Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday Roundup

The LA Times' Michael Hiltzik continues his series of articles about anti-doping enforcement. The latest entry titled,"Cracking the Doping Code" concerns international efforts by some officials to revise WADA procedures and rules deemed unfair to athletes:

Among other points made in the documents, sports officials criticized WADA for punishing athletes on the basis of unreliable lab tests, including controversial assays like the testosterone screen that prompted drug abuse charges against 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis.

Under some of the changes in testing standards recommended by officials, Landis might have registered negative.

The Australian covers the same WADA news, with them reportedly thinking about relaxing the strict liability policy in a new draft of the WADA code. On the other hand, it wants four year bans for first offenses.

Landis, through Michael Henson, issued a generally supportive statement:
Floyd Landis Applauds Sports Organizations' Widespread Dissent Against WADA Rules and Their Demands for Major Rules Revisions

Murrieta, Ca., January 16, 2007 ­

2006 Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis today announced his support for the World Anti-Doping Agency¹s (WADA) release of major international sports officials' criticisms and suggestions for an overhaul of WADA's current approach to anti-doping prevention and enforcement. Highlighted in a January 16, 2007 Los Angles Times story by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik, "sports officials criticized WADA for punishing athletes on the basis of unreliable lab tests, including controversial assays like the testosterone screen that prompted drug abuse charges against 2006 Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis."

"It is a positive change in WADA¹s approach to release to the public these criticisms and calls for rule revisions from organizations ranging from the United States Olympic Committee to a wide range of national sports federations. It is also gratifying to me to know that the heaviest criticism was focused on the exact same test that has unfairly cast doubts on my performance in Stage 17 of the Tour de France. First my samples were mishandled and then tested as contaminated. Then, against WADA's own rules they were subject to illegal testing using protocols that are widely acknowledged as scientifically flawed."

"I have always raced clean, and my defense team and I are convinced that if a fair process is employed to adjudicate these unsubstantiated allegations, I will be back racing my bike as soon as the proceedings are over ­ and I am very much looking forward to that day," Floyd concluded.

AP reports Tour Director Prudhomme threatening to exclude riders he doesn't like, and willing to accept the inevitable litigation that would ensue.

VeloNews has a piece about Bijarne Riis, that contains a mention of the Landis case.

Carney still thinks that Lance is a chicken ,and Floyd is the man! ( new hip and all)

Steroid Nation covers the LA Times/WADA news.

Dugard wants to be able to just watch the sport of cycling, without all of the baggage:
The doping dragnet is not designed to clean up the sport, but to ensure a steady infusion of cash to race organizers. Operacion Puerto should have been wrapped up months ago. Floyd Landis should have had a hearing months ago. The Tour de France should have declared a winner months ago. Instead, they are dragging these cases out for an interminable amount of time, making sure that cycling stays in the news during the cold winter months, and reassuring their big money sponsors that cycling is getting cleaned up.

Rant wants us to keep an open mind when considering if people in France (or here in America) believe or condemn Floyd Landis as guilty or innocent.

Later, Rant looks at the Hiltzik and Australian articles, and wonders if this is really good, or part of a Charm Offensive. "Be careful what you ask for", he observes, and TBV is inclined to agree.

The increased default penalties are dubious to us, as are supposedly tougher steroid policies. One of the lies being proposed is an increase in the "whistleblower's" discount on sanction, from 50 to 75% -- except that they were increasing the basic ban from 2 to 4 years, leaving the whistleblower on the bench for the same year before and after!

In US anti-trust law, the first whistleblower gets a complete pass, and that is an effective incentive, if you really care about fixing the system by getting leads rather than making scapegoats. Of course, a free pass might be used by a superstar to hang the blame on a trainer who is catering to the star's demands...

Because Someone Has to be The B Squad
recounted a meeting between Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Floyd Landis ( which apparently took place last Wednesday Jan. 10):
Mike called about ten or so and told me to come to a meeting in the Capitol with Floyd Landis. The name sounded familiar, but it did not sink in until he started to speak. It was actually kind of funny at first because I went into the conference room and introduced myself to the five people there. Then one of them started asking me about being from Georgia and I quickly tried to have the conversation not center on me since I am an intern. But then Floyd started to talk about his situation and then I remembered that he was the Tour de France winner that was being investigated by the anti-doping agencies. I know now that he is innocent, I will tell you in detail if you ever ask. Half way through the meeting the Senator walked and introduced himself to everyone there. He then got to me and I shook his hand and told him that I was his intern, everyone else laughed while I was nervous. But to me all I was thinking was ‘holy fuck, here I am sitting here next to the Senator who is talking to the Tour de France winner, everyone is laughing, having a good time, learning about shit I would never learned about nor experienced...'

the article has vanished, and discerning commenters suspect it has been yanked due to friendly advise from senior staff that it was insufficiently flattering to certain highly placed people. So the snipped quote above is all we get.

Life, Liberty and Property (smells like a libertarian) hates Mr. Pound, and gives Landis a "right on!"

Pure Pedantry crows about winning a science blogging award for an early post that trashed Landis, and never revisited the issue. We covered the site on Sep 9, We reported on the nomination on Dec 31. A comment to PP TBV left on 12/31 seems to have vanished.

CyclingLogue understands both sides of the multiple-jeopardy problem, citing the AFLP proceeding.

Dustin has some fave cycling pix, many of the TdF.

CyclingZine passes on a Yahoo Answers question apparently targeted at generation-text: "Do you think Floyd Landis Really Doped? if so provide the bases that ur basing ur opinion on. if u think he's innocent also provide the bases for ur answer. thanks"

Bitch Kittie, who has the dog named Floyd Landis, has a new blog, pinkmtb.com.


MyTooSense said...

The link to the article quoted doesn't work and I can't find the article by searching the blog. And yes, I do indeed want to know in detail how you "know now that he is innocent". I have suspected he is innocent all along, but what is it that you can add?

Anonymous said...

TBV et. al:

Travis Tygery is speaking to the Law students at Vanderbilt tomorrow. I have asked a lows student that is planning on attending to ask him to defend strict liability and the length of time its taking to schedule Landis case.

Recognizing that he will not answer questions about any case spcifics, is their anything else you think he shouls be asked?

Daniel said...

I think we are all curious just what Because Someone Has to be The B Squad has learned.

I find the difference in opinion between Michael Hiltzik's article:
"Among other points made in the documents, sports officials criticized WADA for punishing athletes on the basis of unreliable lab tests, including controversial assays like the testosterone screen that prompted drug abuse charges against 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis."

and the recent Le Monde article:
"If an "error" could have been committed by the lab, it is simply of an administrative nature and would not undermine the validity of the test result: in a summary report, the B sample of the rider's urine had been assigned an incorrect ID number because of a typing mistake. "

painfully illuminating about the power of slant in the reporting of news. I am so thankful that a large news organization like the LA times is broadcasting this side of the Landis story.

tbv@trustbut.com said...

My Too Sense -- the link worked earlier for me, and now it's gone. Two possibilities are that he deleted it on purpose, or that he accidentally marked it a draft and it will come back.

Anon with friend at vanderbilt. Some questions that would be interesting to ask are

I. Whether the role of USADA is to prosecute cases seeking wins, or to search for truth, reflecting the difference between prosecution in the US/English tradition and that of the court in the Napoleonic tradition. Much of doping law reflects Napoleonic approach, but USADA is steeped in US tradition by culture. Is there the possibility of disconnect there, and what do they do to avoid that?

II. Does he understand why the yearly statistics for AAFs reported by the UCLA Lab can't be correlated to the stats released by USADA? In 2005, there were 528 AAFs reported by the UCLA lab, but the USADA report for the same year showed 27.
How do 528 AAFs by the lab turn into only 27 cases? Should USADA be reporting the disposition of all 528 cases reported to it by UCLA, at the level of statistics that would not compromise confidentiality?

III. How many cases have been stopped by ADRB action, out of how many that have been reviewed?

tbv@trustbut.com said...

IV. What planning and procedures did USADA perform to handle the inevitability of a public hearing, once that regulation was adopted?


Anonymous said...

Your question have been passed on and he will try to put as many of then to Tygery as possible. He also promises ne a run down of what happens.

Anonymous said...

Just back from 10 days of riding bliss in Baja Mexico, and am glad to see TBV hanging tough... Floyd will prevail, it is only a matter of time.
Green Mountain Cyclery
Ephrata, PA.

Cheryl from Maryland said...

I think the poor intern "B Squad" has been asked to edit his blog as it contained many unflattering references to many Senators. The legacy of Hill staff bloggers (anyone remember Jessica Cutler and Wonkette?) is fear. On the other hand, when I saw the blog this am, there were about 6 comments asking "B Squad" to explain why he thought Floyd was innocent, so maybe we crashed the site.

Anonymous said...

Some funny Tdf 2007 predictions from the Chaos Cycling Club blog:

Barry Bonds wins, and Phil Liggett fails a drug test he's never taken.


tbv@trustbut.com said...

Hey Anon/Vandy -- can you send me some email?