Monday, April 30, 2007

Footbullets

Footbullet, (fuut-buul-it) n. a small cylindrical missile that, when launched, penetrates the shooter's foot rather than an intended target due to poor situational awareness.

- TBV's Dictionary of Schadenfreude


We've all originally looked at the new B sample testing at the LNDD as a loss of sorts for Landis. Perhaps we should, instead, look at it as a golden opportunity.

Assume going in that there is something wrong going on at the LNDD, but all we have are incomplete documents that don't show everything.

Now, while keeping them at arm's length, you invite Landis' experts in to observe your execution of tests. They can't see all the details of particular tests, but they are able to observe the environment and the Standard Operating Procedure, taking notes all the while. They see how the samples are prepared, machines are setup, calibrated, and zeroed, and used; and they see how they are analyzed, if not in actual detail for a particular test.

And there's lots that looks very wrong.

Imagine they've discovered and observed systematic mistakes that call into question all results reported by LNDD on IRMS tests, and that the mixed results (some "positive", some not) obtained on these new tests, more than anything else, confirm the unreliability of the process.

Was doing additional B sample testing as good an idea as USADA thought it was?

Maybe not.


30 comments:

daniel m (a/k/a Rant) said...

That's a very interesting take on things, TBV. And the way you've presented it makes the premise rather believable. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this all plays out in a couple of weeks.

- Rant

Bill Hue said...

Well, Tygart always said they were searching for the truth. Maybe this truth will turn out to be a little harder to swallow.

ArchPundit said...

This seems obvious to me, though the rules for these hearings have little to do with anything I would think is obvious.

The argument appears to be that the first time we tested them, they were negative. The second time positive so this backs up the lab.

Okay, and....that demonstrates the tests unreliability. Even if you have testing procedure that isn't terribly accurate, if you get reliable results and a reasonable confidence interval, you can make the case that you got to the right conclusion. However, getting different results in two different tests tells me that the testing--whether by human error or by inherent flaws in the test, isn't reliable and thus scientific conclusions are not possible.

Anonymous said...

TBV,

I've been thinking the same thing. But if USADA is searching for the truth and they have confirmed that the truth is LNDD is actually FUBAR. If USADA decides to act on that firm evidence the political fallout will be much bigger than a pesky "Doped" TDF champion. I'm not sure if Tygart has the, what we in central Texas refer to as, Cajones to buck the system and swallow that poison pill.
If he did however have the Cajones, we would then be talking about a branch of the US government, pissing in the French boot of Drug control, so to speak. Basically telling the French to do their job and clean house. I'm not sure that would sit well unless it was agreed upon by Dick/WADA and AFLD.

I'm filing it under wish full thinking, I wouldn't bet on it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:40

was me A-town, Tx.

Anonymous said...

Oh please! One could use their imagination to concoct millions of hypothetical stories.

First these "Brower and Gilliand" people come up with their hypothetical Breaking Away piece and publish it on this site. Then that they have to gall to copyright it. Come on.

Now this Footbullets piece. Let's assume this. Assume that. Its nice to prognosticate. I just warn the readers here to be patient and wait for real facts to come out before building out scenerios of what might have happened based on press releases that they are reading coming from an athlete's legal team.

Here are some high level facts to think about, people:
1)Landis is an above average domestique on the USPS team and proves himself to be a capable performer for one or two stages during a multiday stage race. In fact, he had problems with meltdowns and recovery between stages during the TDF, Vuelta and (I think) other stage races while at Postal.

2)Landis goes to Phonak, a team with what history has shown us to be a very high number and proportion of riders who were found guilty of Doping. Phonak rider doping infractions ran the gammut from EPO, Blood Boosting, and steroid use.

3)Landis has a decent performance in the 2005 TDF with Phonak, finishing 9th.

4)Landis has a bang-up 2006 season with Phonak, winning Paris Nice, Tour de Georgia and the Dauphine. He has no problems with recovery during these three hotly contested stage races. I mention recovery because one reason bike riders have tradionally doped using steroids/testosterone/synthetic testosterone is because it helps muscle recovery and allows them to push at high intensities day after day during stage races.

4)Landis wins the 2006 TDF and has a remarkable recovery from what has been described as a "bonking" on stage 16 to win stage 17, which solidifed his tour win. One of his coaches said that Floyd's power output during stage 17 was on par with training rides he has done. I say that after racing 16 stages of the Tour de France, his and ALL the riders performance was no where near where it would be when they were fresh and rested. Floyd's power output that day, after 16 stages of racing, was heads and shoulders above any of the other top 150 cyclists in the world participating in that race!

5). Oh but wait, Floyd Landis did not pass the drug test for Stage 17, coming up with an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for his "A" sample T/E test. The "B" urine sample also fails the T/E test and hence is tested using IRMS for traces of synthetic testosterone. The "B" sample IRMS test comes up adverse as well, meaning that based on the USADA code and the place where the test was conducted, THE TEST FOR ABSENCE of SYNTHETIC TESTOSTERONE failed.

6)Let's cut to the high level facts here:
-Landis's cycling performance in 2006 was heads and shoulders stronger than in any other year during his career
-Landis's cycling performance during Stage 17 of the TDF, where he tested positive for synthetic testosterone levels, was heads and shoulders better than any of the 150 or so other top cyclists in the world.

Were performance enhancement agents used by him or was he framed?

Did he really have a great year in 2006 and a great TDF? Or, is he a victim of shoddy lab work, made-up test results and overzealous "prosecution" and "persecution" at the hands of the USADA?

(note: I find it hard to charge the USADA with any wrongdoings until they actually lay out the case and how they built the case)

I sincerely hope that the hearing on May 14th shows all of us the facts, and answers our questions!!

-Matthew

Anonymous said...

On correction above, the IRMS adverse analytical finding standards for synthetic testosterone are from WADA code and not from USADA code. The WADA makes the rules and the USADA follows them (or not, whatever your viewpoint might be).

tbv@trustbut.com said...

Hey Matthew, thanks for taking time to present that viewpoint. Seriously.

We'll see what comes out at the hearing, and find out which versions of reality are more likely true.

Until then, all most of us can do is speculate and chew on what available information there may be.

If the lab work is as good as you believe, then Landis is up the creek, and many folks have a lot of crow to eat. I'm prepared for that possibility.

If the lab work is as bad as Landis is saying, what are his accusers going to do?

TBV

Anonymous said...

I continue to be amazed at how many people believe so strongly at Landis' total innocence. I'm just curious - how many Landis believers believed Hamilton was innocent also?

Anonymous said...

To Matthew from sandden1:

1) Landis pulled Armstrong, Ullrich and Kloeden single-handedly up a mountain that had strung out the entire peloton until only those four leaders had anything to do with the race. In my memory, possibly wrong, none of the other three ever took a pull up that hill. 'Above average domestic' is mild praise, indeed.

2) On the same,illogical, basis, one can accuse the lab techs at the LNDD for being stupid, because for the last three years at least the newspapers in France have been bemoaning the flight of the best and the brightest technicians to other countries where the pay is higher and they get the respect that they never received in France. I will make neither charge. After all I come from San Diego, a city that has criminals in it, but I'm not one of them.

3) Ninth is better than 'decent'. That race also had Armstrong, Ullrich and Basso in it, which required a different strategy than 2006, a race without the obvious favorites, thanks to Operation Puerto.

4) All shorter races, and you left out the Tour of California.

4) (See, we all make mistakes, even lab techs, which applies directly to....

5) Lab techs are not gods, and lab tests are not always correct, as has been shown in the past. The purpose of this process was originally to find the truth of whether the test was true, or not. Ideally it still is, but there is a depressing amount of activity out there that makes me think that perhaps it has become a butt-covering operation. I don't know who is trying harder to walk away the winner, but Landis should be. He has no real rights in this sort of arbitration, or kangaroo court if you will, but his tactics are working to his advantage and he clearly has the opposition dodging a few bullets. Sadly, the USADA has acted as an opposition instead of just going after the truth.

6) Think Boonen, Bettini, DiLuca, any world champion that you like. Were they all on drugs? It's illogical to assume so without evidence, but they turned in remarkable performances, now didn't they?

As for stage seventeen, there were many of the 'best in the world who weren't there, and Landis has ridden away from many people in this world.

Innocent until proven beyond a reasonable doubt, is not a bad idea. Perhaps, in fairness, the drug enforcement bodies of the world should endorse it.

Debby said...

Matthew: re: #4 & #6 --

If you have the opportunity, go get a copy of the DVD set of the 2006 Tour de France, and listen to Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen's commentary on Stage 17. They are not saying, "Landis is not human! Landis is doing what's never been done before!" which would indicate that something unexplainable happened. What they say is, "Why is Riis not sending T-Mobile to chase Landis? Why are the peleton not responding?" The simple answer is, when Floyd rode off the front and attacked so early, all the GC contenders just assumed that he'd blow up the way he did the day before. Simply put, they thought he was crazy, and his plan would never work. By the time they, and their team managers, realized that it was working, it was too late for the yellow jersey group to respond with any force and bring him back. Seriously, go listen to Phil and Paul as the race unfolds. They are considered to be experts, right? and when they say (as Landis goes up one hill) that his power output was pretty normal for that day (and show the yellow power tap thing on his bike), I can believe that. Phil and Paul don't have any reason to be lying on national TV. All they could do was respond to what they saw at the time. I watched this stage again last night myself, and Phil and Paul were apoplectic that the field did *nothing* until it was too late. That was their poor judgement, not a super-human ride on the part of Landis.

kate said...

Anonymous,

Why is it such a bad thing to believe that someone accused is innocent? The final decision isn't in yet. Landis is within his WADA given rights to contest test results. Until proven otherwise, I chose to believe in his innocence. Floyd said once he didn't want people to think he's innocent because he's a nice guy (which he certainly is a nice guy...), but wanted people to look objectly at the evidence, once presented. What we haven't got here is a total look at all the evidence, both for and against him. As TBV says, all we can do speculate at this point....

I can not speak for anyone else (nor would they want me too, LOL), but I would rather be known as the fool who believed than the cynic who didn't. I believe in the human spirit and the power to overcome adversity and in superhuman effort when the will overtakes the body. So you might say, I believe that Floyd is innocent more for what it says about me as a human being and the things that I value. What I have known of Floyd is honesty and integrity, and I see no reason that should change until all the cards are face up.

Matthew...glad you're back in the mele...I think your most important point, to me, anyway, is your final line: "I sincerely hope that the hearing on May 14th shows all of us the facts, and answers our questions!!"

The biggest fear I have is that this hearing WON'T give us all the facts and if it answers any questions at all, it won't be the one we all want to know.

But your use of the word "hope" is exactly correct...

Anonymous said...

Matthew:
Do you ride? Ride hard? Ride mountains when it's realllly hot? And, go fulltilt? I do. And I know the value of keeping your core temperature down. Stage 17 was hot. The peloton couldn't get ready access to the team cars, except for the domestiques. They were roasting. Lactic acid buildup, HR up, performance down. Meanwhile, Floyd is all alone with his team car pouring cool water over his head. Food. Energy drinks.

This made a huuuuge difference; don't kid yourself that it didn't.

rocket_head

Anonymous said...

Kate,

Great summery regarding considering someone innocent until proven guilty. I tried to sum it up the other day but I didn't like the way it came across so I deleted it.

anon 1:42,

Honestly, to paraphrase you, I continue to be amazed by the people who think USADA and LNDD are totally innocent and Floyd should hang no matter how bad USADA and LNDD botched the "evidence." Now when I think of WADA, USADA and LNDD I think sports fraud, not law enforcement for fair play. Given the flawed evidence (publicly released) presented by USADA and LNDD to Floyd so far, there is no way I'd convict Floyd, even if I knew he was guilty. I haven't seen any credible evidence that proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that can overcome the junk science of LNDD. And given USADA's disregard for the rules and Floyd basic human rights I hope Floyd does get the DOJ involved and the DOJ rips USADA a new one and Travis T. loses his job and License.

A-Town, Tx.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the real issue whether Landis in fact doped? If so, then even if the lab didn't follow a bunch of irrelvant procedures, so what - he still doped. I don't think someone writing down the wrong number on a bottle that's clearly his makes any difference, for example, or that the lab leaked information. People are also confusing criminal justice system rights with these proceedings, and this isn't a criminal justice matter. The point is, most people want clean sport. If someone is in fact shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, to have doped, then he or she should pay the consequences. The argument that Landis should get off even if he did dope is one I don't understand. If anyone is really interested in the sport of bicycle racing, then they ought to want to have cheaters punished; either that or just let everyone dope. Also, given that so many people do dope, I would find it curious that someone that didn't could blow everyonge else away.

Gary said...

Anon 4:58 (Which sounds like a chapter and verse in the Internet Bible):

You are correct. The ultimate issue is whether or not Landis doped.

But, and it's a big one:

If you cannot cheat to win the Tour, you also cannot cheat to win a doping case. If missing a doping test results in a suspension, then screwing up a doping test--or an entire process--should also be treated with the same weight. Either way, we're talking about the sanctity of sport here.

To take what I've posted elsewhere, but I feel is important. No matter the outcome, no matter who is guilty and who is not:

Rules are important. They are important for the guy who might have cheated to win the Tour and they are important for those who are trying to punish him for that. The rules that say you race clean are as important as the rules governing the doping agencies and labs. WADA and the USADA have repeatedly violated their own rules. Yet they cite them to Landis as sacrosanct. They can't have it both ways. Are their purported violations better or worse than Landis'? It shouldn't matter. Rules cannot be tiered in a fair adjudicative process.

Here is something to consider: In 2005 the USADA was given $7.5 million by the federal government. My tax money is going to pay for a system that does not believe in proper oversight nor in its very own rules. Don't know if that's good use of my tax dollars.

My biggest problem with that, I have seen a lot about going out and finding dopers but little in the way of actually dealing with the root cause of, or the systematic dispensation of doping.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have is in giving "moral equivalency" to the rules. That is, the rule that you shouldn't dope, to me, is different than the rule that you should write the right number down on a bottle. The rule that you shouldn't dope is, to me, different than the rule that you shouldn't leak a test report, etc. If the lab results were truly faked, then that should be actionable and criminal. But to say Landis should skate because of a bunch of little meaningless "rules" is wrong, in my opinion, if in fact he doped.

Gary said...

When those meaningless "rules" can change or affect the outcome, however, then you're certainly in a gray area.

Anonymous said...

If Floyd Landis did not dope during the 2006, then he sure made a "quantum leap" in his stage racing abilities. His ability to win 5 stage races (Paris-Nice, Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Dauphine Libere and Tour de France) by August is a feat unequaled by Armstrong, Indurain, Hinault, ...

I think he ought to publish his training methods and sell them to raise money for the FFF. If I could improve my performance like that I'd go from being a strong recreational rider to dominating my country's national championships!

Anonymous said...

5:29 Anonymous said...
"The problem I have is in giving "moral equivalency" to the rules. That is, the rule that you shouldn't dope, to me, is different than the rule that you should write the right number down on a bottle."

The rules are that you shouldn't dope AND that you should follow the strict procedural rules when trying to ascertain whether someone did dope. So messing up a label is indeed just as serious a moral breach of the rules, since it can invalidate a true "guilty" result or create a false "guilty" result.

Jesperio
Northern, Va.

tbv@trustbut.com said...

Anon 4:58 wrote, "Isn't the real issue whether Landis in fact doped? If so, then even if the lab didn't follow a bunch of irrelvant procedures, so what - he still doped. I don't think someone writing down the wrong number on a bottle that's clearly his makes any difference, for example, or that the lab leaked information. People are also confusing criminal justice system rights with these proceedings, and this isn't a criminal justice matter. The point is, most people want clean sport. If someone is in fact shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, to have doped, then he or she should pay the consequences. The argument that Landis should get off even if he did dope is one I don't understand. "

If Landis doped, I'll be in the line to throw stones.

The problem with the rule violations on the ADA and Lab side is that we may never know the truth about whether he doped. Critical evidence has been withheld, and apparently destroyed.

How can we find him guilty if the evidence to exhonerate him is destroyed to prevent him from being able to use it?

TBV

Anonymous said...

"If Floyd Landis did not dope during the 2006, then he sure made a "quantum leap" in his stage racing abilities. His ability to win 5 stage races (Paris-Nice, Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Dauphine Libere and Tour de France) by August is a feat unequaled by Armstrong, Indurain, Hinault, ..."

Do you want to rethink your statement about Floyd and the 2006 Dauphine?

Ferren said...

Hey David,

Would you check out my post on the "Press Coverage" thread at the DPF (post #17)? If there's no coverage maybe we can set something up.

Theresa said...

Thank you, Anon 7:28pm. I wonder when someone would point that out. And I thought I remembered that Floyd pulled 1 or 2 more cyclists up that mountain in 2004. He also placed 25th in the Time Trial, and his boss was very unhappy with him for the effort. That was the day before stage 17 in 2004, when he was determined to show he could do his job! 2005 was a rough year for him because he was having trouble with his hip. That he broke in 2003, and then something like,"5 weeks later" showed up because he was EXPECTED too, even though he wasn't healed. Christian VV said he was so black and blue from the surgery, he couldn't believe he was going to ride! But, he was told he was riding, and he did!
And as Debby pointed out, along with rocket-head; the peleton did NOTHING, Oscar was having a cow, cause no one would chase. And the water Floyd was able to cool himself with made a huge difference to his core temperature, when the rest of the peleton was melting into the asphalt!

And I believe that if you can't prove that someone did something wrong, in a straight-forward, legit way; then they should go free. Rant 's post on the anlogy of the ticket for speeding was an excellent way of showing how this can happen to the average joe.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:58;

you said, "if anyone is really interested in the sport of bicycle racing, then they ought to want to have cheaters punished"

With out a doubt I want the fact b ased proven cheaters to be removed from the sport like a cancerous boil. However I would include in the line up of cancerous cheaters that are ruining cycling, DICK POUND, PAT McQUAID, TRAVIS TYGART and the systems of LNDD, USADA, WADA and potentialy the AA and CAS.

Because if the system can't fight clean and catch the cheaters then it is obvious we have the wrong people and system setup doing the job. A unethical, unjust and corrupt governing body is no better than the cheaters they reign over.

A-town, Tx.

daniel m (a/k/a Rant) said...

Thanks, Theresa.

For anyone who's interested, here's the link to the post she's referring to:

http://rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=224

- Rant

Anonymous said...

If one can't understand the concept that Landis should be found innocent due to unreliable testing, or "technicalities", maybe they should look to our founding fathers opinion on the presumption of innocence.

That presumption is a critical part of the most basic fabric of our way of life, not just criminal proceedings.

“It is better (that) 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer.”
- Benjamin Franklin

And to think the French people really liked ole Ben.


ilsanjo

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Isn't the real issue whether Landis in fact doped? If so, then even if the lab didn't follow a bunch of irrelvant procedures, so what - he still doped." If you think that following standard operating procedures in a laboratory is not important and cannot affect the integrity and accuracy of results, then please do not ever set foot in my laboratory. Not having an operating manual for your instrument, not following established criteria for how it is to be operated, etc. is not "irrelevant". Results generated by faulty methodology CANNOT BE TRUSTED. If the lab results cannot be trusted, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT LANDIS DOPED? Even the best laboratories occasionally come up with results that are not accurate (even though there is no "faking" or conspiracy going on). For example, sometimes we get a result on a patient that is not compatible with life. We repeat the procedure, and the result comes out the same. Yet the patient is not dead. From what you say, the patient should be declared dead anyway, because the lab result must be accurate, and it could not have come from a living patient. From my standpoint, you go to work to try to find out what caused the error, including, if necessary, sending some of the sample to another lab to see what results they get. Or at least that's what you do if you are interested in the truth rather than trying to fill up body bags.

Pearl

Anonymous said...

1). Responding to the comments of, Did Landis really dope and isn't that all that really matters? (paraphrasing) No it is NOT all that matters!! Fair and reliable testing matters. Fair due process matters. Athletes' rights matter. The WADA code matters.

Only Floyd Landis knows for sure whether or not he doped. There is NO FOOLPROOF way to prove doping, nor will there ever be. There are, however, processes in place to allow a hearing board to determine whether or not it is a reasonable conclusion, given the evidence presented at a hearing. But, 100% fair and just. Never.

2). Now, what about Labs and Doping agencies being held accountable for their actions? That is the job of the hearing board or the CAS. If they feel that the Labwork was suspect or record keeping was suspect or chain of custody was broken after hearing the evidence, then they can and should rule in favor of the accused.

It has happened many times and it does give me comfort that even when all the evidence appears to show that an athlete doped, he or she walks because rules were not followed. The Inigo Landeluze case comes immediately to mind.

The WADA code has built into it responsibilities that the Labs and prosecuting bodies must follow. If those organizations do not follow those rules, it is up to the arbitration board or CAS to rule accordingly.

3). The arbitration board will have to determine, given the evidence presented, is Landis guilty or innocent of using banned substances during the 2006 tour de france, stage 17? (using the reasonableness test.) As a part of that responsibility, they will certainly have to ascertain whether or not the lab work, actual results and the conduct by the USADA were acceptable or not. So, my thinking is similar to what many have been saying, ALL THE RULES MATTER, both for the accused, the lab and the prosecuting agency.

4). I stand corrected about 2006 racing results. Floyd Landis did NOT win the Dauphine Libere. Thanks for pointing that out. He did win 4 highly competitive stage races in a six month time span.

5). I personally assume innocence until guilt is proven, as do most people. So, just because someone had a great race or a great season does not at all mean we need to suspect them of doping. The point is that when you have a clear increase in racing performance, a failed drug test and are on a team with a history of drug offenses, the CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE begins to mount up.

-Matthew

Debby said...

Ilsanjo -- I was going to go look up that quote and then I saw it on your post. Well spoken.

Matthew -- wouldn't you want to approach things as Ben Franklin did? Similar to your view (#5), there are lots of people in jail today because of circumstantial evidence, and only as they get DNA tests do the authorities realize, "Hey! Oops! We goofed! It *wasn't* this guy here after all." How would you like to have spent 20 years in jail, lost your job, your family, your credibility in society because, "We goofed!" No amount of apologizing, and no amount of money makes up for what those poor people go through. You never get that time back. Capital punishment goes without saying. Isn't it better to let someone go free until you are absolutely sure they are guilty?

And what about Enron? Admittedly I don't know much about the case, but how would you have liked to be the person working for the ones who stole all that retirement money? People might come up to you and accuse, "So, you worked for Chairman X. You read his mail, heard his phone calls. You know what he did, and you got part of the money" when you in fact did not know anything. Do we assume that those co-workers, because they got good performance reviews and raises (increase in performance), because their fingerprints could be found on certain files (failed drug tests), and because they worked at this company and for that CEO (a team with a history of drug offenses) are automatically guilty??? If you have ever worked in corporate America, you know that you can be working in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person, and get blamed or scapegoated for something wrong that someone else did, and it basically comes down to your word against theirs. If they've got authority on you, how do you defend yourself? Most people take the rap quietly because they need to keep their jobs. A brave few stand up and defend themselves, and end up getting fired because they've burnt a bridge. In a sense, that's exactly what's happened to Floyd. Dick Pound et al are looking for a scapegoat for cycling's drug problem and they picked the wrong guy.