It’s often difficult to know what is going on behind the scenes of the DCI. Some things get a lot more publicity than others. Many will remember the long series of events that surrounded the lifetime ban of Lucas Florent.
There was no public announcement when he was taken off the DCI Banned/Suspended list over a month ago.
The “lifetime” ban ended up being a 6 month suspension.
At the time the ban was issued, Helene Bergeot said that she was not involved in the decision and it was made by Hasbro corporate offices. As far as I can tell, the decision to lift the ban was not made with any input from the Investigations Committee that normally deals with these issues.
Lucas is already playing Magic again, while Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Martial Moreau, and David Gauthier were still serving suspensions.
For those who do not remember, the “Guillaume” affair involved Wizards using the DCI to punish an offense that had nothing to do with playing in tournaments. Guillaume Matignon had received an advanced copy of the “godbook” for New Phyrexia because he is a journalist. He violated his non-disclosure agreement, which caused serious harm to the game.
Matignon did not violate any rule of the DCI nor was the punishment fair to him as a player. If journalists who are not professional players made the exact same mistake, they would not have been suspended. Nor would they have cared if they were. Conversely, if his advanced access was pertinent to playing in the Pro Tour, then Wizards is doubly to fault. It was playing favorites.
The other players who were suspended did not even have a non-disclosure agreement. They leaked the book that was leaked to them.
(Curiously, Guillaume Matignon who received the stiffest sentence is no longer on the ban list. Wafo-Tapa, Moreau and Gauthier are still on the list, although their term is up. I have not been able to confirm their status. I know for a fact that Florent is playing, he made Day 2 of Grand Prix San Jose.)
It doesn’t take very much thought to realize the ill effect of this kind of caprice on the Pro Tour in general. As I said at the time, a lifetime ban for a single (although very stupid) mistake was unjustified. After the fury calmed, Hasbro seems to have realized that. To reduce a lifetime ban to a six month suspension, however, is worrisome.
What does that say about the penalty system?
There are lessons to be learned here. I want to know how will this be dealt with in the future. Will lifetime bans be handed out with the same capriciousness and rescinded again in an equally arbitrary manner?
A system that is so inscrutable cannot make any claim to being fair. Players deserve better. This goes to the very heart of having Judges, rules, suspension and bans. We need clear guidance as to the infractions and penalties. We need consistency. That is lacking.