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Here’s how Russian athletes were unfairly banned from the Olympics

Problems with WADA’s McLaren Report are too big to be ignored whilst the whole chain of events points to a set up.

Rick Sterling

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With the Rio Summer Olympics starting on August 5, there is huge controversy about Russian participation.  On the basis of the report of the so called Independent Person (IP) headed by a Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren (further called McLaren Report), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended to impose a blanket ban on all Russian athletes, barring them from the Rio Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, did not go with this recommendation 100 percent, delegating the final decision on individual athletes to sports’ federations and to a panel of three people appointed by the IOC. Dozens of athletes out of the 387 strong Russian Olympic team, however, are already barred from the competitions. The heaviest losses were inflicted by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), which banned all Russian track and field athletes, including those who never failed any doping tests, in Russia or outside it.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been under heavy pressure to ban all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics. The New York Times has carried many reports and editorials.  The Daily Mail in London went so far as to publish a front page story falsely claiming the “entire Russian team banned from Olympics” two days before the IOC’s  decision to the contrary.

Some Canadian and American athletes and sports associations launched campaigns to exclude all Russian athletes. This was condemned by the President of the European Olympic Committees. Here is what he said: “I have to question on what authority the US and Canadian anti-doping agencies prepared their letter and what mandate they have to lead an international call for a ban of another nation in the Olympic family.”

SO, HOW DID WE GET HERE?

The following time-line shows the sequence of events. 

* February 2014 – Winter Olympics was held in Sochi, a city in southern Russia.

* December 2014 – German TV network ARD showed a documentary alleging widespread Russian doping violations including during the Sochi Games.

* January 2015 – World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) established Independent Commission to look into allegations in the ARD documentary.

* November 2015 – WADA’s Independent Commission published 300+ page report asserting (but not documenting) some “widespread” use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in Russian athletics. The report recommends the prohibition of numerous athletes, coaches and trainers. It identifies the former director of Moscow-based anti-doping lab, the future defector Grigory Rodchenkov, as being “at the heart of the positive drug test cover-up.” The Commission even recommends Mr.Rodchenkov to be permanently removed as director and his laboratory be to be de-certified (several months later McLaren’s report will call Mr. Rodchenkov “a truthful, honest man”).   

* The end of 2015 – Dr. Rodchenkov without problem leaves Russia and goes to USA with support from  an American filmmaker Bryan Fogel and other supporters of the idea of pervasive nature of “Russian doping program.”

* Early May 2016 – American TV program “Sixty Minutes” broadcast Bryan Fogel’s report on Russian doping while the New York Times published articles about Russian doping, which were based on Rodchenkov’s allegations.

* 19 May 2016 – WADA appointed Richard McLaren to investigate media allegations.

* 17 June 2016 – Influenced by a confidential letter from McLaren, the IAAF decided to ban all Russian track and field athletes from the upcoming Rio Olympic Games

* 16 July 2016 – WADA published the Mclaren report.

* 24 July 2016 – International Olympic Committee decided against banning all Russian athletes. Instead, the IOC imposed unique requirements on all Russian athletes, making them fit the criteria which other athletes were not required to fit (such as NEVER failing their previous doping tests and getting an approval of their candidacies by individual sports federations and a special panel of three members).

PROBLEMS WITH THE MCLAREN REPORT

The McLaren Report, released on July 16, has strongly influenced media reports, public opinion and official decisions regarding Russian participation in the Olympics. 

The purpose of Mr. McLaren’s (named an “independent person” in the official documents) investigation was to establish whether there has been Russian manipulation of the doping control process, how it was done, which athletes might have benefited, whether it was happening in the Moscow Laboratory somewhere else.

Following are significant problems with McLaren’s report:

* The report relies primarily on the testimony of the chief culprit, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov.  While it is possible that Rodchenkov was indeed telling the truth when answering McLaren’s questions, it is also possible that he was lying or misleading to redirect responsibility away from himself.  Rodchenkov has a strong interest in portraying himself as ‘just following orders’.  The report says there is extensive documentation that corroborate Rodchenkov’s claims, but these “documents” have never been shown to the public, so believing or not believing Rodchenkov is a matter of faith. Where is the evidence?

* The report concludes that Rodchenkov is credible and truthful with little demonstrated proof.  In contrast, the November 2015 Independent Commission report concluded that Dr. Rodchenkov was not credible. The fact that Rodchenkov knew techniques of manipulating test results is not evidence of “state controlled doping program,” especially since he was the main culprit. The information spread in previous reports on Russian doping that Rodchenkov was involved in extorting money from athletes – this information suggests opportunism on his part rather than integrity. The former director of Moscow Laboratory has admitted his involvement in urine sample swapping, design of a steroid cocktail not easily traced, and more. He was instrumental in helping some athletes cheat the system. He is also the person with most motivation to implicate others, even if unjustly.  His testimony obviously needs careful scrutiny and cross-checking.

* The investigation did not hear the factual corrections or counter-arguments of Russian authorities.  McLaren says: “The IP did not seek to interview persons living in the Russian Federation …. I did not seek to meet with Russian government officials and did not think it necessary…”  Since the Russian Ministry of Sport and other agencies are accused of serious violations in this report, such words provide strong evidence of bias on Mr. McLaren’s part. It is a basic standard of fairness to hear from the accused.

* The investigation excluded a written rebuttal supplied by one of the accused Russian individuals.  McLaren says: “I also received, unsolicited, an extensive narrative with attachments from one important government representative described in this report. In the short span of 57 days that I was given to conduct this IP investigation it was simply not practical and I deemed such interviewing would not be helpful.” (Page 21)  Since one of the main purposes of the investigation was to determine the truthfulness of Rodchenkov’s accusations, this decision to not consider the ‘unsolicited’ information is shocking. It should have been mandatory to evaluate the arguments and information coming from al sources, including the Russian side.  

* There are inconsistencies in the description of how urine sample bottles were associated with an individual athlete. As reported by Sports Integrity Initiative, “The IP report appears to contain two different versions – both from Rodchenkov – about how ‘protected’ Russian athlete samples were made recognizable at the laboratory.”

* There are inconsistencies in the description of how ‘protected’ Russian athlete samples were identified, separated and then delayed in shipping to the laboratory.  As identified by Sports Integrity Initiative, “The IP Report and IO Report contain conflicting accounts of how samples taken at the Sochi 2014 Olympics were consolidated for shipment to the laboratory.”  One of the descriptions stretches credulity.  In a tightly monitored environment, under supervision of international authorities, would it really be possible to identify Russian test samples among the hundreds being processed, separate them out, then delay their shipment till the end of the day? All of these actions would be necessary if the plan indeed was to make a manipulation in the middle of the night.

* The western media and McLaren report put the blame on all Russian athletes instead of the guilty ones (which could be very few). For example, the “Sixty Minutes” story claims that “numerous Russian athletes were doped at Sochi, including 4 gold medalists that were using steroids.” If we accept that this accusation is true, the next question should be: Why are you not identifying who these 4 athletes are? It would make sense to reveal the culprits’ identities  for two reasons: first, to identify and punish the guilty parties, and second,  not to punish those Russian athletes who were clean. With pairs and team events, there were 25 Russian gold medal winners at Sochi. Why are all of the athletes being smeared because of the wrongdoing of a few? 

* The report claims to have evidence but does not reveal it. For example, on page 14 the report states “Dr. Rodchenkov provided credible evidence that the A and B bottles would pass through the ‘mouse hole’ … into an adjacent room, outside the security perimeter.”  We are left to wonder where is this “credible evidence.”

* The investigation was neither thorough nor comprehensive.  The McLaren investigation had a mandate to carry out a “thorough and comprehensive investigation” which would corroborate or refute the public allegations of Dr. Rodchenkov.  Prof. Mclaren summarizes the situation as follows: “The compressed time frame in which to compile this Report has left much of the possible evidence unreviewed. This report has skimmed the surface of the data… However, we are confident that what we have found meets the highest evidentiary standard and can be stated with confidence.” McLaren thus acknowledges that the investigation was hasty and he did not even review all the evidence, but at the same time he demands absolute trust in his conclusions. By relying primarily on the testimony and evidence provided by Rodchenkov, and excluding testimony and data from Russian Ministry of Sports officials, Mr. McLaren invalidates himself from providing a balanced story. So, his investigation cannot be called neither thorough nor comprehensive.

* McLaren’s description of the “disappearing positive methodology” (his own term), presumably used by the Russians, does not describe a realistic way to hide positive results of anti-doping tests. Here is how this methodology is supposed to work, in McLaren’s view. The culprits would have to:

– conduct an ‘initial analytical screen’ of the athlete;

– if it is a positive result, match the screen with the athlete;

– communicate the information to the Russian Deputy Minister of Sports;

– the Deputy Minister responds with coded message indicating either “save” or “quarantine”;

– if the response is “save”, the test result should be manipulated to become negative;

– if the response is “quarantine” the test can proceed normally.

This description raises questions. Can an officially mandated test be delayed to conduct an ‘initial analytical screen’?  Can a scientifically determined positive result be manipulated and later put on record as a negative result? The report does not explain the time limits during which the presumable illegal operations were conducted. IN this situation a very substantial doubt – could the culprits operate fast enough not to arouse suspicions? – that doubt is left unanswered. 

*The McLaren report makes strong assertions propped up by weak or incomplete evidence. For example, the report says: “It can be made to appear that the laboratory was acting alone. However, given the examination and the insights obtained from evidence available to the IP investigation, it is correct to place the Moscow Laboratory within the ambit of state control.” (P30)  This assertion goes to the core of the case. Unfortunately, McLarren seems to think it is adequate to make this assertion without providing the evidence that is the basis of his “insights”.  The primary evidence of state control of the process seems to be the alleged presence of  “save” and “quarantine” directives as described in the “disappearing positive methodology.” How do the Russian authorities explain or contradict the description of this “save-quarantine” business given in the McLaren report? This is why an objective investigation needs to hear the Russian authorities’ explanation before coming to conclusion.

* The McLaren report casts suspicion on all Russian athletes instead of identifying specific cheaters. The mandate of the investigation was to “Identify any athlete that might have benefited from those alleged manipulations to conceal positive doping tests.” (P3) Instead of doing that, the McLaren report fails to identify any specific athletes who benefited and instead casts suspicion on all Russian athletes. The report does this in many places. The McLaren report says “The IP investigative team has developed evidence identifying dozens of Russian athletes who appear to have been involved in doping. The compressed time-line of the IP investigation did not permit compilation of data to establish an anti-doping rule violation.”  By failing to identify the athletes suspected of benefiting, they cast a cloud of suspicion over all Russian athletes. If we assume that McLaren’s claim is correct, that means “dozens” of cheaters compared to hundreds of clean athletes. Not very fair or sporting. 

Questions for WADA and the IOC 

  1. For WADA: It is claimed that tamper evident urine sample bottles were opened and ‘dirty’ urine exchanged with ‘clean’ urine. Mr. McLaren says that he was witness to a demonstration of this.  Meanwhile the bottle manufacturer has effectively challenged this claim and stands by its product which has been in use for 20 years. What has been done to verify that the bottles can be opened as witnessed by Mclaren?  What has been done to improve the bottles so that this is not possible? 
  2. For WADA: It is claimed that select urine samples were matched to an individual athlete, separated from other samples, then delayed in shipment to the laboratory, then smuggled out of the holding area so that ‘dirty’ urine could be replaced with ‘clean’. Assuming that McLaren report description is true, what has been done to prevent this from happening in future?
  3. For WADA: Fundamental principle #2 of the Olympic Charter is to promote a “peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”.  Does it not damage this important goal to single out one nation’s athletes and impose collective punishment on all?
  4. For the IOC: Fundamental principle #6 of the Olympic Charter speaks against “discrimination of any kind”.  Are you not discriminating against clean Russian athletes by imposing special conditions and requirements based on nationality?  Isn’t the IAAF violating this principle by banning all Russian track and field athletes from competing at the Olympics including a world record holder who has been tested hundreds of times internationally and never tested positive? 

Conclusion

Following WADA’s Independent Commission report in late 2015,  Russian athletes have been tested through international certified laboratories. The frequency of testing has increased in an effort to demonstrate compliance with anti-doping rules and regulations. If there was still concern that Russian athletes were somehow cheating, the testing regime at the Rio Olympics could have been escalated even more. Instead, WADA and the Mclaren Report have recommended banning all Russian athletes from the Olympics, presumably to embarrass and punish Russian authorities. 

Instead of fighting doping in athletics, this looks like a politically motivated action. We are all the losers as it will increase international tension while decreasing the inclusiveness and quality of the Rio Olympic Games.  We all lose, except those who want to demonize Russia.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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