Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not verified, complete rumour, and wrong

Addicted to Bicycles says Lance AND Floyd are doing Leadville this year. We're not sure we believe it. On the other hand, we already have a CAS decision that says Leadville doesn't count as a sanctioned race, the one point it seemed Landis won, so...

The poll on the site for who will win lists Dave Wiens, Lance, Floyd, and ... Ricco, like he's going to get a visa to enter the country.

Caveat reader.

Update: reliably confirmed as FALSE, from folks who ought to know. He may have gotten away with Leadville once, but not again.

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Nature's Way

Scott Tinley's headline reminded us of this. Welcome to the peloton, kid.

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Irregular Review

A day off, and you'd think it was the end of the world! We warned y'all, and more days off are inevitable.

Let's see...

Of Note

Landis is a "Lion out like a sacrificial lamb", at the Hall of Fame Network, in a long piece that skewers pretty much everybody who deserves grief. We'd say that author Scott Tinley "Gets It." Snips:

Landis' bizarre and extended romp through the exigency of his fall from grace, let alone the public court of opinion, says more about the general public's relationship with pharmaceutical agents than about the current system of checks and balances in high level sport doping.

Where Armstrong's fortified and feel-good parry to any claim of drug use was clear, clean and palatable, Landis' became the perfect opportunity for cycling to do its best Pontius Pilate, to admit that there were struggles, yes, but it was ridding itself of the evils of doping one simple, unprepared winner at a time. American cycling fans, at first incensed with WADA's accusations about our American heroes, gradually rolled over, tired of the whole thing. It went from sending checks to Landis' defense fund to questions of his guilt, to "what a shame."

No one can fault WADA and USADA for wanting to level a very conflicted playing field. But when you make a big deal about cleaning house, and in fact have only dusted the shelves, are you not as hypocritical as the riders who feign clear consciences and clean slates?

"The Panel has found no evidence at all to sustain any of these serious allegations," the decision read."Moreover, the Panel is surprised that such serious allegations should be pursued in the closing brief when it must have been clear at the end of the hearing that there was no evidential basis from expert testimony or otherwise to support them."

This kind of "I won, therefore my ideology is best" mentality has roots in Fascist thinking. There was ample testimony to suggest and perhaps indict not only the French drug testing labs but the entire system of sport doping governance. To suggest there was no support for any of Landis' claims is to say that the dishes in the sink may be dirty, but who's to say we can't just put more food on them and not worry about the germs?


UCI, the organizers of the Tour de France, the cycling media, public and every commercial team or sponsor that has invested a single Euro into cycling have Floyd Landis' blood on their hands. Whether he was falsely crucified or sent as the lone lamb to carry the message of anti-doping, he walks not alone.


But Floyd's choice to play David to WADA's Goliath has to be good for cycling in the long run. Even if he got his ass kicked for now, even if he got caught for the sins of countless others, the culture of drug use and drug testing will never again be the same in cycling. Everyone will be held to a higher standard. And those that play God need to be monitored closely.


TAS-CAS is pleased to announce the opening of the Olympic Instant Tribunal Office in Beijing, where athletes and their cases can be disposed of expediently.

CyclingNews passes an unconfirmed report that
Aketza Pena has been cleared of nandrolone use by CAS, because of "irregularities" with the Athens lab. If true, that is an award we'll love to read, compare and contrast to the one given Landis.

Ricco confessed
, sort of, after the boys at CONI had a talk with him. It's somewhere between a Millar and a Basso. NYT/Reuters, Velonews, CyclingWeekly. He wonders why only two of the ten tests he took came back positive. That ought to raise a lot of questions. And where is Piepoli's set of test results? Bicycle.NET has an imagined post-confession "interview."

Piepoli also had a nice talk with CONI, and is sticking by his story that he never doped, says Velonews. Also AFP/BikeRadar. Maybe a tactical denial awaiting test results that may never come.

Now that Landis definitely isn't doing Leadville because it is sanctioned, Lance seems to be going. Biking Bis.

Doping tests loaded against athletes, in MedIndia, rewriting the Christian Science Monitor article about Howard Jacobs.

Two EPO positives in Italy, Paolo Bossoni and Giovanni Carini.

Tour TV ratings down 20% on VS. Doping is conveniently blamed rather than absence of contending American stars. MediaLife.

Astana has re-signed Horner and Kloeden, from Velonews. Later, Racejunkie will be crying for Klodi's fate of being a second banana. Horner is still laughing about the support Evans had in the mountains by his former team.


Sssshock, a sport other than cycling (swimming) has a doping case, and double shock, it's going to be defended by Landis' attorney Harold [sic] Jacobs. Hmm, clenbuterol looks like something a swimmer would take. Nashville Cyclist.

Black Entertainment Blog
thinks Cycling is becoming akin to Major League Baseball in PED scandal. "Something must be done. " He evolves to, "World class cycling is not like the MLB, it’s worse." Thanks for the advice.

We're not happy with "something" being done -- we'd rather it be the right thing, which is building a trustworthy and transparent anti-doping environment.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two Years and 1321 Posts Later....

This marks two years of posting here at TBV.

Our first post tried to separate known facts from misstatements and speculation, which we've been trying to do ever since.

Much has happened, yet many questions remain unanswered. Here's a few of the things that have come up.

  1. Did Landis, in fact, dope with testosterone? USADA got a CAS decision to sanction for it, but some remain unconvinced.
  2. Is presumption-of-doping, multiple burden-flip arbitration a reasonable system for finding the truth? Do we want the truth, or are we willing to settle for a "result"?
  3. Does a quasi-judicial system with a closed pool of participants that rotate from advocates of one side to arbitrators of cases from case to case have inherent conflicts of interest? (Rephrased for "snake" in comments: Is it right to have judges prosecute some cases, and prosecutors judge others? Doesn't that offer opportunities for mutual "back-scratching"?)
  4. Why is sports arbitration so "special" that it needs a small, closed pool to adjudicate?
  5. Is strict-liability for athletes and no-liability for agencies a good system for establishing trust?
  6. Why, really, did USADA fight so hard to keep Landis from getting a copy of a CD-ROM with the actual test data? The fear of tampering suggested in briefs was, and remains specious.
  7. Why did people with no institutional reason to support Landis -- Paul Scott, John Amory, Bruce Goldberger -- burn bridges at personal cost to help defend him?
  8. Is it -- was it -- possible to compete at the highest levels of cycling while clean, using tactics and audacity?
  9. Will Landis be able and want to compete professionally again at a high level?

When you look inside yourself, do you see your heart as black or light?
(Painting: Rene Magritte)

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Fallout 30

The CyclingNews repeats yesterday's story on "weight obsessed" Italian women's road champsion Marta Bastianelli who has posted a "non-negative" test for the dietary aid flenfluramine:

Bastianelli's mother, Mirella, defended her saying the cyclist was incredibly careful that any medication she consumed complied with World Anti-Doping Agency rules. "My daughter only took a medicine for losing weight, Benfluorex, with the agreement of her doctor; she made sure that it wasn't a banned substance, it had a pineapple base," Mirella Bastianelli told AFP.

At Velonews, Andrew Hood paints the sunny side up, this time for sure picture about doping and enforcement at this year's Tour.

Is 2008 any different?

There’s a lot of evidence that it is. Doping controls run by the French national anti-doping agency (AFLD) were precise, diligent, numerous and — after four doping positives — accurate.

We don't know how anyone can deduce "precise" and "accurate" from the data available, and we still await any results on Piepoli's tests. Hood, among others, thinks there is a perceptible change in attitude. It would be nice if it were true.

The Kansas City Star says the revelation of childhood sexual abuse made public at the Floyd Landis/USADA hearings in May 2007, helped heal former Tour de France champ Greg LeMond.

The AP reports the International Gymnastics Federation will not appeal USADA's warning to Morgan Hamm, who tested positive for a prohibited substance for which he did not file a proper TUE. He's going to Beijing, while his injured brother is not.

The Journal of Internal Medicine is about to publish a lengthy review of doping by Catlin, Fitch and Ljungqvist. The press blurb includes:

"This major review by Professors Catlin, Ljungqvist and Fitch provides a concise description of the history of drug testing for the Olympic Games, with fascinating details on the evolution of laboratory equipment and analytical strategies" says Dr Thomas H Murray, President and CEO of The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute based in New York.

"It identifies failings of the overall anti-doping system – most of them out of the laboratories control – and describes a number of challenges to be confronted.

"And it also shows us that there are five elements that are necessary for a successful anti-doping programme. These are: a strong commitment to – and sufficient funding for – research, a smart sampling strategy, adequate analytical capacity, a trustworthy adjudication process and a solid foundation of clear principles and transparent process."

Maybe some people are starting to hear the discord in the song currently being played.

Pommi talks smack that TBV had better watch out, but TBV has 1167 miles this month, has lost 20 lbs, and last rode Diablo in 1:20.

Rant discusses refreshing Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, and also wonders about the recent doping stories that have emerged with emphasis on Jessica Hardy and her curious "surprise" at testing positive. Rant notes that "the beast" must and will be fed.

The Producer of a KQED QUEST
show about steroids repeats some misinformation about Landis, and seems enthralled by the science of the anti-dopers.

Alex Valentine, a UNIX user, looks positively at the tour, and touches on the Alpe D'Huez doping standard we've discussed in recent comments. He still thinks Landis was clean.

We are in receipt of a disturbing photo. Those with with low tolerance or small children, look away; others may click for larger. This may be from the 2007 Amgen Tour of California.

"Free Floyd" next to, um, something.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Fallout 29

The AP's Jerome Pugmire reviews the "doping scarred" 2008 Tour de France and hints there may be more positive test results seeing the light of day.

Media Life wraps up this year's Tour de France saying overall viewership on VS was down, due, in their opinion, to doping scandals past and present.

The Christian Science Monitor
has a "backstory" about Howard Jacobs that is a good read.

Jacobs sees other problems with the oversight regimen as well. Unlike in US civil court, he says he doesn’t have the opportunity to question witnesses weeks in advance of a trial.

Often, the first time he hears the other side’s evidence is during the sports arbitration hearing – and he often has to respond without witnesses himself, unless his client happens to be a “toxicologist,” he says dryly.

“Howard … just doesn’t know the science that I do and I can’t tell him what to ask,” says Dr. Don Catlin, a top antidoping scientist who has many times faced off with Jacobs. “That’s what’s wrong in our system of litigation. All the cards are stacked for USADA because they have money to pay and can purchase witnesses.”

But that can be difficult even with money. WADA’s code of ethics prohibits lab directors from providing “counsel, advice, or information to athletes regarding techniques or methods to mask detection” of banned substances – a standard Dr. Catlin, former head of UCLA’s Olympic Lab, interprets as an effective ban on testifying on behalf of athletes.

Travis Tygart, blessed with no sense of irony, misses the point that it is "fishing" when they do it, and "truth seeking" when you do it:

Travis Tygart, head of the USADA, defends antidoping arbitration as a balance between efficiency and truth, designed to prevent “fishing expeditions” – defense lawyers drawing out hearings at great expense. “I have a lot of respect for Howard. He’s a fierce advocate,” says Mr. Tygart, who, growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., competed on the same swim team as Jacobs. “His job is just entirely different – using smoke and mirrors to get athletes off, whereas ours is a search for the truth to protect clean athletes.”

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fallout 28

Velonews reports strike four, a positive for Dmitry Fofonov (19th in the GC) of Credit-Agricole for a stimulant. CyclingNews says it is for heptaminol, on a test after Stage 18.

There have been no EPO busts since Ricco, and no reported results for Piepoli at all. With four positives, 2008 is now "dirtier" than 2007 and 2006. Because the FFC/AFLD are running things this year, it is being called "progress", while last year under the UCI was a disaster...

As another Tour de France nears its conclusion this morning the CyclingNews shares Pierre Bordry's declaration the this year's event was a success, at least from the viewpoint of the AFLD. One if his only regrets is that the UCI refused to cooperate more with his agency. Bordry thinks targeted testing was the key to this year's mere smattering of doping violations:

"For us to target some riders we used a mix of their results, our own information and what we seen on the race itself," he told the Associated Press. "The chief of the doping controls spent the entire month of July watching the Tour on television."

The agency will have performed 250 doping controls during the race on top of the pre-race tests. "It's more than what the UCI usually do," Bordry said. But, he said, the targeted testing could have been more effective had the UCI shared its data from the biological passport program.

We do not understand the logic. Four compared to three positives on more tests doesn't look like spectacularly effective targeting compared to the previous year.

ESPN/Bonnie Ford writes a wrapup, including:
So why do things feel different? Should they? The anti-doping programs undertaken by Garmin, Columbia and CSC provide some assurance that teams are trying to turn things around, but then again, customs officials last week theatrically stopped and searched a car on the race course that was driven by the father of CSC's fraternal one-two punch of Andy and Frank Schleck. The authorities found nothing, but the action couldn't help but foster unease.

Perhaps that was the point. The French cycling federation wrestled control of the race from the international governing body and put national anti-doping officials in charge of testing. Under the new regime, speculation about who is suspect has become open debate as some of the same riders had their numbers pulled for testing day after day. Obstinate denial about the sport's dirty secrets has gradually evolved into a kick-butt-and-post-names approach that could unfairly smear some riders. That might be the price the sport has to pay at this point.

ESPN/AP says IOC president Jacques Rogge is expecting that the number of dopers caught during this Olympiad will increase due to more testing and better urinalysis.

Racejunkie congratulates "King Carlos of Spain", and gives Bijarne Riis an aptly amusing nickname. RJ also thinks the "God of Thunder" will rule today.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fallout 27

The Wilderness 101 NUE race takes place this morning near State College Pennsylvania, and as with the other NUE races held this summer Floyd Landis was scheduled to take part. He has not participated in the last two races and so may not be racing today either. Time will tell, and so will we when we hear.

Mrs. TBV thinks Chris Horner is laughing his something off at the performance of the Silence-Lotto team in the mountains.

At The Times, Slipstream has made Paul Kimmage a believer in cycling again.

The CyclingNews reports on the Gusev "sacking" by Astana, and in other news says that Michael Rasmussen is appealing the settlement offered him by former team Rabobank for being too stingy.

ESPN/AP posts a story that sounds sickeningly familiar as Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy continues to vehemently proclaim her innocence against the doping charges filed against her this week.In the future her name may be added to the following reference list of "known dopers":

Although she knows there will be plenty of skeptics, those who say we've heard it all before from drug cheats ranging from Marion Jones to Floyd Landis, Hardy said her focus is on getting the ruling overturned.

Getting back her reputation is another matter. "I just want to say that I'm innocent. I've been innocent my entire career," she said. "I've never wanted to do anything remotely close to doping. It's never, ever crossed my mind. I've never been approached about doing it. It's never been an issue my entire career.

Rant writes about a "doping trifecta" which this week includes rumors of nebulous connections between Frank Schleck and OP, Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy and her positive "A" and "B" tests for a banned substance, and Astana's internal anti-doping program which has snagged its first rider, Vladimir Gusev.

80 percent mental runs down some research on PED benefits of Hgh, and finds little support except for placebo effects.
On the one hand, we have a research review that claims there is not yet any scientific evidence that HGH actually improves sports performance. Yet, we have hundreds, if not thousands, of athletes illegally using HGH for performance gain. Showing the effect of the "if its good enough for them, its good enough for me" beliefs of the public regarding professional athlete use of HGH, we now have research that shows even those who received a placebo, but believed they were taking HGH not only thought they were improving but actually did improve a little.

Beware if you physician ever prescribes Obecalp.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Fallout 26

CyclingNews says the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will finish with a bang:

One of the aspects left off the press release announcement is that the final stage near San Diego will actually be a mountain top finish, a first for the race. "The final stage is planned to be a mountain stage up Mt. Palomar. Whoever wins the race will have to have legs on the final day!"

The AToC starts after Landis' ban ends, and Palomar is his favorite climb.

Active/Hildenbrand is depressed by the end of mountain stages. He's hoping Landis makes it back, and found some encouragement:

Lij's '08 handicraft on L'Alpe. Photo: Bruce Hildenbrand (?)

Velonews has the story that Astana has fired Vladimir Gusev over profile violations detected by Damsgaard's internal control program. Also at ProCycling.

Gusev rode for Discovery at last year's Tour, taking 5th in the prologue, 6th in the white jersey, and 38th overall.

Newsweek/Starr wonders if the TdF can out-run doping. No answers, but some concern about the inquisition:
Complicit in this portrayal of doped riders as moral degenerates and menaces to society are the journalists who cover the Tour. For the mainstream press the spectacle easily takes precedence over the sport, and the idea of a guy taking a bike around France over mountain passes that only weeks ago were buried in snow does not register as inherently fantastical. The Los Angeles Times has already wondered if this year’s race might be another “Tour de Dope.” The 2007 Tour’s frenzied witch hunt was fed in no small part by Le Monde, the French daily, flush with suspicion of the new yellow jersey

The LA Times reports Jacobs has just gotten the LDP for Hardy's tests, and says they are "low positives", with no more detail. Having identified clenbuterol as the substance, we learn...

Don Catlin, of the Anti-Doping Research Institute, said that clenbuterol can be used for asthma sufferers but "not in this country" and is not FDA-approved. It has been abused as a weight-loss aid, particularly in Hollywood, and remains popular among bodybuilders.

"It gets in to the veterinarians in this country," Catlin said. "It's an approved drug for them to give to horses. It can get here. But it is not allowed in the human food chain."

The implication being it is unlikely to to be an accidental contamination from food or supplement, unless it is foreign sourced.

The Orange County Register
says Hardy's coach is blaming supplements, provided by one of Hardy's sponsors, AdvoCare.
Hardy, an Orange, Calif., native who won the Trials 100-meter breaststroke and qualified for the Beijing Games in three other events, has been listed as an endorser of AdvoCare products on her personal Web site, the company's Web site and other sports nutritional sites.

This is one of Jacobs' specialty areas -- he won the first civil judgement for tainted supplements causing positive tests. However, the cases are usually losers with USADA under the WADA Code because of strict liability.

This will be interesting to watch, but don't count on us for detailed continuing coverage. (Life calls.)

writes that in the wake of Jessica Hardy's positive swimming is now among the sports that has been forced to assess its "cleanliness".

The CyclingNews says kicked out Tour rider Moises Duenas denies ever having "knowingly" used EPO and that the media have misrepresented him.

CyclingNews' letter writers this week try to clear up "confusion" about Lance Armstrong, and also comment on the current EPO situation at the Tour de France.

VeloNews reports Frank and Andy Schleck's dad's car was pulled aside and searched, ostensibly for doping products. Nothing was found and Andy declared the search may have been motivated by "jealousy".

ESPN says a Virginia lab has developed a urine based test that would detect HGH for up to two weeks after its use rather than the 48 hour time limit with the present test.

Racejunkie finds LOTS to write about including her Aussie readers, and WADA's John Fahey who vows to clean up whatever generation of cyclists is using whatever form of EPO it can.

The Big Lead looks at numbers and the probability of false positives:
Assume that for the Olympics, 1 athlete in 10 uses performance-enhancing drugs. Say you test 2,000 Olympic for banned substance use. Of the 1,800 athletes that are clean, 0.5% of them will be incorrectly charged with doping, making for 9 false accusations. Now, in making the chances of a false positive so small in these tests, the chances of a false negative—where a PED-using athlete tests clean—is generally very high, around 50%. The thinking is that it’s better to let a guilty athlete walk than tarnish an innocent athlete’s reputation. So of the 200 tested athletes who are doping, 100 of them will be caught. The total number of positive-testing athletes would be 109, and 9 of those are innocent. This makes the true number probability of a positive-testing athlete actually being guilty only 100/109, or 91.7%. As such, more than 1 out of every 13 accused athletes is innocent under a test with these conditions. Those chances aren’t quite so foolproof.

WADA never talks about this., in "When WADA says ‘jump’, too many sports journalists ask ‘how high?’", takes the journalistic dictation squad to task for believing what they are told.

Anti-doping agencies, on the other hand, are seen to be white knights, fighting the good fight. They can do no wrong. Mistakes? What mistakes? It’s not possible, we’re scientifically 100 percent sound, say the anti-dopers.

Jacques de Ceaurriz, head of the French anti-doping lab that leaks test results to L’Equipe yet is never sanctioned, once famously said the carbon isotope test, used to find synthetic man-juice, was infallible:

“It’s foolproof…No error is possible in isotopic readings.”

No errors possible? Ever? How many scientists in fields other than anti-doping would get away with such tosh?

The attitude of ‘we’re always right, you’re always wrong’ is one that pervades anti-doping science. Precious few journalists question whether the anti-doping labs might sometimes be wrong. False positives and false negatives exist in the world of medicine but not, apparently, in the world of anti-doping, which uses the exact same scientific tests.

Too often journalists swallow what WADA tells them and it doesn’t trouble them when WADA is caught telling mistruths, yet the slightest misdemeanour by an athlete is reported on at length.


WADA can make mistakes, athletes can’t. Athletes can be banned under the ’strict liability’ rule, but WADA and its accredited labs can mess up left, right and centre and only a tiny minority of people seem to care about such lop-sided justice.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fallout 25

One is struck by the very different tone being applied by the media to the reported positive on would-be Olympic Swimmer Jessica Hardy.

The Sydney Morning Herald takes the hard line one might expect on a non-US outlet: "
US team rocked as breaststroker Jessica Hardy tests positive"

The SF Chronicle, home of "there's always a local angle", says, "Ex-Cal swimmer could be out of Olympics". Author John Crumpacker notes that

Swimming is poised for unprecedented exposure in Beijing. NBC used its considerable clout as U.S. rights holder to have the swimming finals switched to morning in Beijing so they can be televised live in prime time in the U.S.

Might this have something to do with the lack of instant condemnation in yesterdays story by Alan Abrahamson at Let's see what he says today...

NBCOlympics/Abrahamson buries the story today in a brief blurb which doesn't mention Jacobs by name, doesn't condemn, but does identify the specific substance:
Jessica Hardy, 21, of Long Beach, Calif., was said Wednesday by her defense lawyer to have tested positive July 4 -- in a test administered at the Trials -- for the banned substance clenbuterol. Hardy was first at the Trials in the 100m breaststroke, second (behind Torres) in the 50m freestyle. It remains unclear whether she will be eligible to race at the Games; an expedited hearing process has been launched.

The AP says, "Swimmer Jessica Hardy. 's trip to the Beijing Olympics could be in jeopardy after she tested positive for a banned substance." Ya think?

RightFielders reports she's hired Howard Jacobs:
“Jessica denies that she has taken any prohibited substances,” he said. “We’re looking into explanations for the positive [tests].”

We await the condemnatory opinion pieces that say all dopers deny, deny, deny, hire expensive American lawyers, engage in legal tricks and try to get off on technicalities.

The Washington Post is more shocked, along with USA Swimming, and says
Clenbuterol has been abused in the bodybuilding community for years. It is considered a weight-loss aid, and bodybuilders take it to make themselves look cut. Baseball players David Segui and Jason Grimsley admitted using the stimulant, and pop star Britney Spears reportedly has used it.

Brittney connection!!! Our blog life is complete!

The Seattle Times is shocked at the test timing, it is so unfair:

The big question raised by this bit of extremely bad timing is about the testing process itself, particularly its timeline. Specifically: How can the USOC fail to allow time for doping questions to be raised and answered satisfactorily before names of Olympians must be submitted to the IOC? If Hardy is bounced and cannot be replaced, it's a blow to the U.S. swim team,

blah, blah, blah, jingoistic apologia. Now the media is concerned -- because it is American Olympic Medals at stake. How about Mayo, and Ricco, and Piepoli? How have their due-process rights been respected? Mayo is now years on an unconfirmed test; Ricco is bounced out of competition with just an A, not an A and B as Hardy has been found; and Piepoli is out of a job, and he has no positive test at all.

It's not like swimming is a known-to-be-clean sport. The difference is that it is a commercially important Olympic sport, and the kind of scandal that engulfs cycling is bad for the Olympic bottom line.

The international (particularly Australian) coverage is an interesting contrast, with little sympathy for the caught doper. "Tough noogies for the American team" is the sentiment elsewhere.

Let's be clear -- we have no opinion on the merits, or an axe to grind with Hardy.

But many people who are being sensitive to her plight are people who condemned Landis loud and long, and ridiculed his defense and his defense attorneys, including Jacobs. Now, because it is someone in a sport they care about, they are concerned about timeliness, and probably the fairness of the proceedings.

What will the US media say if the ADRB throws out the test results, FINA appeals, and the presumptions of WADA lab correctness result in a two-year ban?

Is USADA going to give Jacobs material to work with, or a thin LDP, starving him of information before an expedited hearing.

Should it matter if they "like" the athlete in question?

Having validated the bus by running over Landis with it, we ought to be throwing everyone under it, equally -- That would be reaping what we've sown with this process.

SportsStar (India) runs down Olympic dope enforcement skeptically, and paints everyone found positive as a dirty rotten doper. talks to Adam Brezine, an HRO attorney who was briefly involved in the Landis case, pitching sports law. He notes that HRO is unlikely to take the athlete's side in any case.

Lij got the same spot on L'Alpe she had in 2006, and laments the faded "Floyd, Floyd, Floyd, Floyd" painted on the road there.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fallout 24

Sydney Morning Herald says Ricco was caught in part because of a marker molecule Roche put into CERA specifically for this purpose.

Yet, there is still no word on any of Piepoli's tests. Curious, that, eh?

IHT reports that Roche did NOT plant a marker in Micera, contrary to the claim above, where Fahey seems to have left the wrong impression, as it were.

Roche Holding, which makes a version of a stamina-building drug illegally used by some athletes, said it didn't plant a molecule in the substance to help identify it in doping tests, spokeswoman Martina Rupp said, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.


John Fahey, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that Roche planted a molecule in its red-cell boosting product CERA, or Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator, during its manufacture to help anti-doping authorities detect its illegal use. Roche sells the drug as Mircera.

"The information that a special molecule has been added to Mircera is wrong," Rupp said in an e-mail.

WADA issued a statement Wednesday saying that Fahey's remarks had been misinterpreted. The agency said the drug can be detected because Roche and accredited sport-doping laboratories worked with the agency early.

"WADA received the molecule well in advance and was able to develop ways to detect it, including through the current EPO detection method," the agency said in the statement.

The last is interestring, because it says there are multiple independant methods of detecting Micera.

But still no report on Piepoli's tests.

has a long report on Slipstream, and the proof that Vande Velde is clean, doggonit, by getting data on him and Millar from the ACE and UCI passport programs. It was reviewed by Ashendon. He doesn't look much at hematocrit, but reticulates and OFF score, and marches through data saying everything looks basically OK. It also highlights some variability issues with equipment and transport that make looking at raw numbers problematic:
Lab quality control counts for a lot as well. On one extreme example, Millar was tested late in the Giro d'Italia on the same day by both ACE and the UCI. The UCI results showed a reticulocyte count of 1.15; the ACE test showed only .8; OFF-Scores were 86 and 96, respectively. The test is an object lesson in the perils of relying on hematocrit, as Millar pegged a 49 percent rating on the ACE test, but only 44.4 on the UCI test. According to ACE, his average readings are .86 (retic) 91.82 (OFF-Score) and 44.16 (Hct).

While a hematocrit rising to 49 at the end of a three-week stage race would be a clear cause for concern, Vaughters explained that the ACE test that day had been processed by a partner lab in Italy that had clearly had sample transport issues (causing the red cells to swell and throw off the hematocrit reading). He pointed out that David's reticulocyte count, hemoglobin and OFF-Score that day were within normal ranges and the UCI scores were similarly unremarkable. Finally, he said that he'd be concerned if David had been showing fantastic form at the same time, but noted Millar lost 10 minutes that day and 31 the next. The culprit, then? The lab. "We will not be using that lab again," he said.

Landis got whacked on this issue when some of his raw numbers from 2006 came out.

NBCOlympics reports a A + B positive for stimulants on US Olympic Swim Team member Jessica Hardy. Landis-slammer Abrahamson takes the neutral position on this case, not calling her a dirty, guilty doper cheat. Why do you suppose that would be?

Steroid Report discusses biosimilar EPO agents and the BBC report, and has a list of over 40 that are available. Then he lays into WADA's public posturing:

I think the science director of WADA could be considered delusional in his claim that WADA is catching all users of recombinant EPO.

Dr Olivier Rabin is WADAs science director. Is he happy that the test is catching all the drug cheats?

I am reasonably confident, yes, he told the BBC. Now, it would be very presumptuous on my part to say that we are absolutely 100% sure we are going to get everyone. But I can assure you that if you were to take recombinant EPO and that would be in your urine - then, yes, we would detect it.

Maybe the public will buy it, but the athletes already know better.

Mesomorphosis notes a so-far-unsuccessful attempt to void domain name registrations for sites that sell steroids as violations of the registrar's terms-of-service.

Flahute has a theory why Amgen doesn't have markers in its EPO:

In the United States, it would be nearly impossible to insert a marker into a drug after the fact, as it would have to go through the entire testing and approval process from the FDA all over again, which is why Epogen and Aranesp (Amgens EPO drugs) have taken so long to become detectable; they werent designed with the markers already built in, so the drug-testers had to devise another way.

But Micera (the brand-name for CERA) was developed with the marker already built in; a fact that surely would have been disclosed to the approvers, and obviously to WADA, but not widely spread, especially to the athletes. And what better way to catch the cheaters than to not tell them HOW youre going to catch them.

This is the right way to catch drug cheats; not witch hunts.


Yeah, Floyd Landis likely doped. He still got screwed by a system which admits no wrong and the system still has a lot of other problems. Now that Dick Pound is no longer pounding his dick at WADA, their organizational issues should get better. Its too bad hes now a part of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but one step at a time and well clean up both the sport and the governing bodies.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Myth of Neutral Support

Augustyn is crawling back up the hill, sans bike. Motos are stopped, something has obviously happened. Yet the friendly neutral support vehicle rolls right on by, and Augustyn has to wait for his team car to show up with a new bike.

Why didn't Mavic stop? Did they not have any bikes on the top of the car?

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Fallout 23

ESPN/Reuters says that according to the AFLD Ricardo Ricco tried to avoid being tested at the Tour by running away from the controllers.

The JournalGazette thinks that doping at the Tour de France is nothing new, it just matters more now that sponsors are pulling out and thanks to Lance we all know what it actually is.

TAS-CAS issued a press release noting acceptance of three disciplinary cases. Rasmussen is appealing his suspension by the Monaco Cycling Federation; and there are two appeals of EPO cases that address WADA criteria. One is by an biathlon skiier/shooter Kaisa Varis, who appears to be claiming the B sample was not done properly; the other is by the IAAF, which is unhappy the Slovenian Athletic Federation ruled the B sample of distance runner Helena Javornik was not positive.

Psychiatry MMC, a peer-reviewed journal, looks at where the line should be drawn on use of drugs by athletes. Abstract:

The integrity of sport is predicated on the assumption that all athletes compete on a level playing field. Unfortunately, the use and abuse of performance-enhancing drugs has become ubiquitous, creating complex challenges for the governing bodies of individual sports. This article examines the complexity of these issues within the world of professional golf, major league baseball, and Olympic competition. Integral concepts like, What is a therapeutic exemption? and When does restorative function end and performance enhancement begin? are discussed in detail.

It being Psychiatry MMC, not Journal of Andrology, it concludes with this policy puzzler:

Another developing concern is the use of antidepressants for treating what is commonly termed over-training syndrome. Overtraining refers to a negative response to training stress and is often due to chronically high training levels without periods of lower training loads.[12] Overtraining also can lead to fatigue and depression.[13] It has been hypothesized that overtraining syndrome may involve disregulation of brain serotonin and neuroendocrine function.[15,16] Treatment logically dictates that SSRIs and SNRIs should be effective, and these have anecdotally been reported to help athletes with this common problem.[17] Moreover, the use of SNRIs for various pain conditions makes one consider if this class of drug can benefit endurance athletes who inherently cope with tremendous pain during training and competition. The question should be asked if the use of an antidepressant in these situations is fair.

Pez has an interesting article on a recent study on hydration, suggesting less is adequate. No Landis content.

Rant notes that we seem to be living in "interesting times", just look at Saunier Duval if you doubt it.

Racejunkie suggests that there might be a whole lot of "cheatin'" goin' on at the Tour de France this year. At least some riders seem to be trying, while others are denying.

Fellowship of the Chainring looks at Ricco's bust with approval, and
I cant imagine what might have happened had Floyd Landis won his appeal.

We the SportsPeople, says, "Floyd Landis we hardly knew ye"

re: Cycling says at the end of the day, you're on your own climbing, and witnesses the Stage 16 bonk.

Reference Desk
A reader asked about the ProTour "double your ban" rule that we think now obsolete. We've found a copy of the agreement, which we believe isn't a UCI regulation, but a voluntary statement by the teams amongst themselves. It isn't really a "double your ban" rule, but a four-year "no-hire" policy for cases of intentional doping.

Bummer for Vande Velde today.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Fallout 22

ESPN/AP says CONI has sprung a surprise doping test on CSC/Saxo which of course includes Frank Schleck the TdF yellow jersey wearer. Results have not yet been announced.

Bloomberg reports pay cuts of as much as thirty per-cent in the peloton. Some are getting about $ €1.38 a mile for the Tour, which is a tough way to make a living.

A BBC investigation reveals grave concerns over inadequate EPO testing and the "obvious cheating" that may be occurring in various sporting events, as well as the trouble that may ensue from this at the Beijing Olympics:

(But) the BBC's sources are highly critical of the performance of the WADA-accredited laboratories that carry out EPO tests

Danish researchers recently set out to test how well the labs can detect EPO by medicating eight student volunteers with the drug over a period of weeks. The athletic performance of these students improved in some cases by 50%. But when over 100 urine samples from the students were sent anonymously to two WADA-approved laboratories, they produced very different results. One of the labs declared none of the samples positive

Damsgaard writes an Op-Ed for the BBC, where he decries WADAs conservatism on declaring EPO positives.

[W]hy do neither the WADA accredited laboratories nor WADA themselves declare the samples "positive"? Despite numerous enquiries, WADA refuses to make any changes.

The simplified "legal answer" from WADA and the laboratory is that they are not in possession of the specific kind of artificial EPO that the athletes have used.

As long as the kind of EPO is unknown, there will be no positive test results. WADA has promised that as soon as they track the right EPO, the samples will be declared positive.

And he makes some constructive suggestions:

There are ways to catch or convert the cheaters. First of all, blood profiles must be implemented in all relevant sports federations. Large, unnatural deviations from the individuals' own previous tests results should lead to a "no start" sanction for a given period.

Not before the blood profile has returned to normal is the athlete allowed to compete again. In addition, blood tests should be used to target urine samples.

Then WADA's criteria of a positive EPO urine test should be re-evaluated. Instead of defining a specific signature for each and every different kind of EPO, the definition of a "normal test result" should be developed.

Every test result deviating from this "negative reference" should be considered positive. An alternative approach is to arrange a meeting, where the suspected athlete, a representative from the sports federation and an external anti-doping expert should attend.

Factors like illnesses, genetic factors, strenuous exercise and so on, which could explain the suspicious results, should be disclosed.

In truth, this meeting should be arranged with the sole objective to show the athlete that the federation knows what is going on, and make it clear that from now on the athlete will be tested excessively.

We like "no starts" for profile violations, but don't much like easing the positivity criteria because of the presumptions in the WADA Code that an AAF is a definitive result. The "chat with the boys" is also a good idea.

The CyclingNews writes about the claims stated in the above BBC piece by Dr.Rasmus Damsgaard that WADA is sitting on "a mountain of EPO":

According to Dr Rasmus Damsgaard, an anti-doping expert who oversees the internal testing programs for both CSC-Saxo Bank and Astana, WADA laboratories are sitting on "a mountain of positive EPO" from athletes that have not failed a test. Dr Damsgaard inspected the electronic profiles, or gels as they are known, of five samples declared negative by a WADA laboratory, and said they showed clear signs of EPO being present.

"It was very obvious that the gels were very un-natural or very different from natural distributions," Damsgaard told the BBC. "But I also saw that they were declared negative because they didn't fulfil the WADA criteria of a positive test; although they looked suspicious and had no natural bands at all, they were still declared negative.

The Columbia Tribune (tip from a reader) has an op-ed that wonders about the difficulty of moving to "clean" sport.
What did cycling officials get for being willing to turn over all the rocks? They got a reputation for presiding over the dopiest sport in the world. So when we wonder why our favorite professional sports leagues wont clean up their acts, we should realize the answer is that we cant handle the truth.

A reader points us to a forthcoming book, A Guide to the World Anti-Doping Code. At $160 for 256 pages, the economies of the copier come to mind, but it would be wrong. It is blurbed:

Doping is the biggest problem facing sport. The World Anti-Doping Code has been adopted by sporting organisations worldwide at both national and international level to provide a consistent and harmonised approach to anti-doping measures. The adoption of the Code, and its interpretation and application by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, has brought about great changes in sports law. This book provides a guide to the Code, illustrated through summaries of decisions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and national level tribunals which show the Code in operation. It will assist all those involved in sport, whether as administrators, coaches or players, together with those who advise in the area and those interested in the operation of the current anti-doping regime. The book also explains the Amendments to the Code agreed in 2007 which are scheduled to come into force by January 2009.

Case summaries illustrate the key principles of the Code and earlier anti-doping regimes Reviews the amendments due to come into force in January 2009 Written by a barrister who regularly represents athletes and sporting bodies in tribunals and before the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Contents Introduction; 1. The development of principles relating to anti-doping regimes: the role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport; 2. Overview of the Code and the World Anti-Doping Program; 3. The international standards in more detail; 4. The nature of the Code and its interpretation and application; 5. Articles 1 and 2 of the Code: anti-doping rule violations under the Code; 6. Article 3 of the Code: the proof of anti-doping rule violations under the Code; 7. Responsibility for testing and investigations, results management and hearings; 8. Sanctions for anti-doping rule violations: Articles 9 and 10 of the Code; 9. Article 13: appeals under the Code; 10. Challenges to the Code in the Courts; 11. The way ahead: the 2007 amendments to the Code.

It doesn't say if there are any Forewords, but we'd guess Richards Pound or Young would be likely candidates. There is nothing in the contents about fairness or equity, which are equally absent from the Code itself.


Steroid Report cites Larry's excellent discussion posted last night on the legitimacy of the new "secret" CERA test and how its use might be further illuminated by the Hamilton case.

The Philly Turkey imagines a scenario that has not occurred since the award. It's one of the better attempts at satire we've seen, and 'splains why Landis has been silent in reality.

On, Mike Jacoubowsky makes an interesting point. Valid or not, if Landis' A sample report had shown up a few days earlier, it's likely he would have been tossed out of the Tour as we've seen with others recently.

This is part of a long thread which includes some good discussion, to which we'll highlight this by 2bowl...

(2) I have discussed some of the doping detection issues with a few individuals from WADA and related labs. It is not unreasonable to suggest that some (but not all) of these individuals have lost perspective. Those individuals are convinced that everyone cheats and all should be punished. A scientific issue thus becomes a religious quest. This is a huge problem as objectivity is eliminated.

[A]lthough we would both like to see the same outcome (elimination of doping) I simply don't agree that encouraging poor testing and political agendas is the right way to do this

To which Mike replied

There's very little you've said that I disagree with, and I think you've misunderstood my position. I feel there should be draconian penalties for the labs and the ASO or WADA or whomever when they get it wrong, and the threat of those draconian penalties should
provide for more-accurate results and fewer screw-ups.

As we know, there seem to be zero consequences in the WADA Code or in practice for Labs, Agencies, Federations or Organizers who Get it Wrong.

Noble the idea may be, 2bowl... uses math to trump sentiment:

Here's the problem - it isn't necessarily a screw-up on the part of the labs. It is a statistical probability that the tests will result in an occasional false positive and equally an occasional false negative through different tests have different rates of both failures.

Unfortunately, numbers and statistics about false positives are not something WADA World and CAS like to talk about, or have brought to their attention.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Larry: New CERA test, looking at Hamilton's HBT

Hamilton v. USADA & UCI,

And What It Tells Us About The CERA Anti-Doping Cases

We've seen a lot of discussion over the last few days on the anti-doping testing being performed at this year's Tour de France (TdF) to detect a new drug, a third-generation form of EPO called CERA. Up until a few days ago, most of us had no idea that there WAS a third generation form of EPO, let alone that it might be used by cyclists as a performance-enhancing drug (PED). Many experts, who were well aware of CERA and its potential as a PED, were unaware that any anti-doping lab claimed to have the ability to detect this drug. After all, there had been no published discussion of any such test. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had published no rules on how such a test should be conducted, or interpreted. To my knowledge, there has not even been a discussion in the scientific literature on the detection of CERA.


Then all of a sudden, we had last week's explosion of news: the adverse analytical findings (AAFs) announced by the French anti-doping lab (AFLD) against cyclists allegedly using CERA, together with the revelation that the AFLD had in its arsenal a previously undisclosed test for the detection of CERA.

The TdF news concerning the detection of CERA has raised a lot of questions, including legal questions. How is it that AFLD can use a "secret" test, one that is not referenced in any of the WADA rules? How can we know that the lab's test is valid? If there are no WADA rules for the test, how can the lab determine that the results of the test are sufficient to prove an AAF?

I'm not going to try to answer all of these questions.

But I do think it would be valuable at this point to look at the CAS decision in the Tyler Hamilton case. The Hamilton decision provides guidance on how the ADAs may try to prove an AAF in these CERA cases.

(For those of you who'd like to read the Hamilton decision, you can find it here.)

The Hamilton case arose during the 2004 Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain). Hamilton won a stage in that race, and underwent a specific kind of blood test (called a HBT test) performed by the WADA-accredited lab in Switzerland. According to the Swiss lab, the HBT test revealed that Hamilton had undergone a homologous blood transfusion in violation of the WADA rules. A homologous blood transfusion is a transfusion of someone else's blood into the athlete’s system (as opposed to an autologous transfusion, which is a transfusion of the athlete's own blood). Such a transfusion, when used to improve an athlete's performance, is commonly called "blood doping".

The main issue in the Hamilton case was this: the HBT test was a new test at the time it was used in the Hamilton case. When the Swiss lab performed this test, it did not have specific accreditation to do so -- not from its ISO 17025 inspector, and not from WADA. Without such accreditation, was the test valid?

Let's detour for a moment and discuss the issue of lab method accreditation. The primary set of WADA rules governing labs is WADA’s International Standard for Laboratories (ISL). Incorporated within the ISL is ISO 17025 (sometimes called ISO/IEC 17025), issued by the International Organization for Standardization. ISO 17025 provides operating rules governing testing labs world-wide; the ISL provides specific rules for the field of doping control. The ISL provides that all WADA laboratories are required to be accredited by a national accreditation body and periodically audited according to ISO 17025 (see ISL Rules 4.1.1 and, and that all WADA lab methods and procedures must eventually be included in the scope of these periodic audits. See ISL Rule 4.2.2. In addition, all WADA labs are separately accredited by WADA. See ISL Rule 4.1.

We have considered these rules in our discussion of the Landis case. The lab methods in the Landis case were all accredited under ISO 17025 and the ISL (whether these methods were PROPERLY accredited is an open question in my mind). Since these methods were accredited, the lab in the Landis case (LNDD) received an important benefit under WADA Code 3.2.1: the lab was presumed to have conducted its analysis in accordance with the ISL. This is a powerful presumption that is difficult for an athlete to overcome, and had much to do with the decision made against Landis.

In the Hamilton case, it was clear that blood doping was a violation of the WADA Code. However, the WADA code did not address how a lab was to prove that an athlete had blood doped. Moreover, the HBT test had not been accredited at the time it was performed in the Hamilton case. So, the validity of the HBT test was probably the key issue in the Hamilton case.

The panel noted that under WADA Code Section 3.2, the "facts relating to anti-doping violations may be established by any reliable means." From this, the panel concluded that it is not necessary for WADA to approve a lab method before the method can be used to prove an AAF.

The panel also ruled that a WADA lab CAN use an unaccredited test method to prove an AAF, so long as the lab can prove two things. First, the lab must prove that the unaccredited test method was conducted "in accordance with the scientific community's practices and procedures." Second, the lab must prove that it "satisfied itself as to the validity of the [unaccredited] method before using it." If the lab can satisfy this two-pronged burden of proof, then (according to the Hamilton decision) the lab gets the benefit of the presumption under WADA Code 3.2.1. If the lab cannot satisfy this burden, then the lab method in question cannot be used, and the AAF against the athlete must be dismissed.

The reasoning in the Hamilton case was based on the panel's assumption that sometimes WADA labs must use unaccredited test methods. New forms of doping arise all the time, but the formal lab accreditation process is relatively slow (the method at issue in the Hamilton case was not formally validated until more than a year after the lab's finding of the Hamilton AAF). If labs are going to detect new performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), they may have to do so with new (and thus unaccredited) test methods. But since accreditation is an important step in making sure that test methods are "fit for purpose", the panel reasoned that the validity of unaccredited test methods must be defended by the lab and ultimately ruled upon by the arbitration panel.

There is, of course, an argument against the rule in the Hamilton case, which is that review of a lab method in arbitration is no substitute for ISO and ISL accreditation. It is unlikely that a few arbitrators, meeting in a location distant from the lab, can review a lab method in a manner comparable to experts in ISO and ISL requirements, who are present at the lab itself.

The ultimate question in cases like the Hamilton case is: can we give up the confidence that comes with formal lab method accreditation, in exchange for the ability to use a new lab method to catch doping that would otherwise go undetected? This is not an easy question to answer. In essence, the court tried to balance two competing interests: effective anti-doping testing versus the benefits of formal method accreditation. Whether the Hamilton decision struck the right balance is a matter for debate.

Turning back to the Hamilton decision: the CAS panel in the Hamilton case had no difficulty finding that the lab method in question was sufficiently reliable to support the AAF against Hamilton. The CAS panel based this finding on the following:

1. The HBT test was performed using a machine called a "flow cytometer", which has been used for a long time to analyze blood characteristics. So while the TEST was new, much of the technology involved in the test was established and well-accepted.

2. The panel in Hamilton found that the HBT test was similar to tests in common use to precisely match a donor's blood to a recipient's blood. In most cases, a patient can receive a blood transfusion based only on major blood type (A, B, O and Rh(D)), but in some cases (such as bone marrow transplants) it is necessary to match minor blood markers as well. The panel noted that flow cytometry is commonly used for this purpose.

3. The panel noted that the HBT test was based on research work supported by financial grants from WADA and USADA, and that the results of the research had been reported in peer-reviewed scientific publications. Moreover, the test in question was tentatively approved at a scientific meeting held prior to the 2004 Olympic Games to determine the drug testing that would be performed at these Games.

4. The HBT test was reviewed and "validated" at three different WADA labs prior to its use in the Hamilton case.

5. WADA had adopted "positivity criteria" for the HBT test prior to the 2004 Olympic Games, addressing what the HBT test would have to show in order for a particular test result to prove an AAF for blood doping.

6. The Swiss lab's HBT test method WAS eventually accredited by WADA and the ISO inspector.

Hamilton's legal team argued against the validity of the HBT test, on grounds that are familiar to us from the Landis case. Hamilton argued (among other things) that there had been inadequate control studies to support the HBT method, and that there had been no proper study of false positives or measure of uncertainty determined for this lab method. The CAS panel was not persuaded by these arguments, and (as you probably know) upheld the AAF against Hamilton. At least they did not require Hamilton to pay USADA's costs.

What can the Hamilton case tell us about the validity of the AFLD's method to test for CERA, and about the likelihood that the CAS will uphold AAFs based on this method? Not very much! We know nothing about the AFLD's method for CERA testing or how it might have been validated prior to this year's Tour de France. But the Hamilton case is a good guide to what the AFLD will need to do to prove its cases against Beltran, Duenas, Ricco and any others accused of using CERA in this year's Tour. The AFLD may not have to do everything that the Swiss lab did in the Hamilton case, but the AFLD will at least have to show that its CERA test is scientifically accepted and that it took proper steps to validate the test. This is, of course, a lot more than the LNDD had to do in the Landis case.

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Fallout 21

Questions of the Day

Various sources pass on the El Pais report that Saunier-Duval DS Joxean Matxinas said Ricco confessed EPO use to him. This is unconfirmed. He is also quoted as saying Piepoli told him he'd "done the same thing". Matxinas also said Ricco's control went a tour of its own to Lausanne, LNND, and Barcelona.

Now Ricco is denying having done EPO and says he will defend himself against the charge.

We do not yet have a reported test result for Piepoli, whose controls should be blinded amongst the perhaps 200+ samples that have been taken for the Tour.

  1. Is there pressure to find a positive for Piepoli?
  2. What would failure to find a Piepoli AAF say?
  3. Might there be some bending of sample blinding?

It looks like Landis didn't go to Breckenridge for the NUE event yesterday. What's up? Hard to blame him for being unmotivated.

Oscar Peirero crashed badly on a descent in the Tour and is seriously injured. AP story. You can't say he wasn't trying.

Reuters says Ricco is going to dispute his test results:
He has denied any wrongdoing.

"It's necessary to wait for the counter-analysis, then see if the method they used to do the test is valid," the 24-year-old was quoted as saying in Sunday's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I don't think it's 100 percent certain."

Good luck with that.

Guardian/Fotheringham thinks the "Drug-Busters" are winning, finally.

IHT runs an AP story under the headline, "A lot of dopes racing in the Tour de Farce", filled with equally original insight.

The LA Times runs a Sunday feature on the reliability of DNA tests, which aren't looking as good as some people assume. It also shows courts having difficulty evaluating scientific evidence.

Steroid Nation points out reports that Spanish Doctor Jesus Losa is emerging as a potential EPO source. He'd been fingered by Millar way back, with no action taken. SN also thinks Ricco is channeling the Landis defense.

We went for a ride, and caught the race later on the Tivo. It was a barn burner, beating last week's 218 miles, 1007 TSS points and 7924 kj with 237 miles, 1065 TSS and 8617 kj. This left us wiped, and in a stupor to watch the bang-up stage. Too bad about Peirero, and Menchov's fall on a move. We'll all enjoy the rest day tomorrow, and look forward to Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fallout XX

Floyd Landis was slated to take part in today's Breckenridge 100 NUE MTB race in Colorado. Any news we get on the race, and on Floyd's possible participation in it will be passed along asap.

CyclingNews reports on Ricardo Ricco's arrest for using "poisonous substances", his night in jail, and subsequent expulsion from France. Poisonous substances? Wonder if that bad Beaujolais Nouveau from a few years ago would qualify, hmmmmm. In other news some team managers feel that the UCI must be included in pro cycling's new iteration .

CN also says Barloworld is bailing as a sponsor after the Tour. Robbie Hunter has to be wondering what god he offended.

MedPage Today runs over some of the CERA and EPO issues, and conflicting senses about various aspects of testing. We're quoted as if we know something, but it's now two days of no-positive-tests, so there you go -- they got everybody.

In its letters column
the CyclingNews offers some interesting reader opinions on the UCI, and boycotting the Tour as well as the Olympics.

The VeloNews' John Wilcockson writes a great piece on the unexpected effects doping has on those who cover cycling, and not only those who ride. He writes in particular about L'Equipe journalist Philippe Brunel who had written extensively on Ricco's ascension, and who now writes of him after his downfall:

Toward the end of his piece, Brunel said: “Another question poses itself: Why? Yes, why did [Riccò] sell his soul to the devil? To these preparers, these vultures without scruples, who circulate and gravitate in the shadow of the riders, knowing that they can’t “charge” themselves with this type of hormone without a scientifically competent environment? For the money? The glory? By reflex? ‘By unconsciousness or denial of reality, I don’t know,’ suggested Pietro Algeri, his directeur sportif. ‘You know, the riders don’t know how to evaluate reality."

The Daily Peloton says Michael Ball is running to be a Trustee of USPRO. That'll be a fun election.

The AP reported the Olympic dreams of Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner". are over because he didn't run fast enough.

Scenic City Sports urges us to slow down and realize the problem is racing in all its forms.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Fallout XIX

As far as we know Floyd Landis is still scheduled to take part in this weekends' Breckenridge 100 NUE mountain bike race.


Everyone is reporting Piepoli and Ricco have been fired by Saunier-Duval. There's no known positive test for Piepoli, but he's said to have violated the "ethics pledge." Velonews; Reuters;

The CyclingNews has a number of editions and features stemming from the Ricco bust for EPO yesterday starting off with UCI concerns about the way cycling will be run without its guidance, and the cloudy future of the "bio passport" program.

In an earlier edition the CyclingNews says the ASO wants the cheaters out. Then why don't they test everyone, including riders for whom they may harbor special interests? This edition also contains rider response to Ricco's downfall.

Finally David Millar chimes in on the Ricco situation saying he knew Ricco was too good to be true. Maybe the ASO should use David Millar to find the cheats. Also in the piece is news that WADA is ahead of the detection curve on the "new" EPO, CERA.

Private email chides us for the habit we've gotten into of snarking Millar. (Like above.) What do we want him to do or say? Like it or not, he's a focal point whenever these things come up, and he's answering questions rather than running away.

Fair enough. We know it's easy to snark on someone you don't know, on whose situation one projects, from a safe distance. We've reported plenty of examples of that with Landis. Therefore, we'll declare a voluntary Millar-torium unless he's involved in something particularly newsworthy.

The Herald-Sun (News Corp, AU), rants against those who thought the sport had cleaned up, and calls Pantani and Landis "grubs".

Ode Magazine looks at the societal issues surrounding doping in cycling and wonders if since many people take Prozac, and other life "enhancers" that can be dangerous, who are we to take such umbrage at athletes who use PEDs? Instead of condemning them, we should put less pressure on them to succeed thus eliminating the need to dope. Nice thought, but athletes function within stated rules, and last we knew it was not illegal to take Prozac for depression.

Mail and Guardian (SA) talks about Robbie Hunter, an ex-Phonak teammate, and typically for a sprinter, doesn't mince words. On doping:
"It will stop being in the headlines when you guys [in the media] stop asking questions about it. If someone is exceptional it doesn't mean they are using products," he insists.

On Landis:

How does Hunter feel about the ruling? "I don't really give a damn. Floyd is a friend and he will always be a friend, finished."

On the UCI
"The ProTour means nothing. It will fall by the wayside in the next year. The people with the money -- and that means the ASO -- will win out. The UCI aren't the ones who are making the sport into a spectacle. If they fall by the wayside it will make no difference. If the ASO falls by the wayside there will be nothing to watch."

Hunter thought Duenas was in good form, but the interview was before the positive test.

ESPN/Bonnie Ford
writes of the day after, noting the disbelief at Ricco's brazen behavior, and what clean riders ought to be taking pride in:

What separates these riders from the rest of us is not only their physical gifts but their incredible capacity to drive, motivate and discipline themselves. If a rider believes he has an edge, he does; so each of these teams has gone to extremes to experiment with innovative training methods, equipment and psychological support.


No detail is too small for the concept vetters on these teams. It all adds up to a process that should be a lot more satisfying than living in the clandestine world of injections, transfusions and drips.

ESPN also has a piece by Bobby Julich going every which way. He'd hoped it was an "old guard" problem, but Ricco, shows it's not, and he's frustrated.
I believe in the testing 100 percent. I have to believe the best riders of the Tour right now are performing naturally. Of course, when news like this comes out, you start to question yourself and ask, "Am I being naïve?"

Rant writes about "le Tour de EPO" and Ricky Ricardo, er um Ricardo Ricco and wonders who will be next to be busted?

The Service Course reflects on the betrayal felt by journalists who feel like they been used as conduits of lies by riders subsequently found to be dopers. He goes back in time to reflect on a race he covered where the winning break consisted of eventual winner
Vaughters, Scott Moninger (then Mercury), Chris Wherry (then Saturn), and Floyd Landis (then Mercury).

Since that time, Wherry, god bless him, has kept his nose clean as best I can remember, and has a notable domestic career to look back on for it. The rest? Vaughters was implicated by his little IM conversation with Frankie Andreau, and though he smartly keeps mum on the details of his past, I think he’s done his penitence for any transgressions in a far more valuable manner than spending a couple years on the bench at the UCI’s behest. Moninger had a steroid positive several years later, which he claims was the result of a tainted supplement. And, well, we all know what happened to Floyd. Sort of.

So that breakaway doesn’t look quite so good in retrospect, but at the time, and based on what I knew for sure – which didn’t include what anyone there was smearing, swallowing, injecting, or sticking onto or into their bodies – it was a good story. So I wrote it like I saw it. And without a crystal ball, that’s all we can really do, isn’t it?

The Steroid Report discusses Ricardo Ricco's positive at the TdF for the "undetectable" Mircera. Thanks for the nice blurb.

Smithers in Minneapolis says Floyd Landis joined a group ride a friend was part of recently, and talked "smack" about the "cat 3" Tour de France. Smithers doesn't understand why Landis still has any sponsors.

Stubby Holder continues to express his dislike of cyclists (long vented against Landis), hoping fellow Ozzie Evans loses, because he he hates all of 'em.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Three down

What we're seeing with the Tour so far is the start of positives, three so far; but the tested stages only go up to the first week. That we're only seeing one positive a day suggests a number of possibilities

  • They can only do one test a day;
  • They are not sampling that many, going only after targets;
  • Everyone else is clean.
It seems to us given the complexity we saw with the IRMS tests, and the difficulties with Heras' tests, that the AFLD/LNDD may not be able to run very many tests at the same time, and is now severely overloaded with work. If we believe the witchdoctors concluded CERA was undetectable, and lots of riders were on it, then we might reasonably expect to see a running string of these reported results, one a day, until a few weeks after the end of the Tour.

Speculating, we might very well see 10 or 15 positives as a result of this race.

Now, we don't know how valid the tests are -- they may be false positives at a rate we do not know. But if they are backed up by searches and paraphenalia, or confessions, that will reduce the uncertainty. Still, if there are 15 positives, it is entirely possible that some of them will be false, and we should be careful to look at each case individually rather than assume that everything caught in this net is a rotten fish.

We have no reason to doubt that many of these tests are revealing doping, but we'd like something other than WADA code presumptions to prove the point. Police work is a good thing to have to support the conclusions.

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Fake News: UCI Collapse Throws Riders in Disarray

A comment passed on the following story from the Boston Fake News Service...

International stories often have regional affects, and this is true for yesterday's folding of cycling's international governing body,the UCI.

The UCI sanctions USA Cycling, and without the UCI, USA Cycling has no authority. Local races have been disrupted. We visited the weekly Charlie Baker Time Trial, a short race held every week in Concord. Cyclists came to race, only to be turned away. Cyclist Eugene Quadsky from Quincy said "I came here to do a time trial, and it turns out there's no one to take my money. If I can't buy a one-day license, how am I suppose to find out how fast I am?"


Carl Legzenfeit from Lexington agreed. "Without someone to pay, we're basically just a bunch of tourists out for a Sunday ride."

Some suggested that they could collect the money, as a replacement for the UCI was bound to come along soon. Someone volunteered to hold the money in escrow for up to five years. But ultimately most were worried that no replacement would be found by then, and that no one would ever sanction the results. Even if a new governing body formed, it was pointed out there's no guarantee they would sanction the race retroactively. Worse, riders worried that they would be forced to take their entry fees back.

Others were even more pessimistic. Cindy Hamstreen from Harwich said that if the situation wasn't cleared up soon, she'd sell her bike on craigslist and take up curling. "At least curling has an international body that knows how to properly collect fees", she muttered.

A small group of riders tried to proceed with the race anyway, but they met with no success. Talks got bogged down on a few critical issues, like whether to start new riders every thirty seconds, or every minute. After a suggestion to compromise at 45 seconds, talks collapsed.

Most riders scoffed at the effort anyway. Quadsky said "You can't honestly expect to ride without the UCI. It's not even a race if they aren't here to pocket our hard-earned cash.

One lone unidentified cyclist wouldn't give up. He threw his one-day license money on the ground and declared that he was going to ride the course on his own, using his wristwatch for timing.

Other cyclists laughed and shook their heads.

"Crazy bastard", said Legzenfeit. "He just doesn't understand the importance of the UCI".

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