Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday Roundup

The Summit Daily News' Marc Carlisle would boo louder for certain athletes, if he were on steroids. He feels many cycling and baseball fans are in denial.

The Nelson Mail says one thing is for sure: the Tour de France is a mess.

The Greeley Tribune
posts an op-ed piece in claiming sports heroes are duds, and that includes Floyd Landis.

The Female Fan's water cooler chat asks if the Tour de France can ever regain its credibility.

New West Network
has some reflection on Le Tour Part 2, and among other questions asked, wonders if the Landis arb announcement was held back:

Did they hold the Landis announcement? Exactly one year ago, yellow jersey winner Floyd Landis was busted for using synthetic testosterone but vehemently proclaimed his innocence. He has spent all his money on his defense, but his hearings finished up this spring before Le Tour started, but no announcement on the decision. Did the cycling establishment hold it until the race finished to avoid negative publicity during Le Tour? If the Landis news comes out shortly after the race concludes, well, you decide

CyclingNews has part II of an interview story with Anne Gripper of the UCI's anti doping program.

The Leadville Herald Democrat tells folks who don't like Boom Days to just wait awhile and they will be over, of course then things will get back to "normal" and Floyd will come to town.

Rant is wondering what kind of genius Patrik Sinkewitz is, and also why Werner Franke is after Alberto Contador?

The Daily Spin
includes a few interesting links to cycling stories.

The Drunken Cyclist says we can make all the jokes we want to about Floyd Landis, but what about the sacred baseball record about the be eclipsed by Barry Bonds?

asks if Floyd Landis was riding dirty?

The New Common Sense wonders WHY after all of the doubt cast upon it, the LNDD is still the lab the Tour de France used this year?

Racejunkie gives us a little "dopin' in the boys room" when he speaks of Astana and what the boys will now be doing with their time. He also lauds Floyd Landis for taking the very unPC stands of preaching due process in the Vinokourov case:
I must give points to Floyd Landis, taking on the universal disgust and guilt-assumption of the cycling world to defend the boy on due-process grounds, which are, to all appearances, by far the strongest and most legitimate grounds Vino has (that, and the same lab monkeys that couldn't keep the labels straight on Floyd's samples were the same idiots UCI is now trumpeting as experts in homologous blood doping.) Oh Floyd. Your lawyers or at least initial advisors may have screwed up from beginning to end--but look what a fine little litigator you've become--right on Landis

TdF Lanterne Rouge looks at the statistics of tests and thinks its a good bet to dope -- many more tests would be needed to be really effective statistically.

Trick Love Da Kids
lauds his coach, Joe Papp, for having the nerve to testify in the Landis case. He says he got death threats, which we hadn't heard before. If true, that's pretty dumb.

Ruminations thinks things are a mess, and Landis should get off if only because of the bad process.

Beast 16:24
thinks that the NFL has gone "ghetto" and that if most people off the street were tested as Floyd Landis was after last year's Tour de France they would test positive like Floyd did. The blogger looks very much like he is related to Floyd by the way, who knew?

Talkin' Sports posts his "first" sports post of "firsts" and get a snark in on Floyd Landis for good measure.

Paul Baylay thinks that the iphone is the master of all opening lines, and refers to Floyd Landis in a less than positive way, BUT doesn't seem to know that Floyd actually owns an iphone himself.


raamman said...

one should look at the facts first instead of just saying the lab made a mistake in vinos case. everytime they catch someone who pleads guilty gives credence to the lab

PEM said...

Hello raamman:

Who here is proclaiming the lab made mistakes? I believe the issue is the break in protocol - releasing/leaking the A result before allowing the athlete to request and receive the confirmation B.

While I am taking the time to write, here is the backbone of an idea I wish to share.

The drug monitoring system could split the athlete's sample into 3 parts - A, B and C. If A is positive, immediately start B (since current system only allows initial lab to test anyways) and inform athlete and event organization. Athlete should be able to continue competing during B testing, but athlete and organization are aware of A. B confirmation should be within a day or 2 after A then go public if positive. Adjust competitors' placing accordingly if B is positive.

C sample belongs to athlete or team. Athlete may have C tested at any lab for any test for defense purposes. A, B and C are handled/stored by lab and C is shipped directly to other lab at athlete’s request (chain of custody to minimize tampering).

Please feel free to criticize.


Reaching for the Impossible said...

What happens if the C is unintentionally damaged and can't be tested? Does the positive A and B samples still stand?

jrdbutcher said...


I kind of like your idea. It sounds fairly workable and would solve some of the problems that keep occuring in the present system.

A-sample non-negative triggers an near immediate test on the B-sample: This helps to avoid/reduce the possibility of a leaked result. Athlete may keep competing for a limited time while the B-sample is tested. Results adjusted in a fairly timely manner, if necessary. When the athlete is notified about the A-sample, they can still call off the B-sample test if they want to confess and accept a sanction immediately. (Maybe a slightly reduced sanction for a confession prior to a B-sample test?)

C-sample idea is great. It adds protection for the athlete. It also can compel or reinforce the use of best practices by WADA approved labs. If WADA approved lab results are confirmed by independent labs via C-sample analysis, then that strengthens WADA's case that their labs do good work. Otherwise, they will be embarassed into getting it right or be drumbed out of the business.

I'd support it being manditory for the results of any C-sample testing to be made public, regardless of how the result comes out. Let the chips fall where they will.

I anticipate some arguements about costs involved and time issues due to complexity of some B-sample tests. I'd say the status quo is a waste of resources by comparison. Good testing programs cost money.

For the C-sample to work, CoC and proper storage issues need to be resolved.

Just a few thoughts, JRD

raamman said...

I believe that 2 separate labs should be used just to help eliminate the possibility of results fixing or coverup of incompetence. A break in protocol is cery small issue in my opinion, it is like letting a murderer go free because there is a question of whether he understood his rights when read to him during his arrest. I don't know about the timing for the labs, how long it takes to test and verify each sample- but in the meantime how long is a potiential cheat allowed to continue ? Wouldn't it have been best if the day following riis' victory at pamploma in 96 he was out ? or even before then ? I hate watching the tour with my wife and kids only to have to tell them the champion they were screaming for turned out to be a cheat ? There is a life lesson in bike racing that I want my kids to adopt; that is personal inegrity, honesty, good sportsmanship and a work ethic. Yet we all know that liars, thieves and cheats sometimes prosper , I believe the sooner they are caught and removed from the equation, the better.

wschart said...

I have been pondering the idea of 2 simulaneous test also. However, as I understand the present situation, the current A test is more of a screening designed to weed out the clean riders from the potentially, repeat, potentially dirty riders. The B sample undergoes tests which are considered to be more rigorous. I assume that the B testing procedures are more expensive, time-consuming, difficult, or some or all of the above, and so are only used when a B test is required. Last year, for example, we are told there were 12 or 13 (I forget the exact number) non-negative a test, all but one of which were covered by TUEs and hence did not require a B test, nor did the A test which came back negative require a B test (until the hearing). If this indeed is the stategy: a "quick and dirty" A test and a more rigorous B test only if requested or needed, then the 2 simultaneous tests ideas will require some more thinking. We could do 2 screening tests to provide some additional credibility to the first tests. But I would be more comfortable if the 2 tests under this scenario were done at different labs. If Landis' A non-negative was indeed a result of bad procedures at LNDD, a second test there would not be likely to produce a different result. Fedex or other overnight services can delivery samples in a timely manner, and if samples are sealed before shipping, with such sealing documented properly, and the arrival at the lab in a still sealed condition also properly documented, I fell that proper CoC procedures can be maintained.

Larry said...

I like some of the ideas being discussed here on how to reform the drup testing process. However, I'd recommend a different direction.

What I'd do instead is to rely more on testing performed by the rider's team. I'd have the team collect samples during the course of a Tour. To be certain, samples should be collected by the team as close as possible to the time samples are collected by the authorized drug testing authorities. But I'd also have the team collect samples periodically, even on days when the rider is not being tested. Then, if the rider is confronted by the drug testing authorities (LNDD, or whoever else might be doing the sanctioned testing) with a positive A sample or B sample, the team could run its own tests to confirm or deny.

The problem with dividing samples into As and Bs and Cs is that you're still ultimately relying on the honesty and competency of the WADA-authorized drug testers. If the authorized lab is not competent to maintain chain of custody, it's not going to help to give them custody of additional samples. Even if you use a second lab, there's going to be great pressure on the second lab to confirm the results of the first lab.

I don't mean to be glib ... but if there's something wrong with the existing process, you may not fix things by adding more process to it.

I personally like the idea of relying more on team testing. The teams seem to be moving in this direction anyway. The ASO seems to expect teams to field a slate of clean riders, so in our brave new world of cycling, the teams probably have to act independently to make certain that their riders are not doping.

My hope is that teams will do testing not only to get rid of the cheaters, but also to protect their riders who are riding clean. Imagine for a moment that Phonak had a system for monitoring and testing its riders ... and that qualified lab personnel showed up at the arbitration with Landis pee samples taken by Phonak concurrently with the samples found to be positive by LNDD ... and those samples were analyzed AT THE ARBITRATION by qualified technicians and showed to be negative ... imagine that it was possible to show the peaks misidentified by LNDD and even to determine what was measured by those peaks!

Yes, in the best of all possible worlds, it would be great if we could get LNDD and the WADA labs to do their work correctly. But I think that the WADA labs WOULD do better work if they knew that their work was being cross-checked against lab work performed by the teams.

PEM said...

Hello RFTI (8:11am):

Sorry, I do not have a good answer if the C gets damaged. Insurance? Unbreakable bottles? Sue the pants off the courier?

However, your question causes me to raise another point.

The current practise is the A results geting leaked. What happens if the B gets spoiled or damaged during re-test? Does the lab say, "Oops, we cannot confirm the A. Sorry about the inconvenience?"

jrdbutcher said...

If C sample gets compromised by the handling of the authorities that took, transported the sample, then A & B are thrown out. No ability to independently confirm, then no sanction possible from A or B. Just as if B is spoiled or missing, then no possibility of sanctions from an A.

The original rationale regarding A & B samples was a a doublecheck on the A. Generally, the same test was run again. As we've seen with T, the A is currently more of a screening test, with the B being a more complicted, more expensive, and is also held up to be a more accurate test, when done correctly.

If teams test, and some currently do, thier samples need independent verification. If it's offered as evidence to support doping or not doping and sanctions are at stake, then CoC issues, correct storage issues, integrity issues need to adequately be address for it to work.

PEM said...

Splitting the sample is better than parallel sampling (having the athlete provide another sample soon after the official sample is collected). Perhaps the C sample should be given to the rider immediately after the split, and under proper chain of custody, the sample is stored nearby or shipped to the athlete’s approved lab. The athlete would have ownership and responsible for the C after the split. The athlete would be responsible for safeguarding the C.

My thoughts were the C was more for the athlete’s defense on appeal, not a second confirmation for immediate sanctioning. Having a third split in Landis’ procession would have helped the Landis case to challenge/confirm LLND’s results.

It would be better if the B was tested at another lab as well. Even if the B is more rigorous or test methods are different, the confirmation could start before the athlete’s approval. If the athlete concedes on the A, then the B is aborted and money and time are saved. Again, the innocent athlete would have the C to challenge the science at a later time.

BigJas said...

I like the A, B & C idea. Fed-Ex or UPS can be a consultant on the CoC issues. Bar codes and tracking scanners would make it very efficient. A&B go to a WADA approved Lab (Please not the Muppet "good enough" Lab) and the C sample remains in the custody of the rider's team. Again bar code seals to prevent tampering. If A&B come up positive, then C is tested at an approved 3rd party lab. If C is damaged (like Tyler's Olympic B) then A&B are considered to be conclusive.

Now let's solve the climate change problem. :)

raamman said...

there's no problem with climate change, I like the heat ( they should've kept it a secret from people in northern latitudes, because I've been trying to get the heat up)

pcrosby said...

I like these suggestions. One of the problems that needs to be solved and would have to be if multiple labs were used is the establishment of a single standard for a positive on the B test. That would be a major step forward. The lab politics are a hurdle to multi-lab tests; none of them want a second lab to criticize them. It's not about science, it's about pride and presenting a common front to the dopers.

Another step that should be taken is getting samples from every competitor, every day. Not all need to be tested, but no athlete should walk away from the finish line feeling that they skated that day. The deterrent effect might be small but it would also make it possible for the labs to do a "longitudinal" survey of a rider - testing samples from earlier days for further confirmation or spotting spikes. More administration and storage, true, but the untested samples could also be used for research on the impact of competition on athletes and might help refine tests.

I don't think that putting the burden of testing/monitoring on the teams is the answer. There needs to be an independent body to do "official" tests. The teams will do what they need to protect themselves, that should be sufficient motivation to make them active participants in the process.

A potential casualty of the changes that will come may be the independent training of athletes and their ability to select trainers/doctors/etc. It may be that a regular, standardized sample collection system could avoid that. If an athlete had to pee weekly or biweekly and submit blood on a regular schedule throughout the year it could be collected by almost any lab (which verified the identity) and shipped to a central point using bar coded labels that were issued to the athlete. An item can be overnighted from a Chinese city to a location in the U.S.; this shouldn't be much of a hurdle. Maybe one of the express outfits would "donate" a portion of the expense in order to be "the official courier" for the IOC.

Looking outside cycling the population to be tested in a sport could be self-selecting. As an athlete progressed they would hit a level of competition where participation in the testing regimin would become a condition to continuing to compete. When you first qualify to compete at the high level, you get a pass on the testing "tail", but if you are going to continue, then you participate and build the sample history.

It would be expensive. If it is going to be done properly and effectively then it is a cost that has to be paid.

In 40 or 50 years this may be looked back on as the time of simple problems. Wait until genetic engineering kicks in!
Pete Crosby

Rick Guggemos said...

Do you suppose that the delay in Floyd's verdict has to do with letting things cool down in the press?

Regardless of the decision, there are a lot of folks up in arms about this one. Perhaps its better to delay things until folks have moved on to other topics. Eh?

Reaching for the Impossible said...

I think Larry was getting at a good point. Whenever an athlete is tested it would be a good idea for him to ask his team to test him immediately afterwards. If his samples come back positive and the claim is error his team's samples can be tested by an independent lab and confirm or deny the positive sample. How would the USADA or any other agency pursue a case where the LNDD is claiming a positive and the lab employed by the team is not?

raamman said...

you know, it is getting a bit ridiculous; I mean the b sample is there if the a sample tests positive; now if a then b test positive, we go and test c. Do criminals get such benefits ? We aren't sending the guilty to the electric chair or 20 years in prison; just telling them to go home for a bit- is that more harmful than letting a cheat stand on the podium in paris ?

Larry said...

reaching, thanks for the support!

I'm pushing the team testing concept in large part because it could happen (in fact, it IS happening, at least in a form designed to protect the team and its sponsors). There's no chance that WADA-UCI-LNDD are going to institute reforms to improve the drug testing process. The pressure is on to catch more riders, not to provide the riders with better rights.

PEM said...

The point of a C is to provide the athlete with a means to defend himself. Landis had no say in how the B should be tested. The arbiters ruled that the B belongs to WADA, not the athlete, thus WADA could do what ever they wanted with the B.

Today, suspects can provide fingerprints or DNA samples, so yes, they are provided some means to defend themselves (we are suspects and defendants, not criminals until proven otherwise).

It is much better to compare results from split samples, than with parallel samples. There is room to argue that parallel samples are not the same. However, if the testing bodies will not cooperate by providing splits, then parallel is the next best thing. The athlete should just pee into his own bottle while he is peeing in the official's bottle.

Telling an innocent person to sit at home for a bit is more harmful than letting a cheat stand on the podium, in my opinion. An innocent person's reputation would be permanently tarnished. An innocent victim cannot celebrate and reap the benefits he had earned. It would all be permanently taken away.

Reaching for the Impossible said...

When a false positvie comes back or a positive from a botched test not only is the riders reputation tarnished, it is also starting to look like the rider may be charged with fraud so I think it's better to have a cheat on the podium than to send an innocent rider packing.

Does anyone think it's good for Floyd or bad for Floyd that the decision has tanken so long to come out? If they do in fact have a verdict that they are holding on to isn't that a bit unethical? If it's a innocent verdict they are potentially holding up Floyd's career. If it's a guilty verdict aren't they bleeding Floyd just a bit more with legal costs? in the sense that his lawyers aren't going to sit around forever to appeal. As we have all seen they are already working with Vino. If they get immersed into his case how can they also work on Floyd's appeal?

wschart said...


Defendants in a criminal proceeding here in the US can attack the science of any test used against them. An athlete accused by an AFA cannot. Defendants have the right to supena anyone to testify in there behalf, even those who work for the police or whatever. An athlete cannot have anyone who works for any ADA lab testify in their behalf.

jrdbutcher said...

Larry and Pem's last posts are very close to the mark, if not a direct hit.

CSC and Slipstream's team testing systems are the current gold standard. T-Mobile's, while earning early praise, was fatally flawed with regard to the testers and what they actually test for. It's not a big surprise CSC and Slipstream have, so far, escaped doping problems since instituting their respective testing programs.

I would venture to theorize that WADA approved testing labs might be more careful than normal with CSC team member samples, both in competition or OoC. Some would argue this is an illogical arguement as the samples are anonymous. I would argue that the repeated leaks and other various stories from a certain L'Equipe reporter are evidence that they are not actually anonymous, particularly as the FL hearing revealed the LNDD lab techs knew they were testing FL's samples at various times.

The pendulm has swung in the direction that gives anti-doping zealots that are also anti due process the upper hand for the moment. The pendulum should swing toward a more measured and rational approach eventually. Hopefully, most of us will live to see the day.

raamman said...

teams are wise to check their riders; I would imagine that lance and johan and sean all asked alberto if he was clean several times each. it is becoming increasingly damaging to the team that has a rider that gets caught. however, we then venture into the land were we were in the 90s when riders had their own haemocrit labs with them so they would test 49.9%- that's like saying the speed limit is 80kph, but the cops don't stop you unless you go over 120kph so everyone drives at 120. cheating is a choice- why should any self respecting athelete choose to cheat ? and what do portable centrifuges have to do with pro cycling ? should we expect to see reviews on centrifuges in velonews ? team testing is like the team buying the centrifuge instead of the rider- it just doesn't look right. ESPECIALLY when Bullshit Riis gets all high and mighty about testing his current flock of riders. Riis got away with it, got a nice villa in italy, started his own team and is by all accounts, doing well financially. even if every other rider was doped in the 96 tour, riis still does not deserve his jersey- because the yellow jersey is more than just a shirt, it is an icon of the best in sportsmanship. It is something that belongs to the fans of the tour, not the tour winner- and the cheats just don't understand this. We have crossed the moral divide long ago when science gave us superhuman abilities; the ability to test someones blood to see if they cheated is just a minor point, as all across society there are similar moral divides- do we choose to follow faith or science ? Floyds career is shot, either way; largely due to the time the cloud has been over his head- certainly future testing should be expedited; the whole process should be conducted overnight, in time for the next days race start.

cat2bike said...

Floyd's arbs haven't even closed the hearing yet. I had to get the link here, but can't remember where I read it, maybe Rant. But anyway, there was LOTS of stuff to go thru.


jrdbutcher said...


We can get into a discussion about Riis playing on the same field as the other riders of his era and debate his accomplishments, but that's kind of another subject.

Riis, with his CSC squad, and Vaughters, with Slipstream, have both set up excellent team anti-doping testing initiatives. They have each set it up in such a way as to make it impossible for them to manipulate the process, via a system of independent verification and reporting. Chapeau to them. Sometimes it takes someone with first hand knowledge of the problem to help solve it.

Personally, I don't hold much against Riis as he has demonstrated his willingness to be part of the solution, has devoted resources, and a fair amount of thoughtfullness toward putting in place something that is forward thinking and would work.

I'm more inclined to call BS on insults toward Riis that don't take his recent good work into account.

jrdbutcher said...

The yellow jersey doesn't belong to the fans of the sport.

It does, in fact, belong to those that did the work required to win the honor of wearing it.

If a fan wants something other than a replica of a symbol of accomplishment in sport (gold medal, yellow jersey, ornate trophy) they need to hope they have enough genetic gifts, talent, coordination, drive, determination, and other resources to make it happen.

If the yellow jersey helps you imagine what it might be like to earn it, then have a great time with that.

raamman said...

I mention riis not to obstuficate the issue regarding doping; but in the context of team testing his presence is offensive to its integrity. We all rely on what others tell us is the truth- and riis simply is not reliable. Further, team testing serves to help keep the team image clean, not expose cheats, and may in fact help supervise cheating to a non-detectable level.

raamman said...

without the fans the yellow jersey is worthless

jrdbutcher said...


WRT Riis, it's not his word that lends integrity to CSC's team testing program. It's the system he set up. It's a system of independent testing anad verification - not able to be manipulated by team management. Dislike him or like him, he is responsible for taking the initiative to put into place a well thought out anti doping system for his team.

WRT the yellow jersey, in our current times, it is worthless without paying sponsors. I'll agree the yellow jersey is a recognizable symbol for fans to identify with. Kind of by definition, if it's popular/lots of prople want it and there are not that many to go around, then it becomes more valuable. Supply and demand. Interestingly (or not), lots of head cheerleaders are popular and in demand. Some would argue they are worthless without their fans. Others would say their real worth has little to do with their popularity. Do yellow jerseys and head cheerleaders have similarities? Perhaps in a manner of speaking?

My point is that while the fans influence the value of the yellow jersey, it certainly does not belong to the fans. I don't think I want to award the yellow jersey to a random drunken fan in a hybrid elk suit/college athletic gear collection or a guy running along the riders on an HC climb wearing nothig more than a red bull thong (maybe it's just me?). Hey, they are more than your ordinary fans. Does the yellow jersey belong more to them than your everyday run of the mill fan? No. The yellow jersey belongs to the athlete who earns it.

raamman said...

of course you don't award the yellow jersey to a fan; but the man who stands at the top of the podium is awarded it because he won the race fair and square- not by hook or by crook. It is someonewhat polemical to say who the yellow jersey belongs to; I say the fans, you say the race winner- it really doesn't matter if you accept that first statement it goes to he who won fair and square. And that is my point; riis didn't- and yes I will say it took great courage on his behalf to finally own up to it- but just a month before he was calling a fellow teammate a liar when he accused riis of doping in 96. with that revelation, it seems to me that having riis set up a drug testing program in his team is a little like having the fox watch the hen-house. Further, and more to the point, although it is wise for a team to test it's own riders- and I would certainly do so if I was in the position in this day and age- I am bothered by the establishment of in team testing as would seem to go to the extreme of supervised doping; establishing the haemocrit level of 49.9% before a race. Part of the problem with doping is that it can have very serious harmful side effects. These people play around with chemicals that haven't been properly tested etc. on healthy human beings; so they take a little of this a little of that and maybe win some races, youngsters a and b join the team and are pressured into making the cut so they follow in the same vein. years later they develop heart problems etc.while the doping culture they were part of has only grown. And in addition to that; exactly WHO is it that tells a rider to use this or that drug; how does that person know anything about it and how does he manage to procure it ? I think that deep down there are some very unsavory characters behind the scenes- and this in team teating is a cover under which they will seek to continue their operations.

jrdbutcher said...


You appear to have not read my comments about CSC team testing or have independent knowledge of the pains that were taken to set the system up in such a way as to make it impossible for the team to tamper with the results, tamper with the reporting of the results, or to use it as a means to supervise doping. Controls have been put in place to eliminate the possibility of each item you cite in your complaints. The system has passed muster after being scrutinized by critics much tougher and better informed by either you or me.

The early evidience wrt CSC's anti-doping program is that Riis (via this program and the input he provided) is one of the more effective anti-doping fighters. Ironic, isn't it? It seems this fox has turned over a new leaf and is quite qualified to design a system of henhouse defense.

raamman said...

I've read your comments and elsewhere regarding cscs anti doping program- but I respectfully remain unconvinced with it's integrity.

jrdbutcher said...


Enjoy what seems to be your “knee jerk” reaction on the issue of CSC’s anti-doping initiative. It’s passed muster from skeptical organizations that include WADA, UCI, and ASO. Many skeptical independent anti-doping crusaders initially questioned if the CSC system would be able to be used as a means for the team to beat doping tests. Upon a close look, the system, again, showed itself to be a worthy anti-doping tool.

Are you claiming to have other information/evidence that is contrary to this assessment or are you claiming to have greater expertise in evaluating the situation?