Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Roundup

The CyclingNews posts the advice of Victor Conte to the world's anti-doping agencies. USADA's Travis Tygart responds with typical posturing towards (clean) athlete's rights, while he defends targeted testing:

USADA CEO Travis Tygart responded, "Since our creation in late 2000 and before we disciplined 16 people associated with the BALCO doping conspiracy, USADA had incorporated and continues to incorporate all appropriate intelligence into our testing program. Our efforts to protect the rights of clean athletes has always has been focused on intelligent target testing and not simply on the number of tests."

This ignores completely the statistical point that even if you are targeting your testing, you'd want to do more of it in the 4th quarter, not earlier in the year.

Also translating, if you aren't targeted, you're unlikely to get tested, and once you are on the USADA list, they'll test the heck out of you until they have a case. It also suggests to us the best way to get on the list is to have notable performances or have someone rat you out. This leads to the targeting of the biggest (and disliked) fish, and relative immunity for low and middle-ranked athletes. It also makes those targeted more likely to get caught in false positives because of greater exposure to the tests. And, it does nothing to chase the guilty during the off-season when they are most likely to be "enhancing" their training regimens.

The IHT/George Vecsey posts an awkwardly timed piece that congratulates the IAAF on its decision against Pistorius, titled, "Admirable spirit, but rules are rules." Vecsey seems to have missed the award (below) on Pistorius' appeal, and the CAS was less impressed with the IAAF decision and argument, which seemed more like "rules are weapons" than "rules are rules."

CAS has upheld Oscar Pistorius' appeal against the IAAF. He is now allowed to compete for an Olympic spot on his carbon fiber prosthetic lower legs. One of the arbiters was David Rivkin, who is on the Landis appeal panel.

The 18-page full award is here. Save it, because they vanish after a while. Some highlights:

60. At this stage, in the Panel's view, the process began to go "off the rails". The correspondence between the IAAF nad Prof. Bruggemann shos that his instructions were to carry out the testing only when Mr Pistorius was running in a straight line after the acceleration phase. By the time that the IAAF commissioned the Cologne tests it was known that this was the part of the race in which Mr Pistorius usually ran at his fastest.

61. [...] IAAF's officials must have known that, by excluding the start and the acceleration phase, the results would create a distorted view of Mr Pistorius' advantages and/or disadvantages. [...]

62. The stori is not enhances by the fact that Dr. Robert Gailey, the scientist nominated by Mr Pistorius [...] was effectively "frozen out" to such an extent that he declined to attend the Cologne tests. He was informed that he would be allowed to attend only as an observer, with no input on the testing protocol or on the analysis.

68. The impression of prejudgment is also enhanced by the fact that Dr. Locatelli and other IAAF officials told the press before the vote was taken that Mr Pistorius would be banned from IAAF sanctioned events.

70. In the Panel's view, the manned in which the IAAF handled the situation of MR Pistorius in the period from July 2007 to January 2008 fell short of the high standards that the international sporting community is entiteld to expect from a federation such as the IAAF.

80. without implying any criticism of the draftsman, who faces an extraordinarily difficult task, the Panel considers that this provision is a masterpiece of ambiguity. What constitutes a technical device? [...]

81. What constitutes a device that incorporates springs? Technically, almost every non-brittle material object is a "spring" in the sense that is has elasticity. [...] A natural human leg is itself a "spring".

82. [...] It was urged on the Panel by the IAAF's counsel that the ordinary and natural meaning of the word advantage is absolute. [...]

83. The Panel does not accept this proposition. [...] To propose that a passive device [...] should be classified as contravening that Rule without [...] proof tha tit provides him with an overall net advantage over other athletes flies in the face of both legal principle and commonsense.

Under the burden of proof involved, faced with conflicting experts, the Panel did not feel the IAAF had met the requirement to show an overall net advantage. No one asked for costs, and the CAS pocketed Pistorius' CHF 500 filing fee.

Analysis: For students of the Landis case, there are some interesting points. The Panel took an interesting interest in the process by which the original decision was made. One wonders what examination of communication between USADA, HRO, and LNDD would reveal about not looking for errors, but only that which supported the conclusions that had already been made. Second, the appearance of prejudgement by parties is problematic and noted. Comments by the President of WADA in the Landis matter would seem to imply marching orders to the troops. Third, there's no reason to assume the legal theories of interpretation made by counsel from one side are correct, or binding in any way.

In an earlier case, FINA vs. CBDA and Gusmao, the CAS effectively accepted CBDAs decision not to prosecute a T/E case CBDA had decided was inconclusive. It hinges more on procedural history than facts in question.

Rant thinks that USADA/WADA should listen to BALCO's Victor Conte when he stresses the need for more out of competition testing during the fourth quarter of the track season, he might just know what he's talking about.

WADAwatch plays a comment about supplements, and wonders if the reason we haven't heard the name of the rider in the profile rumours is that the alleged perp is, perhaps, French, and L'Equipe isn't as motivated to spill the beans.


Mike said...

I'd say that Pistorius decision is the best news for Landis that I've heard in quite a while. If Rivkin is willing to think independently, and pay attention not only to ambiguous details, but to larger procedural biases, that's got to be good for Floyd.

Every case is different and the devil is in the details, but that is encouraging.


Julie said...

"commonsense"! in a ruling. that'a got to be hopeful.