Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Roundup

News
The Anchorage Daily News' Craig Medred, in a must read op-ed piece, said that in all of the time he has interviewed US Olympic athletes he has never heard a good word about USADA, and after that Landis hearings he knows why. He feels the only reasons Joe Papp and Greg LeMond were put on the stand was to smear Landis, they offered nothing in the way of real science, and it showed the lengths to which USADA will go to "win":

Landis' scientific experts pretty well shot up the work of the French lab that found him positive for testosterone use last year, but the USADA is sticking to its belief in the infallibility of that institution because, well, it's an institution.

The fallibility of science-driven institutions was smeared across the skies of America for all to see when the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida. Science is fallible because it is a product of people. People make mistakes.

Sometimes people die because of these mistakes. Sometimes careers are simply ruined. Win or lose at the hearings, Landis will have a black mark next to his name foreve

ESPN.com's Bonnie DeSimone reviews the hearing, and on the whole thinks going public was worthwhile, if not without its own complications:
Character issues will always hover over doping cases, even though there are probably jerks who race clean and nice guys who cave to temptation. USADA opted to offer the arbitrators a chance to judge Landis by the company he kept in addition to the hormones found in his urine. The agency's tactics can be questioned, or labeled a distraction, but to be fair, so can those Landis used.

The Geoghegan/LeMond incident is scrawled across the mural of this case like graffiti. It injected a tabloid tone into the hearing that could very well have a chilling effect on accused athletes contemplating their defense strategies in the future. It served as USADA's Miranda warning: Anything you say can and will be used against you right along with your body fluids.

However, there's probably a middle ground here. If an athlete has nothing to hide and few rash acts to account for, allowing the public to view lab documents and enabling people to sit in on a hearing seems unlikely to tilt the process against him.


The NY Times George Vescey tells us to go ahead and watch the Tour de France this year, but don't take it seriously. Despite the hearings and impending results for the "loopy" Floyd Landis, the biggest blow to the race come from Bjarne Riis' recent confession that he cheated to win the race. We could all be watching a dying sport.

Chicago Trbune's Philip Hersh aims at Lance, passing through Riis, Ulrich, Andreu, Hamilton, Heras, and Landis.

CyclingNews thinks Omerta is being chipped away.

IOL.za
passes on Joe Papp's suspension.

Blogs
Rant in a piece we missed from yesterday, wonders what happens next in the cycling world with all of the confessions and revelations that we have seen of late. And he wonders what the effect of these confessions will be on Floyd Landis's case.

Can't Holder Tongue realized yesterday that in the desperate fight to find the lost keys maybe they have been located after all, and maybe the lab made errors that gave false positives for Floyd Landis.

Bicycle.Net thinks that all in cycling need a blanket amnesty, and then we start all over again.

Edge of the Road has a different solution:
This is a sport that deserves to be shut down. It should be put on hiatus, until it figures out how to police itself. Or until athletes somehow decide that honesty is the only way to glory — and big paychecks.

Erik is starting to think everybody in cycling dopes.

LoneCactus seems to be thinking much the same.



26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re the Can't Holder Tongue blog:
"I want so desperately for Floyd to be innocent that my mind is grasping." This is what I don't understand; why do people want so desperately for Landis to be innocent? I can understand the complaints about the lab and "system." But why the desperate desire for wanting to believe he is in fact innocent?

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

Make sure to read the Anchorage Daily News piece, it is really well written. Then ask yourself why a small Alaskan paper saw past the monkey dancing and looked at the science while the big boys like the NYT, Chicago Tribune, et al were content with the tawdry made for tabloid moments? We need to press the press to take a real look at the science of this case. If not for Floyd Landis, then at least for all the honest athletes who are at the mercy of WADA and testing labs like LNDD.

Anonymous said...

Simple. Most people who want to see Floyd exonerated do so because they watched the Tour and know that it made no sense for Floyd to dope at that time in that way.

Most people who want to see Floyd convicted have concluded that all pro cyclists dope and the more big names that get squashed the better.

The Pappists argue that Test. really helps in recovery. Scientists say no evidence.

So here's the post stage 16 conversation.

Floyd: So how am I going to recover all that lost time.

Advisors: You will have to attack.

Floyd: When

Advisors: Early.

Floyd: Can I take some Test. to help me?

FL Doping Expert: Some riders claim it helps but they don't win and there is no credible science that shows it will do anything for you by next stage.

Floyd: Yeah but how can it hurt?

FL Doping Expert: Because they test for it in your urine and you could possibly get caught.

Floyd: Oh. I guess I'll attack early--I've got nothing to lose.

Anonymous said...

Follow up to anon.7:34, and
question to close followers of the evidence: has anyone explained exactly what FL would have needed to ingest before S17 to produce the LNDD results from a urine sample taken after the stage? (That is, assuming the LNDD results were somehow accurate.)

tbv@trustbut.com said...

USADA was seeming to suggest that he was doing a mix of many kinds of T application, oral, injection, gel and patch, to overlap excretion rates and delta-delta values. They didn't offer any concrete evidence, because they don't need to identify the method, only the presence.

The heart of Landis' argument is that they measured something that probably isn't what they say it is, because of the peak identification problems, and because the results are inconsistent with any known metabolism of testosterone; therefore, measurement error is far more likely than doping.

TBV

Anonymous said...

TBV,

Thanks for your response. But understanding that USADA had no burden on the subject, wouldn't FL have had reason to show that the spike after S17 couldn't be explained except by a completely absurd assumptions as to ingestion after S16?

Exxon used a similar argument in 1989, when Joe Hazelwood's blood-alcohol content based on a blood sample taken about 10 hours after the Exxom Valdez Oil Spill extrapolated back to something like a .44 BAC just before the spill, enough to kill just about any human. Hazelwood's BAC was ultimately kept out of evidence, although primarily due to chain-of-custody problems.

Thanks much for this great blog. I wish I had found it sooner than the last 4 days of the hearing.

Anonymous said...

I think Edge of the Road has the appropiate solution to the doping problem. Right now, we have riders who dope because they believe others are...it is a systematic thought-pattern. Doping kills, robs honest people of their careers and validates recreational drugs which supports organized crime. I will continue to ride, but, like last year, I will not watch le tour. I am boycotting the sport until the sponsors, teams and riders get the message...

Michael said...

With all the 'confessions' of late, has anyone noticed that testosterone is not one of the subjects they admit using? So far, the only things popping up to me are EPO and Cortisone.

I admit, I may have missed a confession of Test., but I keep looking for it.

Anonymous said...

The Craig Medved op-ed sounded like just another pro Landis rant. He claimed the real issue was the "science", but then didn't discuss the science at all, but just attacked Papp and Lemond for being a distraction to the "real issues".

The Papp and Lemond testimony was clearly relevant and probative to the legal issues in the case.

Lemond testified to a Landis phone conversation that could be interpreted as a Landis **confession** to the doping. As an evidentiary matter that is admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule. Landis claims he didn't say those words. But that is an issue to be weighed by the arbitrators. As a secondary matter the Geohagan threat and Landis internet threat are also evidence of guilty knowledge and dishonest character on the part of Landis and his camp that could be properly weighed by the arbitrators. Landis put his character in issue when he claimed his values wouldn't allow him to cheat.

Papp's testimony was relevant to show a motive or reason for Landis to dope with testosterone, i.e. that testosterone improved recovery time. Landis's camp has claimed from the beginning that there was no reason to use testosterone in cycling. Papp also testified that he could use testosterone cream without being caught by the tests. The UCLA lab guy also pointed to the benefits of testosterone on recovery. On the other side you had the UW doctor who said he knew of no "published research that showed testosterone improved recovery". (My question is whether this issue has even been researched at all. If not, of course there would be no published research.)

Just read that a German doctor admitted to supplying testosterone to Olympic cyclists.

"Georg Huber, who worked on six Olympic teams, acknowledged he gave cyclists testosterone between 1980 and 1990 after two former riders named him in Saturday editions of the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung."

So my view is that there is pretty good evidence that cyclists would have a motive and reason to use testosterone.

I have to say that the science is beyond my expertise. But from the biased and emotional comments on this site, it's hard to take your cries of "dancing monkeys" seriously.

It seems pretty clear that doping is rampant in pro cycling. And the remedy is not to defund the anti-doping authorities as Landis has hysterically been calling for, but to give them more money. If the science and competence of the labs is suspect as some of you claim, then it's going to take a whole lot more money to improve them and a broader and more rigorous testing regime. Good lab techs cost money. There is no free lunch.

Anonymous said...

2:50 again throws out the red herring that cyclists (and their doctors) have admitted to testosterone use therefore Floyd's use is plausible. However, the point all along is that its usage is an out-of-competition muscle builder not an in-race remedy for a bad day in a multi-stage race.

I'll bet the Olympic cyclists were track not road racers.

Even in road racers, the only ones who want to build muscle mass would be sprinters. What would Floyd be thinking. Gosh, I'm about to climb over the Alps and Pyrenees a couple times in three weeks, let me put on some serious muscle mass and carry a few more pounds!

I think not.

Anonymous said...

Testosterone had been found in all cycling doping scandal: Festina, Rumsas, COFIDIS, US POSTAL Rubbish, OP,...
Have you heard one riders claiming Floyd was innocent? No one, because they all know that it's common to use Testosterone on a Great Tour.
Floyd testified that he never doped but we are learning that riders were using EPO and/or blood doping since 1993. EPO or blood doping provides a big advantage, and without it's impossible to challenge the 50th first of a GT, so it's extremely probable that Floyd doped the precedent year, and so Floyd lied!

Anonymous said...

Good point about out of competition muscle building and sprinters re: testosterone.

Nevertheless, both Papp and the UCLA lab guy presented evidence that testosterone is/was plausibly believed to be used to enhance recovery in a multi-stage race. That's why Papp's testimony was relevant and probabative about an issue in the "case".

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Doping and death
http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/cycling/news/story?id=2551973

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

@Anonymous 2:50 PM,

I know of two peer reviewed papers on the use of small doses of testosterone (e.g. injections or creams). Both papers found NO benefits, but some negative side effects.

The first paper stated:

"None of the measured biochemical variables showed significant impact of AAS on physical stress level. Data from exercise testing on submaximal and maximal level did not reveal any performance differences between the three groups or their response to the treatment. In the present study, no effect of multiple oral doses of AAS on endurance performance or bioserum recovery markers was found."

The second paper stated:

"Although AAS administration may affect erythropoiesis and blood haemoglobin concentrations, no effect on endurance performance was observed. Little data about the effects of AAS on metabolic responses during exercise training and recovery are available and, therefore, do not allow firm conclusions."

@Anonymous 3:34 PM,

Papp is hardly a credible athlete as to the plausibility that testosterone aids in recovery as he seemed all too egger to try ANYTHING that might help him anything to reach the big time. He had nothing to lose because he didn't have the talent necessary to make it big anyways, Floyd Landis was way different, Floyd had bad it to the big time and had everything to lose by trying a dubious recovery method.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"Papp is hardly a credible athlete as to the plausibility that testosterone aids in recovery "

Why not. He testified that it was hard to detect. He testified that he believed that it helped. Landis was desperate to recover after blowing up.

From the Bicycling Magazine Boulder report:

"But testosterone promotes a number of benefits, only one of which is muscle growth, and then, it is primarily the development of lean skeletal muscle. Taken in smaller doses, it is said to aid in recovery. "

Testosterone may or may not work to aid recovery, but the cycling folklore is that it helps. Papp was just the witness that could put a voice to that folklore. His folklore was backed up by the UCLA lab guy.

Anonymous said...

I love this kind of perpetuation of non-truth: "is said to aid in recovery"...WHO SAID? Joe Lindsay??? He does not know his Azz from a hole in the ground. Writing it does not make it true.

Or Catlin, described by this non-astute poster as: : "UCLA lab guy presented evidence that testosterone is/was plausibly believed to be used to enhance recovery in a multi-stage race."

Oh really, what evidence. Whoever wrote this was wrong. He presented NO SUCH evidence, only anecdotal heresay. What he did do was SAY he THOUGHT it MIGHT be beneficial. After Dr. Catlin's stroke, he may think chocolate milk goes well with raisins, but that don't make it so. Folklore is an anecdote. The UCLA lab guy has NO PROOF, only his opinion as a stroked out cracker.

On to Mr. Papp, who admitted to being on everything under the sun, including things he could not even name, but he was SURE that it was the T that helped him recover enough to get 18th in the Tour of the Nowhere against Nobodies. RIGHT! as they used to say on Saturday Night Live skit about the exaggerating losers: "Yeah, That's the Ticket!" As to Papp knowing it was hard to detect, he was tested twice while on it, if you believe him. It appears he was caught one of those times. What does that tell you?

There is NO scientifically supported evidence that T offers a recovery benefit, in any dose. It is clearthat large doses are easier to detect and could hinder performance, by virtue of side-effects like water retention and bloating. For Papp and Catlin to be said to have provided evidence of T's benefit one would have to be ignorant of the facts, as the facts are against these "experts".

If you subscribe to the Papp's and stroked out Catlin's, then there is no hope for finding the truth.

Anonymous said...

"If you subscribe to the Papp's and stroked out Catlin's, then there is no hope for finding the truth."

What are **YOUR** credentials? I assume they are much more knowledgeable and experienced than you.

They and "Joe" speak to what cyclists use in the belief that it will improve their performance.

All I'm saying is that the Papp testimony is probative and relevant as to why cyclists would use testosterone. Not necessarily dispositive.

Such a strident and emotional denial. What is Landis to you?


So many of the top cyclists dope to win. Why should Landis (or Lance for that matter) be any different? Are American ethics, training and genes so superior? I think not.

Anonymous said...

More cycling folklore about the recovery effects of testosterone. Becoming clearer that this belief was widespread in the cycling commnunity.

"Finally, Floyd's doctor, ( repeated by people in this forum) made the incredibly Floyd-serving and untrue statement that testosterone wouldn't improve Floyd's performance in this instance. Bull____! One of the main reasons athletes use testosterone is to aid recovery after hard workouts, allowing the athlete to work as hard on day two as they did on day one. anyone who has ever started a weight lifting or running or cycling regimen and been sore the next day knows you can't equal your effort the next day. It hurts too much. A nice dose of one of a million variants of increasing difficult to detect testosterone, and that next day's workout can be as hard and productive as day one."

Paul Desmarais
8/2/2006
http://boulderreport.bicycling.com/2006/07/tour_de_specula.html

Anonymous said...

Semi-dissapointed that so many of you beat me on posting the Medred article from the Anchorage Daily News. Thought we were too much of a backwater for it to be picked up.

I suspect that Craig was following this site, too well informed on too many aspects. His column space is limited and he needed to hit the hard science elements but also respond to the bits that appeared in the AP articles during the hearing. At least I think that's what he will tell me.

Don't take his statement about never hearing anything positive about WADA from Olympic athletes lightly. We have a significant number of Nordic and biathalon (talk about a small attention sport in the U.S) athletes that train here, as well as skiers and a snow boarder who have medaled. Lots of opportunity in a small city (town really) to have contact with them, especially for an established sports columnist - if only published in Anchorage.
pcrosby

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:37:

Stephen said it best:

DAMN RIGHT, he's got high levels of testosterone. He's an American. We have huge balls....We should just win something just for sitting on those bikes....Besides, your testosterone would be raging, too, if you just blew by the entire field in cycling's biggest race...I won't let the UCI demonize someone for bringing it when it counts!....Floyd Landis, as far as I am concern, you're still a winner. Only thing you been found guilty of is having rocks as big as the Rockies.

Anonymous said...

Environmental Chemistry:

Re: the two scientific papers you referenced.

A question and comments. Is the synthetic testosterone that was found in Landis the same stuff referred to in the the two scientific papers as anabolic steroids (AAS) etc.?

Comment on paper two: this was a review of the literature and stated:

"Little data about the effects of AAS on metabolic responses during exercise training and recovery are available and, therefore, do not allow firm conclusions."

This suggests that the effects are not really known wrt "recovery".

Comment on paper 1:

Good and relevant paper, but
treadmill tests were performed pre and post testosterone. I assume these treadmill tests were not equivalent to effort in a 5-6 hour alpine stage, so may not show whether true recovery effect on muscle fatigue in such a race.

Anonymous said...
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MMan said...

Chicago Trbune's Philip Hersh aims at Lance, passing through Riis, Ulrich, Andreu, Hamilton, Heras, and Landis.

Philip Hersh. He's still trying to convict the Duke lacrosse players of ... something! There has to be something!

http://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com/2007/05/more-sports-reporters.html