At the end of a discussion on Spain’s reaction to the Nadal skit on French TV on the radio programme La Ventana (La Cadena Ser) yesterday (09/02), Toni Martínez made a very interesting reflection.
Rather than envy, which has been the number one explanation given in Spain for the French wanting to make jokes about Spanish sports stars, he said that it might be because the French get the feeling that medals and winning might still be more important in Spain than the fight against doping.
And why would the French think such a thing? Martínez ventured that it might be because of the unanimous support shown by politicians and the media for a sports person who had been formally accused of, and then finally banned for, doping by an international court.
Unfortunately, this reflection was made at the end of the discussion, and it didn’t get discussed very much. The debate was more about whether the French TV show Les Guignols de l’info had gone too far with the Nadal skit and whether the Spanish official reaction had been excessive. (Which, in my opinion, was: the Spanish reaction was almost as big a joke as the original sketch.)
But someone did get the chance to say that yes, the French might have seen it as a little strange that Contador got applauded by Spanish journalists at the end of a press conference.
The French journalists present might have wondered how their Spanish counterparts were going to be able to go off and write something objective about someone they’d just applauded as a hero, despite the fact that that hero had just been (or was about to be) banned by an international court.
Well, I suppose we’re all fans at heart, journalists included, and quite a few of those journalists at whichever press conference was being talked about probably knew Contador personally. So maybe it’s understandable that they’d applaud him; but it’s also understandable that the French might see it as strange.
In hindsight, and taking into account Martínez’s comments, I think I was wrong in my interpretation in this post that it was out of a patronising attitude that the Spanish media might support Contador so blindly.
It’s probably more a case of anti-doping still not being seen as that important in Spain. In the media at least, which is probably a reflection on the attitude of the general public in this case. It’s just not seen as a big deal, or not as important as winning medals anyway.
This is not to say that Spain doesn’t diligently apply all the advisable and required anti-doping measures, which is a different question altogether. I’m just making a comment on the media and political reaction to the case, which I find a little surprising.