@graeme_p left or right makes no difference. Suite101 was/is just thin content geared up to draw search traffic and filter it through copious amount of ads. It was that strategy that got them in trouble, not the specifics about their ad locations.
It's the virtual equivalent of intercepting tourists when they get off the bus, then charging commission to the hotel they were trying to find anyway.
You need to take these things in context. The Adsense heatmap apparent "contradiction" isn't a contradiction at all. It's perfectly good advice, which if you follow you'll be fine. Just when you stuff loads of ads above the fold with the clear intention that you'd prefer everyone to click the ads rather than use your website - that's what this update is about and that's what will get you in trouble.
And don't think because there has been an update recently that a) it's the reason you've lost rankings or b) it's the reason a competitor gained rankings. Could be completely unrelated (I recently saw a huge shift in one market due to a couple of large websites merging several million pages).