How is Floyd Landis the Opposite of Bode Miller?

After Bode Miller told 60 Minutes that he often drank the night before ski races, and that he’d even raced while still drunk, he was raked over the coals and forced to grovel and apologize. Now we learn that Tour de France winner Floyd Landis (here’s a recent posting on the subject), who tested high for testosterone after his miraculous comeback stage, drank pretty heavily the night before that stage — “two beers and at least four shots of whiskey,” according to the Wall Street Journal. But instead of being disgraced, Landis may find that his drinking was his salvation: “According to several studies,” Sam Walker wrote in the WSJ, “alcohol consumption can increase the ratio between testosterone and epitestosterone, which occur naturally in the body. Mr. Landis failed the test because it showed an elevated ratio between the two.”


demecj02

I don't believe this is a fair comparison. Here's more from the same article:

***

According to Mr. Landis, the drink weren't part of his usual training. "I don't ordinarily ever drink alcohol during a race," he said yesterday. But earlier that day during Stage 16, Mr. Landis had faded in the Alps, surrendering the leader's yellow jersey and falling more than eight minutes off the lead. Afterwards, he was all but convinced that the race was over for him. "What would you have done?" he asked. "Until yesterday, that was the worst day of my life."

***

If anything, this is the complete opposite to Bode Miller. It makes me wonder if you even read the entire article.

prosa

I'm inclined to give Landis the benefit of the doubt for the simple reason that he may not have had any reason to use steroids. Their benefits (so to speak) are found mainly with sports activities requiring explosive strength, not endurance events such as distance cycling. While that's not to say that steroids won't help an endurance athlete, the likely benefits to his performance probably wouldn't be worth the risk of getting caught - especially when, as in the TdF, there is regular drug testing.

queenofsheba

It is funny to me that the first commenter says that Bode Miller is more the opposite of Floyd Landis, and seems to think he's disagreeing with an entry titled "How is Floyd Landis the Opposite of Bode Miller?"--and then says s/he doesn't think you read the article.

zbicyclist

Bode Miller was a willing participant in pre-Olympics hype about all the medals he was going to win -- wasn't he on the cover of Time and other magazines, which means he posed for many photo shoots. And then he didn't perform well, and partied a lot. If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.

Landis has a reputation as a modest guy. He wanted to do well, maybe win, the TdF, but wasn't boastful. [Still, as the leader of a sponsored sports team, you are expected to do PR for the team and nobody is without ego.] After a discouraging day, he sought temporary solace in the bottle. This isn't a good thing, but frankly it's something many of us can relate to, even if we haven't done it. We have the binge, and we move on.

I hope the alcohol binge turns out to be the explanation, although I may be just being sentimental and holding out false hope. Even if he's cleared, it may be like Vaughters says:

"Jonathan Vaughters, ex-pro, CEO of Slipsteam Sports and manager of the TIAA-CREF, to VeloNews
'I believe Floyd is innocent. The majority of T/E tests are over-turned at the CAS level. The guy will probably be proven innocent in eight months time, but in the short-term, the media is killing him. Floyd is basically paying for the sins of all the morons who came before him, who have denied, denied, denied. He's going to take the fall for everyone who has cried wolf before him. He's going to be the guy who gets his head cut off and that's a real tragedy.' "

http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/10595.0.html

(The CAS is the appeal level; I think it's the "Commission for Arbitration of Sports" or something like that.)

Read more...

ftelegdy

"Their benefits (so to speak) are found mainly with sports activities requiring explosive strength, not endurance events such as distance cycling."

There's plenty of explosive strength in cycling. It was particularly required of Landis in the 17th stage in order to get away from the pack. You don't get away from the pack in cycling through endurance. Endurance keeps you ahead of the pack after you've used the explosive strength to get away. Lance Armstrong taught us that.

"But instead of being disgraced, Landis may find that his drinking was his salvation"

If so, that's pretty lame. If alcohol does provide the increased ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone that Landis had (greater than, or equal to, 4:1 when the normal person has a ratio of 1:1), then maybe alcohol should be banned by the Tour de France the same way Sudafed is banned by the Olympics.

autiger

"wasn't he on the cover of Time and other magazines, which means he posed for many photo shoots. And then he didn't perform well, and partied a lot. If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk."

Maybe you just looked at pictures but he actually said his goals were not to win all the golds but to have fun and accomplish the goals he set for himself. After the games he said he did what he wanted to do. So in that way of thinking, he did exactly what he talked about, meaning he did walk the walk.

zbicyclist

In the previous post, I used a Vaughters quote from Velonews.com.

Curiously, on that page, Google had placed the following ad:

Ads by Goooooogle
Buy Testosterone
Testosterone by Doctor Prescription Get Leaner, Build Muscle, Lose Fat.
www.cna-hgh.com

Of course, Velonews didn't book the ad; they just agreed to get paid by Google for placing arbitrary ads. Still...

jake1441

the most intresting part of this to me is the article in the nytimes today that claims testosterone has absolutely no affect on performence. Why, then, is it banned?

See here http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/28/sports/othersports/28doping.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

JustinMcH

When I was in college, I would sometimes go running early in the morning after a night of unhealthy drinking. I often noticed just how well I ran on those mornings. I always assumed there was some sort of sweating the toxins out explanation, but it now appears that I had increased the ratio between testosterone and epitestosterone, which I really should have known all along.

ftelegdy

jake1441,
"Testosterone can have powerful effects on the body, directing it to make muscle instead of fat. And it can increase the red-blood cell count, which may allow more oxygen to reach laboring muscles. But when researchers have studied the hormone's effects on endurance, they have come up empty-handed."

They didn't say it doesn't affect performance. They said there has been inconclusive evidence about its affect on endurance. And just because it might not affect endurance doesn't mean it's ineffective for riders in the Tour de France, as I pointed out earlier.

demecj02

Good explanation of the situation from Art DeVany:

http://www.arthurdevany.com/archives/2006/07/landis_and_erro_1.html

pkimelma

Note that testosterone is used for training (it helps to build leaner and toner msucles). It does not have any known effect as a night-before drug, because its effects are too muted in short dosing. So, it is very unlikely that he would take testosterone once like this (and he was tested multiple times due to winning stages). One possible explanation besides alcohol is fat. When fat is burned, it can cause big spikes in male/female hormones. He already has a quite variable testosterone level (meaning not well regulated), so the dump from fat burning of this grueling stage could account for the spike.

Ken D.

It seems obvious to me that the main reason that Miller's drinking is deplored but Landis' not is that Miller failed in the Olympics, while Landis performed spectacularly after his drinking. The criticism of Miller was not for failing to be a teetotaler; stop the presses, many athletes are far from that. The criticism was that drinking appeared to be a component of failing to get himself in shape to give his best effort. Whatever else Landis is guilty of, he is squeaky clean on that one. By the by, Landis won only that one stage; it is not clear to me how many other times he was tested. Finally, Landis high-profile public defense is unusual; he is either innocent or very gutsy.

ElSordo

Steroids would be incredibly beneficial for cycling. There is no substitute for strength/power. Suppose in the tour the cyclists need to sustain X watts of power to keep up. If you increase your strength, then X watts will become a lower percentage of your max. power output and hence easier to sustain.

The main issue for me though, is the uselessness of the test that they use for testosterone. I bet a ratio of 4:1 is absurdly far above the mean (anyone have numbers on this?) - the tour would have to be extremely conservative in using this ratio as a test for doping since they wouldn't want any false positives, so I bet it's virtually impossible to fail this test without having used 'roids. It's the same with EPO. Up until recently the only test for EPO was to measure the red blood cell count, which only catches a miniscule subset of the cheats (those who accidentally overdo their EPO dosage).

If I was a pro. cyclist and wanted to cheat and get away with it, I'd try to operate just below their (arbitrary) cutoffs. Epitestosterone to testosterone ratio of 3.99:1 - perfect! Forgive my cynicism, but I'm sure this is a widespread.

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dbrower

Hi,

Except for the water, which shouldn't make a difference, the link is pretty much the standard "long term doping" theory, and the only one that makes sense from a performance point of view.

Keep in mind that the actual findings have not been formally reported yet, so there isn't even a USADA case against Landis at the moment. And without the values in the formal report, there's really no way but uninformed speculation for him to respond. The uninformed speculation that he has let slip out has just made him look stupid, the lesson of which has been learned by Marion Jones.

If you're interested in keeping up with Landis news, I am keeping a running roundup at http://trustbut.blogspot.com; this discussion will be linked.

TBV

demecj02

I don't believe this is a fair comparison. Here's more from the same article:

***

According to Mr. Landis, the drink weren't part of his usual training. "I don't ordinarily ever drink alcohol during a race," he said yesterday. But earlier that day during Stage 16, Mr. Landis had faded in the Alps, surrendering the leader's yellow jersey and falling more than eight minutes off the lead. Afterwards, he was all but convinced that the race was over for him. "What would you have done?" he asked. "Until yesterday, that was the worst day of my life."

***

If anything, this is the complete opposite to Bode Miller. It makes me wonder if you even read the entire article.

prosa

I'm inclined to give Landis the benefit of the doubt for the simple reason that he may not have had any reason to use steroids. Their benefits (so to speak) are found mainly with sports activities requiring explosive strength, not endurance events such as distance cycling. While that's not to say that steroids won't help an endurance athlete, the likely benefits to his performance probably wouldn't be worth the risk of getting caught - especially when, as in the TdF, there is regular drug testing.

queenofsheba

It is funny to me that the first commenter says that Bode Miller is more the opposite of Floyd Landis, and seems to think he's disagreeing with an entry titled "How is Floyd Landis the Opposite of Bode Miller?"--and then says s/he doesn't think you read the article.

zbicyclist

Bode Miller was a willing participant in pre-Olympics hype about all the medals he was going to win -- wasn't he on the cover of Time and other magazines, which means he posed for many photo shoots. And then he didn't perform well, and partied a lot. If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.

Landis has a reputation as a modest guy. He wanted to do well, maybe win, the TdF, but wasn't boastful. [Still, as the leader of a sponsored sports team, you are expected to do PR for the team and nobody is without ego.] After a discouraging day, he sought temporary solace in the bottle. This isn't a good thing, but frankly it's something many of us can relate to, even if we haven't done it. We have the binge, and we move on.

I hope the alcohol binge turns out to be the explanation, although I may be just being sentimental and holding out false hope. Even if he's cleared, it may be like Vaughters says:

"Jonathan Vaughters, ex-pro, CEO of Slipsteam Sports and manager of the TIAA-CREF, to VeloNews
'I believe Floyd is innocent. The majority of T/E tests are over-turned at the CAS level. The guy will probably be proven innocent in eight months time, but in the short-term, the media is killing him. Floyd is basically paying for the sins of all the morons who came before him, who have denied, denied, denied. He's going to take the fall for everyone who has cried wolf before him. He's going to be the guy who gets his head cut off and that's a real tragedy.' "

http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/10595.0.html

(The CAS is the appeal level; I think it's the "Commission for Arbitration of Sports" or something like that.)

Read more...

ftelegdy

"Their benefits (so to speak) are found mainly with sports activities requiring explosive strength, not endurance events such as distance cycling."

There's plenty of explosive strength in cycling. It was particularly required of Landis in the 17th stage in order to get away from the pack. You don't get away from the pack in cycling through endurance. Endurance keeps you ahead of the pack after you've used the explosive strength to get away. Lance Armstrong taught us that.

"But instead of being disgraced, Landis may find that his drinking was his salvation"

If so, that's pretty lame. If alcohol does provide the increased ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone that Landis had (greater than, or equal to, 4:1 when the normal person has a ratio of 1:1), then maybe alcohol should be banned by the Tour de France the same way Sudafed is banned by the Olympics.