Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday Roundup

The AP reports Ian Thorpe is has filed an intention to take action on a defamation suit against L'Equipe to avoid running into statute of limitations deadlines. It doesn't mean he will actually file suit.

The CyclingNews reports that the AFLD/ASO will try to initiate a separate "blood passport" program for this year's Tour de France due to the ongoing dispute between the ASO and UCI. The lab in Lausanne, which the UCI uses to analyze its passports, will also be used by the AFLD. In other news, CONI has dropped its threat to interrogate non-Italian riders implicated in the OP investigation ostensibly because of a lack of cooperation from Spanish authorities.

Let's note this curiosity: The AFLD is not sending the work to the AFLD lab, but to the WADA lab in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is ostensibly because Lausanne is doing all the bio-passport work. Just like the French Open Tennis tournament last year found the Montreal lab was more "cost effective" than the AFLD/LNDD lab at Chateney-Malabry, one may suspect there is more to the choice. And equally unlikely to get straight answers from anyone about it.

ESPN says warnings for Salbutamol use were issued to a heptathlete by USADA after she did not get the proper exemption for the anti-asthma medication. No sanctions were issued other than the loss of a third place finish in the pentathlon in a recent track meet. Alessandro Petacchi was recently sanctioned for "overuse" of the same medication by the Italian CONI.

Yesterday's story about the broken EPO test is now making the rounds.

The NY Times reruns the same story we got yesterday via the IHT (they are corporate relations, and the IHT website is about to be "converged" into the NYT).

Velonews has short original coverage, citing the Times. Bloomberg has another summary.

A press release announcing the journal article reads like the primary source material for all the other coverage.

Providentially, The NYT today has a blog where Gary Wadler answers questions submitted by readers. He starts an answer with an assertion that now stretches credulity in a number of dimensions:

Dr. Gary Wadler: WADA is extremely mindful of its responsibility to assure fair play while protecting athlete’s rights. The detection methods are accurate and reliable. They undergo rigorous validation prior to being introduced.

It now seems appropriate to identify him in the future as, "Dr. Gary Wadler, WADA apologist," with a citation to that posting.

WADAwatch read with interest the report which states the new test for EPO usage produced "inconsistencies" when some labs using it it failed to detect the substance.

St Louis Post Dispatch Blog talks about the EPO test, and wraps up:

This is jaw-droppingly shocking. Not only are negative tests in question, but positive ones are too, as shown by the example above of the positive in which the EPO should have cleared the man’s system.

I’m obviously not a scientist and I don’t pretend to play one on TV or on this blog, but the uncertainty and the inaccuracy of the various doping tests, as well as the disparity between labs, deeply trouble me. Given what I’ve read about the Floyd Landis case (which involved testosterone as opposed to EPO), plus what I’ve read about the problems with the EPO test, I don’t know whether it’s fair to sanction athletes (and ruin their reputations) on the basis of tests that even the experts question.

And then there’s the whole guilty-until-proven-innocent aspect of positive doping controls, which runs counter to our U.S. jurisprudence (unless you’re Nancy Grace), but that’s a whole different issue.

SBS got "reinterested" in the Tour de France after watching Floyd Landis' exploits in the 2006 race. SBS doesn't make the usual qualifications for possible PED use by Landis, he still thinks the feat was amazing no matter what:

That he did it with drugs or not is not really an issue for me (I'm assuming a good chunk of the riders on this year's Tour are also on the juice). Bent or not, Landis got me hooked again on the sport of cycling: the colour, the athleticism, the drama, the excitement, the intellectualism, the politics, the skulduggery, the nail-biting tension.

Thanks for the nice plug.

Racejunkie notes with righteous indignation the incredible revelation that the tests for EPO are apparently faulty, read more about the "oops" here:

Old Friends: okay, doping bad, yap yap, anyone who does it has all the moral street cred of a serial killer and deserves to be banned for life, yap, anyone (and I name no names here) who won't shut the hell up about it afterwards should be smothered in barbecue sauce and thrown into a pit of starving rabid wolverines. But in light of the news that one's odds of sneaking a blood-booster past the narcs are somewhere north of "ginormous", am I the only one feeling a twinge of sympathy for our late lamented exile and monstrous cheating pig Jan Ullrich, for whom watching a slew of compatriots he knows damn well are still at this very moment no less stoked than he ever was triumph at the Tour must leave him wallowing in a particularly grim sludgepit of his own personal Hell? Sure, the sport's a cesspool, but please don't give up your love of the bike Jan--even poor Landis, who at least was spared your own quick-n-painless flameout in *his* endless miserable melodrama, still hits the road (and mountain) when he can!

Scatterboy works for "America's largest on-line book seller" and one of the coolest perks is that he gets to go to special authors' book signings. He has won a lot of raffles lately too, one was for Floyd Landis' book "Positively False". Yesterday he won "When You are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris and got him to sign his book in perhaps the most original way yet. What does this have to do with the Landis case you ask? Nothing, but any chance to mention David Sedaris has to be taken advantage of.

In another completely unrelated note, Happy 50th Birthday to Mr. Strbuk who amazingly is still interested in the Landis case and who willingly puts up with all of the blogging related to it on vacations, holidays, etc...

We know he's going to get a very nice cake, and then need to go for some riding to work it off!


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

A happy birthday to Mr. Strbuk, indeed. I hope he's skipped out of work, and that the weather is good, and that he can relax under the sun.

As my grandfather used to say, "Many happy returns."

- Rant

Thomas A. Fine said...

WOW! Did you just gloss over the fact that the AFLD is using a swiss lab instead of everybody's favorite French Lab?

Have they suddenly become sensitive to all the criticisms of the LNDD? Does this admit that the LNDD is not as wonderful as they could be?

Or maybe there's rumors in the air of an impeding decision that will not go well for that lab? I'm betting that the arbitrators have already made their decision, and are in the midst of writing it up, which is probably a long process in itself. If that's the case, is there a chance that anyone outside the panel might already know?

To ask another way, do the arbitrators have bosses, supervisors or whatever, who are provided with status updates? And if so, where would be the next stop for that information?

And if there's a pool on the date of the announcement, put me down for a Landis victory on July 2nd, or a Landis defeat on July 4th.


Ali said...

I put my money on the decision coming out tomorrow. That gives those interested the weekend to discuss it and the following week to forget it before TdF kick-off.

Still, what do I know. I bet on Rasmussen to win last years TdF ! What a fool.

I also agree with Mr Fine's interest over the lab situation. Given the incestuous relationship that appears to exist between all antidoping establishments (and arbitration organisations ?), it wouldn't surprise me if the TdF has been tipped off. OK, that's just wishful thinking on my part ... still ?

Tomorrow for a Landis win. If the bookies were offering odds on that, I'd take them. said...

August 7th.

racejunkie said...

Rasmussen *did* win the Tour de France last year.

Happy Birthday Mr. Strbuk!

whareagle said...

Uh, AFLD is the lab that was guilty of so many ethically questionable actions in Tyler and his Teammate's actions... So they're no more saintly than any of the others.

Gatlin's smirks are really starting to get to me. He probably knows it's a house of cards that he's been perpetuating...

whareagle said...

Sorry - need to edit my own post. The Swiss lab is not AFLD. said...

And you probably didn't mean Gatlin, but Wadler, right?


Mike said...

I guess it is possible that the ruling could come tomorrow. Don't they sometimes publish a brief summary of the conclusions, and then back it up later with the detailed arguments? Is it possible they could do that in this case?

Judge Hue said that the longer it takes the better Landis' chances, so is it good that we are fast approaching the end of June?


("Eightzero") said...

If no one has yet said it, I will:

Wadler is a lying sack of sh*t.

There is *direct evidence* on this very blog that WADA *does not* dispatch its responsibility to athletes (e.g. The Code) ethically nor are it's methods accurate and reliable.

Andrew said...

Maybe it's clearer somewhere else, but the Cycling News article does not say that they will not be using the French lab, they say they will split the samples. "As reported in L'Equipe last Friday, the population of controls collected during the Tour will be split. Some will be sent to Lausanne for testing for human growth hormone ... The lab in Ch√Ętenay-Malabry does not have the technique for such testing."

They only say the French lab can not test for HgH. They don't say that the French lab won't do any testing. Can anybody find the original L'Equipe article?