to…for comedic effect? I’ll ask my friend the Olympics-covering journalist and author Alan Abrahamson (@alanabrahamson).

  25. Dear Gary,

    I very much enjoy reading your blog and for what it’s worth I remember hearing of your departure from your position as the guy in the medical car at the back of the grid and being replaced by some guy with no experience of racing, I was shocked then but this situation now would be laughable from it’s level of stupidity if it was not so malicious to your good self. I still rue the day when Ari didn’t get Max’s job and we got Napoleon instead. Even Tony Soprano would do a better job!! I understand this has all been quite an unpleasant experience for you but please keep up the blog, it’s one of only two I consider worth reading. And please keep up the pressure on these muppets, they deserve a bloody nose and it’s entertaining to read!!!!

    Kind Regards

    Neil

    • Hi Neil, and thanks. Just to be clear, the guy who replaced me in the Medical Car, Dr. Ian Roberts, is vastly experienced. It’s his current (and my former) boss, the Medical Delegate, whose only race experience consists of the F1 races he’s presided at. Although if the proverbial hits the fan re: Jules, that might just be coming to a screeching halt.

  26. I am going to take a slightly different perspective here; I believe that the letter was very specifically written, using each and every word chosen carefully. Chosen to inflame, chosen to threaten. Tsun Tsu in “The Art of War” (and I paraphrase) wrote that you should appear weakest where you are strongest, and strongest where you are weak. Reading that letter is is apparent that these are empty words used to attempt to justify their nefarious actions vis a vis your boss, and a further attempt to “scare you off”. The best thing you can do is bring their actions into the light, where we ALL have the opportunity to view them. You need not even comment on the letter as it is patently obvious to us all what it is. Good on you, but even more YOUR BOSS for understanding and protecting your flank. Let’s not lose sight of what this really is about; a man whose life has experienced a terrible tragedy that has altered his and his families trajectory through life. It is time that the FIA went away….for good!

    • I agree totally, Tom. I used a “semantic” parse as much, demonstrating at the most basic level the intrinsic falsehood of the whole thing.

      That said, it DOES represent a series of “arguments” that, without rather deep reflection, could win the day with those so disposed, or with those indisposed to such analysis. In this it reminds me (forgive my partisanship) much of the hogwash errr, rhetoric, that the Republicans try to feed America. Sounds good on the face of it, utter bullshit underneath.

      And agree about my boss’s superb intellect and lightning understanding of the ramifications of what was asked of him. He still chuckles at this ham-handed attempt at a hush job.

  27. Putin-esque, LOL.

    I’m wondering what the big agenda is in keeping Michael’s condition a secret? Obviously the family wants privacy and that is accepted fully. But to try and assassinate someone from the racing medical field, who cared for and cares about the person, who is not profiting, not lying, not speculating but giving pertinent facts about the type of injury smacks of gross incompetence and a fear of the truth.

    Michael’s fans were grossly under-served by the titillating tales of the tabloids and his press department severely botched delivery of the message. One only has to look at the Bianchi family and how they’ve handled their situation.

    One thing Dr. You’re American. Most powerful Europeans don’t like Americans.

  28. Dr. Hartstein,

    I haven’t seen the English language take such a beating in quite some time. Having lived and worked in a scientific capacity in Paris for 4 years, I was frequently taken aback by the ineptitude (and almost pride therein) of my French colleagues (MDs, PhDs etc.) to communicate in written English. Kept me very busy as an ad hoc proof reader. I think Google Translate was at work here as well.

    Just for the record, I find it inexcusable, egregious, offensive and probably passive-aggressive that M. Malfender didn’t address you with the appropriate title and/or honorific that you’ve most certainly earned. Maybe he wrote in English to avoid the standard French by-line of “Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur le Docteur, nos salutations distinguées” that you’d use even if you were just changing your phone service.

    I agree that the Prof. is looking down and nodding, while taking a long draw on his robusto.

    With kind regards,
    Brian

    • “I was frequently taken aback by the ineptitude (and almost pride therein) of my French colleagues (MDs, PhDs etc.) to communicate in written English”
      Now that amuses me.
      More than once is the time I have, in a professional capacity, translated a document from French to English, only to have the French regard my work with suspicion and re-translate it to suit their own vision of “English as it ought’a” ….which was of course Le Gibberish!
      And Gary … “sooner or later you’re going to be fucked by the french, old boy” … in that one sentence lies pretty much the whole problem the governance of International motor racing faces these days ….!
      A Frenchman at the head of an international organisation is bad enough … one of small stature is the pits. That does not however apply to French women …. almost the opposite applies … so my vote to replace the Absurd Mr Todt would be … Christine Lagarde!🙂

    • First time commenting here, although a long-time reader.
      However “the ineptitude (and almost pride therein) of my French colleagues (MDs, PhDs etc.) to communicate in written English” made me laugh even too much. I’m not a native English speaker, but this proves to be terribly true also in my “scientific environment” i.e. a French speaking university in a country bordering NL and LUX.

      @Doc, I wish I could find the slightest way to encourage you, as you seem to me to be 100% right.

    • Dear Brian,
      my mother language is French and I probably do not understand you correctly but I don’t think it is fair to critisize an non English speaking author to misuse or poorly write in English.
      If I am correct, the primary (or prevailing) language of the FIA is French, Dr Hartstein is working in the French speaking part of Belgium and it would have been entirely acceptable for Malenfer to reply in French but he elected to do it in a foreign language: so please don’t blame him for that (well for all the other wrongdoing he is showings here)

      Merci et best regards,

      • Actually, my criticism of his english was meant to show him that his language was misleading, dishonest, and delusional. In fact, the language he used planted a subtle framework of ME as the culpable party, although I rather think this subtlety was coincidence; Malenfer, as is the case with much of the French political class, certainly does not speak english particularly well.

  29. Hmmmm….. Appears as if the political branch of the FIA has drifted out of the reality based community. Surprising and a bit sad but such stances are not sustainable long term.

    Way to hold their feet to the fire! Keep it up.

  30. Gary,
    I find this whole thing rather unbelievable, it has all the hallmarks of someone trying to create a smoke screen, I wonder why…?

    I found your blog because I was looking for someone who could put Michael Schumacher’s injuries in context, I avoided all newspaper reports about him as they seemed to be ignorance and sensationalism in about equal measure. You, on the other hand, have been the voice of knowledge, experience rationality and compassion for which we all owe you for taking the time to explain the situation.

    I have thought for sometime that the FIA have been losing the plot, this only confirms it.

  31. Gary, absolutely brilliant!
    What I dont get: Michael’s accident happened as a private individual and had nothing to do with FIA at all. You no longer has any business involvement with FIA and still they get into this matter…….??
    A bunch of clowns they are!!!!
    Nail them asap!!!

  32. Hi Gary, just read all this now, and I’m a bit speechless!! I can’t believe the inept way they’ve attempted to deal with this… Good on you, man. I properly respect the work you do, and I can see why you’ve got them a bit rattled. But sometimes that’s what you have to do… Take no shit, mate. Not that you need me to tell you that…

  33. Great to see you, and your boss, standing up to this.
    Hopefully these fellas end up regretting their actions, rather than being allowed to just let it quietly blow over…

  34. I think ii is rather telling that Bernie Ecclestone spoke out this week and now calls the fate of F1 legend Michael Schumacher a “tragedy.” Different rules for different people it seems. Either poor Michael is being held under house arrest or he really is not doing very well, just as the heretic Gary Hartstein very reasonably surmised. Why not come clean and stop taking us all for idiots?
    “I know nothing about his current condition,” F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who has known the now 46-year-old German for over two decades, told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “This may sound strange, but it would have been more logical if he had had his accident in racing.
    “That is the tragedy of this story. He had a lot of crashes and took a lot of risks, but for it to happen like this? It was not even a skiing race.”

  35. Gary I follow your blog and always read it even though this is the first time I have commented.

    My opinion, get a lawyer and take them to the cleaners!

  36. I think the FIA and their minions need to look up the word ‘honesty’ as they seem to be struggling with the meaning of that too…

    I’m a reasonably intelligent woman but I must admit that I read their letter with a ‘what the hell??’ thought going through my mind. It makes very little sense and I really can’t understand their reasoning but hey, I know I’m not the first person to say that!

    Keep up the good work Doc, you have been sorely missed for the last couple of months.

  37. Gary (or should that be Garry?)

    I find it laughable that your blog posts about Michael are so carefully worded, and always plainly and succinctly establish that what’s contained therein is your opinion and NOT from any privileged information that you hold; yet the response to your request misuses and abuses the English language so badly in an attempt to hide their lack of any credible argument behind a veil of severity and hyperbole.

    I haven’t bothered to look back at all of them, as I’m confident that they are all convey a similar message as to the content that follows, but your last post about Michael makes the above point clear:

    “Obviously I have no direct information … So as always, I’m speaking based essentially on the published and consensus epidemiology concerning outcome in severe head injury. ”

    I am confident that your other readers, just like myself, have no doubt that all you have done is try to bring some informed narrative to the small amounts of information that have been released about Michael to help our understanding of the situation and what the future MIGHT hold.

    It is so clear, I would have been certain that the FIA would also find it impossible to interpret your writing in any other way, if it weren’t for their so obvious misunderstanding of THEIR OWN response to your letter. (Or maybe that was their plan!)

    The evidence certainly suggests that there was an alternative motivation behind their visit to your work, however I wouldn’t like to SPECULATE what that MIGHT BE for fear of my job also being targeted.😉

    I’m pleased their attempted bullying has had the opposite effect to that which was intended and I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

    Best

    Gez

  38. even ı as an ordinary person have some suspicions about health process of someone ı loved..and ı would like express my opinion that they are trying to cover up something…ı am disgusted with it..ıt shouldnt be so easy to silence someone..if there was nothing wrong then they wouldnt attempt to go so hard on someone try to explain his own opinions ..

  39. Thanks for sharing Gary. To go out of one’s way to abuse thier power and position to take on a personal vendetta against you is shocking and should have no place in this world. I only hope one day you receive the karma you deserve.

    Steve

  40. Totally agree – your comments re Michael Schumacher were based on your medical opinion of those types of injuries. Motorsport fans are interested in these to understand the challenges.

    They have failed to mention the issues following the Japan race, I wonder why?!

    Keep up the good work and insightful posts.

  41. Atta boy, Doc!! Sid would be proud of you.
    These guys are nothing more than thugs who think what they do in dark alleys will go unnoticed. Good for you for calling them on the carpet and shedding light on their abhorrent behavior.

  42. Hi Gary,
    Thanks for showing us this. I realize that the FIA will probably do absolutely nothing with it which is why it’s important that others can see it and they get outed for the thugs they are. I for one will be linking to this post on several F1 forums I’m a part of as I have done with many of your previous posts. Thanks for keeping us updated (not just now, but also during those awful days where we received little to no information about the situation of Michael and Jules), and I can also truly than you for making sure that I’m now more informed on brain injuries then I ever thought I’d be.

    Sincerely (and I actually mean this),
    Andrew

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