Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fallout XVII

The CyclingNews reports a second doping positive from this year's Tour de France, and the rider is not one of the "old guard":

Spanish rider Moisés Dueñas has become the second rider to register a non-negative test for banned blood booster erythropoietin at the Tour de France. The results came from a sample taken from the Barloworld rider after the Grand Tour's first time trial, Stage 4 on July 8 in Cholet, according to head of the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) Pierre Bordry.

News of Dueñas' test result has spread quickly after confirmation this morning from the senior French anti-doping agency figure, including on - a newspaper owned by the same parent company as the Tour. The rider held 19th position on general classification heading into today's Stage 11, which he is unlikely to contest.

The Daily Telegraph and CNN also carry the late breaking story.

In more CyclingNews reaction to the mass exodus of pro teams from the UCI continues:

Saunier Duval-Scott team manager Mauro Gianetti explained the decision of his team to leave the ProTour. "It's clear that the teams have been stuck in between a war of the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers, and we need a new road and a system that functions. There were proposals form the organisation to the UCI which didn't quite agree with the ProTour. There is now an agreement with the organisers that will allow us to work with seriousness and tranquility.

While Christian Prudhomme is being rather tight lipped on the defections, UCI "boss" Pat McQuaid has this, among other things, to say:

McQuaid feels that chaos could ensue following the team's decision. "There are big possible ramifications of this," he said. "They [the teams] say that they have done a deal with ASO and the other two big organisers. The thing is, if they pull down the ProTour, they then become Pro Continental teams next year. All the events that are currently in the ProTour will go into the Europe Tour, and they have a responsibility to those events. Some of those events will obviously disappear because their profile will go, those events will disappear off the calendar altogether.

"These teams need to think of the responsibilities they have to those organisers, rather than just thinking of themselves," he added. "They have a responsibility to the rest of the sport, and they are not doing that. The ramifications in a year or two is that ASO will be selecting the teams for the Tour de France out of a possible 30 or 40 Pro Continental teams. So where are half of these teams gone then?"

Racejunkie finds the UCI to now be just a "queasy memory", and in order to better gauge the chances of this year's potential TdF winners RJ checks out their websites looking for some kind of insight. So if one goes by websites alone, the Tour belongs to Carlos "Fun Fact" Sastre.

Rant looks into the "fallout" from the UCI's demise, and wonders what's next?

KWall ran into Landis at Laguna Cyclery, riding and looking reasonably fit:

Landis with stealthy BMC, full Dura-Ace; Oakley, Smith and Nephew, Giro; Another picture shows what looks like a non-racing 27 tooth cassette. (Photo: KWall)

I asked him if he was thinking about getting back into racing and he just replied unenthusiastically "I don't know, well see what happens" He seemed like a man content just to be out riding on a Sunday day in Laguna Beach.

TBV got 1300 Kj's Sunday. How did Landis do? It doesn't look like he had a PowerTap measuring, so we win! ( We will not talk watts.)

Similar story from the Laguna Cyclery Blog, getting a hint and asking if they should carry BMC. We'd say yes. Our new one is now sorted after 500 miles. It is much lighter, and both more comfortable and responsive than the Trek 5200 it replaces. No more "flat tire" feeling when pressing hard, it's is stable and fast descending. (We don't know why Mr. LC changed the EC90SLX fork on his Cervelo for an Ouzo, the EC90X seems fine to us). It can be tricky getting cables through the internal routing, and the finish is not flashy like a Colnago -- it doesn't have the "weave" that people associate with carbon because it's laid directionally for strength rather than looks. Industrial, almost. Around home, Pinarello's and Willier's are commonplace and a BMC counts as eccentric.

Elsewhere, Luna Cycles offers a couple of interesting scenarios:
Firstly, a rider like Floyd Landis who serves his two-year suspension (ending in Jan. 2009) now finds himself capable of returning to the top end of professional cycling since the Pro Tour Code of Ethics banning riders from riding for Pro Tour teams is no longer applicable if there is no Pro Tour. Could Landis be spared banishment to the doper's purgatory of Rock Racing?

Second, in an effort to appear completely, 100% squeaky clean, above reproach, "this isn't about money, it's about integrity", anti=doping the teams shut out riders like Landis, who legitimately serve their two year suspensions and want to return to the sport. This would be incredibly bad and, one could argue, short-sighted given the extreme anti-doping stance of David Millar, a convicted doper who served his suspension and returned to the forefront of pro cycling.

We might hope for the first, but...


Mike said...

Patty McQuaid is funny.


dfolson said...

Has there been any word on Beltran's B test? How long is that supposed to take - I would think only 4 to 5 days...

jrdbutcher said...

Enough gnashing of teeth. Let’s just make it official. L’Equipe is the official and exclusive news outlet for initially announcing A-Sample AAF’s in France, particularly if the samples were “analyzed” by LNDD in relation to the TdF.

And yes, Patty has turned out to be a tragic comedian.

pensum said...

Just a thought on why they don't wait for a B-sample in France: as the French take illegal possession of certain pharmaceuticals seriously the gendarmes need to search hotel rooms etc. immediately upon hearing of a positive A-sample. As it is difficult to keep 20 or so gendarmes busting into a hotel room during the Tour out of the news, it makes more sense to just release the info.

Also obviously if you own both the Tour and a newspaper you are gonna make sure you get the scoop. That's just good business.

Meanwhile it's been quite the exciting race so far. Shame they didn't set the stages up like this in previous years.

pensum said...

And just to back up the thought, there is this from Phil Liggett over on Versus, talking about Barloworld likely sacking Duenas: "In a statement tonight the team seems to have already made up their mind, confirming that drugs were found when the police searched Duenas’s room this morning."

m said...

"Enough gnashing of teeth. Let’s just make it official. L’Equipe is the official and exclusive news outlet for initially announcing A-Sample AAF’s"

I see nothing wrong in that. It's obvious that the A sample positives cannot be kept secret and will have to be announced publicly as soon as possible. Not just the police search but the suspension of the rider by the team must take place as soon as the A sample is known. At most this jumps the gun by an hour or two, if that.

Interesting that both the doping positives are for EPO. Some recent news stories reported that current EPO testing has difficulty detecting many non standard versions of EPO, especially the copy cat Chinese, South American and other non-Amgen variants, and suggested that this was an open door for cheating. Perhaps LNND has developed some new tests and caught some who tried to get through that open door with what they thought were undetectable versions of EPO.

It's reported that both riders were targeted. In the past these lower level riders might have escaped the random testing.

Larry said...

Hey gang! Here's a quirky piece of news from Pakistan, a country that evidently has not received the memo that it's OK to reveal an "A" sample AAF:

See Pakistani Outrage.

The head of the Pakistani Sports Medicine Bureau even thinks that this premature disclosure of the "A" test results might imperil the case against the athlete in question, merely because the disclosure happens to violate a few WADA rules. What a silly guy!

(M, I agree that as a practical matter the "A" test results will become public, once the police carries the rider off in handcuffs. But that's no excuse for a WADA lab, bound by the WADA rules, to leak the information. This only serves to confirm our belief that these labs are willing to violate their own rules whenever it is convenient. The ADA folks have been aware for some time that cycling is not like other sports, and that the "A" test results cannot be kept secret, but they've made no effort to change the confidentiality rules. It is disturbing that WADA feels no need to correct this situation.

Probably the best course of action would be for the rider's team to make an announcement in a public press conference. The team IS informed of the results of the "A" test and is under no confidentiality restrictions as far as I'm aware.)

m said...

Larry and all,

There is no evidence that the lab leaked the results.

More likely ASO itself or the French anti-doping org. Possibly even the police. Why is it that the French anti-doping org always confirms on the record the A test result? Aren't they equally bound by whatever regulation supposedly prohibits disclosure of A test results.

If the regs prevent any disclosure of test results during a race, then I agree that the regs should be changed. In the meantime the press is doing it for them, and I'm not complaining about that. I certainly wouldn't trust the teams to disclose it in a timely manner, especially when they themselves may be guilty parties. said...

I think we established with Boonen that once there is police involvement, there's little privacy left for anyone with a reported positive test.

That being the case, it would seem wise to have rules and a protocol to be followed that let the appropriate agency make an announcement that related facts and did not prejudice any subsequent proceeding.

In this case, it would seem fair to allow and encourage the AFLD to issue an essentially boilerplace statement, available to all, that said something like:

"An A-sample given by rider Jean Doe on XX-Jul has been reported to us as an AAF for some substance by the WADA laboratory in someplace at 16:38 on YY-Jul. We have informed, in order, the appropriate police agency, the sanctioning body, the team, the rider, and the race organizer by 18:00. This announcement at 18:05 informs the press and the public of the facts, and is made because of the involvement of the police. Otherwise, according to the WADA code, this result would be kept confidential by us at this time.

"Doe was selected for testing on XX-Jul because he {had stage or overall results meeting automatic criteria; was a true random selection; was a target for testing because of passport values}. He was one of NN riders tested on XX-Jul.

"Before a doping sanction may be issued by us or a federation, the rider has the right to have the B sample tested for confirmation of the A result, as described by the WADA code.

"What steps the police, the organizers or the team may take on their own is up to them.

"We will make no further statements until the B sample test is complete, or the rider waives that step."

I'd expect and want similarly neutral boilerplate language to emanate from the federations and their spokespeople, like, say, McQuaid or Fahey.


Timm said...

Not being familiar with the European legal systems, I was wondering what happens if one of these cases ends up in a real court, with real rules of evidence and discovery? Could this blow the whole system up if the lab work was to LNDD's usual high standards? They seem to be getting the police involved, which says to me they better have a higher standard of evidence than they do in the WADA kangaroo court system.

jrdbutcher said...


The problem is, and has been for a lengthy amount of time, the de facto presumption of guilt that attaches to the athlete once information has been made public regarding an A-Sample AAF. As a practical matter, this presumption of guilt attaches whether the athlete is actually guilty, or not. It also has real potential to pressure the various agencies involved with the potential infraction to validate the originally announced finding, whether it was accurate, or not.

This is also an example of a catch-22 in the regulations as they apply to multi-day stage races or other multi-day athletic events. The regulations require the athlete to be removed from competition. Removal from competition requires an explanation. You can fill in the rest of the blanks.

With the UCI/ASO mess, I’m not clear exactly how 2008 TdF AAF’s are supposed to be reported. If it mirrors the UCI system, the lab reports the identification numbers corresponding to the AAF to WADA and the UCI. In this case, WADA and AFLD (perhaps the UCI also?). AFLD (UCI) and/or WADA decode the identification number that corresponds to a particular athlete. In no particular order, the athlete, the athletes team, and the athlete’s national federation (where the athlete is licensed) are all notified. I’m not clear on who notifies the race organizer, but they are probably included in the above pool being notified because the rider will be required to cease competition. The result is that the athlete is outed before a B-Sample confirmation can even begin and also whether the athlete is actually guilty, or not.

By rule, the athlete has the option to request a confirmation of the A-Sample analysis with the testing of his/her B-Sample. The additional sample analysis seems reasonable enough to me, and apparently the rules makers, given that an athlete’s career, or two years of his/her livelihood, is riding on the results, which have been shown not to always correspond. That’s why they split the samples. It’s part of good scientific practice to test again. (This doesn’t address the possibility of doing it wrong both time and getting the same wrong result)

THE PROBLEM WITH ANNOUNCING AN A-SAMPLE AAF BEFORE A B-SAMPLE ANALYSIS HAS BEEN MADE IS THAT IT TENDS TO PRESSURE THE LAB TO CONFIRM THE ORIGINAL RESULT, CORRECT OR NOT. If the athlete accepts the AAF, there is no foul. IF THE ATLETE IS INNOCENT AND REQUESTS THE ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS, THERE IS A POTENTIALLY CAREER ENDING FOUL BEING COMMITTED AGAINST THE ATHLETE. The WADA system is not set up to correct that kind of error, so it seems they just ignore the possibility. In doing so, WADA shows an egregious level of disrespect toward the very athletes they purport to seek to protect.

UCI/ASO feuding aside, the regulations have been long overdue for an overhaul in relation to this subject. The serial violation of anti-doping rules by one or more of the “gatekeeper” agencies does not do the anti-doping movement any credit.

It would be to their credit to write rules that can be followed and to follow them, themselves. It would also be to their credit to attach the same sort of liability that is demanded of the athletes to the officials of the various anti-doping agencies.

A “do as I say, not as I do” approach doesn’t seem to work well in any of life’s many other forums. I don’t understand why the anti-doping establishment thinks it will work in their little corner of the world?

I attempted to detail the process in paragraph 3, in order to narrow down where all the leaks might be occurring. (This doesn’t take into consideration LNDD knew they were testing Floyd’s samples and the subsequent break-down of blind sample testing) I can’t think of a case where it would be advantageous for the athlete to announce the result to L’Equipe and L’Equipe has not cited an accused athlete as a source, we can probably look elsewhere.

Larry said...

jrd, great post.

"M", the leak to L'Equipe was reported by Bonnie Ford at ESPN. Bonnie Ford is highly credible in my book. Admittedly, she didn't say that LNDD did the leaking -- we don't know for certain who leaks this information to L'Equipe. That's the nature of a "leak" -- if L'Equipe reported its source, then it wouldn't be a leak.

Ford DID say that LNDD should be scolded for its indiscretions, indicating that SHE thinks the LNDD did the leaking.

Perhaps what matters more is that no one in a position of responsibility seems to give a damn about these leaks. Not LNDD, not AFLD, not ASO, not FFC, not WADA. These leaks go uninvestigated, and in that sense, I think it's fair to say that they are all responsible.

Larry said...

TBV, good point about the unlimited number of Pro Continental teams. I think that's right, based on my read of the UCI regulations. Also, excellent point about the sponsors being the ultimate determining factor for the amount of money in the sport to pay for riders.

Moreover, your boilerplate press release is spot on. If it's unavoidable to disclose the A test AAF, let it at least be done officially, and not as a way to increase the circulation of a particular newspaper. said...


I think there is an interesting topic of discussion in the general processing of B samples. We seem to have a number of requirements, and the current system doesn't really seem to solve them.

1. Meaningful observation by experts selected by the athlete. (1a - availability of useful experts; 1b - credibility of such experts later);

2. Meaningful blinding at the lab doing the B sample testing. What protocol should really be used to blind samples at a lab -- should there be positive and negative control samples, plus some number of unknowns? Should the sample numbers be run through another layer of indirection, and how should traceability be managed? How should one blind samples with obvious specific gravity differences? Different bottle types? One from the fridge, one from a cooler, and one from the package in the mail room?

3. Use of the same lab, which no matter if the case is publicly visible or confidential, has immense pressure to confirm it's previous result. As compared to another WADA lab. which has a certain informal pressure to confirm another labs' result, but at least has no one who was involved in the initial test.

In environmental law, another discipline that is seemingly related when it comes to testing and legal consequences, splitting samples and use of multiple labs is common practice, understood to protect the interests of all parties. We do not have this with the WADA system, except sometimes with EPO tests, and that is confusing -- see Heras.

I think it is easier to have more sample blinding with alternate labs involved, but this creates logistical problems and increased expense -- but if the athlete wants it, why should it be denied? It can be at his expense, which ought to give him more say. When a split sample is used in a pollution case, each party is certainly going to get its choice of labs for its part of the sample.

The major difficulty of split samples is the available sample volume. We do note that in the Landis case, the LNDD managed to consume all of the B samples with larger injections than might have been necessary. While there are arguably good reasons for using more ("better peaks and baseline separation"), it can also be seen as a way of eliminating samples that might be tested elsewhere to different conclusions. So there would need to be something that says how much of samples is to be used, and what conclusions should be drawn if there is insufficient sample, or a result not available with the sample volume that at hand.


jrdbutcher said...


Didn’t see you post before posting mine. Mine contains similar sentiments, less eloquently stated.

General reactions to other posts:

Within the system: Guilt is suspected with an A-Sample AAF, but not confirmed. Guilt is confirmed if the athlete accepts the result. The athlete can request a counter-analysis. The A-Sample AAF is supposed to be confidential, unless or until a counter-analysis confirms the original result. If the B-Sample counter-analysis is requested, but does not confirm the original result, then the whole thing was supposed to be private and confidential. The option might be the athlete’s and his/her team, but they have little incentive to announce.

It might be interesting wrt to the police getting involved and the case possibly ending up in a “real” court, but I think not in France. Similar to WADA Code, law based upon Napoleonic Code, presumes guilt, not innocence. Saying a French court would be an uphill battle would be a gross understatement. Floyd didn’t even want to fight that one.

WADA Code can’t/doesn’t supersede national laws with regard to doping products. WADA Code does seek to supplant the local/national courts through its control of the prescribed adjudication process forced upon riders holding UCI licenses. It looks pretty bulletproof in that regard, except for possible additional criminal penalties that could face athletes for violating the laws of the nation where a particular race is held.

It’s a terrible time to be an athlete/rider facing the accusation of an AAF, guilty or not.

jrdbutcher said...

Thanks TbV,
Just read your 2:41 post. I have little to add. I agree. You summed it up skillfully.

jrdbutcher said...

Larry wrote:
"Perhaps what matters more is that no one in a position of responsibility seems to give a damn about these leaks. Not LNDD, not AFLD, not ASO, not FFC, not WADA. These leaks go uninvestigated, and in that sense, I think it's fair to say that they are all responsible."

That seemed worth repeating. Nice summary larry.

wschart said...

Why not test A and B samples simultaneously, at 2 different labs. One wouldn't know the others results, so the pressure would be to do a good job of testing, and not to back up a result. Both samples would have to test positive for an AAF. If not, no word is released. A 3rd sample would be retained by the athlete, or at least held available for him, and should he choose to contest things if both samples test positive. He could submit to a lab of his choice for testing, and possible use as evidence in a hearing.

jrdbutcher said...

Your general concept makes too much sense. (might more narrowly define the labs available for an athlete supplied counter-analysis) Your concept suggests the potential for outside review and requires testing at different labs to be consistent to declare an AAF. Some might argue such a system would be too cumbersome and expensive. I’d argue you suggestions have merit. Such a system would be less cumbersome than the one currently in place. Note: The current system is comprised of the stock WADA system, UCI’s passport concept being initiated, the stop gap mirror system being employed for the TdF this year, and several teams contracting for independently conducted “in house” testing. Now that’s expensive and cumbersome. FWIW, I’d argue “in house” testing is being conducted largely because the teams don’t trust the anti-doping establishment testers and are protecting their investment by ponying up a good chunk of their budgets for outside expert testing. It’s costing a lot of money now for an inferior product. Use the same kind of money to make it work correctly and have a product you can be proud of.

Larry said...

Mike, you said that McQuaid is funny? Um, he's hysterical. Guess what's the cause of the 2008 version of cycling's doping crisis? It's Spain!

Yeah. Apparently the problem begins somewhere in the environ of the Straits of Gibraltar, reaches its peak of intensity near Madrid, and fades to tolerable levels just outside of Barcelona ... so by the time you reach Perpignan, you're completely safe. WHEW!

McQuaid's latest announcement should prove comforting to anyone in the U.S. concerned about the lingering effects of BALCO, or the Germans worried about the old T-Mobile squad's affinity for Freiburg University (probably good pizza at the ratskeller), or Italians who think that "Oil for Drugs" might still mean something. No, you're all off the hook, wherever you may live, so long as you don't live in Spain.

McQuaid bases his Spanish Inquisition (and yes, I did not expect the Spanish Inquisition) on two "A" test AAFs in this year's TdF, plus of course Operation Puerto, which implicated only Spanish riders like Juan Ullrich, Jorge Jaksche, and Tylerham El-Ton.

Would McQuaid's accusation have anything to do with his embarassing loss to Valverde last year before the CAS? (I mean, how do you lose a case against a cyclist before the CAS?) Or, the refusal of the Spanish authorities to turn bags of blood over to him, for no good reason other than that Spanish law does not allow it?

No, no, no.

We are indebted to McQuaid for providing us with a cogent explanation for this year's crop of doping cases. For those of you keeping score, "The Stain in Spain Is Cycling's Thing to Blame" now officially replaces the "old guard doping" explanation that we were required to believe after the Beltran AAF.

m said...


1) "The problem is, and has been for a lengthy amount of time, the de facto presumption of guilt that attaches to the athlete once information has been made public regarding an A-Sample AAF. As a practical matter, this presumption of guilt attaches whether the athlete is actually guilty, or not."

1. I think this is over-hyped. The reaction of the press and others is a practical and common sense one. You cannot ignore the likelihood of a confirmation by the B sample test, however you want to calculate it. It's analogous to an arrest, probable cause that a crime has been committed. Legally there is a presumption of innocence, but depending on the police agency the likelihood of a guilty plea or verdict is pretty high and the public treats it as such. It's against human nature to ignore the ramifications of an arrest or positive A test.

You make a good point about additional pressure on the lab to confirm it's positive. But I see no way around it. You can't keep the A positive a secret and kick the rider out of the race.

If the B comes back negative, the public will usually treat the rider as innocent, but this will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. I think that is appropriate. No different than an acquittal at trial. Think OJ Simpson. I don't see the point in hiding the A positive.

The rider gets kicked out of the race. No different than an unjust red card in football. He should get his salary if the B sample comes back negative, but he doesn't get to play the game.


2). "the lab reports the identification numbers corresponding to the AAF to WADA and the UCI. In this case, WADA and AFLD (perhaps the UCI also?). AFLD (UCI) and/or WADA decode the identification number that corresponds to a particular athlete. "

Since the lab doesn't know whose sample it is testing, this indicates that the lab probably is not the party that leaked the results. I suspect it was the AFLD or ASO. I assume ASO arranged with AFLD to be notified immediately, regardless of what the WADA rules may say.

Cal & Lorie said...


We learned from the Landis case that the testing was not blind. The techs knew they were testing Landis' sample. I believe your assumption that the lab was doing blind testing in the case of Beltran is not necessarily a safe assumption. Also, someone in the lab needs to know which sample is Beltran's B sample. Otherwise, how do they ensure that the same tech does not do the testing. Whether they know the A sample may be another question, but I do not assume that the lab is not the one who is making the leak.

Cal said...

Why not test A and B samples simultaneously, at 2 different labs

1. Expense, for all the non-positive tests.

2. Complexity.

3. Sample volume, because all the screening tests consume much of the A sample.

4. Now a rider needs to come up with two credible experts for the B sample test?

I could see an argument that once an A sample screening test has tipped for confirmation, perhaps then the remainder of the A can be split and tested at two labs. Then a B test done at either of those, or a third lab of the athlete's choosing seems far more workable.

The B sample is typically smaller, and may be hard to split leaving enough for either lab to work with.

I note that one always legal way for an athlete to game the system is to practice urinating in a way that produces the exact minimum volume that is acceptable. That way, any number of protocol errors lead to too little available to test -- perhaps more so if you ask for the B sample test. Requiring a split B sample would make that situation worse, or you'd need to require more volume from the athlete.

My understanding is that it can sometimes be quite a problem getting enough out, especially for someone who may be dehydrated. Standing around, drinking water hoping something will come out is yet another unenviable part of the job description, particularly if things like a podium ceremony await.

(Think what the networks would do if the Superbowl MVP couldn't be awarded on camera because he needed to rehydrate to pee before he could leave the antidoping van.)


Larry said...

Tweak the rules any way you like. Require "C" samples, and "D" samples, if you think it will help. At the end of the day, it still comes down to: do you trust the lab?

Rules have limits. They are terrific for taking people who are competent, honest, properly directed and acting in good faith, and making sure that they have a sound path to follow. They are good as a mild deterrent, to keep basically honest people on the straight and narrow. They are not very good at taking people who are ill-trained, overmatched and improperly directed, and making them competent to do their jobs.

In a sense, our ability to write rules to regulate labs is not too different from the ADA's ability to create a drug testing regime to control doping in cycling. You simply cannot expect the ADAs to catch all of the doping athletes, and you cannot expect to write a WADA code or an International Standard for Laboratories that will catch every lab error.

It's a sad lesson from the Landis case. A lot of us have spent a lot of time reviewing a lot of lab documents and writing a lot of words about this-and-that deficiency in scientific tests, and speaking only for me, I plan to keep doing it for a while longer at least. But it's kind of crazy to expect that a lab would be incompetent enought to screw up its drug testing, while at the same time being competent enough to generate a clear set of documents evidencing how they screwed up.

We live life dependent on experts who often fail at their jobs. The nuclear power plant melts down, or the pilot of the 747 is drunk, or the bridge collapses, or the folks who told us about the weapons of mass destruction turn out to be wrong. We can do our best to keep the experts honest, but we can't depend on rules to protect us from incompetent experts.

My advice to all the well-meaning lovers of justice and due process here is to focus less on the rules and more on what we can do to get the labs to do their jobs better.

wschart said...

You make some good points Larry. But one of the reasons I see for bad lab work in WADA land is that the system, both de jure and de facto, is set up such that any bad work is supported. A sample results are "confirmed" by B sample tests done by the same lab, who has a vested interest in getting the same results both times. Even having the B test done by another WADA certified lab is somewhat suspicious, as there is an institutional bias operating here, as evidenced in part by the "do not speak bad of another lab" rule.

This is especially true when the A sample results are released to the public. Whatever lab did the Beltran A test, do you think they want to come out now and say "Opps, we screwed up"? This is way I suggest doing 2 tests at 2 labs simultaneously: since one lab does know what result the other lab will come up with, it can't manipulate a result so as to match. The pressure would be to do things right such that whatever result was obtained, it could be supported by the quality of the work and not just by someone duplicating the results post facto.

Larry said...

wschart, good points! But remember that in the Landis case, the LNDD results were ultimately confirmed by the WADA labs in Montreal and Los Angeles, through the testimony of Drs. Ayotte and Caitlin. Independent WADA lab confirmation is not going to guarantee good testing -- as you pointed out, the labs have an incentive to get along and back each other up.

I see value in sending "B" tests to independent labs outside the WADA lab system, but remember that these labs do not necessarily HAVE tests in place for PEDs like exogenous testosterone or EPO. If we could rely on independent labs for this kind of testing, then we wouldn't NEED WADA labs. In fairness to WADA, testing for PEDs is a very specialized kind of testing, and we cannot necessarily have this testing performed by the same labs who do my blood work.

m said...

Cal & amp; Lorie,

"We learned from the Landis case that the testing was not blind. The techs knew they were testing Landis' sample. I believe your assumption that the lab was doing blind testing in the case of Beltran is not necessarily a safe assumption."

I was referring to the Beltran A sample. According to JRD, this testing is anonymous. So it's highly unlikely that the Lab leaked the results.

Yes, it's almost impossible to keep the B sample test anonymous as in Landis. I do not believe there was any claim that the Landis A sample tests were not anonymous however.

Thomas A. Fine said...

Hey I just came across this story...

Boston Fake News Service

UCI Collapse Throws Riders in Disarray

International stories often have regional affects, and this is true for yesterday's folding of cycling's international governing body, the UCI.

The UCI sanctions USA Cycling, and without the UCI, USA Cycling has no authority. Local races have been disrupted. We visited the weekly Charlie Baker Time Trial, a short race held every week in Concord. Cyclists came to race, only to be turned away. Cyclist Eugene Quadsky from Quincy said "I came here to do a time trial, and it turns out there's no one to take my money. If I can't buy a one-day license, how am I suppose to find out how fast I am?"

Carl Legzenfeit from Lexington agreed. "Without someone to pay, we're basically just a bunch of tourists out for a Sunday ride."

Some suggested that they could collect the money, as a replacement for the UCI was bound to come along soon. Someone volunteered to hold the money in escrow for up to five years. But ultimately most were worried that no replacement would be found by then, and that no one would ever sanction the results. Even if a new governing body formed, it was pointed out there's no guarantee they would sanction the race retroactively. Worse, riders worried that they would be forced to take their entry fees back.

Others were even more pessimistic. Cindy Hamstreen from Harwich said that if the situation wasn't cleared up soon, she'd sell her bike on craigslist and take up curling. "At least curling has an international body that knows how to properly collect fees", she muttered.

A small group of riders tried to proceed with the race anyway, but they met with no success. Talks got bogged down on a few critical issues, like whether to start new riders every thirty seconds, or every minute. After a suggestion to compromise at 45 seconds, talks collapsed.

Most riders scoffed at the effort anyway. Quadsky said "You can't honestly expect to ride without the UCI. It's not even a race if they aren't here to pocket our hard-earned cash.

One lone unidentified cyclist wouldn't give up. He threw his one-day license money on the ground and declared that he was going to ride the course on his own, using his wristwatch for timing. Other cyclists laughed and shook their heads. "Crazy bastard", said Legzenfeit. "He just doesn't understand the importance of the UCI".