Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hearing - Some Observations

Some opinionated observations from close up at the hearing:

  • Most people, including me, did not get the importance of the methodological peak identification problems that Brenna nearly perjured himself to try to bury. LNDD has a designed-in mistake in their SOP for IRMS that is common among all tests they have ever run. They don't run a calibration mix that includes the 5a, 5b, and pdiols, so they can't identify peaks in the IRMS correctly, or in conformance with the ISL IDCR -- creating an ISL violation on any AAF they have ever declared on 5a or 5b - pdiol. This is a disaster for LNDD and whoever has said their procedure was correct -- including Brenna, Ayotte, Catlin, Aquilera, and Botre.
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  • Landis spent too much time on Mongongu and Frelat, which hamperered them later. There was probably more we weren't given because of time constraints. Depositions would have helped an expedient hearing.
  • USADA's Young was very good at gaming the system, both procedurally and during direct and re-direct examinations. He's not so good at cross of technical witnesses. By way of example, consider the brouhaha over time during closing arguments. Young held back nothing in his summation, but made Suh shorten his to allow time for rebuttal of a response that Young never made. This shortened Suh's summation, and was a pure "game" move. Similarly he routinely coached his own witnesses with leading questions and "walking" and "talking" objections.
  • People who are nice in the pressroom and halls can still write incredibly slanted stories. Looking at multiple sources is usually a good idea. A good way of checking bias is counting paragraphs covering one side vs. those presenting the others, and where they occur in the story.
  • There were many snipes by counsel about discovery issues. There is something clearly broken in the way those disputes are handled. Perhaps it is the lack of teeth in the ability to exclude evidence, or the lack of effective discovery deadlines.
  • Lemond should never have been allowed to testify, and his testimony was probably allowed in to punish Landis for the Will-provoked circus. There are hanging legal issues to be explored whether Lemond's refusal to answer Armstrong questions was proper.
  • Lemond's attorney should have not been at the USADA table, he should have been behind the bar or in the witness box. He should not have spoken on the record, and should only have spoken to his client in private.
  • Bringing Papp and Lemond in at all did not speak well to USADA's scientific case.
  • We think a lot of people were reading TBV. Young's "rabbit out of a hat" remark in close seemed taken directly from us; Suh's calling USADA on walking and talking objections came after Bill pointed it out; And Suh's successful use of the "Young Gambit" -- "the expeditied nature of arbitration, as USADA has often argued" also came after we pointed it out. We think Herr Doktor was amused by the greased pig analogy.
  • We think some of what was in the Arnie Baker slideshows was not very important, but that USADA spent a lot of time preparing as if those were the only key issues. They were certainly warned that there was other stuff, but USADA never seemed to have looked for or found it.
  • At hearing, the real deal-breakers are the ISL failures to properly identify peaks. These came out in the DPF discussions, but the particular detail of wrong cal-mix leading to know known elute time in the IRMS was sprung at the hearing.
  • All the rest is lab sloppiness that can account for some quantitative errors in the result, but it's hard to know how much effect anything would have. This includes acquisition non-linearity and all the possible analysis errors, both manual and automatic.
  • The retesting was a foot-bullet, as we suspected. The base science case was unaffected, in that the peaks were not identified any better than they were the first time, because the methodology is wrong. However, both the retesting and reprocessing gave detailed views into the workings of the LNDD that were useful to know. Sitting and watching Mongongu and Frelat work was very important. Having Davis and Scott see it was more useful to Landis than Brenna and Botre were to USADA.
  • Will Geoghegan showed up, and took his lumps. My opinion is that if he'd been trying to intimidate Lemond, he'd have done a lot better job of it, and remained anonymous. I'm sticking to the incredible lapse of judgment, insane prank theory, as unpopular as that may be.
  • Things got very serious in the press room after Lemond's testimony. The amusing novelty was gone, and it was onto a different plane, instantly.

Some things that got challenged, and remain in dispute:
  • Whether overlapping peaks with the same CIR get reported correctly or skewed one way or the other. Herr Doktor said skewed against Landis, Brenna said in Landis' favor. Neither said there was no-effect.
  • The real story of the alternate B sample testing and negotiation: Why LNDD, why no split, timing, etc. There are some documents there I'd love to get to see what happened. I don't think anyone has been telling the whole truth.

Things we expected or hoped for, but didn't see:
  • The mass-spec identification of the IRMS data, to check for co-elution.
  • A clear example of sloping baseline effect on reported ratio.
  • A clear example of how linearity could affect results.
  • A clear example of shoulder affecting results.
  • A clear example of unknown baseline improperly added or subtracted affecting results.
  • The UCLA IRMS results from the August OOC tests

There was some flattering coverage of us in a few places.
There are some digs over in "what they say", but not as many lately.

It still looks like we'd have to buy a link to be noted at CyclingNews, or Pez, and with our budget, that ain't gonna happen. Readers are right, VeloNews is softening up.



22 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was actually a VeloNews article that pointed me to this site. From 'Doctors question lab's findings in Landis Case' by Jason Sumner (5/21/2007)

Anonymous said...

ORG here ...

Bill:

What's your opinion on the case? Are you going to write a mock ruling explaining your reasoning?

Tim said...

One more time from me... amazing work from you guys. Thanks a lot!

strbuk said...

Yes DB I know I posted a nice comment about us by Jason Sumner in on if his articles I posted in the Roundup sometime after L'Affaire LeMond.

str

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you guys, DB, Bill, Strbk and Marc!!! Also Duckstrap, You3, Jr and many more for the hard work, good humored and honorable perspectives, and mostly for shining the light of truth and revelation into Floyd's case. I'd also like to thank all those that contributed to FFF, making Floyd's defense possible.

Russ

Nancy Toby of Lanterne Rouge Blog said...

Since both sides seem to be getting a good chunk of their information and perspective from TBV, I think this post and any future analyses will be VERY helpful to them in wrapping up this case.

We all appreciate your insightful commentary, as always!

Anonymous said...

Why do you say Lemond should not have been allowed to testify? As I posted yesterday, but which was deleted by the administrator, his testimony was not hearsay by the rules of evidence, and I don't believe any hearsay objection was even made by Landis.

scott in L.A. said...

LeMond's testimony was irrelevant. Other than smear Landis' reputation based upon the events leading up to the testimony, it added nothing to the truth of falsity of the actual doping allegation. The fact that it was irrelevant is shown in the USADA's closing argument. As far as I could tell, USADA did not rely on anything LeMond said about their post-tour conversation as support for the truth of the actual doping accusation.

LeMond was used in a similar way to Papp. He was offered as an unofficial "expert" who just knows that Landis doped because all cyclists dope. He, of course, was a better witness than Papp because his name is LeMond.

I tend to agree w/ the commentators on this site that the threatening phone call to LeMond is inexplicable. If Landis wanted to "out" LeMond, the ideal time would have been by taking the stand following LeMond and precisely detailing all of LeMond's statements with the conclusion that LeMond is obviously psychologically troubled (and these are the reasons why), and just making things up because he is a nut job.

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

After all our complaining about the mainstream media not focusing on the science the Anchorage Alaska Daily News has published a scathing article about how weak the science case is against Landis saying the best science evidence they could bring forth was LeMond and Papp and that Papp forgot to bring his double blind studies with him to the trial.

Finally a reporter who saw through the monkey dancing. People should really read this article.

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

Oops, it looks like I was a little slow on the Anchorage Daily News bit, I see the next Entry on TBV covers this must read article. My Bad, man you guys are fast. Doesn't anyone sleep?

Anonymous said...

From a very outside perspective one almost hopes that there is an appeal so that the two sides learn from their mistakes and present the best case possible. Just imagine what the case would be with no Lemond bombshell or with some of the things that we didn't see.

Of course the next round is private so we won't know.

Sigh.

-Skip

Anonymous said...

You think Lemond's testimony was irrelevant - you should re read the CAS decision on Tim Montgomery. He was found to have doped based on testimony from Kelli White about a conversation about clear making their calves tight. Not much different than Landis not denying he doped to Lemond, assuming you believe Lemond. Obviously, there was a swearing match in the Montgomery case also. Point is, Lemond's testimony is very far from being irrelvant. Recall Montgomery wasn't banned for a positve test even.

Anonymous said...

Re the above, specifically read page 20 of the CAS decision. The panel found Montgomery had made an implicit admission to using a banned substance, and that it had the authority to find against Montgomery on this basis alone. And again, Montgomery never failed a drug test. As in the Landis case, USADA was vilified by Montgomery. Who believes Montgomery now?

scott in L.A. said...

Anon 10:51 and 11:24. There is a radical difference between saying clear makes my calves tight and being in a conversation where you "allegedly" fail to deny doping--especially when that conversation obviously took a turn into the twilight zone as LeMond unburdened himself.

Now if LeMond had said:

I was telling Floyd about how I was sexually abused as a little boy and he blurted out, "Greg, Testoserone makes my weenie feel funny, how about you?"

Then I could join you as an apologist for USADA, agreeing that that there may be an implied admission here. As it stands:
lack of a denial=irrelevant.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

2:52, Certainly people may differ on the import of Lemond's testimony. My main point was that I think it is noteworthy that someone can be found to have doped, and therefore be sanctioned, only on the basis of an implied admission. You may think Lemond's testimony does not equal an implied admission, but someone else might. And, I don't think there was any objection from Landis' attorneys to the Lemond testimony on the grounds of hearsay or relevancy. If they admitted it was not hearsay and was not irrelevant, then I guess as far as the panel is concerned it was not hearsay and was relevant. It may not be dispositive, but that doesn't mean its irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

RoBo Said

Been reading for many months but this is my first post.

TBV, Bill and all, your coverage of this has been great.

My view on why the test of the B samples was done at LNDD is becaues none of the other lab managers would touch them. They knew they would lose if they had to tell the truth on the stand (code of ethics). And they would lose under cross examination if they arranged the results (manual corrections) to be similar to LNDD. It would have been interesting to ask the managers other than UCLA if they were asked to do the B sample test.

As for the overall ruling, the arbs have a very sticky situation if they see themselves as players in the anti doping process rather than neutral decision makers. If they rule in favor of Landis there will be a very large damages suit against USADA and/or LNDD. If they rule against Landis they will have to live with the world having seen the facts pointing so strongly against the testing being sound.

I believe USADA knew the testing was too weak to defend. They were trying to find any other opportunity (Lamond and Papp) they could hand the arbs to use to convict and hopefully avoid damning LNDD. I think this other option turned out to be too weak. Now, if LNDDs testing is not exonerated the door is still open for civil suits from many directions. My guess is the arbs will try to be neutral and not exonerate LNDD nor try to build some convoluted finding based on he-said-he-said. Then they will try to stay out of the lightning storm that will for sure follow.

Follow the money.

RoBo

Anonymous said...

"It may not be dispositive, but that doesn't mean its irrelevant."

It was obviously relevant and should have been admitted. A possible admission of guilt. But it wasn't dispositive, because the admission was ambiguous.

In the absence of lab results an admission of guilt could be dispositive. But with lab results as here, it only helps to bolster the case.

Michael said...

Every keeps talking about LeMond and how his testimony affected the arbitration.

For all those people who think it mattered, ask yourself this....USADA claimed they had an air tight case against Landis, yet they didn't bring in one expert from outside the WADA 'group' to testify on their behalf, they never really proved that the science was 100% accurate (they think, 'I know because of experience' is good enough, starting tests over and over again because the tech continually made mistakes, that the techs knew what sample they were testing, couldn't load software, we'd 'claim' it a positive for WADA, but not our own lab' is OK, spent who knows how much on legal representation, and they attacked Landis' character)...why? Doesn't that make you wonder???

To me, it means they had no case and they proved it to me. Landis' experts knew there stuff, didn't get 'turned around' on cross.

The ARBS have the biggest doping decision to make. If they rule in Landis' favor, they bring down the whole Anti-doping regime by proving that it isn't perfect as it's claimed to be. If they have the cajones to do that, I'll be very surprised.

River Otter said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the terrific coverage. Also wanted to let you know that Jason Sumner at Velonews gave you a nice plug, which is how I discovered the site part way through the hearing.

Anonymous said...

6:14, the standard of proof, as I understand it, is proof of doping "to the comfortable satisfaction" of the panel. It doesn't have to be 100% certain, and it doesn't even have to be beyond a reasonable doubt. Like others have noted, I think the whole matter is largely in the hands of Botre at this point. I don't think the arbitrators have the scientific background to not rely on Botre. I doubt Campbell will go against Landis no matter what Botre says, but the others I'm not sure about.

Anonymous said...

Profound thanks to TBV for making it possible to watch the proceedings and make up our own minds (those that weren't made up beforehand).

Whatever the decision, and although I have followed doping sports for 20+ years I don't have a strong sense of how it will go, I do hope that this will be the beginning of a major overhaul of the anti-doping industrial complex. It's been an old-boys' network forever, with a few getting all the money and many good scientists doing some very interesting work left on the outside looking in. Why have the dopers and their doctors been ahead of the testers? I have to question the motives of the testers. I know of one research scientist who had a very promising test for a banned substance (one that still does not have a good test), but he couldn't get the money (from the USOC, as I recall) he needed to ensure it would stand up to appeals. The testers haven't made the greatest impact in cycling, European law enforcement has (and, in recent days, cyclists talking about what they used to do).