Another Take on Floyd Landis

One of the regular commenters on this blog, who calls himself Zbicyclist, has a very interesting post on his own blog about how and why Floyd Landis may have doped himself up for that miraculous Tour de France stage. (For previous posts about the TdF and/or sports doping, see here and here and here.)


bsci

This logic doesn't hold. There was a measurable amount of synthetic testosterone in his system. Assuming the test was accurate, then that would appear no matter what the ratio was.

Unless this was a one time event (either with his knowledge or without), either many past tests were false negatives or the last test was a false positive.

iannarino

LOW EPITESTOSTERONE
Maybe there was measurable synthetic testosterone, and maybe there wasn't. There are too many unanswered questions about this lab for me to be convinced (including there continued willingness to disregard their own testing and notification protocol).

There is a fallacy that exists here that Landis's testosterone number was high . . . it was in fact, low.

His epitestosterone was so low as to be almost undetecable! Adding epitestosterone as a masking agent would increase the amount in the urine, not lower to the point of being undetectable --the reason for using it as a masking agent is so that it is detectable!

Since the epitestosterone level was low, it appeared that the testosterone level was high (it is a ratio); the actually testosterone level was low.

WHY THE WATER?
Landis overheated the day before, which clearly contributed to Landis's poor performance.

Water would not have helped Landis with the ratio. . . Why not? He would later have to submit to blood tests where masking drug use is much more difficult (which in fact he did).

Does anybody believe pouring water over you head dillutes your urine?

THE SILENCE
All this said, the best evidence of doping is the silence. You guys here at Freaks can run the numbers and find out how many cyclists (other than Greg Lemond) have publicly accused Landis of cheating. Even Oscar Periro has been careful not to accuse Landis.

Read more...

Jack Nguy

You ought to make it more clear when the letter ends and where your commentary begins.

Jack Nguy

Oy. Sorry about the above comment.
A. Wrong post to comment on. I intended it for the article on names and cricket.
B. Disregard the point completely. The RSS reader I'm using doesn't format the text, so its hard to tell when the letter ended and where your commentary began.

dbrower

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

zbicyclist

Wow! What a week! I got final acceptance of an article in JMR, AND got a plug on the Freakonomics blog!

(Thanks for the plug, Stephen.)

stinkypete

Riders give two samples, but the same French lab checks them both. This is the same lab that the man who headed the Dutch anti-doping agency for ten years, Emile Vrijman, said with respect to Lance Armstrong "behaved in ways that are completely inconsistent with the rules and regulations of international anti-doping control testing" and may have also been against the law, according to a story in the Associated Press.

Surely to provide a modicum of fairness to the athletes, the "A" and "B" samples should be checked by two completely independent labs.

drewguy

I don't think he even needs the complicated pattern--it was desperation.

I think the most important point is this one:

"Floyd would have had only a 1 in 70 chance of being tested (they test the winner, the leader, and two other random individuals)."

He figured someone else would be in his breakaway with him, and he apparently tried to encourage other riders to help him, promising them the stage victory (reported in SI). So, he takes the testosterone, gets back large amounts of time (but not so much to take the yellow jersey), finishes second, and doesn't get tested.

His plan almost worked--he made up most, but not all the time, but was hung out because no one kept up with him.

Bill Basso

It's a plausible theory, but I would like to posit one that I haven't seen mentioned in the media: he recieved the steroids through blood doping.

This has happened before, I think it was the '76 Olympics to some Finns. Back then, blood doping was legal. The only problem was that the blood had been extracted during a course of steroids earlier in the season so they tested positive for that.

Landis may have blood doped to help him recover and give him the boost to make back the time figuring that blood doping is very difficult to detect and very effective. Only he hadn't counted on the blood used to contain steroids as well.

We'll never know unless he comes forward.

bsci

This logic doesn't hold. There was a measurable amount of synthetic testosterone in his system. Assuming the test was accurate, then that would appear no matter what the ratio was.

Unless this was a one time event (either with his knowledge or without), either many past tests were false negatives or the last test was a false positive.

iannarino

LOW EPITESTOSTERONE
Maybe there was measurable synthetic testosterone, and maybe there wasn't. There are too many unanswered questions about this lab for me to be convinced (including there continued willingness to disregard their own testing and notification protocol).

There is a fallacy that exists here that Landis's testosterone number was high . . . it was in fact, low.

His epitestosterone was so low as to be almost undetecable! Adding epitestosterone as a masking agent would increase the amount in the urine, not lower to the point of being undetectable --the reason for using it as a masking agent is so that it is detectable!

Since the epitestosterone level was low, it appeared that the testosterone level was high (it is a ratio); the actually testosterone level was low.

WHY THE WATER?
Landis overheated the day before, which clearly contributed to Landis's poor performance.

Water would not have helped Landis with the ratio. . . Why not? He would later have to submit to blood tests where masking drug use is much more difficult (which in fact he did).

Does anybody believe pouring water over you head dillutes your urine?

THE SILENCE
All this said, the best evidence of doping is the silence. You guys here at Freaks can run the numbers and find out how many cyclists (other than Greg Lemond) have publicly accused Landis of cheating. Even Oscar Periro has been careful not to accuse Landis.

Read more...

Jack Nguy

You ought to make it more clear when the letter ends and where your commentary begins.

Jack Nguy

Oy. Sorry about the above comment.
A. Wrong post to comment on. I intended it for the article on names and cricket.
B. Disregard the point completely. The RSS reader I'm using doesn't format the text, so its hard to tell when the letter ended and where your commentary began.

dbrower

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

zbicyclist

Wow! What a week! I got final acceptance of an article in JMR, AND got a plug on the Freakonomics blog!

(Thanks for the plug, Stephen.)

stinkypete

Riders give two samples, but the same French lab checks them both. This is the same lab that the man who headed the Dutch anti-doping agency for ten years, Emile Vrijman, said with respect to Lance Armstrong "behaved in ways that are completely inconsistent with the rules and regulations of international anti-doping control testing" and may have also been against the law, according to a story in the Associated Press.

Surely to provide a modicum of fairness to the athletes, the "A" and "B" samples should be checked by two completely independent labs.

drewguy

I don't think he even needs the complicated pattern--it was desperation.

I think the most important point is this one:

"Floyd would have had only a 1 in 70 chance of being tested (they test the winner, the leader, and two other random individuals)."

He figured someone else would be in his breakaway with him, and he apparently tried to encourage other riders to help him, promising them the stage victory (reported in SI). So, he takes the testosterone, gets back large amounts of time (but not so much to take the yellow jersey), finishes second, and doesn't get tested.

His plan almost worked--he made up most, but not all the time, but was hung out because no one kept up with him.

Bill Basso

It's a plausible theory, but I would like to posit one that I haven't seen mentioned in the media: he recieved the steroids through blood doping.

This has happened before, I think it was the '76 Olympics to some Finns. Back then, blood doping was legal. The only problem was that the blood had been extracted during a course of steroids earlier in the season so they tested positive for that.

Landis may have blood doped to help him recover and give him the boost to make back the time figuring that blood doping is very difficult to detect and very effective. Only he hadn't counted on the blood used to contain steroids as well.

We'll never know unless he comes forward.