Monday, April 23, 2007

History Repeating

We've seen this before. A damaging leak comes out in a way that is likely to affect the opinion of casual observers who will never dig deeper; a lack of specifics, and claims of infallibility.

USADA could not have asked for better spin production the way things became orchestrated with these alternate B sample tests.


The least non-credible reports say that "several" of the other samples had indications of "traces" of exogenous testosterone. Look at that carefully. "Several" is not "all" or even "most". We don't know which samples were deemed "positive", and which were not -- but apparently, some were non-positive, or the L'Equipe story certainly would have said so clearly. Using the term "traces" is non-sensical in the context of the tests, which is comparing carbon isotope rations of metabolites (break down products). The "traces" are there whether or not there was exogenous testosterone present.

One of the debate topics in this case has been what constitutes a "positive" on this test. As done by LNDD, there are four metabolites tested, and we do not know what actual criteria are used. In the reported Stage 17 tests, two of the four tests appeared to be over a level that is the subject of a dispute. One was so strongly skewed that Landis asserted there was an obvious process error, while others says that one is a strong indication of guilt. Landis claims all four should be positive to declare an adverse finding; other say only one is sufficient and makes the case.

We don't have any idea what the values for the new positive tests have been. To us, it seems most likely that they are not slam-dunk values, or those would have been leaked at the same time. That leaves us with results that may repeat the uncertainty of the original test, with no useful resolution.

What we may have learned is that the LNDD can reproduce results, which tells us nothing about their correctness, which was one of the points of dispute. The inability of Landis' experts to see the details of the analysis should ring alarm bells; Equally troubling is why USADA had experts and attorneys on the "other side of the line" at the lab. When the S17 B sample was done, all observers were on the "outside"

Piling on, the reports also say that this is a "different" test than those run before, when they are the exact same tests that were run on the Stage 17 samples. This is done in a weasely way that lets the report claim literal accuracy, while connoting a lie. True, the IRMS/CIR wasn't run on these samples before -- but it is not a new, different test, it's the same one previously declared to be "infallible."

We think the leak is a perfidious example of bully boys doing in the back alley what they can't do in the light of day.


Anonymous said...

Excellent observations, TBV!

Thomas A. Fine said...

Nice post TBV.

Almost sounds like you've been reading my mind lately.

I'd take the "traces" argument a bit farther. To me it sounds like they were saying that a small portion of the testosterone was synthetic, but of course it's impossible for the IRMS test to reach a result like that.


Pommi said...

I arrived at a similar conclusion this afternoon. Before, it was more like "A is negative, so B must be too; otherwise, LNDD screwed up", but all or several samples or even one ? Unlikely. The only logical and simplified answer is that even if you give LNDD 20 samples, they would all test positive, and all of them would test negative at e.g. UCLA. I'm confident these 7 B samples would have tested negative at UCLA. Whether or not USADA "knew" it beforehand, or whether they just got lucky, I don't know. But bottom line, the revelation that these B samples are positive, courtesy of their testing methods, shouldn't mean anything. I hope the arbs think the same way.

Anonymous said...

Help me here...If LNDD was using "new & improved" CIR, and it is more accurate, how can USADA use this information on the B samples (when it wasn't available on Floyd's A samples, nor any other rider's)?


Anonymous said...

Paul, I don't think there is any kind of "new and improved" CIR. It's the same test that has been around for a few years. It is just that CIR was not done to the A samples last summer because it is a second level test (because it is a lot more expensive to run). They only do CIR if the first level test (a basic testosterone/epitestoserone ratio screening) comes back with a suspicious result (more than a 4:1 ratio). None of Floyd's other A sample screening tests were suspicious/positive, so the CIR was never used on them. Until now.

DBrower said...

To clarify, or split hairs...

(1) The CIR was done on the OoC's done at UCLA. The arbs said they shouldn't be tested again at LNDD. I claim this was to avoid the trickiness of having the same sample tested at two labs with the chance of different results.

(2) We do not know if CIR was done on any of the other tour A samples. We know that Landis hasn't been told of any, but we don't have accounting of the A aliquots to know if CIR was done and kept hidden for reasons unclear.

If the other A's had been tested, and the results hidden, that would be a gross protocol breach. But we've seen that no protocol breach matters as long as they get evidence that "proves" their case.


Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA They leaked results AGAIN! and they wouldn't even let the Landis Team's "observers" do what little they were permitted! I'm not sure what the French word for "rigged" is, but I'm sure it rhymes with "L'Equipe".
All they while, the -ADA's turn a blind eye to the lab while continuing to proclaim a desire for "justice". Now they have "B"-sample results of "A"s which shouldn't have been retested, but the results DO NOT MATCH the original "A"s. Anybody else seeing the flaw here?

Is there honestly nobody to whom they must answer? What do we do when the "cycling powers-that-be" begin to resemble a crooked sheriff in a spaghetti western?

Where are you, Clint?