Tuesday, August 01, 2006

IRMS Positive but Low, Says Landis' Doc

This, from the NYTimes:


Landis said last week that he was expecting the worst because backup samples, or B samples, almost always confirm the initial result. But [Landis's doctor, Brent] Kay said the B sample could come back negative.

“The carbon isotope was only mildly elevated,” he said. “We know, from a statistical standpoint, that the first result could have been a false positive.”

25 Comments:

Blogger trust_but_verify said...

The key paragraph for me was,


The test determines whether the testosterone in the athlete’s urine has less carbon-13 than another naturally occurring hormone in the urine, like cholesterol. The test is considered positive when the carbon isotope ratio — the amount of carbon-13 compared to carbon-12 — is three or more units higher in the athlete’s testosterone than it is in the comparison hormone. It is evidence that the testosterone in the urine was not made by the athlete’s body. Landis’s difference was 3.99, according to his own doctor.


Apparently the IRMS is tricky enough to run that a 25% error might be possible and this could be refuted with the B sample test. If so, then that would lead right back to the T/E ratio, about which there could be a lot of jockeying and argument.

So, without more solid IRMS findings on the B sample, this could be a lengthy appeal process.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

So 25% of 3 is 75 right? So a reading of 3.75 or lower is within the margin of error. 3.99 is not. Looks like he's toast.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Rob O. said...

Yea - but what does testosterone have to do with anything? Here was my response to Jim Litke of the AP on his recent story, "Phantom twins, vindictive exes, and the CIA: Who spiked my sample?"

Jim, I don't care where you stand as far as Landis's innocence or guilt.

But one question that hasn't been tackled by media guys like you are the "why" some may dope. How come, no reputable journalist has bothered to examine the pros and cons of doping with testosterone?

Your article chastised Landis for being "wooden" and seemingly coming up with dumb excuses for the possible results. But, most sports performance trainers know that there is nothing one can take to give him or her super-human performance the following day. And if there was something one could dope for, it probably would not be testosterone. Reason one, it would take about 3 weeks for any "results" to manifest for the athlete. Reason two, testosterone will build muscle mass - something pro cyclists try to avoid like the plague.

You also appear to have some some disdain for Lance denying he used performance enhancing drugs. Where were his "positive" results? But yet you imply he did. That's irresponsible from a journalistic point of view. And why not lash out at the lab and the powers that be at the UCI? Their "guilty first" mentality should upset most free thinking, freedom first journalists. What if someone implied that Jim Litke plagiarized 23 different sources over a 3 year period? And what if AP said Jim these are some serious charges and we need for you to step down, no make that, we'll suspend you for now till YOU can prove your innocence. How 'bout them apples? You and your like would cry to the high heavens for the obvious injustice.

But pro cyclists are set to another standard. And guys like you play right into it. That's a shame. Just ask the Liberty Seguros Team. They all were sent home before the TDF started because of "suspected" doping. As it turns out, they were cleared of any wrong doing...the UCI said, "sorry, our bad". This is same group in which you apparently place an unchallenged faith to make your point: all who are accused are guilty and their denials are lies and sound silly. But I knew you were an asshole when you have to dig up some Cuban with a coke problem blaming the CIA in the same article with Floyd Landis. How far do you have ta go!!!

Maybe Landis was "wooden" and appeared clumsy because he knows he hasn't done anything wrong. There are many reputable doctors who have stated that a, the labs testing is questionable, and b, that even the best tests often come out wrong for a multitude of reasons. His 11:1 ratio? If normal in a healthy human male is 1:1, wouldn't having an elevated level that's off the charts like that produce other imbalances that would make Landis's body do goofey and weird things that this testing could pick up. 11 times what's normal in any body surely would ring bells for other things. But what do I know...

Sincerely,

Rob Oresteen
Wheaton, IL., USA

5:15 AM  
Blogger Rob O. said...

OK -from the dumber than dumb section - cuz I izzz...if everyone has got a hard-on for exogenus testosterone, and like, if it really make a performance difference, where can I get some? I'm sure I'll be able to stay away for 100+ miles over some really good cyclists...right? Er, what do you mean I would have to be in shape, train right, etc.??

5:28 AM  
Blogger Andre Veloux said...

Liberty Seguros have not been cleared, Communidad Valencia have, and since they rose from the ashes of proven dopers Kelme, they cant complain too much.

The guilty first innocent later issue has arisen because of the scandalous record of cycling regard to doping. Maybe its not justice as we are used to it, but the sport only has its self to blame.

6:46 AM  
Blogger teadude said...

I'm an editor with WSJ.com and wanted to point out Carl Bialik's (The Number's Guy) new piece on alcohol and testosterone.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115444904804023475.html?mod=blogs

7:12 AM  
Blogger arborjimb said...

A bit off-topic but I thought I read somewhere that the NFL does a t/e ratio test on its players and its cut-off is 16 to 1. Has anyone else read this?

8:29 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I want to believe, I still believe he is not guilty........

From VeloNews:

Manzano: ‘Testosterone effects almost immediate'

Jesús Manzano, the ex-pro who revealed insider details of doping in a series of paid interviews two years ago, said that testosterone can be taken during competition and its effects can be felt "almost immediately."
In an article with his byline in the Spanish daily AS, Manzano outlined the way riders can take testosterone during a competition, undercutting the argument that testosterone is a substance taken over weeks and months to slowly build strength and resistance.
Manzano's interviews helped draw attention to controversial Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who is now at the center of an ongoing doping investigation in Spain.
"Its effects are felt almost immediately," Manzano wrote. "It gives you a lot of force and produces a sort of euphoria."
Manzano outlined three ways to take testosterone during a competition.
First are patches, called AndroGel, which are applied during a light massage usually during the evening mealtime. Manzano said the patches had to be used less than two hours to not risk going above the T/E ratio threshold and risking a positive doping test. Manzano also said clandestine suppositories are used as well as intravenous injections, called Rastandol, taking about 20 minutes to 1 hour before competition.
Another option are pills of Andriol, called "beans" in the cycling underworld - or "Ferrari's jellybeans" by some - but these usually take several days to kick in and he said it's not likely riders would use them during competition.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Ollie Jones said...

So, the NYT article today says "three or more units" higher for C-13 concentration, for the meat-based testosterone, than for the soy-based testosterone used in synthesis.

What are these units? Parts per million? Parts per billion? Percentage points? It makes a difference -- the tinier the concentrations, the more likely the test is to be wrong.

Apparently the differences are based on the fact that plants like soybeans absorb atmospheric C-13 less readily than animals (incl. humans) do. About 1% of terrestrial carbon is C-13, so there's plenty of it around.

11:17 AM  
Blogger ProPam said...

The basis for the IRMS test is the ratio of 13C to 12C in the urinary testosterone metabolites. This ratio is often expressed as the d13C-value, which is defined as parts per thousand deviation of isotope ratio of the sample from the standard:
d13C-value = 13C/12Csample - 13C/12Cstandard x 1000
13C/12Cstandard
When the difference between the sample and standard is 3.0 parts per thousand, the result is determined to be “consistent with exogenous steroid administration.”
The precursor of all steroid hormones, including testosterone, is cholesterol. So, for most humans the primary urinary steroids will have originated from cholesterol consumed in animal foods, i.e., meat, dairy products, and eggs. In contrast, synthetic steroid hormones are made from sterols isolated from plants, usually phytosterols from soybeans. Plants vary in their 13C/12C ratio depending on which photosynthetic pathway is used to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and use it to make glucose and, ultimately, sterols. Plants that use the Calvin Cycle (C3) pathway incorporate relatively more 12C than 13C compared to plants that use the Hatch-Slack (C4) pathway. As a result of the different photosynthetic pathways, the d13C-value of C3 plants ranges from -35 to -22 compared to -20 to -8 parts per thousand for C4 plants. Soybeans, the predominant source of sterols for synthetic steroids, are C3 plants; hence, the lower d13C-value in the urinary steroids of exogenous testosterone users.
There is significant ethnic variation in the d13C-values for urinary steroids. For example, Caucasian athletes (non-steroid users) were reported to have values that were 1-2 parts per thousand lower than those of Japanese subjects (Ueki, 1999). These differences may be due to differences in diet. Urinary d13C-values are higher in individuals residing in Africa compared to those living in western countries. This difference can be attributed to the relatively greater consumption of C4 plants, such as maize and sugar cane, in Africa compared to western nations. A recent longitudinal study of 3 elite male runners reported that the d13C-value of urinary steroids is altered by diet. In this case, the d13C-values increased by up to 2.5 parts per thousand after 5 weeks living in Kenya or South Africa compared to usual values determined while the subjects were living in Switzerland the remainder of the year (Saudan, 2006). In this study, the changes in d13C-values resulting from diet produced values that differed from the standard by 0.7-0.9 parts per thousand. In other words, these results would not have produced a test consistent with exogenous steroid administration. However, the upper limit of the diet effect on d13C-values in urinary steroids is not known.

11:37 AM  
Blogger karl maria said...

Since the comparison is between the c13/12 ratio of testosterone and another naturally occurring, but non-performance enhancing substance IN THE SAME SUBJECCT, ie Floyd, the variation based on ethnicity is immaterial.

BTW, 3.99 is 33% greater than 3. He's over the limit by a significant amount.

4:24 PM  
Blogger RoadChick said...

For Propam:

Could a person have elevated levels of C13 if they ingested a large amount of soybeans or other vegetable cholesterol, like for instance, avocados? In other words, would it be possible to have a higher ratio of C13 to C12 caused by eating certain foods as opposed to actually taking exogenous testosterone? Thanks.

5:41 PM  
Blogger wasafloydfan said...

I have been wondering about something. In the NYT article an expert is quoted as saying that his lab would replicate the test on each sample, A and B, 3 times to confirm a positive.

Do they report the values for each of these replications? Do they just report the highest value of the three? Do they report the first value? Or do they report some average?

If they just report the highest value of the 3 then any conclusions we try to draw give the reported number for Landis and the known uncertainty of test will be off the mark, because we will be making inferences from an observation that is likely to have positive measurment error.

6:33 PM  
Blogger drehvial said...

I heard comments that the results of the two tests do not really match.
So the IRMS test should come out with a higher ratio if the T/E level is 11/1. Can anybody confirm this?

I'm currently collecting all the "facts" of the case on http://www.drehvial.gmxhome.de/landis_e.html

3:43 AM  
Blogger MountainGoat said...

The IRMS is not proven 100% reliable - if it was, WADA would not be funding research studies to validate the testing method!

"Influence of Changes in diet on the dynamics of 13C/12C in selected urinary steroids" is the title of a research project funded by WADA. The full description of the project can be read here:

http://www.wada-ama.org/rtecontent/document/b5_2003.pdf

One has to wonder what else, other than diet, might influence the test results! Why are the doping authorities backing a test that they themselves feel needs further validation?

4:28 AM  
Blogger macuser said...

Hate to say it but I don't think Floyd is going to get out of this one. I hope the B sample comes back negative but I doubt that is what is going to happen.

The interesting thing now is why only on one day was his T/E off if he was doping. Was it because they screwed up the masking agent, did he take a something only for Stage 17? My guess is that the alcohol messed up his T/E ratio and that now that they have done the IRMS testing they have busted him taking low-level amounts of steroids to aid in recovery. Obviously I am completely speculating but a scenario like that from the current facts we have is the best explanation I can think of for the one blip in the testing. We will probably never know the truth of what really happened but again I hope I am wrong and that the B test comes back negative or there is some legitimate explanation for why he is testing positive.

Also to put this in perspective I think most of the guys are cheating in someway and that if you did an IRMS test on all of the riders samples I bet a lot more would turn up positive. It seems to me that while the IRMS is not perfect if they really want to get serious about stopping steroid use they should be using it for testing.

It was still a great moment watching him ride in Stage 17. The reason he won that stage and ultimately the Tour was because of pure heart not doping. I think that is why so many people don’t want this to be true because they saw the guy pouring his guts out to win on Stage 17 and if you saw it you couldn’t help but pull for him. The facts are the facts though and while there will probably be some wiggle room I don’t think there is going to be enough for Floyd to keep from getting a two year ban and losing his Tour title. I hope I’m wrong.

10:42 AM  
Blogger macuser said...

Hate to say it but I don't think Floyd is going to get out of this one. I hope the B sample comes back negative but I doubt that is what is going to happen.

The interesting thing now is why only on one day was his T/E off if he was doping. Was it because they screwed up the masking agent, did he take a something only for Stage 17? My guess is that the alcohol messed up his T/E ratio and that now that they have done the IRMS testing they have busted him taking low-level amounts of steroids to aid in recovery. Obviously I am completely speculating but a scenario like that from the current facts we have is the best explanation I can think of for the one blip in the testing. We will probably never know the truth of what really happened but again I hope I am wrong and that the B test comes back negative or there is some legitimate explanation for why he is testing positive.

Also to put this in perspective I think most of the guys are cheating in someway and that if you did an IRMS test on all of the riders samples I bet a lot more would turn up positive. It seems to me that while the IRMS is not perfect if they really want to get serious about stopping steroid use they should be using it for testing.

It was still a great moment watching him ride in Stage 17. The reason he won that stage and ultimately the Tour was because of pure heart not doping. I think that is why so many people don’t want this to be true because they saw the guy pouring his guts out to win on Stage 17 and if you saw it you couldn’t help but pull for him. The facts are the facts though and while there will probably be some wiggle room I don’t think there is going to be enough for Floyd to keep from getting a two year ban and losing his Tour title. I hope I’m wrong.

10:42 AM  
Blogger jaime said...

Here's an interesting Usenet post:

A clue of the Landis affair, might be the case Theunisse in 1990. Theunisse tested positive after la FlPche Wallone: his T/E ratio was far above the 6:1 allowed in those days. Of course, Theunisse protested his innocence and claimed to have a unusually high T/E ratio, which was fluctuating in a exceptionally way. Almost nobody believed him, but he was probably right - which by the way didn't mean he was innocent. About a year later a Belgian journalist let me listen to a tape recording of a interview with one of the soigneurs of PDM (the team of Theunisse). It was a very interesting story. The politics of PDM in these days was: we're allowed to give our riders as much testosterone as long as their T/E ratio doesn't exceed the 6:1 ratio. Of course, they tested the team regularly to keep from unexpected surprises. Consequently, it was a great surprise that Theunisse had already once tested positive on testosterone. They assumed they must have made a mistake, but they didn't want to take any risk. So when Theunisse in 1990 believed to be capable to win the FlPche Wallone, three days before the race the whole team was tested by the team doctor after a long training ride in the Ardennes. Theunisse's T/E ratio was below the 6:1, so they had nothing to fear, especially because of course they were not so stupid to take a new dose testosterone before the race. And yet, after the FlPche Wallone (I think he finished third) Theunisse tested positive. No wonder he felt cheated, proclaimed his innocence and suggested he must be suffering from a congenital physical abnormality. The explanation (which was corfirmed by a specialist I interviewed later) is rather simple. Under normal conditions it certainly would have been a freak result, but pro's are riding in exceptional conditions in which the body is sometimes reacting exceptionally, especially because it is already functioning in a unusual way, because riders are usually taking several different products which might have strong effects (that's the intention anyhow).

Of course it's pure speculation, but what could have happened is that Landis had taken the standard set of products: steroids, hgh, epo, testosterone, etc., and in such quantities that he seemed to have nothing to fear. However, under the exceptional conditions - exceptionally hard mountain stages, the heat, dehydration, etc.- his body might have reacted in the same unexpected way as Theunisse's 16 years before.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Blackmingo said...

Next variable up: dehydration.

"Landis's Lawyer Offers Dehydration Defense"
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/sports/AP-CYC-Landis-Doping.html

Simple urine test (specific gravity and sodium) settle this question: low sodium and low specific gravity would be consistent with dehydration, but don't know if that effects the T/E or IRMS.

Found this at:
http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:JLDD8utlVEcJ:www.uksport.gov.uk/images/uploaded/Nandrolone_Review_180506.pdf+irms+dehydration+testosterone&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=10


"30. During intense exercise, some degree of dehydration may occur, causing the urine tobecome concentrated. This will, to a degree, increase the measured concentration of excretedsubstances. This is allowed for in the laboratory analysis by correcting for the specific gravity ofthe urine sample if this exceeds a specified concentration. We consider that this is the most appropriate method of correction when necessary."

1:59 PM  
Blogger fish-e said...

an interesting collection of conspiracies at:


http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/5842010

8:25 PM  
Blogger Taddeus said...

Can someone explain how the process works of getting the urine samples from the tour to the lab? Who is responsible for transporting, overseeing security of these samples? Are their any Americans/Phonak officials allowed to be present during the testing of the samples.

Not to be distrustful, but how do we know that these samples were secure and tested fairly. How easy would it be for a bitter Frenchy to taint the sample?

Please explain how all of this works.

9:19 AM  
Blogger ProPam said...

To Roadchick,
Yes, the ratio of 13C to 12C can be changed by your diet. In fact, it has been used to differentiate between vegetarians and omnivores. Vegetarians eat more C3 plants which have less 13C in them. As a result, their ratio of 13C/C12 is lower than that of omnivores. It is not, however, appear to be low enough to cause a positive test for exogenous testosterone.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Jason A. Miller said...

Floyd posted a message on his blog this afternoon reiterating his denial of doping. He also states that in his t:e ratio, his t level was normal and his e level was unusually low. This is the first actual confirmation of this fact. Before this it was only speculation or rumor, from what I'd been able to find.

His statement seems to be influenced by his lawyers, but he still maintains his innocence in a Floyd-like way. Perhaps the miniscule chances of error, sabotage, freak of nature, etc. have aligned against him, but it's getting harder to believe. I still hope he can prevail.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Blackmingo said...

Well, the B sample confirms the A sample.

Although it is now less repudible to still strongly support Floyd, something about the arc of his life and his completely off target and obviously unprepared defense makes me still want to believe. For fun, let the conspiracy theories begin.

Possibilities, in what I think would be least to most likely:

1) Freak of nature: unclear where we would start the defense.

2) Lab error. Honest lab error is what the B sample is for, and its positivity suggests the lab is not in error. Also see sabatoge below for dishonest lab error.

3) Sabatoge: broken down below.

a) Lance: no way. He's vain, but not that vain. But perhaps that hand he offered Floyd was lathered in a thick coat of testosterone cream?

b) The cook: Who was feeding Floyd that day -a new replacement for his regular chef who was "sick"?

c) The teammate: Jealously? Perhaps Floyd wasn't as good to his team before and during the race as he was after. Perhaps one of his teammates was spiking drinks while Floyd was downing them.

d) The water boy: Floyd wasn't just poring ice cold water over his body, he was taking a bath of dissolved testosterone.

e) Phonak: Poor Phonak, with all of their "doping" riders, they are stuck with 100 times the publicity they would normally get, and they then take the high road and fire a loyal employee who is adament about his innoncence. The owners control the team, perhaps they've found a way to ensure their winners test positive.

f) The fans: Fanatic, or has nationalism grown into cycling terrorism. Fans from all countries line the streets to pat the riders. Floyd, that pen you used for the autograph, that double cheeked kiss, and that high five you just gave: all impregnated with testosterone cream.

g) The lab: the lab in question has had breeches in ethical conduct in the past(Lance's famous case of his "research" urine being tested for epo), so why not now? Monsier Joe Schmo, a longtime employee of the french lab, could have been paid off by any of the parties below to corrupt the process: shall inquire into their bank accounts?

Be warned, this person who has tainted Floyd's body with testosterone will probably not stop with the Tour de France winner. I anxiously await the next crime where our ambitious crook attempts to spike all cyclists with testosterone in one race.

Hercule Poirot, where are you?

6:41 AM  
Blogger Free Floyd said...

roadchick, the answer is a definite yes: diet can lead to a false positive. i found an article two nights ago on the subject, and propam in her comments here cited the very same article.

9:11 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home