Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alberto Contador Is Toast

Whew! One day away from the computer leads to the most interesting results! "Baby Contador" is suspended for one year! Kudos to Strbuk, who predicted this outcome! (I have added one of her blogs to my blog list as a reward for her perspicacity.) Now we wait for the UCI to lower the boom and order the Amauary Sport Organization to rescind Alberto Contador's 2010 Tour de France title!

A one year suspension by the Spanish Cycling Federation suggests that the clenbuterol was taken by accident. Maybe so, maybe Alberto Contador ate a contaminated stake raised by some hack Spanish farmer. There have been reports of sickness due to tainted Spanish meat; but not for a number of years...

Ah well, nothing to be concerned about as the suspension allows for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport...probably nothing more than a rubber stamp formality of the Spanish Cycling Federation ban. A more interesting question: If Alberto Contador does appeal will the UCI insist that the ban be increased. Most doping cases carry a two year ban. The jurisdiction for management of the case has been transferred to WADA at UCI request, so will WADA appeal for an increase in sanction? Is WADA intervention in this case legal?

So many questions, and such a different approach from the days of yore, when the anti-doping establishment loved to hand out excess banishment. The UCI pro-tour teams were precluded from hiring a rider with a doping related suspension for four years; until Liquigas upset the apple cart and hired reformed doper extraordinaire Saint Ivan Basso to a contract! Take that Pat McQuaid, you nitwit! Old innocent, without intent to cheat, Floyd Landis, a guy we should be willing to excuse because everyone is guilty of some transgression: why cast stones when living in glass houses! got a two and a half year suspension for synthetic testosterone. True, Floyd Landis did race the Leadville 100 after testing positive, and the Leadville 100 is sanctioned by NORBA, and the UCI probably thought that Floyd was rubbing their noses in excrement. Add six months more of punishment!

My, how things change! The Alberto Contador case is so complex because you can't really determine what happened; tainted meat or transfused blood? And nobody cares enough to inquire among the team to ascertain the possible existence of a second Doctor Blood.

Christiane Prudhomme and Amauary Sport Organization are playing their cards are very close to the vest with typical French indifference, waiting for everyone else to play their cards first!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Alberto Contador To Be Suspended?

The Christian Science Monitor has reported that a rumor is afloat that Alberto Contador will be officially suspended by the Spanish Cycling Federation for his positive test for clenbuterol during the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France, and as a consequence his 2010 Tour de France title will be rescinded. Is Alberto Contador a scapegoat, a victim of an over zealous doing establishment bent upon a policy of no tolerance; or a doped cheater who would drop the maillot jaune with a dropped chain in clear violation of cycling etiquette?

WADA code states a policy of no tolerance even if substances listed on the prohibited list were mistakenly taken; apply a topical solution without first checking on the ingredients will result in a two year suspension; because WADA reasons that presence indicates culpability and intent. Clenbuterol was present, this is a violation, thus a suspension.

But WADA code provides for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). The Court of Arbitration of Sport is a bizarre organization where the case starts anew from scratch; where old opinions do not set precedence; where rules are made up as they go along. The arbitrators have unlimited power. Arbitrary and capricious rulings are allowed. There is no legal appeal to any court outside of Switzerland where the CAS is domiciled. Most of the time the arbitrators are scientifically unqualified to render a competent decision. Expert opinion and testimony from WADA laboratory experts that question laboratory methods and procedures are prohibited if they favor the defense of the athlete. Independent experts who are deemed qualified to interpret highly technical or complex scientific issues are selected by the arbitrators: one arbitrator representing the prosecution, one the defense, and one "independent" arbitrator: the selection usually is a WADA laboratory director who is constrained from presenting a unbiased opinion of the evidence. CAS testimony is conducted in secret; apparently with the motive of protecting the athlete. The entire International Olympic Committee (IOC) structure of anti-doping management would be jeopardized without a continuous string of guilty verdicts. If Pat McQuaid and the UCI had any sense they would abandon the IOC once and for all! Until they do, the ends justify the means, regardless of fairness.

There should be reform of the process; but where do you draw the line? The Floyd Landis case was a disaster for the anti-doping crusade, because the most basic standards were ignored. The measurements were questioned because the laboratory made dozens of fundamental mistakes; ignored WADA code; LNDD refused to maintain a credible chain-of-custody; calibrate the equipment properly; employ people capable of understanding the equipment they were operating. WADA maintained a laissez faire, arrogant, laboratory can do wrong cavalier attitude, above the law, subject to oversight by no legal authority. Yet, in spite of running a disastrous operation, the GC/C/IRMS measurements were correct! Floyd Landis later admitted his doping behavior after spending his entire fortune fighting the anti-doping establishment! So where do you draw the line?

Should the system base everything on the amount of a prohibited substance detected being enough to increase performance? What about the theory that plastics were detected in the blood that indicates a blood transfusion? Should this evidence be ignored even though it may indicate traces of contaminated blood taken from the rider during a training period and re-infused during the Tour de France? There are no easy answers here!

WADA and the UCI are not investing enough money and the code needs reform; how to reach reasonable goals remains a serious question. Perhaps a panel of scientific experts should convene; and the problems solved by committee!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lance Armstrong: Roberts and Epstein Article: Nothing New

Sports Illustrated has a new article which deals with the never ending Lance Armstrong investigation. There was also an interview of Selena Roberts on All Things Considered.

Reading through the Sports Illustrated article was disappointing, old rehashed accusations, innuendo, nothing of interest except Don Catlin. Good old boy Don Catlin, pioneer, anti doping crusader, expert in detection of doping, accused of cooking the books for Lance Armstrong? Indeed?

There were some old [Lance Armstrong] records of testosterone/epitestosterone ratios above 6:1 that David Epstein and Selena Roberts declare "a positive?" Not so. Testosterone/Epitestosterone ratios are not "positive" tests, they merely suggest suspicious values that should be investigated further: for possible abuse of synthetic testosterone, precursors of testosterone, analogues of testosterone, etc. Before the development of mass spectrometry (MS), a test developed by Don Catlin, suspicious testosterone/epitestosterone values were verified with longitudinal studies. The notion that an athlete could maintain a constant rate of high testosterone/epitestosterone over time by artificial means was considered very improbable. If it was determined over time that the testosterone/epitestosterone value declined to a baseline value and remained constant; say 1:1 only then could the measured "peak" above 6:1 be considered an analytical positive. Later, of course, high testosterone/epitestosterone levels could be examined by carbon isotope ratios to determine if a Carbon 13 synthetic testosterone supplement was present; a clear violation of the WADA prohibited substance rule. In this case, the presence of the synthetic testosterone; constitutes the violation; the testosterone/epitestosterone level merely supplements the violation with additional evidence; additive but not essential to confirm an adverse analytical finding. Later WADA changed the normal testosterone/epitestosterone range to 4:1. Nevertheless, the statement made by Selena Roberts and David Epstein that the old "high [Lance Armstrong] ratios had not lead to sanctions," is misleading, for the above mentioned reasons and should be discarded as sheer nonsense.

One other thing should be mentioned. In the Floyd Landis case, a notorious example of incompetence of testosterone/epitestosterone testing occurred, a single urine sample returned four different results! This wanton disregard by a WADA accredited laboratory proves that confirmation by carbon isotope ratio tests are absolutely essential. Since the old Lance Armstrong testosterone/epitestosterone tests have no longitudinal or carbon isotope ratio confirmations they are essentially useless as evidence. There is an option of opening the urine sample safe, extracting the frozen urine sample, and doing the carbon isotope tests post facto. If the old urine samples do not exist: nothing can be proven!

What is not nonsense is the fact that Don Catlin tried to cover up positive drug tests of Olympic athletes, according to old witness testimony. If true, this could prove to be very problematic for Don Catlin! If a lie, this could prove very problematic for his accusers! Floyd Landis's opinion that Lance Armstrong was Don Catlin's favorite athlete and that this suggests a motive for cover up is insane babble by Landis; his favorite occupation of late; and proves nothing! It also should be noted that Floyd Landis had an insane hatred of Don Catlin, because Catlin refused to bend from his opinion that Landis had used performance enhancing drugs! Foo! What nonsense!

Last point: investigators found e-mail messages from team Radio Shack to "Doctor Blood" Michele Farrari, dated in 2009. Lance Armstrong employed Michele Farrari as a consultant, but, claimed to have severed all ties in 2004? Doctor Blood claimed that rEPO used properly was as dangerous as drinking orange juice? Very interesting. However, even if Radio Shack did have contacts with Michele Farrari in 2009 this does not prove that Lance Armstrong had any contact.

So nothing new. No bombshells. Nothing of importance here that would be of concern to Lance Armstrong. A dud. No new evidence of prohibited substance use. Yawn. A bore.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Floyd Landis Advocates Universal Doping?

What? Floyd Landis calls for universal doping? Man that guy creeps me out. I mean the object is to end doping for all sports, in all athletes, not to promote a race to the bottom in innovative, creative, drugs and methods to promote exponential increases in performance!

Floyd Landis retires according to Rant Your Head Off. Rant explains Floyd Landis' behavior, an interesting summary. True, the cycling community treated Floyd Landis in the worst possible manner...indecently. Floyd Landis was portrayed as the worst of villains, a serial cheat, how else do you explain his incredible run of success? In 2006 Floyd Landis was an unbeatable machine, The Tour of Georgia, the Tour of California, the Tour de France! Doped to the gills in every race too, which, is an unfortunate thing, that doping. Floyd Landis had an expectation of never being detected, the laboratories were so incompetent! After all Lance Armstrong and the entire US Postal Service team doped with impunity and Jacques DeCeaurriz and LNDD so stupid! AFLD for all their bluster, their braggadocio, the detested Pierre Bordry, the clowns, were in such a hurry to vacation, rushed the testing, with nothing to fear from Dick Pound and WADA! Ah, but we can't stop there, because Travis T. Tygart and his over zealous USADA brood were hunting the peloton for dopers and Floyd Landis skated by right in front of their noses!

There are people who help these greedy good for nothing dopers cheat and they are never investigated or caught or arrested with rare exceptions. This is not a justification for cheating or doping or encouraging people to dope or cheat. But the practice continues unabated in spite of the fact that Pat McQuaid shouts imprecations for reform down from the ivory tower he has barricaded himself in. Action not words are required for reform; even though the UCI does not act. Arrests and jail, not empty rhetoric are required to incentify honesty, Mr. McQuaid, you infernal buffoon! hemoglobin is unacceptable, DNA manipulation is unacceptable, athletes who are laboratory rats is unacceptable! Floyd Landis you are insane, you were forced out after a sensational drug induced year, we don't need you around cycling, clear out! Retire back to your cabin as a recluse; fend off your lawsuits best you can. You are a cancer, a bad example for the youth of America and the World.

Good thing they caught you in time or juniors or category three guys would want to follow your example, and risk all for the Grand Tour glory. If they listen to your insane advice the road to ruin will not be far behind. Go away!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Alberto Contador On The Verge of Death?

Last post wondered with incredulity as to the state of Alberto Contador's health atop the Tourmalet col; smiling and chatting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy like a celebrity, instead of feigning symptoms common with clenbuterol poisoning. But, perhaps it is bad etiquette to show suffering anywhere but on the bike? Looking at the film, Alberto attacks out of the saddle, without any sign of discomfort; with a closed mouth and even breathing, he hardly breaks a sweat! Signs more of bronchial dilation and increased oxygenation of the blood by artificial means, than from symptoms of acute clenbuterol poisoning...

Alas, a quick Internet search reveals the symptoms of clenbuterol poisoning: increased heart rate, muscular tremors, headache, nausea, fever, chills. From a deductive evaluation of the evidence, the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the podium could account for all of the symptoms independent of clenbuterol! But, how to explain those explosive attacks, a look over the shoulder at Andy Schleck, then sprint for dear life! Very strange behavior of an emaciated man on the verge of death!

The AFLD Gets Creative

The Spanish Cycling Federation afraid that people will interpret a verdict of innocence in the Alberto Contador case as a blatant form of patriotism by the Spanish doping authorities: have requested the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to join in a unified verdict. This would eliminate the most inconvenient expedient of a protracted appeal, examination of evidence, and trial of Alberto Contador by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). Perhaps the Spanish are concerned that the case will drag on past the start of the 2011 Tour de France. UCI president Pat McQuaid has suggested such a possibility, confounded idiot! When, one wonders, will the UCI learn to keep quiet in these matters; instead of stirring up the hornets!

Sure, the 2011 Tour de France will be a wonderful race to watch, with or without Alberto Contador! Pat McQuaid please refrain from telling us what we already know; you are embarrassing yourself again; which you promised not to do ever again; remember?

2011 has gotten off to an outstanding start. Encore!