Thursday, December 21, 2006

Landaluze Decision, a Rare TBV Rant

I don't do this often...

An emailer sent the following thought, which crystallized ideas I had but didn't write when I looked at the Landaluze decision:

The basis for that decision sounds lame, like they didn't want to let him off because the science was bad, so they picked some minor technicality. We may well see this with Floyd and the sample custody issues.

The refusal to evaluate the technical arguments, throwing up hands at "disputes between experts" is absurd. It means there can be no actual challenge to the execution of the process or the interpretation of the resultant data.


If this is true, it demonstrates the enforcement process is absolutely broken.

Let's pretend it isn't -- that the refusal was just to provide cover for an acquittal that would not be seen as really condemning the lab and exonerating the athlete, as suggested by the emailer.

If that is true, it demonstrates the enforcement system is absolutely corrupt.

Finally, it is ethically bankrupt for the panel to have washed its hands of the substantive technical arguments made, and then insert opinion about the rider's culpability.

There was no need or justification for the comments made that it was an acquittal on a "technicality." Given the literalist reading adopted of other points, that section can only be seen as a "late hit, out of bounds."

But, of course, CAS answers to no one, and there is no remedy.




Anonymous said...

And what if the technical arguements were evaluated and rejected, and the reason given for the exoneration is the one given.

You are sounding desperate TBV

Anonymous said...

another good quote I saw regarding the ruling:

"If you cant question the science applied, the athlete will always be assumed to get off on a "technicality" and they will be publicly labeled a doper that got away with it. because of this it gives the impression that Landaluze DID Dope and it was their way of saving face for the system. What a crock! I'm not convinced that Landaluze did dope, but I'm not convinced he is innocent either. Instead I'm convinced the system is set to convict SUSPECTED dopers as long as there isn't a lab error." said...

If the technical arguments had been evaluated and rejected, the decision would have said so. Instead, at every occasion, it said there was a dispute between experts, and they weren't going to get into the details.

If you'd like to find quotes in the decision to refute my argument, that's a good discussion to have.

Saying I'm "sounding desperate" is the sort of thing I expect to here at Topix. I take it there as price of participation, but I don't need to here.

If a comment here goes too far in what I consider personal attack territory, I'll whack it, after trying to extract whatever meaning might be in the remainder.


dan said...


Well said. An excellent rant, to be sure.

- Rant

Anonymous said...


What if the current ruling was not done to "save-face" of the system but rather to help point out the major flaws in the current anti-doping system to those now looking? Maybe they could have ruled different but they felt this would Help shine more light on the corruption and the flaws?

Just a thought while looking for the silver lining.

Atown, Tx.

Biking Bis said...

Great blog. You're tagged.

Phil said...

I think you're reading more into this than you should David.

It is a technicality, and once again the system has worked to release the athlete while castigating the lab for it's carelessness.

To me it looks like the system has come down on the side of the athlete and accepted that nothing but a mistake free system is acceptable.

And yes I agree that Floyd should take heart from this.

Landis may be released on the same grounds, if so fine, he gets to race again. If not then he's done.

I agree that there is an issue with the lab, but that relates more to it's administrative processes rather that the issue of a sample (or the lab) being corrupted etc.

But I do go on.......

Just as a side thought, you know it's a really hard thing to go positive for anything, when it happens there is probably a good reason for it.

In WADA's last annual report there were 12,751 samples taken from cyclists with 3.78% returning anomalies.

Anonymous said...

TO me it reads as a typical minimalist legal decision. Limited findings of fact; we can toss the case on a technicality so why address other issues? Similar to the supreme court refusing to hear a case with obvious substantive merit because the appellate doesn't have standing.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can see the technicality was that LNDD once again failed to follow procedures. It was excused by work load pressures on the lab but try that one on an FDA Inspector.

I would have thought it would have helped Landis as the lab is starting to build up a consistent pattern of failing to follow procedures and if it fails to follow these procedures what other procedures is it not following? They can no longer say the Landis errors were an isolated and atypical occurence.

How much work load pressure were they also under with samples flowing in from the Tour de France?

pelotonjim said...

Way to go! Well written and from the heart! said...

Hi, last Anon.

I'd have had no problem with the ruling if they said they weren't ruling on the merits, but on the narrow technicality. Thats done all the time. But when that is done, the court doesn't (and shouldn't) say things like,

"114. One will note while passing whom if cases where the HEAP shows the setting out of cause of one athlete on the assumption that a laboratory would not have respected the protocols are little frequent, that is explained by the fact why the disciplinary authorities know severity of the referees in this respect and give up continuing the athletes - even in presence of very suspect cases - when the analyses were not carried out in the respect code of practice."

"117. In any event, the present sentence does not constitute a declaration of innocence of Mr Landaluce taking into consideration rule antidopage. Mr Landaluce profits simply of a rule formal and yet fundamental, tending to guarantee the rights people subjected to controls antidopage."

It says things like, "we find on the narrow issue, and make no comment on the guilt or innocence of Mr. Landaluze"

The language and tone of the conclusionary paragraphs lead one to believe they thought he was guilty, which is not proper, I do not believe, in general.

It's bogus and hypocritical to make such claims when they didn't really consider his actual defenses. As far as I can tell, if someone had actually fairly judged the technical defenses, he may have been innocent on those grounds, but we'll never know.

Thus, the conclusions leaving the impression of guilt without punishment seem to me to be an unethical "late hit out of bounds".


pelotonjim said...

I'm with you TBV. I despise the "color commentary" of rulings that say "WHile I find for you, I really think..." The procedures are put into place for a reason. To protect those in the process. If the CAS wanted to take someone to task, they should take the lab for violating the trust of those who look to the lab to weed out those who cheat. When that trust is violated, don't cast aspersions on the rider who "got off", look to those who falsly accused someone without checking and rechecking their facts.

Think of it this way, before you accuse your neighbor of something wrong, you better make real sure you know what you are talking about and have excluded all other possibilities.

I would use the term rant but I think that has been copyrighted.

Anonymous said...

I thought these kind of things were said all the time in summaries produced by the judiciary - such and such is not credible or a liar or untrustworthy or a disgraceful individual etc but the burden on the state is not met etc. Doesn't make them right of course but the CAS judgement doesn't seem out of place in the scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

ORG here ...

following up on PJ thoughts ....

The CAS went out of their way to say they did not think landaluze was inncoent. In the reverse, when they go out of their way to say someone did not dope, but they still have th penailize them, do they ever take WADA to task for proseceuting an innocent athlete? I don't seem to recall this.

So when the athlete is at fault (but not a doper) the lab is merely following the rules and we're really sorry, here's a one year ban and the label "doper" for the rest of your life.

When the lab screws up, those poor people are so overworked.

In the world of CAS, not only does the lab never make a mistake, it's inconceivable that it ever can.

Anonymous said...

To call reproducibility a "minor technicality" is to show a great ignorance of the scientific method.
Reproducibility is a fundamental tenet of science. If the requirement is breeched (in the Landaluze case a tech assisted in the B testing after doing the A) then the rider is not sanctionable.

In Floyd's case I think the contamination issue would be a deal breaker, but it's not as clear cut. The sample did not have a pH that would indicate contamination.

As far as the panel taking the side of the WADA folks. Landaluze's people did not seem to provide specific arguments to impugn the WADA scientists stances, except in the reproducibility issue. From what I understand, Floyd will have a much more pointed defense.

Theresa said...

For some crazy reason, call it losing my mind at some point, I thought we could trust CAS. Okay, we can't. I just realized that they uphold those unfair penalities. I thought at least some or most of them didn't make it to CAS because of the athlete's money situation. Are you guys saying that CAS upheld all the unfair and ridiculous sactions that WADA or USADA gives that the LA Times articles were talking about?