Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday Roundup

News
The Miami Herald places Landis in the top 10 sports "oddities" of 2006 where he comes in at #2:

2. Landis' tainted title: American dominance continued at the Tour De France when Floyd Landis pulled off a dramatic, come-from-far-behind victory. But Landis' title quickly came under question when he tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race. Landis is fighting the accusations.

The Herald-Dispatch discusses the prevelance of doping issue stories in sports in 2006.

The El Paso Times features an AP piece by Jim Litke which points out that adversity seemed to define sports in 2006.

Appleton Post Crescent
offers a New Years Resolution:
I, Floyd Landis, resolve to get better organized when telling my various tales as to why I tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs after winning the Tour de France.

Daily Item of Lynn is more generous in it's "adversity is the theme" rundown:
American Floyd Landis overcame much adversity to become the first Tour de France winner who wasn't Lance Armstrong in eight years.

But then, similar to many bicycle riders, Landis' victory - and good name - has been tained by a doping scandal.

VeloNews letters rage on, 3:1 against Landis today.

Clarksville TN Leaf Chronicle says,
The biggest surprise of the year may have come in the Tour de France and American Floyd Landis winning, but then fighting to keep the title after drug tests showed he had cheated.

Blogs
Rant talks about how athletes don't trust WADA right now, citing internal conflicts of interest, and what might be done. He's particularly irked at the "you can't question the science" rules. He'd like to separate test development from lab accreditation from case prosecution. These sound reasonable, but his suggestion for accreditation seems off -- he proposes using ISO accreditation for the doping test parts. However, ISO auditors work to the ISO standards to which they are trained. How would they come up to speed on doping tests? It does seem like an independant doping lab auditor is needed, but the real problem is tha laxity of the standard and validation of the tests to which they are being certified. TBV might be happy just to separate the prosecution from the test/lab parts of WADA.

Mickey Mantle's Liver (Ross the Prof) predicts what July 2007 will bring:
Even though he isn't racing in this year's Tour de France, during the Tour, you will hear more about Floyd Landis than you will hear about the winner of this year's race.

Brett does a multiple choice test on sports doping, with these two germane questions:
13. After a Spanish doping investigation forced the riders who finished second, third, fourth and fifth in last year's Tour de France to drop out of this year's race, the 2006 Tour was:

a) Clean.
b) You're kidding, right?

14. Which of the following excuses did Tour de France winner Floyd Landis NOT provide for his failed drug test:

a) Dehydration.
b) Cortisone shots for a sore hip.
c) Drinking beer and whiskey the night before a stage.
d) Thyroid medication.
e) His natural metabolism.
f) Ingesting something.
g) All of the above.
h) OK, we're running out of letters here.

[end]

5 comments:

dan said...

TBV,

Actually, I was trying to convey the idea that accrediting the competence and quality of a lab be done by ISO (the standard in question is ISO 15189:2003 Medical laboratories -- Particular requirements for quality and competence), since anti-doping labs are medical testing labs, just rather specialized ones.

As to whether the tests, themselves, do what they're supposed to, those need to meet scientific rigor and scrutiny by the agencies that currently certify medical tests, such as the FDA. In addition, I believe the science behind the testing should be of sufficient quality that it be published in peer-reviewed journals.

I like the idea of an independent anti-doping lab auditor. Perhaps it would be that agency which requires ISO compliance on the quality and competence, along with standards for the quality and competence o the tests and the science behind the tests.

My issue with the tests and the "science" is that right now neither are infallible, even though the current system treats them as if they were. And you're right, the laxity of the standard and validation is a huge problem.

What I'm suggesting is that ISO certification, along with more rigorous development and validation of the tests, themselves, would go a long way towards fixing the problems in this part of the anti-doping system.

- Rant

Anonymous said...

WADA accredited labs are ISO certified. They are audited by independant ISO auditors. I'm not sure what you are talking about?

dan said...

Anonymous,

Only labs that WADA certifies are allowed to do anti-doping testing. My point is that WADA doesn't need to (and shouldn't) be in the certification business if the labs are already ISO certified. ISO certification should be enough as it covers a lab's quality assurance processes and competence.

The tests, themselves, need proper scientific vetting of the the testing methods, the theories behind the testing methods and should be approved through already established avenues of certification.

For example, commercial HIV testing kits must meet FDA approval before being allowed onto the market. Same kind of thing should be true for anti-doping testing methods, kits, techniques.

At the current time, anti-doping tests would not necessarily pass this level of scrutiny. In order to ensure their accuracy, anti-doping testing procedures must meet this level of scrutiny.

- Rant

Anonymous said...

@ Rant-

That's ridiculous. The anti-doping tests are employee drug screens, not medical tests. They undergo the same level of scientific vetting as all employment based drug tests, which is publication of the research in peer reviewed journals. Same as the DOT drug screening methods, which are much more important than sports PED testing.

As for the accreditation, WADA adds their specific accreditation to the ISO/IEC 17025 guidelines. This tightens the quality assurance. A big part of that is the performance evaluation samples that WADA expects the labs to analyze. I'd doubt there are any commercial enterprises that offer sports doping PED samples. It's a good thing for WADA to ensure that the labs meet specific sports PED certification. It's a relatively tiny field.

As for WADA being audited itself. Check out the Independent Observer reports it has made public.

Ferren

dan said...

Ferren,

I see your points, but it's not really the employer who's requiring the testing (I rather doubt that Andy Rihs would have called Floyd up after the stage to Morzine and asked him to submit to a random drug test), so it's in a kind of gray area as far as I'm concerned. To me, it's medical testing and the labs should be as accountable as any other medical testing lab, and the tests need to be as well developed as in any other medical lab.

WADA releases information that makes the case for itself, but it's far from complete. For instance, in WADA's annual report, they make no mention of the number of B samples that confirmed adverse findings on the A samples. At least, not in the version I saw.

As for adding on to the ISO standards, that's all well and good. But for the integrity of the system, it should be an independent group certifying labs, not WADA.

As far as the tests being peer-reviewed, the EPO test had minimal peer review, and one reviewer commented that more testing should be done prior to rolling it out. WADA rolled the test out in 2004 in spite of this feedback, for whatever reason. Peer review is part of the story, but it's not enough. Given the stakes (not just the athletes' stake, but the credibility of sport in general), these tests need to meet a higher standard.

And for that matter, employee drug screenings need to meet a higher standard than they currently do. See this article for a discussion of why.

In the case of the ETG test mentioned in that article, even though it may have been peer-reviewed, there were still some serious flaws in the theory, as the test's developer came to realize.

No person should be in jeopardy of losing his/her job based on faulty science or faulty tests methods -- regardless of whether it's Floyd Landis or Joe Six-pack, driving that 18-wheeler delivering our new bikes to our favorite retailers.

- Rant