Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Winnowing: Arnie Baker

Arnie Baker MD (ret.), is a prolific author of cycling training and medical information. He was Landis' first coach in California. On hearing the accusations, he worked actively on interpreting the available information for the defense, and prepared the well known presentations and various versions of The Wiki Defense publication.


Landis’s Legacy
Exposing a Flawed Anti-Doping System


(For more complete documentation see: http://arniebakercycling.com/books/wiki.htm.)



By Arnie Baker, MD

Background

I met and started coaching Landis more than a decade ago.

During the 2006 Tour, like many others, I was glued to the television watching Landis’s Stage 17—an epic, daring, long solo breakaway; a fabulous day in cycling.

At the Tour’s end, amid doping allegations, I did not speak to the press—though my phone rang nonstop for three days, and more than 30 media outlets contacted me. Like Landis, I really had nothing to say—I did not know what the situation was. Unlike, Landis, I could keep to myself.

When I examined Landis’s document package, I was appalled at the lack of quality. I told Landis that if the standards for anti-doping laboratories were anything like the standards for medical laboratories and medial record keeping, this was not a positive test. This was a test that should be thrown out.

[MORE]


Landis decided early to have an open arbitration. Athletes have the right to request an open hearing, but it had never been done before. Landis already knew that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) system was a closed one, without standard checks and balances, where the writers of the rules could also be the prosecutors and the arbitrators.

Moreover, hardly anyone knew about anti-doping testing, and those who did generally worked in anti-doping laboratories and were prohibited from assisting athletes.

Early on, we decided on an approach not favored by most attorneys: We would post everything we could about the case on the internet. We would call it the Wiki Defense.

We would show what we had, and figured we might obtain some help from interested readers.

Here is one analogy of the WADA system:

Imagine you are driving your car on the freeway, and a traffic officer pulls you over.

Officer: “I’m going to write you a ticket.”
Driver: “How fast was I going?”
Officer: “I’m not going to tell you.”
Driver: “What’s the speed limit?”
Officer: “I’m not going to tell you.”
Driver: “Can I go to court and fight this?
Officer: “Yes, but you can only choose from judges that I’ve preselected. After you’re found guilty, we’ll charge you court costs.”
Driver: “Officer, I wasn’t speeding”
Officer: “Nonsense. Of course you were. You’re driving a red car. Everyone knows that people who drive red cars speed.”

For me, this was about the science, and the science fiction of the anti-doping laboratory that analyzed Landis’s sample. Here is what I found:


The Authorities Lied*

  • There was evidence of scientific misconduct/malfeasance.
  • Vanishing acts: Records disappeared.
  • Magical appearances: Documents missing or full of errors were “found” or “corrected” and appear to have been fabricated.
  • False statements: USADA, its experts, and the lab appear to have repeatedly made false statements.

They Botched the Test

The report was so full of errors that other conclusions are impossible. For example:
  • Sample numbers were wrong.
  • The chain of custody was flawed.
  • Quality control standards failed, and the failures were ignored.
  • Files were overwritten/erased.

They Never Identified Testosterone Properly

Two types of tests were performed: The T/E (testosterone/epitestosterone) ratio test and the IRMS test.

The T/E ratio testing was non-compliant with basic science and WADA regulations and so did not meet the criteria for a positive test.
  • Peaks were not identified according to minimum standards.

The IRMS (isotope ratio mass spectrometry, also called carbon isotope, synthetic, or exogenous) test results did not meet basic science or WADA criteria for a positive test.
  • The lab had no Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or validation study for peak identification.
  • Peaks were not identified according to minimum standards.

The Arbitration Hearings

The arbitrations hearings went against Landis.

At the American Arbitration Association hearing, confirming Landis’s position about scientific misconduct, dissenting arbitrator Chris Campbell noted: “From the beginning, the Laboratoire National de D├ępistage et du Dopage (“LNDD”) has not been trustworthy.”

It was only after the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing that we confirmed some of the extent of the conflict of interest in the proceedings. For example, when Jan Paulsson and David Rivkin were selected to serve as arbitrators on the Landis panel, Rivkin was serving as president of a CAS panel considering the IOC’s enforcement action against Austrian cross-country skiers, proceedings in which Mr. Paulsson represented the IOC.

Summary

In my view, the test should have been thrown out.
The lab should have been sanctioned.

Landis provided us a legacy, at least two gifts:
  • He gave us Stage 17.
  • He opened our eyes to the conflicted, opaque, and flawed testing of the anti-doping establishment, a system in need of reform.




*The evidence shows documents that appear to have been fabricated and documents and testimony that have been shown to be false. A “lie” or “fraud” implies intent. Without direct admission on the part of USADA, LNDD, or its witnesses, the determination of intent is a judgment. It is my belief and judgment, based on a review of the evidence, that there was intent to deceive.


3 comments:

("Eightzero") said...

In case I haven't been clear on this issue before, I need to put it here:

*Thank you* Dr. Baker.

I also note with interest that Dr. Baker was not invited to the panel discussion at Pepperdine:

http://law.pepperdine.edu/straus/training_and_conferences/arbitration_symposium.html

Pity.

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

Eightzero,

It is a real shame that Arnie won't be participating in the upcoming Pepperdine conference. Would that it were otherwise, as I believe he has some valuable insights he could impart.

Arnie,

Thanks for your efforts. The outcome wasn't what many of us hoped, but because of you and all of Team Landis, we all know more than we ever wanted to know about how the anti-doping system works.

- Dan

whareagle said...

Dr. Baker,
You remain a mentor in the sport of coaching, as well as that of ethics. I salute you, and wish you great luck with your position in the new OUCH team.

Bravo!