Friday, July 28, 2006

Nobody knows nuthin'

Apparently no one outside of the UCI and/or the WADA-based testing lab in France involved with the testing of sample A knows whether IRMS was used or not. This from the Providence Journal ("Tour winner fails drug test", link)

Landis is entitled to be present when his "B" sample is tested, but he said he wasn't sure if he would avail himself of that privilege. Testosterone is considered among the trickier drugs for testers to pinpoint because it occurs naturally in the body. WADA requires that samples that possess greater than a 4:1 ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone be subject to further analysis, which includes the gathering of at least three additional urine samples to show that the high ratio is indicative of drug use. This step can only be bypassed if the sample was analyzed with what is known as the carbon-isotope ratio (CIR) test, a more expensive and complex testing procedure that can differentiate between natural and synthetic testosterone.

Landis said he did not know which testing methods were used. The simple ratio test alone has been subject to extensive criticism.

If Landis does know then the only reasonable explanation I can think of is that he is lying to create as much doubt about his guilt as possible. If he is telling the truth, however, and he doesn't know whether IRMS was used, then his guilt remains an open question. Why hasn't the information been released publically? I suspect it is because, for starters, no one in the world of journalism has put enough energy into the story to realize that this is THE question of the moment, and so journalists seem not to be asking. Also, there may be a regulation restricting how much these organizations like UCI and WADA can say. Again, I must be clear with you that I'm speculating here. I don't know.


Blogger trust_but_verify said...

In fairness, we can't directly blame the UCI or WADA for the leak or the first firestorm, or were irresponsible at that point. The immediate cause is that Phonak released the information that they had suspended Floyd, and then the cat was out of the bag. Now, none of the principle gas-bags could keep their mouths shut after it was public knowledge, but that's a different complaint than saying they violated the confidential process.

The catch-22 is that Phonak really had no choice, given the ProTour ethics requirements, of which Phonak is well aware.

So, effectively, despite the rules, there really is no way to wait for a B sample result before publicly accusing a ProTour rider. If he's scheduled to ride, he will needs to get suspended.

The 'correct' thing would be for false positives to be sufficiently common, and admitted by the control agencies, that there was no particular stigma for failing screening, and following a process for resolution that was more likely to result in fair results. As it is now, questionable tests are given more authority than they deserve, and reputations and the image of the sport take an unnecessary drubbing. This is in no one's interest, except the ego of Dick Pound and the budgets of the testing and research agencies.

Anyone who trusts Pound or WADA shoudl read the report of the independant investigation chartered by the UCI into the '99 Armstrong/EPO testing. It was clear that WADA and Dick were and are more interested in the pound of flesh and publicity than they are for instituting reasonable and fair oversight.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Free Floyd said...

Hey TBV, please send a reference to the primacy of the Phonak story. I thought the UCI first announced an unnamed particpant was busted for doping.

I don't disagree that Phonak had no choice. I don't disagree that waiting for sample B should be bridged with a suspension. What I disagree with is that no IRMS was performed on sample A given that this was the Tour Champion. The WADA and UCI both have the latitude to choose to get it right the first time. As you say, they instead chose for a pount of flesh.

I posted about the Vrijman report to which you refer. I'd love to hear your further thoughts on the topic.

The egos of these agencies is exactly what I suspect as the problem here. I've worked for one and helped start two others. While I wasn't involved in doping standards I was certainly involved in certification and validation which is like doping a form of science-based policing. My experience is that the big agency felt compelled by public pressure to put the policing in place but they deliberately chose incompetent people to doom the organization from the outset. In this case the parent organizations want the testing to succeed, and perhaps succeed too zealously. The risk is that when you're in the job of policing people, you don't feel you've done your job unless you're busting people. And that's a very bad way to operate, because some days no one's done anything wrong. And you don't know which days are the trouble-free days, so you need standards to keep you from the temptation of forcing guilt.

Which is exactly what Vrijman and the UCI said about the WADA, that they were trying to force guilt and violated ethical principles in order to nail one man. Five months later, these questions naturally arise with Landis again, as again it's WADA and the LNDD at the center.

3:27 PM  
Blogger trust_but_verify said...

Yes, the UCI announced an unnamed rider had an AAF, and that the rider, team, and federation had been notified. The next day Phonak spilled the beans, replacing their whole website
with the announcement. (Their online shop is gone too.)

So, there was reasonable deniability about the naming until (a) Floyd skipped appearances and (b) Phonak announced. If there is complaint, it is that there was an announcement about the unnamed rider, but given ProTour rules, that is moot. Basically, the PT rules hand the riders out to dry -- if there is a botched test, the procedural safeguards do not protect their identity. The culture of "AAF=guilty" and Dick's Pounding doesn't help.

The WADA attack on the Vrijman report was absurd.

The only possible good outcome would be for Floyd to come out clean and Pound to look like his eponym, along with the PT ethical rules. Then perhaps a rational and fair system can emerge.


4:31 PM  
Blogger Scoutie said...

I suspect it is because, for starters, no one in the world of journalism has put enough energy into the story to realize that this is THE question of the moment, and so journalists seem not to be asking.

To be fair, a great deal of journalists don't actually ask questions anymore. I'm sure there are still some dogged reporters, running around, in search of the real story, but if you pick up a newspaper any day of the week, you're far more likely to see regurgitated press releases and sensationalized "personal interest" stories. Gone are the days of uncovering facts or reading into the important parts of the information a journalist is issued. Many editors, far too concerned with their jobs or selling papers in this age of the internet, also overlook the obvious path a story should take, focusing instead on whichever option presents itself first, or whatever makes us dopes drop our quarters in the box.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Free Floyd said...

scoutie I am acutely aware of the changes. at my university where we once had a top flight journalism program we now have a department of mass communications. that change of names embodies the shift entirely. investigators have been replaced by marketers. stories we read are often just rewritten press releases. investigative journalism is dead. worse than that, responsible journalism, the sort that involves fact checking, is almost entirely deceased. there's no excuse for it. none. i know how it's happened and i've watched it happen ever since I read Chomsky in high school two decades ago. but it still ain't right, it still ain't right! Am I turning into a bitter old man? I sure hope not. Trying to contribute positively just as I complain.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Jason A. Miller said...

As I've been reading the horrible articles about Floyd's fiasco, I've made it a point to either leave comments if the option is available, or send an email to the journalist or editor.

I give a basic reprimand about waiting for test results, avoiding sensationalism, etc., and I offer the basic overview of the t:e ratio test and its results. Most of these people seem clueless, from their articles. I suspect they are just regurgitating the rumors that are swirling around.

I don't know how much difference it can make, but I do know that the NY Times corrected Floyd's age in their articles soon after I sent emails to the journalist and the editor. They kept saying he is 31, and it really annoyed me for some reason.

So if you feel so inclined, try responding to or contacting the journalists who you find most offensive. It can't hurt.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Really Want to Believe said...

It has been claimed in two recent articles in L'Equipe (remember this is the newspaper which serves as a pipeline for leaks from the French lab doing the testing) claiming that IRMS testing was performed on the A sample and that it came up positive for exogenously sourced testosterone. I hate to pass on something from such a reprehensible source, but thought you would want to know. By the way, I like the site.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Free Floyd said...

I saw the L'Equipe story. I don't buy it.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Free Floyd said...

I don't buy it because there are conflicting reports and the guidelines are ambiguous. The UCI would have to come out and say it, since they tell the L'Equipe-friendly WADA lab LNDD what to do.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Really Want to Believe said...

Excellent point. I just read the WADA code and the UCI procedures. It seems that the laboratory has no right to proceed with IRMS without the specific authorization of the relevant Anti-Doping Organization (ADO), which I assume is the UCI in this case. Nothing in the UCI anti-doping procedures appears to pre-authorize IRMS and, as you point out, they have said nothing about authorizing IRMS. So presumably it has not yet been done yet, right?

3:39 PM  
Blogger msquared said...

As much as I would like to believe Floyd, I cannot ignore the
fact he clearly has lied to the world when asked "what were the
actual T/E test results?"
Floyd responded that he does not know.
Listen to both of last week's press conferences to hear his
own voice about this question:

Now folks, it defies common sense to think Floyd would be told
only "you failed the T/E test" without simultaneously being told
what his exact numbers were. Common sense aside, it would be
a violation of the WADA rules for him to NOT be told his exact test numbers.
Read below for quotes from the WADA code.

Bottom line is if Floyd would publicly lie about not not knowing the actual
T/E number, then he deserves zero trust and should be stripped of
his TDF victory and punished by all.
World Anti-Doping Code (WADA) Article 14.1:
"Notification shall include: the Athlete's name, country,
sport, and discipline within the sport, whether the test
was In-Competition or Out-of-Competition, the data of
Sample collection and the analytical result reported
by the laboratory."

From Results Management Guide, 3.4 Notification After Initial Review:

3.4.1.c) That the A Sample has returned an Adverse Analytical
Finding and the details of the Prohibited Substance
identified in the A Sample

From the Guideline Reporting Mgmt of Elevated T/E Ratios:
5. The T/Es abive the threshold of 4 are reported as
Adverse Analytical Findings (AAF), and are therefore
reported separately from negative samples in the same
batch. The actual T/E value is clearly stated, including
the actual estimation of testosterone to espitestosteorne
(equivalent to glucuronide).

5:57 AM  
Blogger commonsense said...

I love the fact that you all attack journalists when, as a part of the media, you have disseminated several falsehoods on this site.

Floyd was not 5:1, as one post says. He was 11:1. His own doctor was authorized to confirm that.
Floyd's bad result on the carbon isotope test was also confirmed by the Landis camp. Strike 2 for this site, which went on and on about whether the report in L'Equipe was right.
I see a lot of apparentlys and at least one "presumably.'' Most of them are attached to incorrect assumptions.
I do agree with the post about the absence of investigative journalism. It has been replaced by the marketers who sell us athletes like those in the Tour, turn them into false heroes and rarely investigate doping -- the only genuine news story in sports these days.
The applicable groupthink calls for a big cheer and not a discouraging word.
But take heart, groupthink isn't the problem on this site. Nothink is more like it.

12:40 AM  

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