Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Roundup

Quote of the Day

I'm gonna give you a rule of thumb. You foller it and you just might hold on to this ranch of yours. All large-scale crime is an inside job. Takin' fingerprints and sendin' trash off to the lab just don't ger her done. If you're dealin' with people, you gotta be human.


IHT got a brown envelope in the post, and Sam Abt doesn't think the contents are very forged looking, or taken much out of context. His writing is alive again after a few months of deadness:

Still, what a stupendous fraud this is: A hacker penetrated the firewall of the laboratory's computer, extracted some mistakes and printed them out for distribution all over the world.

What a concept! O brave new cyberspace that has such people in it.

Give that man/woman a cigar. Keep the brown envelopes coming.

The headline writer doesn't seem to have captured the spirit of the article. Abt gives some longer quotes of the "sorry to bother you" mail sent to various federations admitting testing errors.

CyclingNews reports a Le Monde story where Bordry shoots back. In particular, he says there is a French sport discipline case open against Landis, which is news to us. He claims his agency is unprejudiced and that he has no idea who broke into the LNDD computers, or he would have said something in his complaint to the Police.

Same article has comments from Landis on the hackery: "any claims attributing these actions to me or my defense team are baseless, untrue, irresponsible and another example of the character assassination that I have faced since the initial allegations surfaced in July." (Then he took off his reading glasses.)

Guardian runs a brief where de Ceaurriz insinuates Landis is associated with the hacking, but doesn't say so directly: "What gives us food for thought is the fact the two events are almost synchronised."

Reuters now has Lamour, candidate to replace Mr. Pound at WADA, defending LNDD on the typo.

The Australian combines wire reports about WADA summit where "solutions" being considered include doubling bans to 4 years, and eliminating the need for that pesky B sample test. That'll teach 'em.

PezCycling News EuroTrash Thursday gives its own spin on the Chatenay Malabry hacking incident: Tres Bizarre Happenings In France
This week’s most bizarre story comes from France where the police are currently investigating a possible violation of the e-mail system of the Châtenay-Malabry anti-doping laboratory. What does this have to do with pro cycling you ask? Well, this particular French lab has been responsible for (amongst others) the positive test concerning Floyd at the Tour de France this year.

In the current Reuters story, Henson has had time to reload:

"While the whole of the Landis defense does not rest on this single mistake, today's news validates our claim that there is more than enough fact-based evidence in the public material to prove Floyd's innocence," Henson continued.

"We requested last month additional testing information and documentation that is within the guidelines established by (World Anti-Doping Agency) WADA, but that request has recently been denied by (United States Anti-Doping Agency) USADA."

Marc provides a comprehensible translation of yesterday's Le Figaro story:
French lab’s wrong number

Prof. Jacques de Ceaurriz, director of the National Doping Detection Laboratory (LNDD), has admitted that a labelling error was made during the analysis of Floyd Landis' B sample. The rider is expected to present this new line of defense Friday.

Tuesday, Floyd Landis' internet site announced that on Friday the rider would present new elements of a defense against his positive Tour de France doping test, at a press conference in Tucson, Arizona. With the support of an associate, Dr. Arnie Baker, he was intending to reveal new scientific arguments proving his innocence and the malfunctioning of the Laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry. By Wednesday [however], pretty much all of what the American was planning to reveal was already known. Thus, expanding on information received by the newspaper le Monde, Prof. Jacques de Ceaurriz, director of the National Doping Detection Laboratory, admitted that an error was commited during the re-analysis which confirmed the presence of testosterone in the former Yellow Jersey. The mistake, as it happens, is a typo--the number written in the official summary of the re-analysis not being the right one (994 474 was written instead of 995 474).

Heading towards a procedural error?

That in no way means that the B sample was not Floyd Landis', but the windfall was too great for the rider's lawyers not to utilize this heaven-sent line of defense. In any case, it could not arrive at a worse moment for the Châtenay-Malabry Laboratory, [on the one hand] discredited at the beginning of the week by a grim story of data piracy, seemingly committed by a hacker who was a partisan of Landis, and [on the other,] the victim of an internet destabilization campaign [led] by the rider's entourage. Prof. de Ceaurriz tried in vain to characterize the error as "minor"--it may well lead to the cover-up of one more unsavory story. Now that Operaton Puerto is dead in the water, Floyd Landis may well get off lightly. The rider, who has always denied having doped, and who reaffirmed this in recent days, now sees the way out through a procedural error opening up as if by magic.

CyclingFans have two days of coverage on 15-Nov and 16-Nov, including much new information on the urination contests going on in France between media outlets and between branches of the state apparatus. Tres political, c'est Francais. Also says L'Equipe is doubling down on their claim the hack was by someone in the Landis camp.

VOA has first coverage I've seen from them.

Dugard senses a paradigm shift in MSM coverage.

PJ pitches the movie, but it's too implausible.
VeloChimp opts for the Wrestling metaphor.

Doucheblog makes some interesting points from a lab employees perspective ( with his usual colorful language)
I'm trained as a chemist (B.S.), and I've worked in and around various kinds of laboratories for the past 15 years. One thing that's continually drummed into your head from the time that you're in college is that, without proper documentation, your tests and the data that they generate are meaningless.

Jagular talks about typing error with a friend at the grocery store, and hears this:
They say he take drugs and win a race. He no take drugs. He eat a Thai food. Thai food it make him a man. French food no make testosterone. French food same like soy. Make estrogen. He eat Thai food, he make a man. Make too much testosterone and win race."

Rant does his thing - from little mistakes, big mistakes grow. Wait till he reads IHT/Abt, above. PJ adds in a comment, "Usually when my kids admit to something 'small' it means they don’t want me to find the other stuff that is not so small."

Later, Rant reads Abt, and has much to say about it (Looks like PJ was right). Debby adds in a comment:

What interests me is the variety in the letters. How did the sender decide which sports to focus on, and which specific lab reports to pull? Why those particular ones (squash?!), unless you were an employee or otherwise had knowledge of which test results were controversial? The only non-lab employee explanation I can think of is that the LNDD did leave their computers unprotected for two months, and some poor, dedicated hacker spent every night going through each record until he found ones that didn’t look right. Either way, it makes the lab look pathetic.

Lordz of Vengence latch on to the typo like it is a lifeline; Ditto CommonManSyndrome, ArtAsAuthority, JoustTheFacts, 20millionminutes, racejunkie, DiscerningTexan, CentennialMan, IronPol, ArchPundit, SportsFilter comments, VeloGal, SportsOasis, WickedOutdoorsy, PushBackIgnorance, cashbox, TheAdventureBlog; Wait till they read IHT/Abt, above.

CycleBoredom thinks Landis is fat and not helped by the hack attack.

TourDeFranceLogue snarks Mr. Pounds NPR interview.

The Gods of Sport tell Floyd Landis fans not to get excited so fast!

At Toxic, regular Landis basher "Will" decides Sam Abt is not credible. Abt will be crushed.

At DPF, Tom Fine figures it was an inside job, and explains why. We will note that on the TBV movie picks list, there is one where, "always an inside job", is a key observation. And another with the climactic exchange,

"You're not a good guy at all! "

"I'm a lawyer, you idiot!"



Anonymous said...

WEll...first order of business..Happy Birthday TBV! And again, I appreciate your site, especially the tol;erance and balance that you provide. OK, now for Floyd, this is a true "chink" in the armour. I wqork in the area of radiation protection, and part of my job has been to manage the contracts that cover bioassay sample analysis and whole body counting for monitoring individual for exposure to radioactive material. Accredidation of labs that perform these services and management oversight of these contracts is intense. Everything from sample csubmittal provceudres, maintenance of chain of custody, sample transmittal, sample analysis, document control, training, analysis of s"unknowns" prepared by an independent third party, hard copy and electronic records management are covered in this process. From I have seen already, this lab has blown it. Their reputation is in tatters and in my area of expertise, their data would be worthless. Having said that, I am hoping for additional evidence because many people will see this type of victory as hollow and contrived....which isn not the case. But a victory without appreciation and acknowledgement of his real effort will not be satisfying.

Cheryl from Maryland said...

Happy Birthday TBV! As a close contemporary, now I understand why we are both familiar with Super Chicken and Monty Python.

With the IHT's article, the plot thickens. What I want to know is how a hacker could have poor French in the cover letters and yet be able to read science French documents on the LNDD server. Remember your loyal readers needed Marc to translate the science French for the Ferret documents. Composition in a foriegn language is much more difficult than reading, but still ...

Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

Responding to "anonynomous"...its clearly amature-hour over there at Châtenay-Malabry. I hope from this whole thing WADA recognizes that they're going to have to beef up their accredidation and oversite processes, or their going to face more of this type of embarassment in the future.

We need a system that catches and punishes the bad guys, not one that wastes everyones times with fundamentally indefensible data..or worse, implicates innocent people.

SciFiTwin said...

So, Burt (as the scientist), or anyone, once the lab conducts a test and turns over its results to their client, whom requested it, is it ethical for them to comment on the ultimate outcome of the test? Meaning, are they within their rights to say, "Oh yeah, Landis is guilty" or are they only supposed to provide the results and their analysis of the data and shut up?

The fact that no one seems to be able to follow a process (if A happens, then B happens) pisses me off. Everyone involved here seems to be running around in circles acting like a bunch of morons.

Accountability is a two-way street. If Floyd is guilty, he is accountable. However, WADA, LNDD, the UCI and anyone else has puffed out their chest to prove how great they are while simultaneously ignoring procedure should be held accountable if the process finds otherwise.

Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

You'd be better off asking that question to someone who works in a crime lab or something of that production-related GxP labs the results are about quality, efficacy are safety of the product - where I work the job of the lab is to objectively prodce the correct result...the interpretation of those results is up to others (e.g., the quality folks, the trial sponsors, etc).

Obviosly the lab guys are going to have an opinion, but in most cases the guys conducting the test don't have access to all the relevant data (they're usually not the people designing the studies). However, since its recognized that having a lab that's compromised can impact the quality of the data, the idea is that you do your best to ensure that the lab is objective, well controlled, and conducts themselves professionally and according to approved procedure.

Anonymous said...

Happy B-Day TBV! Ahhhh watching the lab, wada, usada, and the uci struggle to grab at the deck chairs as the titanic sinks is going to be fun. I guess they can't deal with being on the wrong end of the public scrutiny. Keep it up Floyd! BTW, how is the frankenbike coming?

Green Mountain Cyclery
Ephrata, PA.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday!

Regarding the poor grammar of the emails in question, I have seen a lot of poor grammar, spelling, etc. in English writing by native, monolingual English speakers. Seems to me the same is possible for Les Francaises aussi, n'est pas?