Saturday, November 11, 2006

AFT (Water Carrier) and what people believe

Over at Rant Your Head Off, there have been several articles about the Anonymous Fortune Teller, who we've called AFT.

AFT himself started commenting over there feeling I'd chased him away. I tried to apologize. To make up, I'll give him his own article here...



At Rant, he expressed annoyance that I'd named him AFT, forgetting he'd said it himself:

Hi from your anonymous fortune teller.
so I feel justified, if not vindicated. I picked "ferret" out of a hat as well, without consulting the designee. Any other Anonymous should be wary if you leave me to the handle giving.

He says he'd rather be called "Water Carrier", and makes the following claims:
  1. I almost made it to the Olympics (with a few 1,000 others…)
  2. I rode with Lance (like a few 1,000 others…)
  3. I was “in” the Tour (as a rider you ask?)
  4. I race (what license, you scream!)
  5. I have contacts who tell me inside scoop.
  6. I rode with Jan (to hell?)
  7. Riders have told me about their doping in ways not to endanger themselves(some of it rather amateurish)
  8. I have never doped (unless you count caffeine)
For #1, he doesn't say it he got to trials or was ranked for possible selection;
for #2, it might in be the Tour of Roses;
for #3, he's right, we don't know if it was as a rider; nor do we know he's an American;
for #4, he might race SCCA automobiles, or cross-country skiing;
for #5, he may live near a coffeehouse in Girona;
for #6, I don't know what to think;
for #7, hardly surprising;
for #8, who cares unless he's trying to make us think he's not Frankie;

Rant made some guesses, but I'm too lazy to play, and I'm not sure how much I care. The hearts of AFT's claims are interesting rumour, but the import is not clear.
  • The "word" is that Floyd blood-doped: there's no evidence of this, but the claim is that this is widely believed in the peloton. There's not easy way for an outsider to validate the claim.
  • And the blood was contaminated in some way that led to the positive: the science seems to be arguing against this possibility. Given the dubious science used in doping, that is not as strong a counter-argument as it might be. Almost anything could have happened, I suppose.
  • There is an Illuminati running American cycling, with Weisel, Lance and Och at the top of the pyramid. You're either on board with them, or not: Let's pretend this is true.
  • Landis is getting the bum's rush because he's pissed off the conspiratorial Powers of American Cycling by not playing ball with Lance and the Discovery team: Which doesn't compute with the rumours that Lance has given money to the defense, or even with the supportive co-appearance on Larry King. If Lance had wanted hang him out to dry, he could have skipped that show easily enough. Why would these Illuminati want to destroy an American TdF champion, for whatever reason? How can this be good for their long-term investments in the sport and their teams?
I said in a comment to his recent post that his stories have the fascination of Area 51 UFO legends. It is not so much what the truth of the story is (which may not be known, ever), but the way they seem like they could be believable. How and why people might believe them are interesting reflections of those believers. Why they might be rejected reflects the worldviews of those people as well.

My opinion about the the whole thing is that circumstances are far more mundane than a grand conspiracy. I've always leaned towards the "he didn't do anything wrong" position, and nothing has moved me from that posture. This may mark me as naive, but so be it.

It seems most likely to me to multiply simple human error by bureucratic entrenchment. Something wrong happened at the lab that wasn't recognized, and an initial positive was made. This rapidly escalated to a point where the heavy rhetoric was employed. It became impossible for any other explanation to be considered by the officialdom, and the same problems were experienced to get the expected results in the B sample. After more spouting, calmer heads prevail in some organizations, but USADA is saddled with a charged case it feels it cannot lose for all kinds of political reasons. This leads them to progressively harden their position into near absurdity.

That's where we are now, I think.

Landis can still get screwed unless he comes up with concrete evidence of problems at the lab, for which he may need discovery he may not get.

It will help if there are provable inconsistencies in the interpretations of the tests as seen at various places by the labs with expertise. Maybe there cases, perhaps Turnbull, that were judged negative or inconclusive by some other labs, but would have been positive by the criteria that appear to have been used in his case. That's tricky -- a narrow view of the rules could say that the Lab gets its own criteria, and the LNDD is entitled to use the set it uses.

It might help Landis can find evidence of an LNDD operator spending August holiday in a Hamburg brothel paid for by some Swiss account, but that seems pretty unlikely.

A lot is going to depend on the neutral arbitrator -- if it is someone who is concerned about the truth, he'll be in better stead than if it is someone with a reputation for strict constructionism.

As for AFT/Water Carrier, I'm happy to have him around. What he says makes us all think, and that is rarely a bad thing to do.



Anonymous said...

ORG here

Good post TBV. I also agree that AFT has been very useful. It obvious he struck a nerve with both the blood doping and the cycling Illumanti.

I'm guessing both is these ideas were in the back of everyone's mind and these deserve to explored.

I hope AFT returns and gives this mill more grist.

Anonymous said...

If by striking a nerve you mean postulating scientifically unsound thoeries and overly dramatic conspiracy angles, then yes, AFT has struck a nerve.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's a reason to assume that AFT is a professional rider. Suppose he really almost made it to the Olympics and he's actually ridden with Lance and Jan (he doesn't say when, where, or how far). He doesn't say he almost made it to the Olympics as an athlete, and he doesn't say he rode in competition with Lance or Jan. Maybe he almost made it to the Olympics as a massage therapist. AFT wants to be called "Water Boy". I think he's worked in some aspect of pro-cycling (do riders have water boys?), maybe as support staff surrounding riders. Obviously AFT is having some fun with all of us. I think he thinks he knows what happened with Floyd, but if he was a pro cyclist and actually knew what was going on, why would he hang around TBV, Rant and PJ?

dan said...


Excellent post. Excellent comments. I think you've out-ranted me on this one. I'm with you in your assessment of where things stand at this point.

AFT/Water Carrier certainly spins an interesting yarn. But without concrete evidence to back it up, we can only take his word that it's what he's hearing from people inside the pro peloton.

Since he doesn't provide his own name (though he teases us with this riddle), it's hard to know what the truth of his claims is. Read one way, the riddle suggests he's an active pro racer. Looking at it the way you have done shows that nothing he's given us is a real solid clue as to who he is. I know the email address he gave when posting his comment at Rant Your Head Off wasn't a real address. I tried emailing him and the message bounced.

That said, whether his claims are true or not, it may be that there are some pros who do believe what AFT/Water Carrier passes along. I think it may be more revealing about whoever believes the story, or whoever originally spun the story than what Landis did or didn't do.

As they say in politics, "Perception is reality." Maybe for some pros this is their perception of how things came to pass. For them, they believe it to be true. That's their "reality." But it doesn't automatically make it so.

I know one supposedly educated person who has a theory about how you can be infected with the AIDS virus that turns the whole idea of spontaneous animation on its ear. She believes her theory adamantly, even though her husband (who's a good friend of mine) and others tried to explain reality to her.

What she believes doesn't make sense. And a good chunk of what AFT/Water Carrier says doesn't make sense when put under a microscope. But I suspect that within what he's saying is a small element of truth. It's just not clear what. My own personal guess, if what he says about the pro peloton is correct, is that there are some riders who will try some pretty outlandish schemes to dope. (P.T. Barnum may well be right when it comes to doping schemes, there really may be a sucker born every minute.)

Still, with no names attached to any of the story (including AFT/Water Carrier), who really knows what of it is true?

I hope he sticks around and offers more of his commentary. Whether one agrees or disagrees, as you've noted, what he says gets us all to think. And that's always a good thing.

- Rant

Anonymous said...


Strike a nerve in that an anonymous source quoting anonymous sources has created such a stir. Normally such talk would be dismissed out of hand.

Oh, but he sounds knowledgeable. BS! Any fan, with a basic knowledge of the sport, and spends 10 minutes on google find names and incidents and spin similar tales and sounds credibile TO THOSE THAT WONDER ABOUT IT.

What I'm trying to say is AFT is showing that many are thinking about the blood doping angle and the possible of a "fix" in Landis' case.

Maybe TBV or someone else should lay out the case for blood doping and/or the cycling illumanti being able to rig a USADA/AAA hearing (I realize the latter was somewhat done above)

Theresa said...

I haven't read all of ATF/Water Carrier's posts. I come to this site often to see what TBV has found, but sometimes I fail to read the comments. What got me was the blood doping angle, ( some of the Peleton may do that way, but not Floyd!) and the fact that signing Basso at Disovery is somehow a slap in the face to Floyd. The inner workings of the Pro Peleton are always interesting, but when he messes with Floyd, that gets my hackles up. He may enjoy pushing buttons, he does a good job of pushing mine.

Phil said...

Ooooh, I love hearing that crinkly tinfoil sound.

How's this for a theory. Floyd did or did not dope, the test came up positive, there will be the usual procedures followed, Floyd will be found to have doped or not, there will be an appeal if he has, that will either confirm of deny that result. Floyd will then race or help out in a barn raising.