Friday, May 27, 2011

The Lance Armstrong Doping Investigation Heats Up

The Lance Armstrong doping investigation is heating up with a new round of accusations by Tyler Hamilton on 60 Minutes. Most of the Tyler Hamilton allegations against Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, and the United States Postal Professional Cycling team cannot be directly confirmed, except for the claim that Lance Armstrong tested positive for recombinant erythropoietin (r-EPO) during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. It has been reported on Fox News Radio that an investigation is currently underway in Switzerland to either confirm or deny the Tyler Hamilton allegations of a positive rEPO test for Lance Armstrong. If a positive test for rEPO exists, the Tyler Hamilton assertion that Lance Armstrong paid the International Cycling Union $100,000 for a drug testing machine and an additional donation of $25,000 to the UCI slush fund to suppress the positive rEPO test may have some relevance. Currently Pat McQuaid and the UCI deny any such cover-up deal with Lance Armstrong.

One aspect of the Tyler Hamilton interview that seems concerning is his denial of doping during the Olympic games, where Hamilton won the Olympic time trial gold medal, when the Olympic testing laboratory found markers in his blood indicating a double cell population, common with blood transfusions. This is very ingenious because there exist documents written by WADA warning Tyler Hamilton of blood irregularities long before the Olympic positive test. Tyler Hamilton was allowed to keep his Olympic gold medal because the Olympic laboratory froze his confirmation sample by mistake rendering the blood useless for testing purposes. The fact that Tyler Hamilton kept the medal, instituted a campaign to deny his doping, and even at the present time, denies any doping during the Olympic games, renders his testimony very self serving and very questionable.

Marion Jones, non analytical positives, and USADA

USA Today writer Christine Brennan wrote an article that quoted an interesting e-mail reply from Travis T. Tygart.

The fear of testing positive serves as a strong deterrent for many athletes who might otherwise make the decision to defraud sport by doping. That being said, we know that some well-resourced, sophisticated dopers with the infrastructure in place can evade a positive test. Fortunately for clean athletes, authorities also have the ability to sanction athletes using dangerous performance enhancing drugs based on reliable evidence other than a positive test.

Christine Brennan says: "That's the way the U.S. Government finally caught Jones, and it might be the way it gets Armstrong, if he's indicted."

Clearly Travis T. Tygart is correct in suggesting that teammate testimony may lead to an non-analytical positive and a suspension if there is proof of the allegations. But Ms. Brennan's conclusion is certainly incorrect, a non-analytical positive did not catch Marion Jones. Advances in doping detection and some good luck caught Marion Jones.

1) Athletes testified to the fact that they saw Marion Jones using the "clear," a newly formulated, previously unknown, and unlisted designer steroid.
2) Anti-doping laboratories chemically typed and developed a test to detect the "clear" (GC/MS) after a track coach provided a sample of the previously unknown steroid.
3) Olympic laboratories and international laboratories had stored Marion Jones urine samples "on ice" and her career urine samples were available for re-testing for the "clear."
4) The anti-doping jackals were closing in.
5) Knowing that she was caught, Marion Jones confessed to using the "clear," surrendered her Olympic medals, and admitted that she lied under oath about never using performance enhancing drugs.

Lance Armstrong, sans a possible positive test for r-EPO during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, has never tested positive for any performance enhancing drug even though a test for r-EPO was available, and even though Lance Armstrong was extensively tested for performance enhancing drugs from 1999-2005. Thus it is very unlikely that a unknown designer steroid magic bullet exists with Lance Armstrong, a "smoking gun" that could be identified with re-testing of his urine samples. However, Lance Armstrong does have an unusual case history that seems suggestive of possible performance enhancing drug use.

1) Teammates accuse Lance Armstrong of using r-EPO and other performance enhancing substances. (1999-2005)
2) A test for r-EPO existed in 2000 to present.
3) Tyler Hamilton claims that Lance Armstrong and USPS used r-EPO during the 1999 Tour de France.
4) In 2004 French WADA accredited laboratory LNDD (Chateny-Malabry) claims to have detected r-EPO in Lance Armstrong's 1999 Tour de France urine samples.
5) Emile Vrijman hired by the UCI to investigate the 2004 LNDD "scientific" re-testing of the 1999 Tour de France urine samples declares that the testing "constitutes nothing" and recommended that the UCI take "no action," because their was a lack of security, no clear chain of custody in regards to the urine samples tested, and other problems that invited sample tampering. Other problems emerged concerning the 1999 urine sample re-tests. All four of the prologue samples tested resulted in 100% isoforms of r-EPO. Christiane Ayotte called such results "surprising" and "improbable." Ayotte explains that r-EPO is a biological agent and is therefore prone to degrade over time even when stored at -40 Celsius. The 100% prologue isoforms imply that the r-EPO was in pristine condition, almost like it was added to the samples the day before! There were other problems, the aliquots were labelled with the dates when the samples were taken and possibly the athlete doping control form numbers. Mario Zorzoli the UCI medical expert provided L'Equipe reporter Damien Ressiot with all of the Lance Armstrong doping control numbers form the 1999 Tour de France. Consequently, it is logical to conclude that Ressiot and some LNDD miscreant put two and two together and knew which samples belonged to whom and engaged in sabotage. Interestingly, L'Equipe knew the results of the Lance Armstrong 1999 Tour de France tests before WADA or the UCI. The UCI requested no rider suspensions result from the alleged r-EPO "positive tests."
6) A controversy erupts over a cortisol (cortisone) topical cream Armstrong used for saddle sores during a Tour de France. There is some argument over whether Armstrong filed a valid medical therapeutic use exemption for cortisol.
7) France accused USPS Professional Cycling Team of using actovegin after a French television station recovered some USPS medical waste from a dumpster. Actovegin used with localised platelets at the sight of injury is supposed to speed recovery. However, actovegin may have no medical efficacy other than a placebo effect. Actovegin is currently a banned substance and it cannot be imported into the United States. After a two year investigation the French government decided that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Armstrong and USPS were engaged in doping practice.
8) During the Motorola period (pre-cancer) Armstrong is accused to testing above the testosterone 6:1 legal limit.
9) Betsy Andreu claims that Armstrong admitted to using e-EPO and other performance enhancing drugs during the Motorola period (pre-cancer)in a medical interview with Indiana University Medical Center doctors. Frankie Andreu claims to have heard the Armstrong admission. No medical records of such an admission exist. Frankie Andreu also claims that USPS used performance enhancing drugs.
10) Lance Armstrong had a business relationship with "Doctor Blood" Michele Ferrari.
11) Michele Ferrari was convicted of providing r-EPO and doctored blood products to athletes by an Italian court.
12) During a Tour de France an enraged Lance Armstrong chased down and threatened Filippo Simeoni after Simeoni accused Lance Armstrong and Michele Ferrari of having an improper relationship.
13) Greg LeMond accused Armstrong of making threats during a cell phone conversation that LeMond received at an airport. Kathy LeMond supposedly transcribed the conversation. LeMond claims Armstrong stated that he could provide a hundred witnesses who would claim that LeMond used r-EPO.
14) Floyd Landis claims that the USPS team used r-EPO. Landis claims that the USPS team would stop along a Tour de France course and receive midnight team blood transfusions at rest stops on the team bus.
15) In 2009 a AFLD chaperon showed up at the Astana team facility to gather out of competition hair, blood, and urine samples. There seemed to be some dispute over the credentials of the AFLD chaperon, so while Johan Bruyneel called Pierre Bordry for confirmation, Lance Armstrong left the presence of the chaperon to take a shower, which is a direct violation of WADA code and should be construed as a punishable violation. Many critics complained that Lance Armstrong was doing more than showering, like employing strategies to defeat detection.
16) Ed Coyle, a University of Texas physiologist concluded that several factors accounted for the tremendous improvement in Lance Armstrong's athletic performance post cancer, post Motorola, and post Cofidis. Improved pedal efficiency, performance increase per kilogram of weight loss and low lactic acid production. rEPO use would also account for about a 15% increase in performance if Lance Armstrong had not used r-EPO pre-cancer. Micheal Ashenden and other excercise physiologists assert that Lance Armstrong is not a unique cyclist, his physiological parameters are a wee bit above normal, but not exceptional. The post cancer weight loss has been questioned and discounted, so how do you account for such an exceptional increase in performance post cancer if Lance Armstrong was using r-EPO pre-cancer? An abnormal hatred of Cofidis?

And yet... there is more, probably so much more... and yet...there is nothing but smoke and mirrors. The anti-doping agencies did not suddenly discover a new BALCO designer steroid magic bullet with an unknown chemical signature, or an exogenous designer steroid that did not appear on the WADA prohibited list. Consequently, the non-analytical positive sanction that USADA and the Federal Government is planning on, without an admission by Lance Armstrong of engaging in past doping, is unlikely to happen ever. So you might agree with some of the critics who proclaim that this investigation is a colossal waste of tax payer dollars that could be spent more productively on anti-doping research to catch the next batch of the "clear."

Giro d' Italia Fables and Other Fables

There has been a virtual cavalcade of bad news for Lance Armstrong lately. His trusty lieutenants from his incredible seven year Tour de France reign have turned and are now accusing Armstrong of using and encouraging the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Some of the former teammates of Lance Armstrong have mental and long term substance abuse issues. Floyd Landis confessed to use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs throughout his career. During the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis tested positive for metabolites of synthetic testosterone. But, instead of an admission of testosterone use, Floyd Landis mounted a vicious innocence campaign, accusing the WADA accredited laboratory LNDD with sloppy laboratory practice. Landis had a good grounds for his attack because examination of the evidence suggested an incredibly appalling laissez faire approach to laboratory testing, poor work, errors, mistakes. In reality, WADA and their laboratories had never been challenged openly in a public arbitration hearing where their mistakes were openly exposed by the defendant, [Landis posted his Lab Document Package online]. Every numerical item of the Floyd Landis Lab Document Package was debated by experts in gas chromatography substance identification, numerous errors and omissions were detected. The problems were so severe in analyses of the Floyd Landis data that a clear question emerged, is Floyd Landis innocent? No. The single metabolite above threshold was the correct finding; synthetic testosterone was present. Over two years and millions of dollars were wasted; people were duped into contributing money to the Floyd Fairness Fund convinced of his innocence, money which Floyd Landis has never re-paid. Defenders of his honor were exposed as dupes. Floyd Landis can not be trusted, now, in the future or ever. His testimony should be regarded in all cases with a severe degree of skepticism, if not as outright fabrications or embellishments of the truth and discarded as nonsense. The man has no honesty and he is a master manipulator. Beware of this clown.

Tyler Hamilton is another case of mental illness, substance abuse, cheating, lying, and should never be believed, ever. The Tyler Hamilton Foundation "Believe Tyler" campaign of innocence, created after Tyler Hamilton tested positive for a double red cell blood population during the Tour of Spain, was a masterful show of manipulation, featuring beautiful women groupies wearing "Believe Tyler" tee-shirts shouting out "Believe Tyler!" to any dupe within hearing range. Tyler Hamilton was guilty as sin of blood doping, he was correctly detected, he lied then, denied, denied, denied, refused to surrender his Olympic gold medal, lived a lie, then dropped an atomic bomb on the world with accusations against his former patron and teammate Lance Armstrong in a 60 minute interview.

Egad! Where do these people come from and is cycling forever to be plagued by a group of mentally incapacitated people? Believe me, a good lawyer is going to have a field day with these people, their reputations as outstanding members of the community are forever tarnished by endless doping, cheating, lying, why should anyone believe their fables of wrongdoing by other people other than themselves?

If you believe Alberto Contador and his fabrications of tainted meat caused his "analytical positive" for an anabolic steroid; clenbuterol, then you are another in an endless list of dupes ready for the slaughter. Are cycling fans dupes? You would think that Diogenes could find an honest cyclist in the peloton before he could find an unobstructed bicycle lane, but alas no. If I were running the Giro d' Italia, I would have stopped every vehicle crossing the Italian frontier and demanded an inspection of the meat.

"And what, signor, do you intend to do with these steaks? To the dining table of Alberto Contador, the cyclist? What country of origin, Spain? Arrest this man! To the laboratory this meat immediately!

Damn straight. No cover-ups with fantastic fables in my Giro d' Italia!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tyler Hamilton: Bold Accusations

Tyler Hamilton has created another seismic shockwave by accusing seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of using and facilitating the use of recombinant erythropoietin (rEPO) during the 1999 Tour de France when Hamilton and Armstrong were teammates at the United States Postal Service Professional Cycling Team. Tyler Hamilton has a long history of doping and mental illness, commented upon by this author two years ago when Hamilton was banned for eight years while United States road champion for taking a holistic substance to battle ongoing bouts of manic/depression.

"Rise and Fall of Tyler Hamilton" created some adverse comments from people who mistakenly thought that the article was an attack on people suffering from the debilitating medical and behavioral effects of manic/depression. Not true. Mania and retarded depressive disorders cause long term adverse effects that can cause disastrous long term results, not only to the people suffering from the disorder but to families, friends, acquaintances. Manic episodes have long been argued to be independent of voluntary cognitive control in some cases; "word salads" incoherent sentences of incoherent rambling thoughts totally unrelated in context to one another. Before the discovery of psychoactive drugs (lithium salts) that lowers the resting potential of the neuron from an hyper-excited level to a normal range (~-70mv) some manic patients were warehoused in the back wards of mental hospitals for years, lost causes, never to be restored to a level of behavior that would be considered normal in society.

Drug interventions stopped superstitious reasoning of mental illness that predominated during the "dark ages." Early superstitious "causes" of mania and schizophrenia were attributed to demonic possessions and required exorcisms, among other idiotic cures. However, with the accidental discovery that lithium salts caused rats to behave more tranquilly, and that this discovery might have application with human beings, did it become obvious to psychiatrists that manic episodes were a medical condition. Lithium salts do allow chronic manics to function quite well in society, absent the word salad cognition, and uncontrolled impulsive destructive behaviors. As long as they take their medication as prescribed.

As everyone knows psychoactive drugs cause side-effects and have different medical efficacy depending upon the patient, the medical condition, duration, severity. There has never been or ever will be a snake oil that will cure everything. If one drug does not help, talk to your doctor, he or she will try something else, there is no need for self experimentation with holistic drugs or herbs. In fact self-experimentation with herbs may lead to toxic results because in some drugs the therapeutic dose and toxic dose are almost identical. Blood levels of lithium salts must be monitored at all times to prevent toxicity because lithium is stored in blood platelets and can reach a toxic level even though a doctor prescribes a therapeutic dose. Thus the problem.

Therefore, Tyler Hamilton has no excuse for experimenting with a drug that had no proven medical efficacy and that also contained an ingredient that is on the WADA prohibited substance list, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone.) Tyler Hamilton admitted that he knew that the herbal remedy contained DHEA and that this substance was banned. Tyler Hamilton, was not so incapacitated at the time that he needed immediate relief from a manic state that would have resulted in behavior considered "harmful to himself or others." Suicidal ideation or behavior reported as harmful to others usually requires hospitalization of the patient, even if only for a brief period. But maybe Tyler Hamilton wanted to self destruct, his marriage was falling apart, maybe he wanted people to feel sorry for him, maybe he was feeling sorry for himself, maybe he wanted to be banned?

So what is with the new Sixty Minutes Tyler Hamilton accusations of Lance Armstrong? More self-laceration? Does Tyler Hamilton crave attention, is he envious of Lance Armstrong's seven year reign, is he another idiot like Floyd Landis? Is Tyler Hamilton seeking a large, lucrative advance on a potential book? What is his motive? And does Tyler Hamilton have any proof?

So, no, we cannot simply leave Tyler Hamilton alone. So sorry.

Friday, May 13, 2011

At the Pioneer Park Downtown Criterium

Out for a ride I ran into a couple of Ski Utah women riders at a rail road crossing, who were waiting for the train to cross. I did not speak to them at the time, not wanting to be considered an intrusive, rude bore, and because I thought they were merely out for a training ride. Little did I know that there was a crit in process at Pioneer Park. Imagine my surprise when I glanced down the street to check traffic at an intersection and saw a pack of riders flash past. Whoa, a crit! I must check this out immediately!

A group of category 5 men riders were half way through their race, the wind was blowing from the West at about ten miles an hour. The view of the race is unique for a crit because the park is very flat and there are very few obstructions to block the view. Into the wind the pack tended to spread out somewhat, but by the time the pack reached the start/finish line with a tailwind they were gruppo compacto in the classic arrowhead formation. All of the weak attacks off the front, and they were rare, were promptly reeled in by the peloton. The race ended in a classic every man for himself mad sprint to the line.

Good show. Next race, much to my surprise, was the women category 1/2/3 race, and the Ski Utah women that I saw at the railroad crossing were participating in the race! [The results are found here.] At the start the women rode gruppo compacto until a green lap. A green lap offers a premium to the riders, usually in the form of money, for the first rider to sprint across the start/finish line. In this race when the women sprinted for the line a gap opened up in the pack like magic, and in spite of my better judgement, I started shouting, "Well done! You have a gap! Go! Four of the ladies went, much to my immense satisfaction. When they completed one lap and went past again I could not resist shouting, "Work together! Form an echelon! Take a pull and rotate! When they came around again I saw the ladies riding a perfect pace line, three riders in the fast lane and one in the slow lane, pull and rotate, much to my immense satisfaction. The gap began to widen with every lap. Perfect. They will never be caught.

In fairness, I tried to convey to the chase group the same strategy as the escapees. Work together in a pace line and you will catch them. Because the chase group contained more riders than the escapees, it is only logical to assume that the work load and energy expenditure among the chase group would have been much smaller than with the escapees. Even the weaker riders among the chase group could have skipped a pull and rested because of the superior number of riders. But, if riders of the escape group would have skipped pulls, even if it was only one rider of the group, it is safe to assume that they would have been caught. And the momentum of the chase pack of riders would have had a superior push/pull effect, the front riders are pushed and the rear riders are pulled by sheer force.

Well, I thought the outcome of the race be clear, until a second green lap, when the announcer offered a fifty dollar premium to the chase group of riders only. Near the start/finish line the ladies went into an all out sprint with determined effort and bang the gap diminished to the point where I thought the escapees would be caught outright! But, after the premium sprint, for the rest of the race, lap after lap, the same lady pulled the chase group and the other riders followed in her wake, they either could not or would not work, while the escape group continued to work together and ride a perfect pace line. The escape group was never caught and finished the race and their names should be written in gold, one, [151] Laura Howat (Ski Utah) two, [153] Kristen Kotval (Primal Utah) three, [157] Chantel Thackery Olsen (Primal Utah) four, [155] Laura Patten (Ski Utah Market Star). Only one problem ladies, when you have two team members in a four person escape group you should win the stage with ease with a lead out and a sprint. Protect your teammate until the last minute, shield her from the wind, she should stick on your wheel like glue, while your opponents are playing cat and mouse games with each other and with you, while eating wind! With a sudden burst of acceleration the victory should be a forgone conclusion! You have to decide among yourselves who is strongest, and make a sacrifice for the team.

Yes, I was very happy watching the ladies on the day before Mothers Day. I was in my element surrounded by cyclists and racing. The women probably wondered who was that deranged clown, gesticulating and shouting near the start/finish line. Even so, it was a great day with lovely weather, blue skies with wispy cirrus clouds, and there were great races with A+ performances.

Wouter Waylandt killed during a terrible accident during the Giro d' Italia, R.I.P.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Giro d' Italia Follies

Poor Floyd Landis is being attacked by the UCI, again. A lawsuit is filed against Floyd Landis for impugning the integrity of the anti-doping crusaders, who claim never to protect performance enhancing drug abusing cheaters, neither suspected clenbuterol user Alberto Contador or suspected Michele Ferrari supercharged blood transfused seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong! Indeed, who would ever suggest that these two entirely clean, upstanding examples of cycling purity would need protection against alleged accusations of doping?

Not Pat McQuaid, who denied ever knowing that a clenbuterol positive for Alberto Contador taken during the Tour de France ever existed! If an enterprising German television reporter had not learned of this positive [through a verboten laboratory leak?] the world would live in ignorance and Alberto Contador would be allowed to continue to race, even to compete in the Giro d' Italia with the blessing of Angelo Zomegnan himself!

Good old Angelo Zomegnan who has decided, as a professional medical scientist, that he should determine the amount of time needed for a rider to return to a "normal" physiological level. According to Angelo Zomegnan, some riders return to a "normal" physiological level at an unusually rapid pace, and this suggests manipulation of "abnormal methods" that leads to "normal" results. Whatever that means. Of course, with everyone these days, with the exception of Floyd Landis who endures daily verbal attacks from the cycling establishment, Angelo Zomegnan refuses to comment on the Spanish Cycling Federation exoneration of Alberto Contador, who is innocent until proven guilty! What a change from the days when Angelo Zomegnan threatened to refuse to allow Alberto Contador and Team Astana to ride the Giro d' Italia, the team was relaxing on the French Riviera, drinking cerveza and scoping out lovely mademoiselles, instead of training rides and power bars, bewildered because Angelo Zomegnan was accusing former USPS director sportif Johan Bruyneel of running an organized team doping program with Astana. Nevertheless, under tremendous pressure and at the last moment, Angelo Zomegnan collapsed and invited Alberto Contador and Team Astana to participate in the Giro d' Italia, which Alberto Contador won. It is interesting that Angelo Zomegnan can accuse Johan Bruyneel and the USPS Professional Cycling Team of doping to the gills and testing positive in repeated tests, the results of which were suppressed by WADA and the UCI, and face no sanctions or lawsuits, but when Floyd Landis makes the same claims, he is sued to the gills by WADA and the UCI.

These Floyd Landis lawsuits by WADA and the UCI are a little premature are they not? The Jeff Novitzky investigation is still ongoing is it not? The Federal Grand Jury still hearing witnesses and evaluating testimony are they not? Zut alors!