Paris – In trouble in recent months, the men's France team of swords begins its qualifying phase for the Tokyo Olympics this weekend at home in Coubertin with the desire to regain its rank in the world hierarchy.
Olympic team champion in 2004, 2008 and 2016 (in 2012, the weapon was not in the collective program), the male sword is the strongest weapon in French fencing, bringing the only title to Rio .
But in recent months, the tricolor swordsmen are only a shadow of themselves: 12th in Buenos Aires at the end of March, 13th in Heidenheim (Germany) in mid-January. Result: a tumble to a modest sixth place world, far from reassuring before entering the Olympic qualifying phase.
"We are not satisfied with this sixth place. Now it's our rank, we can not deny it", bluntly acknowledges assistant coach Stéphane Leroy.
To see Tokyo, you have to finish in the first four places in the world ranking, or better European nation beyond this top 4. This ticket by teams automatically offers three places for the individual event
In Japan in the summer of 2020, the goal is clearly displayed: "We have world number one Yannick Borel. He was operated on (right wrist) in August, but he is ready. The goal is gold", AFP assured the national coach, Sebastien Barrois.
– The imbroglio around Jerent –
"We are in a transition phase"defends Yannick Borel, three-time European champion and reigning world champion.
"There are two guys, Gauthier Grumier and Jean-Michel Lucenay (members of the team in 2016), who left. You have to take the time to rebuild. Me today, I am one of the oldest, while I was a young two years agoBorel added of the golden adventure in Rio.
Especially, the Blues have to happen since July of Daniel Jerent, the fourth of the sacred band in 2016. Withdrawn from the lists of World-2018 in mid-July because of three "no show", localization defects for doping controls unannounced, it remained private competition despite a relaxe pronounced in September by the Disciplinary Committee of the Federation.
The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) took the case in December and his coaches preferred not to select him for "do not end up with points removed"in case of suspension, but the swordsman, who finds"very long time", recently refused a procedure of"to plead guilty"."Their proposal is not at all admissible. It's been almost eight months since they give me any news (…) the suspension (proposed) would still prevent me from shooting for a few months", he adds.
At the AFLD, this version surprises and we answer to AFP that "the athlete was informed at each stage of the procedure and invited to comment, and only recently did he contact the agency through his lawyerMore precisely in March, according to a source familiar with the case, according to the same source, the suspension proposed to Jerent – 14 months – would have been at least partly retroactive.His refusal to plead guilty means that he will pass before the sanctions commission of the AFLD, on June 3rd.
Beyond the blur on Jerent, the rendezvous in Paris should give indications on the team aligned at the European Championships in Düsseldorf (Germany, 15-20 June), and especially at the Worlds (15-23 July) in Budapest.