The WADA and IRMS: a positive is always positive, but a negative can be positive too
That's right folks. If the definitive test finds you guilty, you're definitely guilty, but if the definitive test clears you, the WADA can still say you're guilty anyway.
According to the WADA guidelines, the labs administering the T/E tests don't have to use the IRMS test.
The IRMS test, to refresh your memory, in effect distinguishes between naturally occurring testosterone levels and artifically-induced levels. They can count the differing types of two types of carbon isotopes. If the one's high and the other is low, you're clearly doping, but if the one is low and the other is high, your own body is producing those high levels appearing in the T/E test. The test is expensive, unlike the T/E test, but conclusive, unlike the T/E test.
Apparently, in the case of Floyd Landis, there are four decision points involved in choosing whether to use IRMS: (1) the WADA lab can choose to do the IRMS as part of the T/E test protocol, which they rarely do because it is relatively expensive; (2) the WADA lab, in its report to the UCI, can choose whether to recommend that an IRMS be performed on sample B; (3) regardless of the WADA recommendation coming from the LNDD, UCI can order the LNDD to perform the IRMS on sample B; and finally (4) I've heard that Landis can demand it. This latter point is not in the report, but apparently the UCI allows the riders the opportunity to be involved in the requirements setting.
If Landis doesn't request an IRMS, then he's either guilty or poorly informed, and if he does request an IRMS, he is at the very least maintaining an appearance of innocence.
Also indicated in the WADA guidelines is an estimation of the timeline and procedure should Landis' B sample be tested using the IRMS and come out negative. If he comes out positive using the IRMS, the UCI ruling should come swiftly. But if he comes out negative, there are a number of steps involved that can prolong this process as many as four to five months. The length of time will depend on the subjective evaluation of a previous testing history. If there's not much of a history, then they will surprise him with random tests over the course of 1 to 3 months to establish that history.
It is likely that the UCI already has a history of tests with Landis. What isn't clear from the WADA guidelines, however, is whether the history of tests must include a history of IRMS results, or, alternately, whether the follow-up tests if he has no history must also be IRMS tests.
The implication of this is that if Landis is truly suffering from a serious thyroid ailment needing immediate treatment and the UCI is deficient in testing historyon Landis, then Landis will either have to forego treatment of the thyroid problem and continue to suffer from it or get that treatment and doom himself to a de facto positive result.