Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Roundup

The NY Times writes about the results of yesterday's doping summit in Paris where there was nothing but praise for the biological passport program to be instituted for the 2008 cycling season. Dick Pound, outgoing president of WADA, is convinced cycling needs to do something to curb doping and save itself:

“I think the cycling federation looked into the abyss last year, after the second consecutive nightmare in the Tour de France, and saw the sponsors leaving and saw that they were looking at extinction if they didn’t do something immediately,” Pound said yesterday from Paris. “Now we finally have a live federation that is committed to making a big change. They are doing something to save themselves.”

Don Catlin, now head of WADA's Anti-Doping Research Institute, expressed some reservations about the program, though he feels it is a step in the right direction:

Don Catlin, head of the Anti-Doping Research Institute and part of WADA’s Health, Medical and Research Committee, said that thousands of biomarkers could be monitored; determining which ones to analyze is one of the program’s many mysteries.

The VeloNews posts a conversation with the UCI's Anne Gripper at the conclusion of this week's anti-doping summit in Paris.. She describes the "biological passport" program:

It's really a series of tests that enable us to make a determination as to the likelihood of doping based on that rider's individual profile. So rather than comparing one single sample to a population norm, we're comparing a range of samples to an athlete's expected profile. So it gives us a lot greater sensitivity, enabling us to determine that this rider is likely to be doing something that manipulates their blood, or likely to be doing something that relates to steroid use. We may not actually be able to say what it is, whether it's autologous blood transfusions or micro-dosing with EPO, but what it will show is that this rider is highly likely to have been doing something illegal. So it's a whole new approach; it's using that forensic approach, assessing evidence to the point where you believe you've got a quality set of data that can take us to the use or attempted use into doping

Another discussion at the conference was the need to accurately determine the whereabouts of riders for out of competition testing. Team Slipstream will issue Blackberries to all of its riders which will have GPS capabilities allowing the movements of riders to be monitored.

The VeloNews Wednesday Mailbag is full of comment on bio passports, anti-doping czars, the LNDD, and more.

Bicycling's La Scene
also reports on the anti-doping summit completed yesterday in Paris. The conclusions reached by the attending agencies are that a bio passport, or baseline profile, will be required for each rider, and a new system will be devised to keep track of the whereabouts of riders in order to facilitate out of competition testing. Cost may however be a stumbling block and details of the new programs need to be worked out.

YAHOOSport UK posts a preview of the proposed 2008 Tour de France route which will be announced tomorrow, and mentions that anyone who participates should have a "biological passport". The piece mentions in passing that Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 TdF championship in September, but fails to note the Landis appeal to the CAS.

posts an item about the just completed doping summit in Paris and uses some "interesting" adjectives and syntax to describe the Floyd Landis saga, the misspellings are theirs:

Cycling is in the midst of a massive spring cleaning operation following two years of disastrous doping stories that have tainted the sport and affected most notably the sport's blue riband event, the Tour de France. Last year the event was hit by a positive doping test submitted by its initial victor Floyd Landis, destroying the myth of his miraculous recovery from a pitiful day in the mountains to a triumphant resurrection the next day that launched him to victory.

The Daily Princetonian wants to know where all the "Michael Jordans" have gone and asserts that the cheaters, such as Floyd Landis, are not only inappropriate role models for kids but are also taking their future opportunities in sport from them.

Rant surmises that the UCI will test and retest Iban Mayo's disputed "B" sample until it gets the results it wants. McCarthyism is alive and well.

The Nashville Cyclist
read "The Greatest Beatdowns in History" on ESPN's Page 2 and thinks that IF Floyd Landis had not tested positive after the 2006 TdF his name would have appeared on the list for the ride he did on Stage 17 of the Tour.

Say Hi clears up some confusion about Floyd Landis and his choice of careers.

Racejunkie discusses the fact that the UCI wants to "shop around" until they get just what they want. Gotta love those long vacations.

The Boulder Report's
Joe Lindsey is wondering, what with the increasingly odd case of Iban Mayo and the Floyd Landis affair, if the current anti-doping system passes the smell test:

We – and athletes – need to have resolution on a test in much less than three months, or a verdict – in Landis’ case – in much less than a year. The whole sorry Mayo situation doesn’t necessarily point to a way out of the mess as much as it does a need for one. As of this writing, most of the stakeholders in cycling just finished a summit in Paris to address that very question, and everyone emerged saying the right things (it appears that the UCI even patched up its relationship with the Tour de France). That no riders are present is a huge red flag that this may not produce the badly needed solution to the problem, but there’s some hope yet. The question is whether a modest rise indicates a recovery for anti-doping in all sports, or just the last bounce of a dead cat.

PJ has been on the road and is catching up. Wonder if/when we will all be back in the piazza again soon awaiting more smoke.

Apparently Floyd Landis is speaking at a triathlon club meeting tonight. No details on where this is othet than the LA area or what it involves.

From an emailer, thanks!:

Floyd is talking at a meeting of the Los Angeles Triathlon Club at the Proud Bird restaurant near LAX. Non members can get in at the door for $40. Not sure if you must be accompanyed by a member; the e-mails I received are unclear on that point. The schedule is as follows:
6:00P - doors open7:00P - dinner7:30P - Floyd speaketh


Julie Freeman said...

They can't assure proper testing right now and they want to implement a program where they won't even be able to determine what someone doped with. I just don't understand why the riders are letting this happen. Why don't they stand together and say enough is enough?

Unknown said...

Did you guys see the quote from Gripper regarding Mayo on CN yesterday?

"According to Gripper, Mayo's B sample was transferred to a laboratory in Gent, Belgium because the Ch√Ętenay-Malabry laboratory in Paris, where the original sample was tested, was closed for the holidays. "To ensure that the rider could have the B sample done more quickly, we transferred the sample, but the Gent laboratory just couldn't get the sample to confirm the Paris result," said Gripper.

"In Gent, they use a slightly different technique [than the Paris laboratory]," she added."

wschart said...

So we pretty much have an admission that they are result shopping, straight from Gripper's lips.


It seems to me that using 2 different techniques would be a good thing. It would be more reliable, since it would show that the same result was obtained from 2 different methods. Sort of like getting a second opinion on a medical diagnosis. If Ghent's technique was good enough to use in the first place, why are they not trusting them now. And does the phrase "they just couldn't get the sample to confrim the Paris result" indicate that perhaps the Ghent lab tried several times to confirm the results. Is this a sing of things to come: shop around lab to lab until you find one who will come up with a positive? Frightening!

Unknown said...

As someone who is a proponent of longitudinal testing, it might sound hypocritical that I have grave doubts about WADA’s/UCI’s/ASO’s ability to implement their proposed “Biological Passport” program in a way that would be an improvement over their current quantumly flawed system.

Julie’s point is well founded. How can they be trusted to implement a more complicated program when they are unable to manage the one currently in place, evidence in part – their inability to follow even their own rules, apparent “results shopping”, and inability to coordinate their efforts (UCI/WADA/ASO).

gary o’brien provides a quote from Gripper that supports the notion of the UCI shopping for results. It’s either a quote out of context or the UCI/Gripper are that bold? I’m guessing there is an element of being bold here. UCI/Gripper targeted Mayo. According to them, they know he was doping. Now if the lab(s) could just confirm what they know…………. The Gripper/UCI statements also seem to indicate the sample testing for Mayo’s samples is not blind testing. Another in a long list of recurring violations of both the spirit and the letter of WADA code and UCI rules. But hey, they know he’s a doper……..

I like what CSC, Slipstream, and others are doing with their longitudinal testing programs for their teams. It gives the teams the opportunity to be proactive and offers a much needed support system (protection) for the riders. By engaging in a testing program with independent oversight, the teams show a serious commitment to their riders racing clean. They put their money where their mouth is. I would say that it’s no coincidence that CSC and Slipstream riders, teams with strict independent oversight of their testing programs, have not had problems with the official drug controls. Perhaps the labs are more careful with CSC and Slipstream samples because of the independent testing? I’d guess so and I’d also guess they usually have a good idea about the identity of the sample donors. Blind testing is a bad joke. In theory, it could, ironically, be working to the benefit of CSC and Slipstream riders.

At some point the pendulum will swing back. I would have thought there would have been enough reasons for the riders to form a strong unified organization to press for some much needed improvements vs the mounting tyranny of the Alphabet Soup. Time will tell and something will have to give. Not a great time to be a pro rider without an independent testing program behind you………

Unknown said...

From a VeloNews interview today:

VN: Will it include information gleaned from blood and urine tests already in a rider's record?

AG: We are going to have to assess that because part of making a very valid and legitimate biological passport is standardized control and standardized collection, so we will have to make an assessment as to how the samples that we‘ve currently got have been collected; and certainly those that have been collected at the right time and used in our accredited laboratories are likely to be able to be used.

I'm hoping that Anne Gripper of the UCI is jsut thinking out loud here. Unless I read this incorrectly, she is suggesting the use of samples now in the UCI's possession are to be used as part of the data base to build the "Biological Passports" for the riders. As a condition of riding in top level UCI sanctioned races, a rider concents to the possibility/probability (depending upon the rider) of being tested. Further, the samples then become the property of the UCI, with a few restrictions as to their use.

Unless the rider(s)give their permission, I'm pretty sure the UCI does not have the authority to unilaterally use samples already given by the riders to build such a data base. I think is was intended that past samples were only/primarily to be used for research unless there was a non-negative test involved or unless the athlete gives his/her permission for other uses????

Anyone with any thoughts on the above?????

BigJas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BigJas said...

So I went to the LA Tri Club meeting last nigh where Floyd Landis spoke. He appeared to be fairly happy while taking pictures, and signing copies of his book, while enjoying a couple of cold beers. There were hundreds of people at the meeting and the resounding applause when he was introduced was longer than any other professional athlete that the club has brought in previously. It was a Q/A session with written questions submitted in advance (during the cocktail hour). Floyd is not what you would call a cult of personality, but gave a memorable prologue and answered every question far beyond the highlights that I have summarized.

+ Being a pro cyclist for so long he had forgotten about how much he used to love getting swag at races. The Tri-Club was giving out Visors, Bio-tene (sp?) mouth wash -which Floyd joked that it was not such a subtle hint that he had bad breath. A Toyota United cowbell. And most importantly, an LA-Tri Club swim cap, which is bright yellow and branded with the team logo. To which, Floyd said "You know, they can take my yellow jersey, but they can never take my yellow condom!" (Holding the swim cap high above his head). This brought the house down in laughter.

+ Overall, he seemed just like the guy next door (That happens to be one of the greatest cyclists)

+ He thinks that Triathletes are a special breed as he is pretty sure that he can't swim well and knows that he sucks at running. But felt that he could find some common ground with the bike portion.

+ He further thinks that Ironman athletes are beyond crazy and he is not able to wrap his head around how they can ride 112 miles in a TT position WITHOUT a Chamois between their legs. He has never raced a TT or ridden in a TT position longer than 40 miles and can't understand why people would. (More laughter)

+ States that besides winning the TDF that many of the days of racing he cherishes most were not victories, but when he rode in support of someone that did win. (IMO-that is a measure of a true champion)

+ Contrary to popular belief, Jack Daniels is not his favorite alcohol. When pressed for a favorite he responded that he prefers his drinks to be 'free ones' and 'hopefully in a Costco sized bottle'. (Raucous laughter)

I went into the meeting with open expectations and a firm belief that an injustice of staggering proportions had been committed. And walked away with some melancholy knowing that it was happening to what seemed like a genuinely good person who was taking it far better than I would be able to.

Oh, yeah. I got a Toyota United Cowbell, but not the mouthwash. Maybe there was something to it.. :)

Still Believing.