The AFP posts a story about biostatistics expert Donald Berry who says that the anti-doping tests used at the Olympics , which start this week, can be erroneous. He uses the Landis case to illustrate his point:
Donald Berry, an expert in biostatistics at the University of Texas, used the case of American cyclist Floyd Landis to point up flaws in anti-doping procedures, but cautioned that the problems he uncovered apply across the board to lab tests designed to ferret out athletes who cheat by using performance enhancing substances.
Writing in the British science journal Nature, Berry argues that the tests performed by the French national anti-doping laboratory (LNDD) that condemned Landis to ignominy and barred him from competition for two years were "non-informative" and potentially subject to error.
While Berry does not have an opinion as to the cyclist's guilt or innocence, he is highly critical of what he called the "inherent flaws" in current testing practices.
Outlets from SciScoop to the Telegraph UK have picked up the sensational story with differing spins and details. Like VeloNews.
The full original article is available at Nature, for $18. We got a copy and it's not long, but respecting their rights, will not quote at length. There is this figure addressing the positivity criteria/single metabolite issue available:
"Plots show the distribution of 167 samples of the metabolites etiocholanone and 5 -androstanediol (a, b), and androsterone and 5 -androstanediol (c, d). Panels b and d show samples the French national anti-doping laboratory (LNDD) designate to be 'positive' (red crosses) or 'negative' (green dots); the values from Landis's second sample from stage 17 is shown as a blue dot. Axes display delta notation, expressing isotopic composition of a sample relative to a reference compound." (source: Nature)
We think this oversimplifies by skipping two plots, being the same ones for the metabolites that were not positive at all in the Landis samples. It's a good visualization of the data of the LNDD tests in discovery, and a model we may try to follow if we ever want to type the 200+ rows of numbers into a spreadsheet of all the negative and positive tests LNDD had performed. We particularly wonder about the athlete who was declared a positive on a single metabolite when all the others were not measured at all -- what possible validation had been done on that metabolite? Did the athlete confess? Given the lack of transparency, it's unlikely we'll ever know.
There have been a number of good comments on the Berry/Nature article below, and we'll collect some of them in a post before the opening of The Games.
The CyclingNews says that Tom Boonen has learned his lesson, Ricardo Ricco has named his EPO supplier, and Kayle Leogrande will have his day in court as he sues Matt Decanio and Suzanne Sonye for slander. Leogrande is represented by Howard Jacobss. The big news in this edition is the revelation that the "welcome mat" may indeed out for Landis at Rock Racing:
Tyler Hamilton has welcomed Floyd Landis to join his American Rock Racing squad, once his ban from competition ends next year. The American tested positive for testosterone after the Tour de France in 2006. "Floyd is welcome to join us immediately," 37 year-old Hamilton said, according to Belgian publication HLN. "I know what he is going through, we can help him return to the top."
Landis is suspended until January 30, 2009 after having his Tour de France title stripped from him following a drawn-out legal battle.
Hey, if the paychecks are good enough and don't bounce, it'd be a job. We really want to see Landis go up Palomar in the Tour of California.
ESPN/AP reports on Emanuele Sella's out of competition positive for EPO. Last we knew Sella was a "he", so someone is probably confusing Sella for Marta Bastianelli.
Racejunkie notes Emanuele Sella's doping bust and cries foul for poor Gilberto Simoni, and speaking of folks who have been screwed over will Floyd Landis really "marry" Rock Racing? Only time and Floyd will tell.
Recovox News also shares the Landis to Rock Racing story prompted by Tyler Hamilton's comments. Landis is pictured below in RR regalia, probably at the Amgen Tour of California earlier this year.