It’s All Hanging Out There Now

by Rant on October 12, 2006 · 4 comments

in Doping in Sports, Floyd Landis

What a difference a day makes, eh? The sheer volume of material released by Floyd Landis and company is quite daunting to wade through and make any sort of coherent comments so soon. But I’m going to give my initial impressions, just the same. Over time, I’m sure there will be more detail to fill in and more interesting tidbits will come to light.

I’ve gone through the Arnie Baker Powerpoint and read through the discussion of it on Trust But Verify (and you’ve got to give TBV a huge amount of credit, as he managed to put up an incredible assortment of info in a short period of time — even going so far as to break everything down into single page documents for future reference), and there are two major bones of contention from where I see it.

First is the discussion on slides 8 -11 of whether the sample was contaminated. If the standard presented by Baker is correct (no more than a 5% degradation of certain compounds), then it appears the data does show that the samples were contaminated (7.7% degradation) and should not have been tested further. That should have ended the case right then and there, again assuming what Baker says is correct.

Second is whether the CIR tests actually show a true positive. As TBV and others have noted, the WADA protocols are a bit vague on how many of the metabolites tested must show a positive result in order for the test to be called positive. If it’s one or more, then Landis and company have their work cut out for themselves. If it’s all of the metabolites, then Landis is in the clear. That’s because in the most optimistic of readings of the data, only one sample shows a definite positive. In the most pessimistic reading, three out of four are positive. But even with three out of four positive, if the Landis side prevails on the point that all metabolites must be positive, again the case is over: No confirmation of synthetic testosterone.

Among other items of interest in Baker’s analysis are slides that show Landis’ overall level of testosterone was less than one quarter a value considered to be high (45.4 versus 200). Again, that tends to bolster the argument that there is no positive finding here. This may also be a major point in the defense. At least, I think it should be. It’s hard to credibly argue that a person was doping with testosterone when he has a quarter of what’s considered to be a high level for testosterone.

The slides also highlight procedural problems in the transport to, and handling of the sample at the lab. It doesn’t sound like this is major point they’re going to emphasize, but it does bolster the argument about sloppy lab work and sloppy handling, which casts at least some doubt on the credibility of the lab.

I’ve also looked through some of the pages from the lab report (again linking to TBV), itself. Looking at the A sample screenings for T/E ratio, and the confirmations of the T/E ratio, there is a very wide variation of results. To me this highlights some problems with the testing procedure or the methods employed at the lab. For these results to be reliable (there are T/E values ranging from 1:1 or thereabouts up to 14.8:1), these values should be clustered much more closely together.

It’s not clear to me whether the two 1:1 results are actual tests on Landis’ urine or whether they’re calibration of the test, itself. If it’s the former, then we really have some inconsistencies going. So on the point of lab inconsistencies, I’d give that one to Landis and company just based on those values.

The T/E ratios on the B sample still have some variation, with one as low as 3.6:1 and one as high as 14.3:1, with three values clustered around 11:1. There’s something amiss when you get one ratio that’s really low, like the 3.6:1, and I’d like to see if the documents have any discussion of what might have caused that when the other readings were higher. Again, it looks suspicious to me.

And one thing I’d like to see, since the questions of Landis’ expert observer are noted at the end of the document, is the answers to his questions. He seems to be delving into the lab’s standards and methods and wants to verify whether they actually do conform to the relevant standards. Though one should expect that they do, since the lab is accredited by WADA, they still need to have that documentation available and be able to produce it. I’m puzzled why it isn’t there. I’m not exactly sure how much value that information would be, but if the lab were to be found in violation of the standards they’re required to meet, that would be favorable to Landis.

It’s certainly a bold move putting all this information out there for the world to see, especially since some of it may not really help Landis’ case. Certainly those who reflexively judged him guilty will just say this proves it all the more. But for people who are willing to do some research, it’s pretty easy to draw exactly the opposite conclusion.

Bottom line: I think this does more to help Floyd’s case than to hinder it.

There’s way more to dive into and figure out. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the time to do so tonight. Over the coming days/weeks I’ll be delving into this further. Stay tuned.

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trust but verify October 12, 2006 at 7:30 pm

“Answers? Answers! You don’t get no stinking answers”, is I think the metaphorical response to be read into the non-response to de Boer’s question. Nope, the only stuff they need to provide is what’s in the LDP, and that’s all you’re going to get.

TBV

Rant October 12, 2006 at 7:37 pm

All too true, I’m afraid.

panopoulos October 26, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Do you know if I take Valerian with “hops” will this show positive in an ETG test?

Rant October 27, 2008 at 8:00 am

No idea. If there’s no alcohol involved, I’d suspect that it wouldn’t.

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