December 3/07 4:28 am - Barbeau Responds to HPC Conflict Editorial
Posted by Editor on 12/3/07
Barbeau Responds to HPC Conflict Editorial
Last Friday we posted an editorial by Matt Hansen (see Daily News: November 30/07 3:15 pm EST - CCA Selection: Interesting Conflicts or Conflicts of Interest?). The editorial was about the High Performance Committee, and how there is the potential for conflicts of interest among its members over the selection of athletes for national team projects such as the world championships.
Louis Barbeau is the Chair of the HPC, and also the Executive Director of the Quebec cycling federation - the FQSC. Mr Barbeau came under considerable scrutiny in the editorial; both because he is the Chair of the Committee, and because Quebec (the province) more directly ties funding of the provincial association to putting athletes on national team projects than do many other provinces.
However, it was also pointed out that other members of the Committee - Denise Kelly (Ontario Provincial Coach) and Luc Arseneau (Atlantic Cycling Centre Head Coach) - could also be in the same position. We do want to make clear that we did not and will not accuse any of the members of the HPC of having actually manipulated the selection process. Despite that, we stand by the position that there is the potential for manipulation, and that the issue needed to be raised.
Thus, we put forward the proposition that the HPC should restrict itself to setting selection criteria and High Performance policy, and leave the actual selection to staff and coaches.
When this article came out at the start of the CCA AGM it, as expected, provoked considerable discussion. The majority of feedback we have received (by e-mail and in direct conversations at the AGM) felt that we were correct, and that the HPC should not be making selections.
Louis and I had a long discussion about the editorial during the weekend, and here are his (paraphrased) feelings about the editorial and the HPC.
First, he stated that he was quite disappointed that he had not been contacted to discuss the editorial before it was printed, to be able to provide his perspective on the situation.
He feels that the HPC has a complicated and difficult task in dealing with all the different sectors of the sport - road, track, mountain bike, BMX, Paralympic (plus the non-Olympic downhill and cyclo-cross disciplines). There are not that many people in Canada that have the expertise and extensive knowledge required to be able to perform this function, and it is to be expected that they would be involved in the sport in a way that could lead to potential conflicts. The same situation could be pointed to for both the Events and Officials Committees also. Realistically, it is impossible to have competent people without these crossovers in responsibilities.
Louis also said that he rarely votes on selections, and usually there is a consensus among Committee members for decisions, based on recommendations from coaches and staff, plus predetermined selection criteria. Sometimes, they feel that their hands are so tied by preset criteria that it leaves little room for making a valid exception - he gave the example of Carding (the money that top athletes receive from the federal government).
Currently, Cycling receives 36 Cards, but according to criteria have 70 athletes that meet the requirements to be Carded. The determination of who gets Carding is made strictly on a formula (based on factors such as UCI ranking, Worlds results, Nationals results, etc.). While this removes any chance of bias, it also takes away to opportunity to recognize, say, a younger athlete who is beginning to perform at the world level and could probably benefit greatly from funding (possibly more than a more established athlete who might have a professional contract).
Should they go to a policy Committee and leave selections to coaches and staff, to avoid the perception or possibility of conflict? Possibly, he admits, but also points out that this leaves the door open to charges of conflict for coaches, who could be accused of trying to favour athletes they work with.
Louis Barbeau also provided the following comments by e-mail today:
I would like to point out that the level of funding of the FQSC High Performance programs is tied with many indicators, including the number of athletes on the National team in major events (World Championships and Major Games). Our evaluation is done every four years and takes into account several other aspects including the following:
- number of level 2 and above certified coaches
- performance at Canada Games
- performance (results) at national championships (senior and junior)
- number of athletes in professional teams
- depth of the sport both nationally and internationally
Most importantly, the level of funding is determined by our HP development plan (objectives over the four year cycle and activities and other means to achieve them).
Besides, without knowing of funding is allocated in other province, I can only presume that the level of performance is probably taken into account. This is exactly the same for the CCA with its level of funding from Sports Canada. I don't see anything unusual or strange about this.
I would also like to point out that I find rather offensive the fact that his article almost questions my integrity.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the fact that he did not bother contacting me is, to say the least, unprofessional in my view, as he talks about a subject (funding in Quebec) that he knows nothing about. Had he called me, I would have gladly provided him explanations before he would have written his article.
Editor's Note: This will be the final article on this editorial, since we do not intend to make it an ongoing series. Discussion can continue on the Forums.