Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Roundup

Bike Biz says that the Olympic issue of Journal of Mass Spectrometry reveals a new and "improved" method of testing for testosterone usage:

A team of scientists the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory at the University of Utah have developed a test that makes use of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. This method has incredibly high sensitivity (down to 1 ng/ml) and increases the power with which officials can search for both testosterone and epitestosterone within a sample.

Our system means that we can determine testosterone/epitestosterone ratios in a sample with greater confidence, and therefore be in a better position to spot doping violations without falsely accusing innocent athletes,” said lead investigator Dr Jonathan Danaceau.

But, not everyone agrees that this an actual step forward towards the more accurate detection of testosterone. TBV is quoted:
“[It’s] the bad test made cheaper and less prone to execution error, but leaving the same problems - high/low mode people, the recently noted genetic issues, and general variance. Will WADA re- evaluate the 4:1 limit with this method?”

Expanding, this is not a "new test", but an improved method of carrying out the confirmation of the T/E test. As we recall, there are two parts to a T/E test: a screen, which remains unchanged, and a confirmation. In the existing methods, the confirmation is done by GC/MS, and the GC/MS step is where the LNDD messed up by not collecting and examining enough diagnostic ions to meet identification requirements. The new confirmation method is faster/cheaper then the GC/MS method, is more sensitive for low values of T and E, and it is said to be easier to get the diagnostic ions. This is all good, and an improvement over the existing methods. Bravo.

However, it does nothing to address the fact that the T/E test isn't a very good one.

The most recent news is that for more than half the population, the T/E test can make an incorrect conclusion about doping. Thirty some odd percent of dopers have "lucky" genetics that will prevent them from showing positive on even the 4:1 value; and some proportion of clean people have the "cursed" gene that will have them appear positive even when they are not doping. This method does nothing to change those statistics.

For several years it has been recognized by CAS and WADA that to get an AAF upheld based on a T/E alone, the values needed to be sky-high, an/or a longitudinal study done to understand the physiology of the individual in question. (This is presumably among the data collected by the passport system.)

Now, the T/E test (both parts) is used as a screen for the tedious and expensive carbon istotope ratio test (CIR IRMS), and that can be triggered by the simple screen without the confirmation step. In fact, it's always OK to run the IRMS, without having even run a T/E test, though that is expensive to do. ( Landis got nowhere arguing the IRMS should not have been run with invalid T/E results.)

What this article does is improve the least interesting of the methods involved in the Landis case. If there had been improvements making the IRMS test cheaper and more robust, that would be a real significant breakthrough. But, in our opinion, improving the T/E confirmation step just provides a marginal, though significant gain for the budget of testing laboratories. It does little to improve the liklihood that innocent athletes are cleared, or guilty ones found to have doped.

If I was a doper, I wouldn't feel threatened by this test at all. If I was already beating the old T/E tests, I'll be beating this one too.

The article may be accessed for the next month at the Wiley web site.

Bike World News wonders if today, June 19th, is the day we might all hear the CAS decision in the Floyd Landis case. BWN wonders if Landis was a no-show at the Lumberjack because of intense training for this year's Tour de France, should a favorable ruling come his way. Sounds far fetched, but stranger things have probably happened.

Sing Zion shares attendance numbers for a Mennonite adult choir and maybe we now know what Floyd Landis has been doing with his time.Then again it's probably a different Floyd Landis, or is it?


Unknown said...

Some of you might find this article worthy of note?

Michael Johnson has an interesting take on targeted testing.

Anonymous said...

i think its highly unlikely, but if floyd were to race in the TdF... wow that would be incredible.

Ali said...

I fully expect CAS to clear Floyd.

It's the right result for a number of reasons. By the time it went to CAS, the USADA case had become a one trick pony. They had all their eggs in the CIR basket and I believe the Landis team had accumulated sufficient evidence to demonstrate that there was no scientific robustness in the LNDD process.

White-out, schmite-out. Let's not forget that they played that card and it didn't even register with the AAA panel.

Unknown said...

If he wins, any chance Floyd could sue USADA for lost earnings?

Thomas A. Fine said...

Who he could sue and why would make a really interesting TBV feature, if some lawyer out there wants to contribute.

He could probably sue Pound for slander, and maybe McQuaid, and probably a few frenchman.

What if he had evidence that someone (like Tygart, or LNDD) actually didn't think he was guilty, but went forward anyway? What sort of legal recourse is there in that case? Would the case be civil or criminal? I mean, trying to ruin someone else just to protect or further your own career sounds like a crime to me.

Of course, Maurice Suh is like the perfect attorney for that situation.


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

Floyd can sue anybody he wants regardless of the outcome. Whether he can win such cases is a different question. That is, you can sue President Bush for failing to stop the aliens from putting the recveiver in your head that puts those strange thoughts there causing you to lose sleep. It just may not get very far.

Should Landis win, there will be no shortage of targets, and funding available for hot pursuit. If the result goes the other way, then I don't know if the story will be over.

And should he win, the AFLD might not let him compete this year for their own reasons. It might not need to be an ASO decision.

In terms of notification, with the AAA award I found out on the press wire before I saw it in mail from CAS or from looking at the web site. I think the parties got something like an hour notice it was coming.


Larry said...

TBV, if Floyd wins, the most logical first lawsuit is in France against the ASO and FFC, to have Floyd declared the 2006 TdF winner and to have his prize money paid to him.

I doubt that the litigation will stop there. The next logical lawsuit is against USA Cycling and USADA. I don't know what the grounds for the lawsuit might be. USADA is a quasi-governmental agency, so Landis might have resort to constitutional arguments. Perhaps there something in the statutory law governing USADA that might give rise to a claim. Suh and his crew will go through all of the USA Cycling contracts with a fine-tooth comb, looking for any duty that might have been breached.

Putting aside any lawsuit that Floyd might bring to restore his maillot jaune, I think that Landis would need to show something more than that the AAF against him was wrong. He would probably also have to show that the powers that be were either negligent (or perhaps, grossly negligent) or engaged in knowing willful misconduct. If I'm right, this will be a difficult burden of proof.

Please understand, I have not done any legal research here, this is just my initial reaction.

Unknown said...

Does anyone believe CAS is going to find in Floyd's favor?

I think Floyd got screwed, but at this point, it doesn't really matter from a sporting point of view, WADA/UCI/USADA got what they wanted by keeping Floyd out of racing for two years.

The only thing Floyd gets from a positive CAS finding is the chance to sue everyone and does CAS care about that?

Unknown said...

I really don't know. I think his case has real merit based on the science, but I thought that before too.

A little bird told me that there were some good signs at the CAS hearing (weak USADA witnesses and arbs showing at least some skepticism of the prosecution), but I don't get the impression even Floyd is too hopeful.

By the way, I don't think anyone has talked about this, but I think Floyd has done an amazing job of letting the process play out without public comment. Other than that one interview a few months ago with the VeloNews guy, he has obviously decided it is no longer in his best interest to publicly attack USADA/LNDD/Dick Pound, etc.

I wonder if he has personally gotten over some of the bitterness and fury?