Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Puzzlement, Rejection, Discussion of Defense

With the release of a summary of the filing now 24 hours past, people have had some time to digest it. I'd summarize the general reaction as

  • Lay people go, "huh, maybe that lab is messed up"
  • Obsessive and technical people say, "Could be smoke, could be fire, but all I see is smoke."
  • A Mr. "LNDD" comes in late and says the house is burning down, proceed to the exits.
Here's a few of the things I've seen, some at a level beyond my complete understanding. I do think I know what a AZZHAT is, though; Forums are often fun to watch!

At the Daily Peloton forum, one mint julich writes:
from a WADA technical document:

"the urinary reference steroid usually analyzed by the Laboratories is one of, pregnanediol, pregnanetriol, cholesterol, 11-hydroxyandrosterone, or 11-ketoetiocholanolone."

I'm pretty sure they are only required to analyze one. I'm not sure how they decide, probably the one in greatest concentration, so that assay error is minimized. If Jacobs' allegation is true, I wonder if, after getting a positive based on one reference, they went back and measured others, and they all indicated negative. The alternative--every Floyd supporter's nightmare-- would be that they initially got a negative, and kept analyzing other references till they got a positive.

However, if this allegation goes anywhere, the situation will get very complicated. Typically in doping cases, the C13/C12 of testosterone or other drug of use is very low, and the reference is at a normal value, in a range similar to that of non-dopers. So the question here is, if Jacobs is arguing the reference did not differ that much from the testosterone, is that because Floyd had references that were also very low in C13/C12, or testosterone that was relatively high? A very low C13/C12 for testosterone, below -28, is considered a positive when there isn't enough reference steroid present to assay precisely.

If Floyd had unusually low references, is that typical of his physiology? Tests of other urine samples taken at other times would be very relevant here.

I don't understand what Jacobs is saying about the T/E. The measurements are supposed to be made in triplicate, and the S.E. is generally quite low from the data I've seen.

Of course, if a sample has been mixed up, then all hell will break loose. But they still have to address the A sample. We could have a Tyler situation, where he gets off on a technicality because the B isn't available. And if it wasn't his B sample, whose was it? No one else tested positive, so it would have to be someone else's A, no? Maybe it was Pereiro's!

Later, rational head wrote:
As I said before, commenting on the smoke is worst than just speculating. It amounts to producing more smoke... This would be the least enjoyable activity for me. But there is some evidence if not of smoke bombs then, at least, of hot air balloons spead by Mr. Jacobs

Jacobs said, "WADA's own protocols require that all testosterone metabolite differentials provide clear evidence of testosterone usage to find an athlete positive."
This is not the case at all.

The relevant WADA document (TD2004EAAS) says nothing of this sort.

WADA guidance says that depending on the nature of the suspected steroid to have been administered there can be different metabolite(s) analyzed (it lists six of them, but more are possible). For example, administering illegal Androstene-dione (a close relative of T.) can result in four specific metabolites of the illegal steroid. The WADA paper then says that IRMS for relevant metabolite(s) should be measured whenever possible and compared to IRMS of urinary reference steroid(s).

It does not say "all", it does not prescribe exactly WHICH metabolites. In fact, the paper deliberately stresses acceptability of a single metabolite by using brackets around (S). This only makes biochemical sense as the nature of the specific illegal testosterone/derivative and the urine sample quantity/quality may require different approaches.

Well, at least one lawyer spin is called up here. I will continue my comments on any spin when I can contribute to NOT creating more smoke.

At the BBC board, morstar writes:
He's claiming the tests did not show use of exogenous testosterone. (And the rider merely needs to establish doubt about the validity of the test, to be 'acquitted').

He's also claiming they don't know if the B sample they tested was actually Landis'. (Got the code numbers mixed up)."

But isn't this just the same old tactic of misinformation which has been rife since the very moment the A test was announced / leaked. Just keep on putting out more and more theories (no matter how unfounded or preposterous) and hopefully enough gullible idiots will start to believe he has been stitched up!

Obviously the lawyers are very busy looking for a valid technicality to avoid a ban etc. but even if they lose the mis-information is key to keeping the reputation in place as victim of this conspiracy.

Makes the return to ranks easier in two years time. Imagine the views expressed. "Floyd is back from his highly contentious doping ban..."
Rather than convicted doper floyd returns after a two year ban.

In comments on TBV, anonymous writes:
I've been following the technical details of this case closely (I'm a cycling fan and a chemist,what a combination!) but I'm confused by part of the Filing:

Summary states that 4 T metabolites were tested in the CIR test:

- 3 were "negative considering the margin of error" (I interpret this as "positive values close to the decision point and we're going to argue about statistics".)

- 1 that "could be seen as positive resulted from an unknown laboratory error". (I interpret this a bit cynically as "we admit this one looks bad, so we'll put in a placeholder and figure out how to discredit it later")

- 1, "the best, longest-term indicator..." was negative.

Wait a minute, folks - that's 5 results! Or was the negative result referred to from some other test (maybe the A sample?).

I hope we eventually get to see the full report - trying to figure out any real facts from these snippets is hopeless.

and later, perhaps a different Anonymous writes:
I think that the reference to the best long term indicator, I took that as to read that of the three that were not positive, one of them was one that used the best long term indicator.

The margin of error comment is suspect. I assume that the threshold takes into account standard errors of measurement for the test. I have not heard that they take into account a standard error in measurement for single results. If that is the case, that would simply be the the threshold.

However, I think that this is a lawyer trying to speak in terms he is not trained in. He says margin of error. Margin of error applies to parameter esitmates from samples, not to single values. Public support for president is 40 +- 3, with 3 being the margin of error, meaning that the true support is probably between 37 and 43. A test can have a standard error of measurement. Thus, a student gets an 80 on a test with a standard error of measurement 3, meaning that the true performance for that student is anywhere between 77 and 80. These examles may seem the same, but when using a SEM, testers would include them in a threshold, since they are constant to the test. Thus, if the CIR threshold is 3, as has been reported, then the value was probably a value that was agreed to be one that indicates synthetic T plus the SEM for the test. You do not simply subtract the SEM from the results and say that you are not guilty.

But again, part of this is that the releases are poorly written, and we only have part of the information. Which drives me nuts for over analyzing this situation. LET IT END SOON, so I can find something elese to waste my time on.

Over at Topix, my fellow truth seeker Will gets the last word (for now) with a long series of posts, beginning at the end of this page, which I paste together:
THRESHHOLD. That's the word for the week...THRESHHOLD.

The Independent Review Board is charged, under Article 9 of the USADA Protocol, with determining "whether or not there is sufficient evidence of doping to proceed with the adjudication process"-- in other words, whether USADA can show evidence of doping violations sufficient to get over the THRESHHOLD of making a prima facie case. The AAFs that we know about from the stage 17 urine screening are: 1) the presence of synthetic T, as confirmed by the IRMS/CIR test, and 2) abnormal T/E ratio, as detected in the A sample test and confirmed in the B sample test. These AAFs constitute a prima facie case, that is, a case on its face, of doping violations; PROVIDED ALL THE REQUIRED FACTUAL ELEMENTS OF THE AAFS ARE SHOWN TO THE REVIEW BOARD, the "sufficiency of the evidence of doping" THRESHHOLD" will have been overcome and the Review Board will recommend that adjudication proceed.

So how, if at all, does Landis'"dismissal motion" affect the required factual elements of the AAFs? Let's consider them in order:

A) The Stage 17 CIR Test for Synthetic T:"• WADA’s own protocols require that all testosterone metabolite differentials provide clear evidence of testosterone usage to find an athlete positive. Given the data, three of the four testosterone metabolite differentials tested in Landis’ sample are reported as negative considering the margin of error."

ANSWER: I think I've developed some sense of the applicable WADA protocols regarding testosterone metabolite testing, but nowhere have I found a protocol which "requires...clear evidence to find an athlete positive", nor have I found language for reporting metabolite tests as "negative considering the margin of error". This means one of two things to me -- either Landis is referring to a WADA testing protocol for CIR testing that I am unfamiliar with or, more likely, LANDIS IS "CHARACTERIZING" LANGUAGE FROM A WADA PROTOCOL THAT I AM FAMILIAR WITH. In either case, Landis' ASSERTION that 3 of 4 tested steroid metabolites were reportedly negative is just that, an assertion, NOT A FACT; and even if true would that make USADA's doping charge for synthetic testosterone INSUFFICIENT, if even ONE steroid metabolite tests positive for synthetic T? NOTHING IN THE WADA CIR TESTING PROTOCOL THAT I'M FAMILIAR WITH REQUIRES THAT A POSITIVE FINDING FOR SYNTHETIC T REQUIRES THE DETECTION OF MULTIPLE STEROID METABOLITES. Which naturally leads us to Landis' next assertion...."• The only testosterone metabolite that can even be argued as positive under the WADA Positivity Criteria resulted from an unknown laboratory error and is not the result of testosterone usage." ANSWER: The best Landis can do to try to negative that 1 positive steroid metabolite is to "argue" that the positive resulted from "an unknown laboratory error and is not the result of testosterone usage"-- but this is arguing CONCLUSIONS, NOT FACTS WHICH WOULD INVALIDATE THE 1 POSITIVE STEROID METABOLITE THAT LANDIS ASSERTS EXISTS; even without seeing the report myself, I cannot believe that the report notation in fact states "Results: Unknown laboratory error - NOT the result of testosterone usage". LOL ! I'm pretty sure that the report notes a positive finding for the steroid metabolite in question and, if so, the "sufficiency of the evidence of doping" THRESHHOLD" will likely have been overcome with respect to the presence of the prohibited substance of synthetic T, notwithstanding Landis' arguments or conclusions to the contrary."• The one metabolite that has been identified by WADA-accredited laboratories as the best, and longest-term indicator, of exogenous testosterone usage was reported as negative in Landis’ urine samples." ANSWER: NOTHING IN THE WADA CIR TESTING PROTOCOL THAT I'M FAMILIAR WITH REQUIRES THAT A POSITIVE FINDING FOR SYNTHETIC T REQUIRES THE DETECTION OF A PARTICULAR STEROID METABOLITE; if the Review Board is presented with a positive AAF for synthetic T that includes at least 1 positive CIR-tested steroid metabolite, the "sufficiency of the evidence of doping" THRESHHOLD" will likely have been overcome with respect to the presence of the prohibited substance of synthetic T.

B) The Abnormal T/E Ratio:

Landis tries to argue that there is only a "single [positive] T/E [Testosterone/Epitestosterone] analysis in this case [which] is replete with fundamental, gross errors"-- he does this by implying that the confirming B sample (and to some extent, the A sample as well) suffers from identification number mismatches that somehow render the confirming B sample's identification to Landis UNRELIABLE.

The long answer is: well, what was your representative at the B sample unsealing and testing doing? Was he acting as a POTTED PLANT when the B sample was unsealed? Why didn't he jump up and down and holler "Whoa --STOP! ARRETEZ!! You can't proceed with testing, because I just checked the sample ID numbers here AND THEY DON'T MATCH!!! WHAT IS THIS? I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION!!! GET THE LAB MANAGER OVER HERE, RIGHT NOW!! MAINTENANT!! ALLEZ!!....(pardon my French!)

The short answer is this: UCI's Anti Doping Rule (ADR) Article 17 states that "facts related to anti-doping violations may be established by any reliable means, including admissions."-- which means that anything from DNA TESTING down to having a credible technician with personal knowledge of the specific handling of these samples may constitute reliable means of establishing sample identification, depending on the facts and circumstances. Landis' ASSERTIONS may affect the presumption that WADA-approved labs act correctly in their analysis and custodial procedures, which may in turn shift the burden onto the lab to prove that any procedural departures did not CAUSE the AAF, but this falls short of INVALIDATING the AAF for abnormal T/E ratio AT THIS PRELIMINARY STAGE, so the "sufficiency of the evidence of doping" THRESHHOLD" will likely have been overcome with respect to a T/E ratio in excess of the 4:1 THRESHHOLD.

I could go on, but let's save something for later. (;->)

In sum, today we have an awkward combination of legal wording of science and an incomplete factual record. People who seem to understand this stuff either cannot yet form an opinion, or if they have one inclined towards guilt, nothing has yet been presented to to change their minds.

I'll plea again for the actual filing, and the lab report!

If after review of those, people willing to evaluate them still have difficulty accepting lab problems as the answer, Landis has got problems no matter what Jacobs is telling him.

It's easy for folks working on a case to start believing their own arguments to the exclusion of an external reality. I hope there's more beef in the filing and the lab report.

UPDATE: after the original publication of this note, a poster amusingly named "LNDD" turned up at Topix and took away Will's "last word" for the day.

Pasted together, LNDD writes:


The results will be reported as consistent with the administration of a steroid when the ©ö©øC/©ö©÷C value measured for the metabolite(s) differs significantly i.e. by 3 delta units or more from that of the urinary reference steroid chosen. In some Samples, the measure of the ©ö©øC/©ö©÷C value of the urinary reference steroid(s) may not be possible due to their low concentration. The results of such analysis will be reported as ¡°inconclusive¡± unless the ratio measured for the metabolite(s) is below -28¢¶ based on non-derivatized steroid.

THIS SEEMS to be one of the issues. as stated in his release, given the margin of error, 3 of the four metabolites they mention being measured are negative, when considering the margin of error.

So, is one of the four enough? The statement is vague to me. In law, ambiguities are held against the drafter of the document. If it took only one, why does it not say so? Why does it not say all? The parenth on the (s) leads me to believe it could be open to interpretation...

DUNCE, they do not test for presence of metabolites, they measure them. They (etiocholanolone, androsterone and the androstanediols (5¥á-Androstanediol and 5¥â-Androstanediol) are all there, wastes from metabolic activity, in all of us. We all have a measure, both a C13 and C12...just in what ratio, as delta¡¯d with the reference steroid (pregnanediol (specifically, 5¥â-pregnanediol ) and 11-ketoetiocholanolone (cortisone/cortisol)..aka, those not affected by exogenous testosterone administration. Do you understand how they delta these metabolites? How do they arrive at these numbers. Better hit the books before you SPOUT. In the studies, especially the one by CATLIN (Screening urine for exogenous testosterone by isotope ratio mass spectrometric analysis of one pregnanediol and two androstanediols) show the tandem nature of these deltas¡¦as in, can¡¯t have ONE without the other¡¦other studies show you don¡¯t find ONE without the other 3. Do some research.

Next, the statement about the only metabolite that can be argued as positive is a result of lab error...hmm, that is interesting. Could this be a results reading error, a problem with the control sample, or maybe something the observer(s) noticed? Hard to tell, but it seems unlikely they would risk putting this statement out there if there was not something to it. The IRMS test is known to be tricky and subject to LOTS of steps both in calibration and in the test itself,(any of the reference studies discuss the steps). The more steps and procedures, the more spots where an error can occur. Remember, this is not a DIRECT test, as it is an interpretive measurement…aka INDIRECT TEST.

Per FL.com,“The one metabolite that has been identified by WADA-accredited laboratories as the best, and longest-term indicator, of exogenous testosterone usage was reported as negative in Landis’ urine samples.” This is just plain old science at this point. I think they are talking about the delta between the 5â-androstanediol to 5â-pregnanediol delta measure. The issue with this ONE metabolite is that for it to be NEGATIVE AS THEY REPORT, IT DEBUNKS THE CASE. (If you had A BRAIN you’d spend the Take a looksie DUNCE…Urinary Analysis of Four Testosterone Metabolites and Pregandiol by Gas Chromotography-Combustion-Isot ope Ratio Mass Spectrometry After Oral Administration of Testosterone: http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?re... )…to the extent that Mr. Floyd came up negative in subsequent tests, further solidify this statement and line of defense as well as the prevalent belief that YOU SIR ARE A BLOW HARD AZZHAT. STUDY/READ/RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SPOUT.

Finally, the sample misidentification issue could be almost anything. An observer who is tracking a test may observe the sample number and bottle but may have an issue with the aliquots, cross sample misidentification or such. Have you considered that? If it is a chain of custody issue, they possibly only have discovered that post facto. If these are gross errors, as they purport, that could undo this case.

You speak of reliable means: if the lab cannot follow the WADA ISL, presents lab documents with gross fundamental errors as evidence, I take your statement to mean you think there is “ANY” other "RELIABLE" information that could/should be used against him. Well, what is it? an admission? Doubtful. Certainly not the test results, should they prove to contain these fundamental, gross errors.

Ask yourselves this, in light of the Jones issue, will USADA want to press forward if the Floyd and his minions show cards as powerful as these in public?

Will they risk possible public defeat and further credibility damage?

Since the LNDD submitted the findings, will USADA proceed and stand behind evidence they had no control over, a process they did not execute?

I DOUBT IT. THE REASON IS BECAUSE MR LANDIS IS INNOCENT and showed us a glimmer as to the how/why in his statement.

Which I'm leaving as the last word for the evening. So there.