Friday, July 25, 2008

Fallout 26

News
CyclingNews says the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will finish with a bang:

One of the aspects left off the press release announcement is that the final stage near San Diego will actually be a mountain top finish, a first for the race. "The final stage is planned to be a mountain stage up Mt. Palomar. Whoever wins the race will have to have legs on the final day!"

The AToC starts after Landis' ban ends, and Palomar is his favorite climb.

Active/Hildenbrand is depressed by the end of mountain stages. He's hoping Landis makes it back, and found some encouragement:

Lij's '08 handicraft on L'Alpe. Photo: Bruce Hildenbrand (?)


Velonews has the story that Astana has fired Vladimir Gusev over profile violations detected by Damsgaard's internal control program. Also at ProCycling.

Gusev rode for Discovery at last year's Tour, taking 5th in the prologue, 6th in the white jersey, and 38th overall.

Newsweek/Starr wonders if the TdF can out-run doping. No answers, but some concern about the inquisition:
Complicit in this portrayal of doped riders as moral degenerates and menaces to society are the journalists who cover the Tour. For the mainstream press the spectacle easily takes precedence over the sport, and the idea of a guy taking a bike around France over mountain passes that only weeks ago were buried in snow does not register as inherently fantastical. The Los Angeles Times has already wondered if this year’s race might be another “Tour de Dope.” The 2007 Tour’s frenzied witch hunt was fed in no small part by Le Monde, the French daily, flush with suspicion of the new yellow jersey


The LA Times reports Jacobs has just gotten the LDP for Hardy's tests, and says they are "low positives", with no more detail. Having identified clenbuterol as the substance, we learn...

Don Catlin, of the Anti-Doping Research Institute, said that clenbuterol can be used for asthma sufferers but "not in this country" and is not FDA-approved. It has been abused as a weight-loss aid, particularly in Hollywood, and remains popular among bodybuilders.

"It gets in to the veterinarians in this country," Catlin said. "It's an approved drug for them to give to horses. It can get here. But it is not allowed in the human food chain."

The implication being it is unlikely to to be an accidental contamination from food or supplement, unless it is foreign sourced.

The Orange County Register
says Hardy's coach is blaming supplements, provided by one of Hardy's sponsors, AdvoCare.
Hardy, an Orange, Calif., native who won the Trials 100-meter breaststroke and qualified for the Beijing Games in three other events, has been listed as an endorser of AdvoCare products on her personal Web site, the company's Web site and other sports nutritional sites.

This is one of Jacobs' specialty areas -- he won the first civil judgement for tainted supplements causing positive tests. However, the cases are usually losers with USADA under the WADA Code because of strict liability.

This will be interesting to watch, but don't count on us for detailed continuing coverage. (Life calls.)

ESPN/AP
writes that in the wake of Jessica Hardy's positive swimming is now among the sports that has been forced to assess its "cleanliness".

The CyclingNews says kicked out Tour rider Moises Duenas denies ever having "knowingly" used EPO and that the media have misrepresented him.

CyclingNews' letter writers this week try to clear up "confusion" about Lance Armstrong, and also comment on the current EPO situation at the Tour de France.

VeloNews reports Frank and Andy Schleck's dad's car was pulled aside and searched, ostensibly for doping products. Nothing was found and Andy declared the search may have been motivated by "jealousy".

ESPN says a Virginia lab has developed a urine based test that would detect HGH for up to two weeks after its use rather than the 48 hour time limit with the present test.


Blogs
Racejunkie finds LOTS to write about including her Aussie readers, and WADA's John Fahey who vows to clean up whatever generation of cyclists is using whatever form of EPO it can.

The Big Lead looks at numbers and the probability of false positives:
Assume that for the Olympics, 1 athlete in 10 uses performance-enhancing drugs. Say you test 2,000 Olympic for banned substance use. Of the 1,800 athletes that are clean, 0.5% of them will be incorrectly charged with doping, making for 9 false accusations. Now, in making the chances of a false positive so small in these tests, the chances of a false negative—where a PED-using athlete tests clean—is generally very high, around 50%. The thinking is that it’s better to let a guilty athlete walk than tarnish an innocent athlete’s reputation. So of the 200 tested athletes who are doping, 100 of them will be caught. The total number of positive-testing athletes would be 109, and 9 of those are innocent. This makes the true number probability of a positive-testing athlete actually being guilty only 100/109, or 91.7%. As such, more than 1 out of every 13 accused athletes is innocent under a test with these conditions. Those chances aren’t quite so foolproof.

WADA never talks about this.

Cycling.tv, in "When WADA says ‘jump’, too many sports journalists ask ‘how high?’", takes the journalistic dictation squad to task for believing what they are told.

Anti-doping agencies, on the other hand, are seen to be white knights, fighting the good fight. They can do no wrong. Mistakes? What mistakes? It’s not possible, we’re scientifically 100 percent sound, say the anti-dopers.

Jacques de Ceaurriz, head of the French anti-doping lab that leaks test results to L’Equipe yet is never sanctioned, once famously said the carbon isotope test, used to find synthetic man-juice, was infallible:

“It’s foolproof…No error is possible in isotopic readings.”

No errors possible? Ever? How many scientists in fields other than anti-doping would get away with such tosh?

The attitude of ‘we’re always right, you’re always wrong’ is one that pervades anti-doping science. Precious few journalists question whether the anti-doping labs might sometimes be wrong. False positives and false negatives exist in the world of medicine but not, apparently, in the world of anti-doping, which uses the exact same scientific tests.

Too often journalists swallow what WADA tells them and it doesn’t trouble them when WADA is caught telling mistruths, yet the slightest misdemeanour by an athlete is reported on at length.

Later,

WADA can make mistakes, athletes can’t. Athletes can be banned under the ’strict liability’ rule, but WADA and its accredited labs can mess up left, right and centre and only a tiny minority of people seem to care about such lop-sided justice.

8 comments:

("Eightzero") said...

AToC is going to finish the entire stage race on top of Mt. Palomar? I see they have announced finishing in nearby Escondido, but I saw nothing about Mt. Palomar.

I wonder how Floyd's participation will be effected by ASO's partnership with AEG. IIRC, AEG had some say over who was allowed to start last year, based on what appeared to be some ad hoc rules.

I'd pay real money to see Floyd in that race.

m said...

That same cyclingnews article reports:

"According to the Associated Press, the public prosecutor in Tarbes clarified that DueƱas "has admitted having bought and used products that improve performances, at the instigation of doctors on his team."

"He said he was unaware of the composition of these products, which he took himself, orally or intravenously."

Kinda like Barry Bonds saying he was told it was "flax oil."


At the instigation of "team doctors"?

Previously Duenas claimed the stuff was given to him by "his Spanish doctor, Jesus Losa", who of course denies this. Was Losa a team doctor? If yes, more and more justification for ending the team's sponsorship.

beeble said...

Interesting read on a normally stick and ball blog about "the probability that an athlete who tests positive for PEDs, isn’t actually guilty of cheating."

And a mercifully short url:

http://thebiglead.com/?p=6851

Lij said...

Hey, that's my paint on the road! My mom and I painted it just up the road from where we put FLOYD FLOYD FLOYD FLOYD FLOYD on Alpe d'Huez in 2006. We miss cheering him on here at the Tour.

nahual said...

About the ToC '09, do people go out and do a pre-ride the day before a stage, in an organized manner, or just whomever cares too?

A few of us are starting to plan coming down the coast for the event and figure we'd bring our bicycles with us. Of course if it is not raining we wouldn't ride.
HA!

("Eightzero") said...

Uh uh. Gusev sacked by Astana for non-AAF reasons:

http://www.velonews.com/article/80810/astana-sacks-gusev-over--abnormal-values--found-during

bill hue said...

From ProCycling.com, today:

Team Astana terminates Vladimir Gusev By BikeRadar

Astana Cycling team management has terminated the contract of Russian cyclist Vladimir Gusev due to 'irregular values'. The values were gathered during internal out-of-competition control tests, under the supervision of anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard. The Team has applied the contractual clauses based on these physiological and biological abnormalities.

“Vladimir Gusev has been officially notified that he no longer represents Team Astana”, said general manager Johan Bruyneel. “Though his results do not indicate the use of forbidden substances, Vladimir’s values exceeded the normal parameters established by Dr. Damsgaard and were not compliant with the strict agreement signed by all thirty riders. Our Kazakh sponsors have also been made aware of this decision and are fully supportive.”

Bruyneel further commented: ”It’s impossible for any team manager to know the activities of riders behind closed doors, but we continue to enforce that Team Astana has a 100 percent no tolerance policy and any violators will serve the same fate as Vladimir. On a brighter note, this proves that Dr. Damsgaard’s system works and we are committed to racing clean.”

Under Dr. Damsgaard’s anti-doping system, Team Astana riders are frequently required to submit blood and urine samples, which are then sent to independent labs for analysis. This system, also instituted by CSC-Saxo Bank, is in addition to any sport or Olympic governing body’s tests.

“Certainly these situations are unfortunate, but I truly believe that we are continuing to see a cleaner sport with a large majority of credible riders. Teams like Astana and CSC-Saxo Bank have shown their full commitment to my program and I, in return, have committed all my resources to their firm anti-doping stance," Dr. Damsgaard said.

According to team spokesman Philippe Maertens, Gusev’s release is effective immediately and he is free to seek employment with another team or company

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