Saturday, February 25, 2012

Major Leauge Baseball Dropps the Ball

Zounds!  An arbitrator has finally sided with an athlete by determining that the sample collection process used by Major League Baseball (MLB) amounts to an abuse of process, and that the sample collection of Ryan Braun  is a direct violation of a irreproachable chain-of-custody, and that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Major League Baseball (MLB)  must adhere to standards that assure sample integrity, to protect the athlete against abuse in the sample collection process, and to ensure that the sample is, to quote a WADA Technical Document, " irretrievably linked to the athlete."

It appears that Major League Baseball was disenchanted by the exoneration of Ryan Braun's fifty game suspension rendered moot by the arbitration decision and now intends to file a lawsuit against the arbitrator to reinstate the suspension.  This folly should be reconsidered in light of the fact that the sample was stored in household of a chaperon employed by Comprehensive Drug Testing Incorporated for forty-four hours, unprotected and unaccounted for.  [Hint: MLB, no judge or jury in the United States will accept your argument, you will waste your time and money, generate an unnecessary amount of bad publicity, and leave yourselves open to retaliatory civil lawsuits, costs, and penalties.]  An unattended, unaccounted for urine sample constitutes a deplorable breach of the chain-of-custody, which demands that samples be accounted for and secured at all times.  Chain-of-custody is necessary to ensure that the urine that is provided by the athlete at the time of the sample collection, is the same urine that is tested by the laboratory, i.e., the athlete's.  Chain-of-custody also guarantees to the athlete that the sample provided will arrive at the laboratory in a pristine state, free from tampering, substitution, or adulteration with performance enhancing drugs by miscreants who have financial or other interests in defaming or suspending of an athlete.  The onus of proof for the integrity of the sample falls on Major League Baseball (MLB), Comprehensive Drug Testing Incorporated, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), not on the athlete.  In the Ryan Braun case, because of the forty-four hour lapse from the time the sample was collected until the sample was shipped, there was an opportunity for tampering, substitution, or adulteration of the sample. Therefore, Major League Baseball cannot conclusively prove that the sample has enough integrity to "irretrievably link the sample to the athlete."

"To shitten tail, turds never fail."
Francois Rabelais

Wow, the exoneration of Ryan Braun by the arbitration decision has generated some of the most incredible myths, and reflects some of the most ludicrous comments ever generated in relation to performance enhancing drug use and testing. The national syndicated sport talk show circuit is ablaze with nonsensical nitwits, both pundits and guests.  For ignorance of a topic it is like the blind leading the blind.  For example, Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio wants to know how Ryan Braun could possibly generate a world shattering 20:1 testosterone/epitestosterone ratio without using a synthetic testosterone supplement?  Well, there are two other possibilities that cannot be ignored, a medical condition, or letting the sample heat up in a warm environment for forty-four hours!  Letting a urine sample sit in a warm environment is verboten, and heat has a tendency to create a false positive test result by elevating a  testosterone/epitestosterone ratio!  Duh! go fish!  Warm urine samples also may shift the isoform (structural) bands of EPO from endogenous to synthetic, according to Michael Ashenden.   The implication by Cowherd and other misguided pundits that the only source of an elevated testosterone/epitestosterone ratio of 20:1 is a synthetic testosterone supplement is misleading and based upon ignorance and lack of understanding of the science.  These screaming sport pundits on sport talk radio, and their stupid callers, who aim to vilify and defame the characters of athletes by expressing deranged opinions based upon ignorance of the topic they are discussing, and who are too lazy to do even the most basic research into the topic they are ranting upon, rely instead upon intellectual dishonesty in a need to generate sensationalistic headlines, and hate.  Do your homework before you spout off, idiots.  You sound like complete imbeciles and you should be ashamed of yourselves!

Myths and Truths

The most important thing is the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio test.  False.  The most important thing is the Carbon Isotope Ratio Test.  The t/e test does not indicate doping with a prohibited substance.  Since unchanged testosterone in the urine cannot be typed as containing either Carbon 12 or Carbon 13 atoms, the distinction must be resolved by measuring Carbon 12 or Carbon 13 based metabolites of testosterone and establishing a Carbon 12 to Carbon 13 ratio by a method called the Carbon Isotope Ratio Test (CIR).  According to Christiane Ayotte head of the WADA accredited Montreal Laboratory, Ryan Braun tested above the mandatory two metabolite threshold of three delta units needed to establish the bases for a synthetic Carbon 13 based testosterone. Thus Ryan Braun tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance, the substance was inside of his body at the time, and was the direct result of using a prohibited substance, method, or precursor (marker).

Ryan Braun claims that a prohibited substance was never introduced into his body.  Well Ms. Ayotte would certainly disagree with you on that point!  Indeed, if the tested urine did belong to Ryan Braun and not some drug addled weight lifter down the block, and if the WADA accredited Montreal Laboratory did not engage in some egregious violation of WADA Code, or WADA Technical Documents, or International Standards of Testing (IST) or Laboratories (ISL), then yes, Ryan Braun did have synthetic testosterone in his body at the time he contributed the sample!  That is why there is an arbitration hearing, to determine whether or not the laboratory complied with the necessary standards of sample collection and testing.  That is why athletes are compelled to hire attorneys and experts in gas chromatic measurements and analyses, testosterone metabolism, spending millions of dollars and wasting years of their lives.  But, nevertheless, in spite of all of the above pitfalls, and without seeing the confidential Laboratory Document Package (LDP) there is no way to determine exactly the truth of the matter, and believing Ms. Ayotte, WADA, or Ryan Braun, will never conclusively establish the truth.

Major League Baseball needs to reform the sample collection process.  True.  I am in agreement with Rob Dibble who insists that all further testing in baseball should cease until the sample collection issues are resolved.  It is a matter of protecting the character of innocent athletes from a media onslaught especially in cases like Ryan Braun, where the athlete is exonerated do to the stupidity of MLB.  It is galling that WADA leaked the Ryan Brauns' positive test results to ESPN  in direct violation of WADA code, but jeez, if you are going to start a riot, you could have had at least the common decency to tell us that the urine sample was stored at the chaperon's home unattended and unsecured for forty-four stinking hours in a warm room!  But no, the chain-of-custody process that was so egregiously violated, to David Howman, reflected nothing more than a glitch in the system.  That is because WADA tends to push the envelope of what is acceptable laboratory practice with the re-assurance that the arbitration panels never holds WADA accountable for their behavior.  In the Floyd Landis synthetic testosterone case, we have examples too numerous to mention of the cavalier attitude maintained by WADA: whiteout of athlete identification numbers, uncrossed through as mandated by the code with a time stamp and initials, numerous coding errors contained within the lab document package uncrossed and unannotated, the CG/C/IRMS had incorrect jet pressures, incorrect heat ramp temperatures, a vacuum leak sucked laboratory environment into the machine, the software used to analysis the data was out of compliance, the personnel were untrained an unqualified to operate the machine, and it is suspected that two different CG/C/IRMS machines were used with different calibrations and with one machine containing a polarized column.  Enough for you yet?  Illogical for the arbitration panels to allow WADA to get away with murder, but the more rope you give these people the more rope they take with impunity, until they end up with a Ryan Braun disaster, because the Court of Arbitration panel never holds WADA accountable for their behavior.  Bottom line, establish a clear chain-of-custody and avoid the sample collection issue altogether, and another disaster.

Major League Baseball needs to establish an independent Anti-Doping Review Board (ADRB).  True.  An independent anti-doping review board could have determined that the chain-of-custody was invalid and have ended the arbitration process at that point without ever presenting the case orally in front of an arbitration panel.  One of the greatest problems with the anti-doping process, as it is presently constituted, is the control WADA has over the process from sample collection to the final arbitration award.  Total power corrupts totally.  Abuse of process that is never punished by an arbitration panel encourages further abuses of power, and a cynical, cavalier disregard of the need to ensure fairness for the athlete or to ensure due process.  An independent panel of objective people who do not have a "dog in the fight," or a conflict of interest, or an incentive for a specified outcome, would do much to ensure fairness and harmony in a system that sadly, at present, is devoid of both.

Awake! arbitrators.  If you would enforce the Orwellian concept of strict liability among the laboratories, as you cruelly do to the athletes, by insisting that any deviation from International Standards would constitute an immediate ground for dismissal of a WADA complaint, then WADA would, for the first time in history, attempt quality control that adheres to established international standards!  As a bonus, there would be no need for athletes to expend millions of dollars for expert witnesses, there would be no need for legal arguments, discovery processes, wasted time, or threats to future opportunities.  There would be justice for all, is this not the ultimate desire of all this nonsense?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alberto Contador is Toast

Seventeen months wasted by the anti-doping crusade and it's nefarious associates to arrive at a decision in the Alberto Contador clenbuterol doping case, which originated on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France.  Thousands of dollars were needlessly expended for expert lawyers and witnesses after the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) inexplicably attempted to exonerate Mr. Contador, citing his lack of intent, culpability and responsibility for the existence of a non-threshold steroid detected in his urine.  This incredible exoneration by the RFEC occurred after Mr. Contador rejected a one-year suspension and forfeiture of 2010 Tour de France championship and award money offer made by the RFEC earlier in compliance with WADA code. Well it is certainly difficult to understand how an athlete who refuses a reasonable deal from an organization that holds his professional license, without admitting any guilt, can cajole an exoneration after the fact.  But this miracle occurred and could only occur in Spain, where there seems to be an incredibly tolerant attitude for sport doping offenses and a need to protect national sport heroes.

Well, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Organization (WADA) did appeal the RFEC exoneration as unreasonable.  The contention by Mr. Contador that his positive A and B urine sample tests for clenbuterol, a known non-threshold steroid and substance that is included on the WADA prohibited list, was the result of dining on a imported cut of imported Spanish veal, brought to the Astana team dinner table to appease the palate of Mr. Contador.  WADA and the UCI argued that the most likely source of the clenbuterol positive result was not contaminated meat, but, more likely a blood transfusion or a contaminated supplement. WADA and the UCI presented evidence of blood irregularities inconsistent with past parameters measured from UCI biological passport data, and an unexplainable "spike" in phathalates,  plastics found in blood transfusion equipment.  The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) heard the UCI and WADA appeal and determined that Mr. Contador did not meet the standard of probability that his positive test was more probable as an innocent ingestion of contaminated beef, than a blood transfusion or a contaminated supplement.  The CAS award overturned  the Spanish Cycling Federation exoneration, suspended Alberto Contador for two years, rescinded all of his titles and purses from the date of the offense, including the 2010 Tour de France, and the 2011 Giro d' Italia.  The suspension is retroactive and Alberto Contador will be allowed to race again in seven months, but, we fanatics will not have to deal with doping Alberto for the 2012 Tour de France.

Andy Schleck will be declared the "winner." There is justice in all of this, of course.  On the col when Andy Schleck suffered "chain suck," a nasty problem that happens usually when shifting on the chain wheel from the large chain wheel to the small chain wheel when the chain is under stress and goes bang off your chain stay.  A nasty problem especially when you are hammering up a steep incline, imagine pedaling under stress, then frictionless!  Almost broke me legs a couple of times doing that stunt.  Of course, the problem happens on the freewheel too, when the chain jumps off the small gear up against the wheel and gets stuck between freewheel and spokes or "spoke protector."  Anyway, it is an unwritten rule among professional cyclists, when a malliot jaune has a mechanical problem such as chain suck, the pack is expected to wait, under an unwritten standard of etiquette. But Alberto Contador in an excess of avarice, attacked Andy Schleck who was the victim of chain suck on a very difficult mountain climb, in direct violation of etiquette and gained critical time which indirectly accounted for Contador's Tour victory. The moral of this story, don't dope during a Grand Tour and don't cheat by using bad tactics.  Then you can live with a clear consciousness.