Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday Roundup

The Montreal Gazette says that outgoing WADA head Dick Pound did Canada proud as they post a profile of him on his last day on the job. They contend that he knew a liar when he saw one, and that Floyd Landis was lying about his innocence. Obviously the Gazette takes Mr. Pound's word on this one.

The CyclingNews reports that Jacques Rogge now admits to the possibility of Jan Ullrich losing his Olympic medals, and the investigation started just in time. Rogge also thinks the defection of sponsors from cycling is a good thing, it will teach the cheaters a lesson. The fact that it may kill the sport seems of no consequence to the head of the IOC. And Werner Franke is at it again, he is now accusing ALL of the 2006 T-Mobile Tour de France riders of doping. Franke offers no details or proof to support his claims.

The Hartford Courant posts its columns of "fives" for 2007 and Floyd Landis makes the "five to forget" category.

The India Times roundup of sports scandal writes in a fairly nuanced way:

2006 Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis has been on a rollercoaster ride since the time he won the championship. His involvement in the alleged positive doping test of July 20, 2006 continued and on September 20, 2007 the hearing committee gave its final verdict. Landis was found guilty in his explosive doping case and banned for two years. The American rider was also stripped of his title. The Tour in 2007 was also marked with three riders and two teams withdrawing during the race following positive doping tests, which also included pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov and his Astana team.

NRC Handelsblad has the best single summary of the Rasmussen affaire, courtesy a pointer from Jean C at Rant. Nobody comes out looking good, but Ras is the one left holding the bag.

Eli gets a mention just to illustrate that misinformation never takes a holiday. He says that Floyd Landis lost his final appeal which of course has not even been heard yet.

Eric May contends for Landis snark of the day. However, it is early and it is New Year's Eve so there may be more.

Rant looks back on the year that was, and boy what a year. He recounts many pertinent happenings in 2007 and his comments, some amusing, show what a sad year it was in so many ways.

Podium Cafe noted some statistics from the NY Times website:

The New York Times, publishers of one of the world's most disappointing sports sections (is Murray Chass a sentient being?), listed the top ten most-read sports stories on for the last year. Numero uno: a profile of Floyd Landis' legal case and future. No single baseball, football or other story generated more readership on their website. Number ten was the story of Rasmussen's removal from the Tour.

Conclusion: Cycling's disgrace is the world's favorite pasttime.

All I Wanna Do is Bicycle's year end list writes Landis off, and now says the "Free Floyd" shirts he's hawking are "ironic".

And as we know, comedy is tragedy that happens to someone else.

Happy New Year!

Allusorily Related
The Inquirer, one of our fave tech sites, gives some "trust but verify" advice for the new year. Basically, don't take the first answer you get as the truth.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Roundup

The Press-Telegram posts yet another of what seems an endless stack of year end missives highlighting everything that's wrong with sports. This one slots the requisite Floyd Landis snark in at #9:

9. Floyd Landis and the Tour de Farce. Baseball's problems look pretty tame when measured against the peloton at the Tour de France, where the cyclists apparently aren't even smart enough to make sure of their doping cycles. It's pretty bad when a stage winner gets busted a day after he dons the yellow jacket. Plus, who wears yellow, anyway? Landis, the 2006 Tour winner whose title was taken away because of drugs, gets a call for continuing to claim his innocence even as he loses appeal after appeal

Actually the argument that cycling makes baseball look good doesn't hold much water anymore, there's plenty of shame to go around.

The VeloNews posts an interview with USAC CEO Steve Johnson who says he is happy with the way USADA balances the rights of the individual within the testing and anti-doping procedures of the institution:

Under the existing structure of the World Anti-Doping Code, initial enforcement and adjudication is left to individual governing bodies. In the U.S., however, USAC has handed those duties off to USADA. Johnson said he's comfortable with that arrangement.

"It's the right way to do it," he said. "If you're really serious about cleaning up a sport - and we are - I think having an independent body charged with testing and adjudication is the right way to go. I am comfortable with that relationship and the way those issues are being handled. We have always tried to balance the rights of the individuals with the effort to catch cheaters. That's a difficult balance, but I am comfortable with the way USADA has handled that."

Lucky for Mr. Johnson that his life and livelihood have not directly depended on ,what at times appear to be, the whims of USADA.

Racejunkie discusses the retirement of Roberto Heras as only he can, and wonders about the new generation of "clean" riders and the WADA/UCI circus they are part of:

I object not to harsh antidoping punishments--which, even aside from the benefit of fostering integrity, hopefully encourage safe-supplement practices that protect the riders' health even better than say our hero Eufemiano Fuentes--but to their shockingly arbitrary application by the ringmasters over at UCI, WADA, the race organizations, and the sports federations. Even the Darwinian explanation of natural-selection-by-culling-of-the-reckless-and-stupid fails to comfort, as it seems ironic that one should be rewarded by being an even wilier bastard (worse, in the cases of those who could afford outside assistance, a richer wilier bastard) than one's more broke or merely luckless contemporary.

Erik's Cycling and Social Commentary posts a Forbes interview on YouTube with Jim Clash talking to Tom Danielson. Danielson diplomatically responds to some rather naive questions from Clash about Floyd Landis.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apples and Oranges

From a dubiously respected source, we find proof of the validity of the Visual Gestalt ("eyeballing") method of matching chromatograms.

Figure 1: Infrared transmissibility curves

By the Brenna criteria of general arrangement and relative heights of peaks, there appears to be complete isomorphism between the targets, showing that one can indeed compare apples with oranges.

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Saturday Roundup

The Star Phoenix writes yet another story about the "year of the cheat" and says that the Landis saga was almost the saddest tale of all.

The Summit Daily News gives Floyd Landis a "comeback of the year" honorable mention for his remarkable ride at The Leadville 100 in August.

The CyclingNews notes that it's been suggested athletes, including cyclists, be implanted with a special anti-doping control microchip that could be used for GPS tracking purposes thus eliminating confusion about anyone's whereabouts. Hey if you can do it for your dog...And in Part3 of the CyclingNews' "Year in Review" the nightmare of this year's Tour de France and the fallout afterwards is reexamined. writes of the year 2007 where gun violence, racism, and Floyd Landis were among the top local stories.

finds Gordon White writing of the year past in sports where cheating seemed to reigned king. Floyd Landis is mentioned, but so is 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

You Need to get Real devises hypothetical New Year's resolutions and has one for Floyd Landis stating,"I will continue to claim my innocence even though nobody cares.". But "Real" you're wrong, lots of people still care.

The Roid Report, also at "Steroid Nation", gives out the "Roidies" for the year 2007. Floyd Landis comes in #5 in the "Best Overall Roid Story" of the year category.

Erik Speaks has video from Forbes with Tom Danielson of Slipstream, talking about steroids and Landis. He thinks cycling is leading the cleansing of sport. On Landis, he doesn't think the case against him makes sense, but he moves away quickly. The interviewer wants to think Floyd got spiked somewhere, and ends asking what Danielson really thinks -- Tom doesn't think so.

Rocks Blog has something about Landis and power, but I can't make sense of it, nor find a machine translation that works.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Roundup

The NY Times reports that Roger Clemens has hired high profile lawyer Rusty Hardin to defend him against allegations in the Mitchell Report that he used PEDs. Hardin promises to pay "hard ball" and has hired private investigators to substantiate Clemen's assertions that he is innocent.

The New York Daily News' Mike Lupica mocks Floyd Landis in a major way and compares Roger Clemens' denials of steroid use to those of Landis:

You remember how Landis tried to do it after he tested positive. First he said he had been drinking Jack Daniel's. After he ran that up the flagpole and nobody saluted, he blamed the tests and the testers and the testing system and the French lab that analyzed his samples and the World Anti-Doping Agency and everybody except Marion Jones.

Landis went on the Internet with nifty PowerPoint presentations and held town hall meetings like he was trying to win the Iowa caucus. Eventually he wrote a book, trying to refute a testosterone level in his urine that seemed big enough to fuel an Acela Express. In the end, they stripped him of his Tour de France title anyway.

What Lupica, like most "stick and ball" sports writers, doesn't know about the Landis case could fill Giants Stadium.

Protrade, in a similar column to Lupica's, is disgusted that Roger Clemens thinks the public is so gullible that it would buy his story as he hires a PI to investigate how he got into the Mitchell Report. The piece goes on to snark that at least Roger is not as stupid as poor old Floyd Landis, nice.

The CyclingNews says that the fallout from OP has been devastating to cycling, and it may not be over with yet. Bjorn Leukemans, commenting on his recent firing from Predictor-Lotto, laments the surprising loss of friends and supporters due to his doping scandal.

The VeloNews Friday Mailbag is full of acrimony today as many still argue about the "dead horse" of doping in cycling, even though one note urges us all to move on. The majority of the letters concern the disparities between the Millar and Hamilton doping cases.

The IndiaTimes posts a story on the biggest doping scandals/frauds of 2007 and the Floyd Landis case is reviewed without a mention of his CAS appeal.

Ramblings says that today's athletes have run amok, and we should be depressed about it.

Dr. Slammy proves that it's never to late to still get it wrong in discussing the Landis case:
Stripped of his Tour de France title after a lengthy court battle. The test results said he had more testosterone in his system than a bull moose in mating season, but a lot of Americans watched French media and sporting authorities trying for so long to catch Lance Armstrong that we can’t help being suspicious. In any case, the official verdict is guilty and it’s likely to stay that way. We’re looking forward to this year’s Tour, where we expect there to be no winner because everybody got caught juicing

Dear Doc, that's not what the lab's alleged results actually indicated. For the past year and a half, thanks in part to Mr. Pound, this hasn't stopped anyone from taking the easy route to the cheap shot.

Journey, not Destination thinks that the UCI biopassport system sounds like a logistical nightmare full of chances for tampering. By the way, she still thinks Floyd Landis is innocent.

Ignoring the logistics, who is going to pay for the biopassport system?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Roundup

The Tampa Tribune calls 2007 the "year of the lyin'". Clever, but it not only snarks but misinforms as well when it comes to Floyd Landis:

The lying cheat Floyd Landis was finally and officially stripped of his 2006 Tour de France cycling victory, his appeals having been played out, his honesty, too.

If the fact checker at the Tampa Tribune had done his/her job they would have discovered that there is that little matter of an upcoming CAS appeal for Landis, and that may not even be the end of it.

The CyclingNews reports that Predictor-Lotto has fired Bjorn Leukemans due to the positive result for exogenous testosterone obtained from his "B" sample. This despite their admission it was their doctor that prescribed and administered the drug to the rider.
And The CyclingNews Letters column contains the usual grab bag of notes with one in particular addressing tainted evidence in the Landis case.

The Washington Post, in a column from December 25th and pointed to by commenters, notes the frustration many feel over the time it takes for USADA to resolve arbitration cases. The "10 day rule" is being stretched to the infinite by arbitration panels who keep cases "open" indefinitely in order to avoid the deadline. The difficulties of wading through scientific evidence aside there may be a more banal explanation for these costly delays, the arbitrators themselves:

Mike Straubel, a Valparaiso University professor who represented Jenkins, said attorneys and athletes' representatives are reluctant to speak up while cases are ongoing for fear complaints could create backlash for their athletes.

"To me, the arbitrators see this as of secondary importance," Straubel said. "They are essentially part-time in doing this. It gets put on the back burner."

Though several officials speculated that the scientific complexity or legal nuances of some cases made it difficult for arbitrators to resolve them in a timely fashion, one arbitrator who requested anonymity said the problem was much simpler -- and more exasperating.

"It's none of those things," the arbitrator said. "There are certain arbitrators that are too busy to be accepting these cases. I think it's ridiculous. . . . If one arbitrator is too busy to focus on the case, then everybody [else] has to wait."

The IOL reviews the year in cycling and says that the UCI no longer suffers fools.

The Allentown Morning Call posts a snarky AP "poetic" commentary on the dysfunctional year 2007 was in the sports world. Here's the "paean" written to Floyd Landis, Tennyson he is not:

How fast it all went at the Tour de Floyd,
From champagne in Paris to null and void.
Stripped of his title, denied on appeal,
Floyd Landis insists he got a raw deal.
He railed at the lab; he called this a smear.
He talked and he talked. This lasted all year.
I'm clean, he declared, just let me explain:
I'm not shooting smack or snorting cocaine.
Why tests revealed a positive sample?
Can't say for sure, but here's an example:
Check my testosterone — naturally high.
Or lack of hydration — that could be why.
Or maybe Jack Daniel's? Maybe a beer?
A cortisone shot? It's all so unclear.
Something I ate? Or something I sipped on?
Or gamma rays from the planet Krypton?

Racejunkie is up to his old tricks again and wonders if Ivan Basso is turning into "St." David Millar, RJ hopes not. And why doesn't Dr. Fuentes just come clean on OP, after all he should get the Nobel Prize and a statue for all he's "done" for cycling, shouldn't he? That would be some monument.

Rant's post on "A lesson lost" has some good comments.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday Roundup

The Boston Globe ,in trying to make the Patriots spygate taping scandal seem tame, reminds us all of the really bad sports scandals of 2007. It figures that only cycling had as bad a year as baseball.

The CyclingNews mishmash this morning has Ivan Basso picking up the pieces of his life as he faces less than a year left in his suspension, Bob Stapleton is also picking up pieces of his own in the form of Team High Road, and Anne Gripper says that despite the logistics the UCI's "blood passport" program will be up and running by the time the 2008 Tour de France rolls around.

The VeloNews Wednesday Mailbag is full of righteous indignation aimed at those who would judge Tyler Hamilton's comeback differently than they do David Millar's. It also contains a note wondering why cycling seems to "eat its young":

It's alarming to me that cyclists have, for lack of a better term, begun to eat their young!

I see all of the letters of people lambasting Hamilton and Landis, but what about slamming WADA and the other doping regulatory commissions? (See "Monday's Mailbag.") I'm in the medical profession and if I behaved in the same manner that these labs have behaved, I'd lose my license. Furthermore, you'd all say that I deserved it!! But these labs operate with slipshod procedures and you defend them.

Think about this the next time you feel like criticizing the next pro that's on the chopping block. How easy would it be for someone to set you up to take a career ending fall? Think about it!
Marty Specht

The Chicago Sun Times writes another piece about American "Zeros" and asks if anyone has an asterisk.

Rant feels opportunities to learn lessons may have been lost with the Landaluze case.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday Roundup

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to one and all from the TBV family!

The Rocky Mountain News has a special Colorado Christmas snark for Floyd Landis.

The Boulder Report notes Tyler Hamilton's return to competitive cycling, and hopes that Tyler sticks this time and that Michael Ball, controversial owner of Rock Racing, has his faith in Tyler rewarded.

Natalie Angier writes a story for the NY Times that purports steroid use in groups other than world class athletes, including some non humans.

Rant wishes everyone a wonderful and safe Holiday and a very Happy 2008.

The Bleacher Report had a dream...

Thought for the Day

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!

-Charles Dickens-

The TBV's in California are suffering a network outage with net access only through an iPhone. While this dis-connection has been good for the family bonding, we haven't a clue what is going on in the world, nor do we know when all will be fixed. We hope you too have had a pleasant holiday!

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday Roundup

Freezerbox writes an interesting criticism of the Mitchell Report and finds the public humiliations of Marion Jones and Floyd Landis cruel. The author feels that funding the exploration of making some PEDs safe and legal might be a better way to go than trying to erase the past.

The CyclingNews reports that Saunier Duval's directeur sportif Joxean Fernandez Matxin has a bone to pick with the UCI's Pat McQuaid about his handling of the Iban Mayo "B" sample retest:

"Pat McQuaid is the worst thing for cycling at the moment," Matxin complained to Cyclingnews. "He is destroying cycling, and nobody knows why. I gave him my support many times before, but not now."

The VeloNews runs an AFP story that, despite the headline, reveals the UCI may be finding it difficult to meet the time line it established for the implementation of its "blood passport" program:

... it now seems the UCI faces an uphill struggle to meet the deadline with experts also raising doubts over the logistics needed to cope with an operation of such magnitude.

Their primary concerns are with the constant analysis of the blood levels and the number of tests involved. Before the 2008 Tour, which begins on July 5, the UCI is expecting to gather, analyze and chart 4,200 blood samples - six for each of the 500 riders of the Pro Tour and 200 continental teams that qualify for wild-cards in UCI Pro Tour events.

The VeloNews Monday Mailbag finds opinions split on "disgraced rider" Tyler Hamilton's return to competitive cycling on the Rock Racing team.

The NY Times
writes about Roger Clemens' public relations appeal on YouTube that he has never used PEDs.

Flahute posts that the Landis team is likely paying attention to the LaTasha Jenkins/USADA decision and rather belatedly paraphrases Blackstone's Formulation:

“Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

Heranando Go Lightly reports Landis beating Wiens, but coming behind
Keith DeFiebre, in a story of dubious veracity.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Roundup

Craig Medred of the Anchorage Daily News writes about the slippery slope of PED use and what actually defines "performance enhancement". He cites Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent of Mt. Everest with the use of oxygen, which many considered "cheating". He notes that some of the "sanctimonious" who criticize accused athletes of using PEDs are themselves using "performance enhancement", in the bedroom. Then there is the confusion of the Floyd Landis case, and here he makes some interesting points:

Thus, cyclist Floyd Landis is allowed to legally use a cortisonal steroid to treat a deteriorating hip joint while riding the Tour de France, but is later -- after winning the race -- booted from the competition for allegedly using an anabolic steroid, testosterone, to boost performance, despite the fact there is little to no evidence that testosterone even works to boost performance.

The provides a snippy little Christmas list that takes a stab at being humorous. Unfortunately, most of hit items miss the factual mark. Example: Terrell Owens is a very good blocker, so if you want to dis him, that's the wrong thing to complain about. You really ought to be complaining about his indifferent hands and tendency to short-arm balls in traffic.

ESPN posts the top 100 sports moments of 2007 and Floyd Landis losing his 2006 Tour de France title did not make the top 10, something which Floyd will probably not mind much. He did log in at #21 however.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Roundup

Lancaster Online takes on the conventional wisdom that MLB needs help from USADA to clean up. It notes MLB is already using the same methods for collection and test execution as USADA, and cites Landis as a case where bad work in the WADA system is covered up as much as it is alleged MLB messed up the other way. features an AP write up on "story of the year". Barry Bonds wins this dubious award, but the Floyd Landis saga also received 150 votes for this "honor".

reviews the past year in quotes, and Floyd Landis makes the cut.

The CyclingNews posts yesterday's story that the Spanish cycling federation will NOT sanction Iban Mayo. Federation head Eugenio Bermudez states that since the UCI is writing its own rules in the case they will not recognize what is being suggested. In other news Dr. Sam Vermeire, fired from Predictor-Lott for prescribing banned substances to Bjorn Leukemans, says that while he admits he made a mistake in what he gave the cyclist it could not have resulted in a positive for synthetic testosterone. Others disagree:

The product Prasteron is the direct cause of the positive test, according to Douwe de Boer, a Dutch biologist who has been hired as an expert witness by Leukemans' attorney, Johnny Maeschalck. Further, Leukemans was not informed of the "dangers" of the product, putting further guilt on the prescribing doctor, according to the Belgian newspaper De Morgen.

Vermeire denies a link between the product and the positive test. "I am sure that Dr. Vermeire has a sound scientific explanation," said team doctor Daniel De Neve. And Dr. Mathieu asked, "Did Leukemans take too much of the product? Did he combine it with something else? Those could also be realistic explanations.

The VeloNews Friday Mailbag contains one note that finds fault with the new changes in the WADA code. In other VeloNews it seems Tyler Hamilton has found a team, at last. And the somewhat amusing 2007 O'Grady Awards are presented.

ESPN reports that IOC president Jacques Rogge wants the fight against doping, and illegal betting, stepped up.

The Boulder Report publishes its own "Friday Roundup" and includes a short note about Tyler Hamilton's new team.

The ModBee rather sanctimoniously feels Floyd Landis deserves coal in his stocking for Christmas this year. Depending on the amount of coal Floyd recieves this could be a good investment with fossil fuel prices going through the roof, though coal might not be a good first choice.

Racejunkie has no Landis content, but as always his comments on the likes of Manolo Saiz, Joseba Beloki, and Tyler Hamilton amuse.

Steady Hustlin' has Positively False on his list of 10 books of good personal reading for the year ... along with Walsh. gives Landis a dirty trick award for The Call during the hearing.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Roundup

The IHT opines that 2007 was yet another year of doping for cycling, and the Landis/USADA hearing in May was the highlight of the year. In a litany of PED related cases that were thrust into the light in 2007 the IHT ends the piece with a dubious quote from Pat McQuaid:

"I thought that after Landis, Operation Puerto, it could not get worse," UCI president Pat McQuaid said. "In effect, it has got worse."

AP/Yahoo says the Spanish Federation is taking the UCI on regarding Mayo.

The CyclingNews reveals the latest reason for Bjorn Leukemans' positive for testosterone. Leukemans' test result was apparently due to the product Prasteron, which contains the steroid DHEA, and was mistakenly prescribed by a former team Predictor-Lotto doctor. And Iban Mayo is furious about the LNDD positive "B" sample test result which was leaked to the public by L'Equipe:

Mafioso McQuaid

I don't know about all of you, but I've heard enough out of this joker-president of the UCI. Pat McQuaid is certainly more articulate (though rarely making any sense) than his predecessor Verbruggen, but clearly suffers from perhaps even greater incompetence and delusion. He fashions himself to be godfather type holding absolute authority, protecting the "family", attempting to mould a beautiful and richly traditional sport to his own skewed, irrelevant concepts. Recall his less than savoury remarks about the "two cultures" in cycling, the Anglophone versus the Romantic? What the hell does this kind of political conjecture have to do with sport? It was shocking to me to hear such Nazi-esque drivel coming from someone claiming his interest is to unify the world of cycling.

No one cares about the ProTour. It is flawed and it has failed and it is dead. Cycle races such as the grand tours are complicated enough to follow for the casual fan, and difficult enough to manage for the organizers and competing teams without the superfluous mandates conjured up by the politicians at Aigle. Give cycling back to the riders, the federations, and the public that have made this amazing and unique sport the greatest in the world. There's no room for the incredibly misguided agenda of the UCI mafia anymore. The president can talk himself in circles all he likes, however, Pat McQuaid lacks the vision, charisma, or diplomacy to convince anyone of his worth, particularly the most important faction concerned: cycling's fans.

Impeach him.

Thank you!

Adam Simms, California

PezCycling News comments on the three big stores of the past few days: Bjorn Leukemans and his revolving excuses, Iban Mayo and the seemingly endless testing of his "B" sample, and of course Floyd Landis' ban from competing in France until 2009.

Completely off-topic, we are amused by the reported creation of anti-social websites Snubster, Enemybook and Hatebook. How should we characterize our comment stream?


Scholars and Rogues thinks the Mitchell report is hopelessly ineffective, and makes a case for legalizing it, with props to Peter Tosh.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Roundup

The CyclingNews makes small note of the AFLD ban imposed on Floyd Landis yesterday. Meanwhile Bjorn Leukemans' "B" sample for exogenous testosterone tested positive, which Leukemans continues to protest, and finally Iban Mayo's "B" sample result, retested by the LNDD and leaked by L'Equipe, came back positive:

Mayo's attorney José Rodríguez, who is the ex-president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), insisted the counter-analysis by the Chatenay-Malabry lab was illegal. "We continue insisting that this analysis is a totally illegal control because it is not provided in the norms of the UCI, and so, this can not be valid when it comes to any sanction," said affirmed Rodríguez according to Marca

The Colorado Springs Independent places the Floyd Landis story as the #6 sports scandal this year, and says that his guilt has been "proven",hold on there not so fast.

The VeloNews notes changes in the WADA code that could affect cycling. Perhaps the most pertinent is this:

Proof - Tougher Burden on Athletes
The new Code will make it more difficult for cyclists and other athletes to challenge positive test results by arguing, as Floyd Landis did, that the lab did not follow International Standards for Laboratories (ISL).

Under the current Code, if an anti-doping agency introduces enough evidence to prove a violation, the athlete can show that the laboratory did not follow ISL. The burden then shifts back to the anti-doping agency to prove that the ISL violation did not cause the positive test result. Under the new Code, the initial burden remains with the anti-doping agency. However, the athlete will need to show that the lab departed from ISL, and that the departure was serious enough to have caused the positive result. Only then will the burden of proof shift back to the anti-doping agency.

This amendment brings to mind the case Euskatel-Euskadi rider Iñigo Landaluze, who argued that the lab violated ISL because a lab technician was involved in analyzing both the A and B samples. Landaluze won despite not presenting any evidence that this ISL violation actually caused his positive test result. His win came largely because the prosecution - in his case the UCI - was required to show that the error did not cause the result.

Attorneys for the UCI, however, simply stated that the error had no impact, but failed to provide evidence to support that assertion. Reviewing the decision, it's clear that the Court of Arbitration for Sport felt that because the UCI failed to meet its burden it had no choice but to rule in Landaluze's favor.

Early drafts of the Code amendments show that WADA was going to increase the burden of proof on the athletes to show a "significant" departure from ISL. The Landaluze case may have prompted WADA to clarify what "significant" means. That will leave the burden on the athlete to show that the departure from procedure is what could have caused the positive result.

The VeloNews concludes that this will make it more likely that athletes will cop to whatever they are accused to have used since fighting any charge will be a more difficult proposition. But, IF athletes have been unfairly accused this will only make due process more improbable. This also does nothing to address what is an obvious issue and that is the assurance of laboratory regulation and competency.

The VeloNews Wednesday Mailbag has a couple of leftovers on the Michael Ball controversy, and a picture of a nice pair of found sunglasses that could be yours.

Rant thinks that the AFLD decision that bans Floyd Landis from competing in France in any way until late January 2009 may have been a foregone conclusion. Rant is also shocked, shocked that the LNDD found Iban Mayo's "B" sample positive.

Racejunkie "rejoices" that Christmas miracles can still happen, like the Iban Mayo positive "B" sample retest at the LNDD which was discovered without the use of science. Of course Floyd Landis got his Christmas present too, from the AFLD, and RJ thinks there are now few in the world who have not "dopeslapped" poor Floyd:

The French cycling fed has undertaken the pointless exercise of smacking him around yet again, this time by making sure to ban him from non-UCI races in the rather unlikely event that Christian Prudhomme drops to his knee like a proposing swain and begs Landis to ride a non-UCI Tour de France next year. Now, if I recall correctly, the Landis-lovin' organizers over at ASO not only have spent the last year and a half calling Floyd a cheating testosterone whore, but also kindly introduced the route of the 2007 Tour de France with a video of Landis' head shattering, so I'm fairly sure--and this may be too speculative, I know--they're not exactly planning to rip the maillot jaune off Oscar Pereiro's back and joyously bear Floyd on their shoulders down the Champs-Elysees next year. But you go right ahead defending the unimpeachable Tour's virtue from the filthy likes of Floyd Landis folks!

BTW, thanks for the plug RJ.

WADAwatch remains skeptical about the transparency and fairness shown by WADA in dealing with athletes, and he also notes the AFLD decision on Floyd Landis. Ww waits for details.

The Age of Fallibility discusses the marketing of brain scans which would be used to uncover and understand subjective human behaviors. He snarks that an illustrative photo of "cheating champion" of the TdF Floyd Landis appears on the FKF website above a blurb about the applicability of brain scans in determining motivations behind decision making. Its a pretty interesting choice by FKF to use that picture, being the moment of the break-away to Morzine. Do they think people will understand the significance of that instant? Do they think people will recognize Landis? Do they think it is about bike race tactics, or PED use, or deciding to risk PED detection by trying for a win with inevitable testing?

Dink and Flika
give out "The Floyd Landis Award", whatever in the world that is, to a commenter on their blog.

DrunkCyclist japes at the AFLD ban, with mixed reaction in comments.

Get Outdoors thinks the "nefarious" French hate the superior Floyd Landis.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Is there something between the 5bA and 5aA? Do the squashed TIC graphs tell us anything? Click images for full-size.

Fig 1: A sample F3 Blank TIC, reported values 5bA -27.54, 5aA -28.40

Fig 2: A sample F3 TIC, reported -28.82, -32.12

Fig 3: B sample F3 blank TIC, reported values -27.54 and -28.31

Fig 4: B sample F3 TIC, reported values -28.79, -31.88

Fig 5 summary: A blank, A sample, B blank, B sample, identically scaled

By appearances, the A blank looks clean, the B blank has a minor signal, and both of the Landis samples have a noticable and distinct peak between the 5bA and the 5aA. This does not appear in the graphs of the individual peaks as one of the three ions for the expected 5bA and 5aA, suggesting is is something else that has not been accounted for.

How big is the intervening peak?

Fig 6: scaled 0 to 7 million in 350 pixels. Minor peak is 11 pixels high, or 3.14% of the 5bA, or 6.28% of the 5aA.

(Initial observation by SYI in comments elsewhere).

UPDATE en route: we're told the graphs are better on other pages; we'll update when possible.

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Wednesday Roundup

The AFP this morning reports that the AFLD has banned Floyd Landis from competing in France through January 2009:

American Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, was on Wednesday banned from all competitions in France by the country's anti-doping agency AFLD.

American Landis tested positive for steroid testosterone on July 20 last year and was last September handed a two-year ban by the American Anti-Doping Agency USADA which runs till January 29 2009.

The USADA ban meant Landis was suspended for competitions organised by cycling's world governing body the UCI and affiliated national cycling federations.

This new AFLD ban, which also runs to January 29 2009, means Landis cannot now compete in France in events outside the jurisdication of the French cycling federation though he has the right to appeal to France's highest administration ruling body, the Conseil d'Etat.

The AP version of the Landis banned from cycling in France story provides a bit more detail:

Pierre Bordry, the head of the AFLD, said the French ban will be in place regardless of the CAS ruling.

Landis can appeal the AFLD's decision in France, but is unlikely to do so until after his CAS hearing is completed.

Bordry said Landis' legal team had presented its case in writing Nov. 29, and the AFLD's decision to bar the former Phonak rider was made the same day.

The VeloNews also reports on the AFLD ban of Landis noting that it is in large part due to ongoing disputes between the UCI and Amaury Sport which "owns" the Tour de France. They want all the bases covered:

The French case was re-opened in October and on Wednesday the AFLD voted to extend Landis's suspension to French events that are organized outside of the jurisdiction of the French cycling federation. Landis has the right to appeal the decision to France's highest administration ruling body, the Conseil d'Etat.

In more VeloNews it should surprise no one when it reports that L'Equipe has once again "leaked" results from the LNDD. This time it's Iban Mayo's, and his "B" sample, previously found "inconclusive" by a Belgian lab, has been found this time to be positive. Stay tuned.

The CyclingNews "year in review" continues and in part portrays Floyd Landis' fund raising for his USADA appeal in an unnecessarily unflattering way and then goes on to the USADA hearing itself ignoring the importance of the process completely in order to concentrate on Will Geoghegan. In other news the UCI's Pat McQuaid met with Cédric Vasseur, the new President of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) to discuss the the publication of the names of the riders in the UCI's "target group". This list gives the names of riders obliged to disclose their whereabouts to allow out-of-competition testing. At the CPA's request, the UCI stated that this list would be removed and the whole peloton after January 1 will be published. And Michael Rasmussen is planning to sue his former Rabobank team for his dismissal from the Tour de France and subsequent firing earlier this year.

Greenville notes the unusual connection between baseball and the federal government and seems convinced that, compared to cycling and track where severe penalties for cheating are dealt, baseball will do nothing much in light of the Mitchell Report.

NPR's Morning Edition
today features a report on the use of HGH in baseball. Drs. Gary Wadler and Don Catlin are featured in the report. Catlin is currently developing a new more easily used test to detect HGH. The report can be accessed through the NPR website.

Cycledog notes LaTasha Jenkins' win at USADA's expense and tries to relate it to the Floyd Landis case.

Broad Street Believer can't seem to make up his mind about Andy Pettitte, though his fiancee is clear on the issue. But, he does seem to have defintely made up his mind about Floyd Landis.

Triple Crankset reacts to today's AFLD Landis ban. talks about the AFLD decision and Mayo, but really has an amusing other cycling news roundup.

Brainsnap reports the Hare has been DQed for doping, leaving the Tortoise the winner of the race, and Hare's career in question.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Roundup

The NY Times writes about proffer agreements and other measures used to assist in obtaining cooperation and information for the Mitchell Report.

Reuters UK starts off what will likely be a long list of year end reviews concerning the sorry state of sports in the United States and all of the cheating that's been going on.

The Guardian Unlimited offers sports quotes of the year, and one from Floyd Landis is on the list:

I can sleep well at night knowing that I won the 2006 Tour de France fair and square" -- American Floyd Landis maintains his innocence after being stripped of the title and given a two-year ban for failing a dope test.

The CyclingNews features a number of legal/doping snippets this morning one of which has Patrick Lefevere winning a token award in a defamation case against a politician who insinuated doping was going on at Quick.Step-Innergetic.

The VeloNews also reports on the lifetime suspension of Oil for Drugs doctor Carlo Santuccione:

Italy's Olympic committee has handed down a life-time ban to Carlo Santuccione, the doctor at the center of the "Oil for Drugs" investigation that has involved several high-profile athletes, including Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca.

A disciplinary panel of Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on Monday ruled that Santuccione could no longer associate himself with athletes, sporting events or organizations for the remainder of his career because of his involvement in the distribution of performance-enhancing substances. Santuccione had already served a five-year suspension from cycling, starting in 1995.

MESO-Rx writes about the "testing loophole" missed by the Mitchell Report and cites none other than Don Catlin who is quoted as saying that deceiving doping controls is not that hard. MESO suggests that MLB players could use a testosterone cream concoction at will since no CIR testing is done that could detect exogenous testosterone:

However, depending on the sport, the CIR test may never be used unless an athlete fails the T:E ratio test. Furthermore, some sports don’t even use the CIR test (e.g. Major League Baseball) In these cases, an athlete can exploit the testosterone loophole in testing.

The “cream” used by BALCO was not a novel undetectable designer steroid or sophisticated method of administering steroids. It was simply a variation of the testosterone and epitestosterone cocktail that had first been used over 20 years ago to fool drug testers.

Pommi is not writing about cycling, or Floyd Landis, but man that's a killer egg nog recipe.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Three kinds of display

M provided a link to a page at the American Society for Mass Spectrometry that included the following very useful illustration identifying the type of displays that can be provided.

We see identified three kinds of traces.

  1. Total Ion Count (TIC) reflecting the counts of ions of all masses for the entire run.
  2. Selected Ion being monitored (SIM) the count of particular ions at selected masses for the whole run
  3. Mass spectra for individual peaks, in this case we think a TIC for each peak.
Not shown are SIMs for individual peaks, or traces of individual ions over time, which we have also seen.

As a sometime programmer, I am likely to dump the collected data into a matrix (or a spreadsheet), with one dimension reflecting sample times, and the other reflecting the ion in question. For instance, using a spreadsheet, one might have 500 columns reflecting m/z 50 through 550, and however many rows are needed for the sample interval.

One can imagine the possibility of higher achievable sample rates with fewer ions being collected, a full scan offering perhaps less resolution than SIM collection.

Given the complete data, the selection of a particular display is an issue of presentation, not of the data collected.


As rough estimates, assume a 32 bit value (4 bytes) for each sample of 500 ions, giving about 2k bytes of memory per sample. We have about 2600 seconds in a run, and we have isotropic offset of about 150ms. That suggests to me a sampling rate of at least 150/3ms, or 50ms which is 20 samples per second, or 52,000 samples on a 2600 second run. At 2k per sample, that is about 100MB per run.

This kind of data is highly compressible by at least a factor of 10, so I'd expect the complete data for a run to be less than 10Mb. About 70 of these would fit on a CD-ROM. (I'd really expect compression of 100 or so, since most ions will all be zero.)

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Monday Roundup

Competitor Magazine reports that Floyd Landis and his legal team are very interested observers of the results of the LaTasha Jenkins vs. USADA case. Jenkins won her appeal with USADA and therefore is the first ever athlete to defeat the anti-doping agency.

The NY Times reports this morning that the Baltimore Orioles, who had some of their own accused of steroid use, have broken rank with the rest of MLB and have criticized the Mitchel Report for its use of unsubstantiated accusations. The team also urges each player be given due process and be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Brandweek Magazine wonders if there is anyone left who can safely endorse anything with all of the various sports scandals that persist today. They then snark that Floyd Landis is in the "we won't touch him with a ten foot pole" category, and go further saying no one wanted to sign Floyd up to endorse anything anyway.

The VeloNews Monday Mailbag still contains many responses to Michael Ball, controversial head of Rock racing, who has definite opinions on the ADAs. One of the more interesting letters makes a couple of pertinent points:

Dear editors,
The reaction to Michael Ball's statements have been as fiery as the man himself. Personally, I find him and his attitude both refreshing and disturbing at the same time. But one thing I find even more disturbing is the "You're either with us or against us" attitude copped by some regarding Ball's criticism of the Anti-Doping establishment.

If WADA and USADA are part of the solution to the scourge of doping they are the failed part. If, eventually, the war against doping in cycling is won, it will not be because of the actions and policies of the Anti-Doping establishment but in spite of those actions and policies.

You can't "enforce" your way out of a problem that you do not understand. And by now it seems clear that WADA and USADA and their ilk do not understand the problem. Heck, they can't even come up with a readily comprehensible definition of doping itself. Does that surprise you? Ask them to explain why EPO is illegal and Hypobaric Chambers are not.

As a former professional youth coach in another sport I recognize the evils of drugs and have seen their effects permeate down to frighteningly young ages. But the current Anti-Doping establishment not only does not have a monopoly on truth, it seems they haven't got a clue.
Michael A. Gardiner
San Diego, California

False45th finds that seemingly only Hannah Teter is worth supporting with all the sports "ne'er do wells" out there. You can guess who made that list.

can multi-task and proves it by penning a 2008 cycling "preview" which in June has Floyd Landis aging so much with all that has happened that he is eligible for Social Security. That may be stretching it, just a bit.

WADA Watch finds a case the agencies lost at CAS because they ignored the "fairness" clause in the rule they were trying to enforce. He points again to bad drafting of the rules resulting in expensive continued lititgation, and thinks the same is going to happen with the new "aggravated circumstance" rules.

Wages of Wins thinks a solution may be to pin PED enforcement (for baseball) onto the union, away from the teams and the league. Skeptical discussion follows in comments. He also points to...

Sabernomics, which presents some interesting economic (revenue) data from baseball's "steroid era". Similar numbers for cycling over the last decade would be interesting to compare.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Roundup

The Carlisle Sentinel Online wonders, with the type of "punishment" given to cyclists like Floyd Landis, what should be done to the baseball "drug cheats" listed in the Mitchell Report. They come up with an unsatisfying proposition that essentially agrees with former Sen. Mitchell's assertion that we should leave the past behind and move forward, as perhaps we should given the magnitude of what has been presented. But, the inequities are astounding when you consider that many of the MLB players who have been named could far better afford to mount a defense against a USADA like appeal hearing than could almost all cyclists who have faced similar fates.

The Chicago Tribune's
Jonathan Eig takes a far different stance from the one posted above.

The CyclingNews
writes that Danilo DiLuca has appealed his three month suspension by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) Disciplinary Commission to the CAS in the Oil for Drugs investigation. The CAS decision is not expected until at least April, which seems highly optimistic given the time line handed Floyd Landis in his appeal to the CAS.

The NY Times Dave Anderson thinks that without a specific and accurate test for HGH another Mitchell Report is inevitable.

VeloSwiss compares baseball player reactions to the Mitchell Report to the ways in which cyclists have responded to doping charges in the past couple of years, and feels that despite the way it looks baseball will not suffer cycling's fate:

Andy Pettitte obviously saw Erik Zabel's ridiculous EPO confession. Pettitte used HGH for "two days" after injuring his elbow. Several, though are taking the Floyd Landis/Tyler Hamilton approach of deny, deny, deny...

The Right Wing gives Floyd Landis #3 in the "top ten sports moments" of the year. Nice to know Floyd still has it.

Rant notes that all winning streaks eventually come to an end, even USADA's.

has a famous "resurfacing buddy" whose picture he had taken at the TdF. SV however also provides graphic pics of the procedure which was accomplished with great success.

Marksonland had to suffer through countless conversations about the Mitchell Report this weekend. And in reality he thinks he knows that Floyd Landis "cheated" and questions whether we know who actually won the Tour de France this year. So, what do you do when the technology keeps pace with detection methods, who knows?

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

"M" on the 5aA identification

An article "M" sent in word format, that we hope not to have butchered in transformation.

Was the 5A Androstanedial properly identified in the GC-IRMS chromatogram?

Landis was found to have doped with synthetic testosterone. This finding was based on identifying some metabolites of testosterone by gas chromatography (GCMS), in particular the 5A, and then analyzing the carbon content of those metabolites by GC-IRMS to determine whether the testosterone was synthetic.

What I want to establish with my graphs is that the metabolites, in particular the 5A, was accurately identified.


Principals of Identification:

In gas chromatography substances (analytes) pass through a GC column and are recorded as a pattern of peaks, with the size of the peak proportional to the amount of the analyte. Analytes are identified using 2 methods. Each analyte takes a unique time to pass through (elute) the GC column. This is called its retention time (rt), often measured relative to some known substance, called the internal standard. One method is to compare the rt of a sample substance with the rt of a known substance in a “reference material”; if there is a match within a certain degree, here 1%, then one can be sure that the substance is identified. The second method and most reliable method is to analyze the mass spectra of the substance as it exits the GC column with a mass spectrometer. This process is called GC-MS. However, in the GC-IRMS the substance is combusted to carbon atoms after it exits the GC column, so no mass spectra can be analyzed and identification is based on rt. Typically a substance will take longer to pass through the GC-IRMS because of the combustion phase and the exact rt will vary depending on the GC settings used.

“Generally chromatographic data is presented as a graph of detector response (y-axis) against retention time (x-axis). This provides a spectrum of peaks for a sample representing the analytes present in a sample eluting from the column at different times. Retention time can be used to identify analytes if the method conditions are constant. Also, the pattern of peaks will be constant for a sample under constant conditions and can identify complex mixtures of analytes. In most modern applications however the GC is connected to a mass spectrometer or similar detector that is capable of identifying the analytes represented by the peaks.

The area under a peak is proportional to the amount of analyte present.”

Wikipedia, “Gas Chromatography”.

Three metabolites of testosterone are 5A, 5B and P. These occur naturally in urine. Brenna testified that one can compare the pattern of peaks (and corresponding rts) in the GCMS with the pattern of peaks in the GC-IRMS.

With that let us look at the graphs.


I have relabeled the graphs as follows.

I = Internal Standard; B = 5B androstandial; A = 5A androstandial; P = pregnane: a,b,c,d = small unidentified peaks; X = large unidentified peak


Fig 1: click for bigger



The I, B, A, and P in the F3 sample are properly identified in the GCMS because their retention times match those of the Mix Cal Acetate, which is the reference standard here. Further it appears that the mass spectra for each also verify the identity of each analyte. We should also note that the analytes in the blank urine are also properly identified because their retention times match those in the Mix Cal, and that a sequence of peaks has been established based on retention times. Since the analytes in the blank urine match the Mix Cal, the blank urine can also be used as a reference standard.


The question is whether the analytes in the GC-IRMS are properly identified. In particular is the peak identified as A (the 5A) in the GC-IRMS the same peak properly identified as the A (the 5A) in the GCMS.

When we compare the retention times of the IRMS analytes to the those in GCMS Mix Cal Acetate we find that they are off by about 4-6%, but follow the same pattern. Based on the Meier and Brenna testimony we know that the retention times and relative retention times of the analytes in the GC-IRMS cannot match those in the GCMS within a 1% standard because of the delay caused by the combustion time and the general difficulty of matching conditions on different machines. In addition the temperature ramps, and possibly even the columns were different in this case. Meier conceded that one can often only achieve a 2-3% match under ideal matching conditions. Nevertheless the retention times/relative retention times here matched within 4-6% and the pattern of peaks (retention times) also matched.

Since the same substances are in both the GCMS and IRMS F3 sample, we know that all the major (and even minor) peaks that appear in the GCMS must also appear in the GC-IRMS, unless the peak disappeared (contained no carbon).

In the GCMS the A followed the B by 21.6 seconds, which is quite close together. Indeed 20 seconds is the outer limit for matching retention times specified by WADA 2003IDCR. In the IRMS the A followed the B by 34 seconds. So there was some further peak separation in the IRMS of the A and B. The B followed the IS by 268 seconds in the GCMS, and by 446 seconds in the IRMS, a significant separation in the IRMS which explains why the retention times and relative retention times are so far off. So it appears that the peaks separated but did not change their sequence.


Fig 2: click for bigger

Could the B or A peak in the GCMS have shifted to some other position in the IRMS rather than in the 4 central peaks? This is highly unlikely given the pattern of peaks and retention time matching. And for the B we know that this is impossible, because it’s retention time matches that of the B in the Mix Cal. TBV and others claim the A could have shifted to the peak at b. But in that case what happened to the b peak, it must be accounted for? The only way for the A to have shifted to b, is for both of those peaks to have switched positions. Moreover, somehow the peak size of the b must increase to look like the A, and the peak size of the A must shrink to look like to b. The probability of this happening is close to zero.


One other corroborative fact is that the retention times of the I, B, A, and P in the IRMS F3 match those in the IRMS Blank Urine, and the I and B match those in the Mix Cal. Recall that the retention times of all of the analytes in the GCMS Blank Urine matched those in the GCMS F3 and Mix Cal. This shows that in this case the retention times of the analytes in the Blank Urine and any reference standard like the Mix Cal should be identical. That is the Blank Urine can be used as a reference standard in the IRMS, and as we have seen all the retention times match with those in the F3, including the 5A. Now it’s true that if the 5A moved in the IRMS Mix Cal then it would move in the Blank Urine also. But we have seen from the Mix Cal retention time that the 5B did not move relative to its position in the 4 central peaks. The internal consistency is just too strong. The 5A did not move, and follows the 5B in the IRMS just as it did in the GCMS. Its retention time matches the Blank Urine.

The fact that the Blank Urine can be used as the Mix Cal in the IRMS suggests that even if the Mix Cal had contained the 5A it would not have provided any more information. If the Mix Cal had contained the I, B, A, and P, and all the retention times had matched would we be any more sure that the A was properly identified than using the Blank Urine. Not really, because if the A had shifted in the Blank Urine, it would have also shifted in the Mix Cal.


The claim that the 5A peak shifted or switched in the GC-IRMS because the chromatographic conditions were different than in the GCMS can be easily tested. Simply duplicate those conditions and run a new GCMS and see whether the peaks shifted. It wouldn’t cost that much. Landis doesn’t do that because he knows it won’t change anything. I note that Shackleton’s published study at figure 3, shows the same sequence of 4 central peaks with the 5B closely followed by the 5A using the same chromatography column as used by LNND. Even if a different column was used for the GCMS as some are claiming the sequence of peaks did not change.

So we have 2 propositions:

1. The A in the IRMS is the A in the GCMS.

2. The A in the IRMS is some other peak in the GCMS, the b.

I challenge those who question the identification to assign a probability to each statement, and back it up with analysis. I assign a probability of 95% to 1, and 5% to 2.



Mix Cal

Bl. Urine


































GCMS F3 retention times: USADA 324
GCMS Mix Cal Acetate retention times: USADA 309
GCMS F3 Blank Urine retention times: USADA 324

GC-IRMS F3 retention times: USADA 351
GC-IRMS F3 Blank Urine retention times: USADA 351
GC-IRMS Mix Cal Acetate: USADA 362

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Getting around to Specificity

Mr. Idiot posted the following in a comment to the Friday Roundup, but let's give this more obvious treatment.

I would like to see the specificity discussion get off the ground. So I'll begin by describing the way in which I think specificity SHOULD be assured in a given sample.


But first, my understanding of the background (feel free to add or correct). GC/C/IRMS is not that old. It wasn't used at all before 1990 and because it is expensive and complex wasn't used very widely through the 90's. Because all identifying properties of a substance are lost in combustion, it has limited applicability in the world of analytical chemistry. Dr. WMA has been one of the world leaders in exploring ways GC/C/IRMS can be useful, and in developing processes for given applications.

From the beginning of the GC/C/IRMS method, achieving certainty that you are measuring what you are supposed to be measuring has been the key concern. Some of the early uses of IRMS were in forensic science, in which results had to stand up in a court of law and thus had to meet high certainty requirements.

At first, the only way to know what you were measuring in the IRMS was to compare retention times with the same sample run through a GCMS, under the same chromatographic conditions. But "the same" was never "identical," and "the same" was apparently not good enough for forensic science.

So in the mid 90's WMA developed a way around the problem. He took a GC (to separate the different substances in a sample, obviously), and as the sample was coming off the GC he split it - with part going to an MS for clear identification, and part going to combustion and IRMS for isotopic analysis. This solved the "peak identification" problem because the chromatographic conditions were identical (apparently it is easy to compensate for the combustion phase and whatever other time lag there is with IRMS because it isn't an issue in the stuff I have read).

This combo method goes a long way to solving the specificity problem as well, because your trouble spot is limited to good peak separation in the MS. If you have that, you are good to go, especially if you use complete mass spec data. If the mass spec data reveal co-elution problems, you run things again, change the conditions somehow and get better separation. Some co-elution can be compensated for, but even Brenna (I read somewhere) puts a clear limit at three intersecting peaks and with just two peaks overlapping by more than 70%. If you have either of those, you can't get good numbers and you have to run things again to get better separation somehow.

The process WMA developed was apparently technically tricky, as he had to fiddle with several types of connections / fittings and such. But that basic principle (of GC - split one way to MS, one way to IRMS) has been perfected in the world today. See here:

But remember that this was all still developing in the late 90's and it sounds like that type of combo machine is still a big deal today. And also remember that it wasn't until '94 that Aguilera et al. reported that you could test for exogenous testosterone based on the difference in 13C/12C ratios compared to endogenous.

I think Catlin and UCLA were the first to get approval to use IRMS for exo-t testing in 1997, and it has spread more or less quickly and broadly since then. In a USADA symposium in 2003 most of the main players were present, and at that time they recognized that IRMS methods had developed widely between the different labs, and there was great need for more uniformity. See various parts of this document:

At the time of this symposium, it sounds like WMA's combo machine was not in wide use in anti-doping labs, and we know that at least LNDD still doesn't have one today. To emphasize that this IRMS stuff was still all developing in 2003, I'll note that Tom Brenna was still emphasizing that "the most reliable isotope ratio results are obtained when GC-C-IRMS peaks are strong and cleanly resolved from all other peaks." And speaking of the evidence from a particular data set, he said, "Finally, these results demonstrate as dramatically as any, that precision is no assurance of accuracy, particularly in continuous flow IRMS. Good calibration standards are essential." (emphasis original)

Finally, I would note that the document that presumably controls GC/C/IRMS assays (TD2003IDCR) was written in 2003. As a non-scientist, that is very surprising to me, on two fronts. First, it sure seems like there was a lot still up in the air about IRMS in 2003 (not necessarily about the basic science, but about the implementation), and second, that's ancient history in IRMS terms. With the perfection of machines like the one noted above, they are able to do things much better now than they were in 2003. People are still being punished based on what seems like outdated equipment and processes.

Now, back to my basic original point here. It is clear from the history (and I put a lot of that together from something WMA wrote in his chapter about IRMS in "Forensic Human Identification" by Timothy Thompson - which is largely available through a Google preview, but which I can't link here), that the way to assure specificity in GCMS is with the complete mass spec data (we all knew that already). And the way to assure specificity in IRMS is to use chromatographic conditions as identical as possible to the GCMS, preferably by combining the two machines, to ensure the conditions are identical.

Identical chromatographic conditions were always the goal here - the need is taken for granted in all IRMS work from the very beginning. All the studies involving IRMS document the same conditions between GCMS and IRMS as part of the standard description of the study. In places they even say that you should not only use the same type of column, but a column from the same batch (same production run) so they are as similar as possible.

So, that's my understanding of the background, and the general scientific expectation (not the legal WADA expectation, which is a different issue) of how specificity is supposed to be assured in GC/C/IRMS.

This was followed by a comment from Michael:

So basically, Brenna and WMA contradicted themselves in the hearing, but deep down believe the same thing regarding the testing.

Am I understanding you correctly?

Is is possible that Landis' team just didn't have enough time to present their case properly?

We think, "yes", and the LeMond and Papp digressions at hearing just chewed up defense time that would have been better spent making the real case.

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