Monday, April 2, 2007

Leak in the pool

Contrary to what naive observers might believe, the prestigious French sporting newspaper L'Equipe surely did not dream up, in one way or another, the story about Ian Thorpe. What happened was quite ordinary from a journalistic viewpoint. The information behind the story was leaked to the newspaper by an unknown source, whose identity we may never know. Everyday journalism in many domains depends heavily upon leaks. In the case of a serious and time-honored newspaper such as L'Equipe, one would normally expect that they only print leaked information from reliable sources. So, it would be foolish to insinuate that L'Equipe might have invented their information about Ian Thorpe.

Richards Ings, chairman of ASADA [Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority], spoke this afternoon to a Sydney radio station on the event referred to by L'Equipe, which stems from a urine test in May 2006. Although nothing has been asserted yet on this question by the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency], it appears perfectly feasible for L'Equipe to imagine that Ian Thorpe's raised testosterone levels might have been unacceptable... which is all—no more and no less—that the newspaper claimed. The world swimming body FINA [Fédération internationale de Natation] would appear to know that a Thorpe affair has indeed been simmering, because they have apparently called upon the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport] to evaluate the situation. In doing so, FINA did not reveal explicitly the name of the swimmer in question. Finally, the only real scoop created by the leak to L'Equipe concerns the identity of the implicated swimmer: Ian Thorpe.

Is there any point in trying to determine the precise source of the leak, maybe in the hope of taking legal action against either the leaker or the newspaper that published the leak, or both? I don't think so. Good journalists, like good detectives, don't normally reveal the identity of their sources. One would suspect, though, that the leaker was probably somebody with French links... As far as the newspaper is concerned, is it really a crime to print leaked information?

No comments:

Post a Comment