Author Topic: The end of the road for Landis.  (Read 9776 times)

Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #50 on: July 02, 2008, 12:56:38 pm »
Of course Landis team did not try to black mail witnesses for example. Not the act of an innocent party. A judgment has been rendered, which may have a political element, but a sound one in that a measure has been taken. Finally. And Landis had a good go at defending himself too. It seems to me that too often the onus is on those who dare to do something about doping, than on the dopers. ASO and the French gvt have taken a lot of stick for trying to do the right thing, and for a long while.
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #51 on: July 02, 2008, 01:38:56 pm »
Of course Landis team did not try to black mail witnesses for example. Not the act of an innocent party. A judgment has been rendered, which may have a political element, but a sound one in that a measure has been taken. Finally. And Landis had a good go at defending himself too. It seems to me that too often the onus is on those who dare to do something about doping, than on the dopers. ASO and the French gvt have taken a lot of stick for trying to do the right thing, and for a long while.

One member of the Landis team tried to blackmail a witness who had absolutely nothing to do with the validity of the test. It was despicable, but I couldn't see why Lemond was even at the hearing.

Landis prepared a thorough defence. He found experts in the techniques used and got them to examine what was done. He made the documents available for public scrutiny so that those who are competent in such matters can examine them. I am unaware of any independent experts (by which I mean people competent to examine the science) who have stood up and said that the tests as performed were valid.

These arguments were ignored in part by the first hearing and ignored totally by CAS.

I am loathe to say that 'something must be done. This is something, ergo it must be done'. That way lies the sus law, internment and all sorts of horrible things that we are supposed to rise above.

If we want to fight against doping we must do it properly. Having shoddy tests covered up by a politically inspired decision is not an appropriate way to do so.  The methods used to convict should be above reproach. That includes chain of evidence, proper record keeping, and adhering to validated documented procedures. This case failed all three.

The Landis case is unique. Unlike many doping cases it does not claim that there is some mysterious biological anomaly, (which is a subjective argument and easy to discredit, whether or not it is you or your twin) but that the tests were performed incorrectly and/or incorrect inferences drawn and that the results should therefore not stand. At least in part this was shown to be the case, and the remaining part (the IRMS test) was also shown to not conform to the high standards one should expect.

..d

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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #52 on: July 02, 2008, 02:02:05 pm »
SS - The problem was though that the method by which they caught him was decidedly dodgy.

How would you feel about police breaking a couple of bones to get a confession out of a suspect?

I don't think that's a fair analogy. More like the found a suspect with the stolen goods, but they messed up the search of the property, and didn't follow procedure. The fact was there was synthetic testosterone in his system.

Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #53 on: July 02, 2008, 02:13:13 pm »
SS - The problem was though that the method by which they caught him was decidedly dodgy.

How would you feel about police breaking a couple of bones to get a confession out of a suspect?

I don't think that's a fair analogy. More like the found a suspect with the stolen goods, but they messed up the search of the property, and didn't follow procedure. The fact was there was synthetic testosterone in his system.

Or at least in the sample that was labelled with another rider's number.
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #54 on: July 02, 2008, 02:40:32 pm »
SS - The problem was though that the method by which they caught him was decidedly dodgy.

How would you feel about police breaking a couple of bones to get a confession out of a suspect?

I don't think that's a fair analogy. More like the found a suspect with the stolen goods, but they messed up the search of the property, and didn't follow procedure. The fact was there was synthetic testosterone in his system.

Was there? There were a series of GC-MS spectra which the lab claimed to interpret to show a single metabolite of testosterone with an isotope ratio inconsistent with control compounds.   The other three metabolites examined did not show this anomaly. The methodology the lab used to quantify the isotope ratios was not documented (ie no specific procedure). Instead they just took what 'looked right'.

There were issues with whether this was appropriate: whether the peaks identified as the metabolite had been properly identified, and whether they had been properly quantified, a difficult process when peaks overlap. These are the deviations from protocol which the lab have to demonstrate did not adversely impact upon the finding. They did not do so and the judgements illustrate this.

Sorry to delve into the technical, but there is no simple test to say whether there was synthetic testosterone. Instead it is based on inference.

Background:

Endogenous (human produced) testosterone is produced dynamically over a rapid timescale. The ratio of carbon12 to carbon13 in these peaks reflects that of the surrounding environment.

Synthetic testosterone is produced from plant material. This is biased in composition as it has been around a lot longer. So the testosterone it is alleged Landis used would have been marginally heavier - the carbon atom distribution would be slightly shifted.

The test does not examine testosterone. Instead it looks at a number of common breakdown products which are excreted in the urine. These can be separated on a gas chromatograph - feed a tiny bit of the sample in one end and different compounds will take different times to come out of the other end whereupon they are  fed into a mass spectrometer. It has to be established that the retention time of the product analysed is sufficient to accurately identify the metabolite.  Different metabolites may be isobaric (have the same mass) but have different retention times due to the chemical arrangement of the atoms in the metabolite giving them different properties.

 In the mass spectrometer the distribution of the carbon isotopes can be measured by examining the peak area for the ion current in the mass to charge ratio. There will be a big peak, corresponding to predominantly carbon 12, and subsequent peaks corresponding to one atom being C13, two atoms being C13 etc. As the isotope ratio would be about 1% you can establish the approximate peak areas.
The difference between synthetic and endogenous testosterone is based on the relative sizes of these peaks. Any error in measuring the area will give an error in the final result. The machines have a non-negligible non-constant background signal that must be corrected for. It is obvious that the same error in measurement of the small peaks corresponding to the heavy atoms will have a significantly greater impact than any error in measuring the big peak. The difference one expects to see is very small. And it would be diluted by any endogenous testosterone. He did not have an elevated testosterone level (which one would expect to see with this) and the IRMS test should not be used independently, but to confirm that elevated testosterone derives from an exogenous source.

There are algorithms for automatically subtracting background, and for separating overlapping peaks. The LNDD techs used one called 'experience and judgement' (draw the line where they think it looks best) which is undocumented and inappropriate for this assessment as it leads to inconsistencies between runs. Conveniently the original trace data was destroyed/not retained so independent analysis is not possible. Neither was any assessment of error performed.

An adverse isotope ratio was observed in one metabolite, but not in the other three examined. Landis case is that this finding was not justified as the procedure was inappropriate to support those conclusions. Also that there were inconsistencies between the four metabolites from the same sample so the test was unreliable.

I don't know if he doped or not, but the testing as performed does not support the allegations because it was done badly.

Well done if you have managed to get this far.

..d
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #55 on: July 02, 2008, 03:47:39 pm »
I don't know why you bother going to all those lengths to keep writing all that stuff, let alone expect people to keep reading it. It would be interesting to hear from someone from the lab, who would be able to put an argument counter to yours. As far as I can see you will always find something wrong, and what the Landis defence team did, as is common in finding a defence where you don't really have one, and that's to try and throw a blanket of as much confusion as you can over the evidence. Remember Hamilton's various defences. I see Rasmussen has just got a 2 year ban, are you ok with that?

There was plenty of evidence despite all the points you make, which is why the CAS ruled the way it did.

Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #56 on: July 02, 2008, 03:55:40 pm »
There was plenty of evidence despite all the points you make, which is why the CAS ruled the way it did.

What specifically?
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #57 on: July 02, 2008, 04:22:50 pm »
I think it has been covered to varying degrees of bias in these pages fairly well already, I suggest you do a search on Evidence against Landis or something. But to give you a clue its something to do with the presence of synthetic testosterone.

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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #58 on: July 02, 2008, 04:38:06 pm »
I don't know why you bother going to all those lengths to keep writing all that stuff, let alone expect people to keep reading it. It would be interesting to hear from someone from the lab, who would be able to put an argument counter to yours.

It is not an argument, it is a description of the evidence. I would love to hear from someone who can demonstrate that the evidence supports the verdict. I've not heard of a qualified scientist who does. (Local  MS expert just wandered through my office - he couldn't believe how poor the data was and that it had been accepted by the court),

It is a tenet of logic. If X then Y. If Y then Z. However valid all the subsequent steps may be, if the primary tenet is false (that the data support application of exogenous testosterone) then the whole case falls.

Quote
As far as I can see you will always find something wrong, and what the Landis defence team did, as is common in finding a defence where you don't really have one, and that's to try and throw a blanket of as much confusion as you can over the evidence. Remember Hamilton's various defences. I see Rasmussen has just got a 2 year ban, are you ok with that?

Totally different cases as I am sure you are well aware. The argument of 'others have been found guilty of similar offences therefore you must be guilty too' is not sound.

Quote
There was plenty of evidence despite all the points you make, which is why the CAS ruled the way it did.

CAS ruled that the procedures had been followed sufficiently and there was therefore no case to answer. They specifically did not address the technical issues.

It is politically the case that the anti doping labs cannot be seen to be making mistakes. Having the USADA case in open court was a brave move by Landis, and one which USADA despised. There are moves afoot to prevent open public arbitration hearings in future - the sound of a kangaroo court.

I think Landis may sue LNDD and/or USADA. This will then be in open court, with no political axe to grind and a test of the balance of probabilities that LNDD got it wrong. It will be very interesting if he does.

..d

Oh, and regarding
I think it has been covered to varying degrees of bias in these pages fairly well already, I suggest you do a search on Evidence against Landis or something. But to give you a clue its something to do with the presence of synthetic testosterone.

That is the whole point. What is the evidence that he had synthetic testosterone? The rather lengthy post previously explains how the test works and why the process is so important in ensuring the test is valid.
It isn't CSI. You don't have a machine with big flashing letters that says 'synthetic testosterone'.

So exactly what is the proof that he had synthetic testosterone in his body?

The reason that I get worked up about it is that it is bad science. People doing things badly and the consequences for that being huge. 

..d
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #59 on: July 02, 2008, 04:42:16 pm »
I think it has been covered to varying degrees of bias in these pages fairly well already, I suggest you do a search on Evidence against Landis or something. But to give you a clue its something to do with the presence of synthetic testosterone.

As detailed extremely well just above by David the evidence for the presence of synthetic testosterone is highly questionable. And as pointed out by me earlier the chain of custody of the sample is also highly questionable. So there may possibly have been synthetic testosterone in a sample which might possibly have come from him. That's your "plenty of evidence"?
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #60 on: July 02, 2008, 04:45:46 pm »
I think it has been covered to varying degrees of bias in these pages fairly well already, I suggest you do a search on Evidence against Landis or something. But to give you a clue its something to do with the presence of synthetic testosterone.

As detailed extremely well just above by David the evidence for the presence of synthetic testosterone is highly questionable. And as pointed out by me earlier the chain of custody of the sample is also highly questionable. So there may possibly have been synthetic testosterone in a sample which might possibly have come from him. That's your "plenty of evidence"?


Unfortunately, part of the CAS ruling was that ILS includes dodgy analyses becasue they weren't specifically excluded. So crap like the manual integration gets through just fine.

..d
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #61 on: July 02, 2008, 04:50:53 pm »
I can't believe they got away with submitting results that they don't have the original data for anymore! Any UKAS or similar accredited lab is expected to keep all original data for at least 3 years, I would expect something similar for whatever accreditation scheme WADA uses (hahaha).

David, I think you've done a great explanation and have been very patient, but there's going to be no persuading of people with their fingers in their ears going "la la la, I'm not listening!"
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #62 on: July 02, 2008, 04:54:25 pm »
I can't believe they got away with submitting results that they don't have the original data for anymore! Any UKAS or similar accredited lab is expected to keep all original data for at least 3 years, I would expect something similar for whatever accreditation scheme WADA uses (hahaha).

David, I think you've done a great explanation and have been very patient, but there's going to be no persuading of people with their fingers in their ears going "la la la, I'm not listening!"

I was wondering when the local analytical chemist was going to chime in ;-)

Still on the hunt for a scientist who can explain why the test results should be taken as a definite positive. Any offers out there?

..d
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JJ

Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #63 on: July 02, 2008, 05:48:33 pm »
And the result of a process that is not demonstrably and convincingly fair and open is that whether the right or the wrong result emerged, a top character is now out of the sport and a whole lot of people are significantly more distrustful of the machinery that is supposed to make it fair.

For my part I would far rather that some cheats get away with it than have the suspicion that honest athletes may be having their (oh-so-brief) careers truncated.

Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #64 on: July 02, 2008, 06:42:59 pm »

David, I think you've done a great explanation and have been very patient


2nded thanks for the educational experience
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #65 on: July 02, 2008, 07:46:31 pm »
I don't know why you bother going to all those lengths to keep writing all that stuff, let alone expect people to keep reading it.

I think it's called participating in a discussion. I've enjoyed David's explanations and haven't found the discussion confusing at all, despite having virtually no formal science background. It's just a question, as David has said, of scientific procedure (evidence and proof) versus legal procedure (decision-making based on presumptions, in this case at least).

We've had multi-hundred-post threads about candy. Why not a few pages about this?
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #66 on: July 02, 2008, 10:12:47 pm »
And the result of a process that is not demonstrably and convincingly fair and open is that whether the right or the wrong result emerged, a top character is now out of the sport and a whole lot of people are significantly more distrustful of the machinery that is supposed to make it fair.

For my part I would far rather that some cheats get away with it than have the suspicion that honest athletes may be having their (oh-so-brief) careers truncated.

This post summs it up concisely. FWIW I was racing against one of the local engineers who services our mass specs. I didn't raise the landis question (we were heading down a different line of post TT mind games whilst hoping the shower passed reasonably quickly.

..d
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #67 on: July 02, 2008, 10:45:25 pm »
I know this analogy is contrived and doesn't quite fit the Mass Spec and carbon isotope parts, but lets see how close we can get it.

--
You don't drink alcohol, you never have done.

You drive a bunch of friends to the pub one evening and spend several hours there. You drink orange juice and/or water all evening and no-one spikes your drinks.

On the way home you are pulled over by the Police and they suspect you have been drinking (they saw you drive out of the pub car park). Being asthmatic (I told you it was contrived) you say that you can't do a breathalyser but you'll happily submit to a blood test.

Off to the station you go and provide a sample of blood. The blood testing machine at the police station is broken (again, this is contrived) and so your blood is sent off to a lab to be tested. You are released after waiting for several hours and go home. The police tell you they will contact you when they get the results.

Several weeks later you are summoned to appear in court for Drink Driving.

Since you know you hadn't been drinking you get a good lawyer and work on disputing the case. Your lawyer requests all of the evidence and goes through it with you.

The forms submitted with the blood sample aren't signed or dated as they should be.
The label on the vial of blood (with your signature on it) has a number "123456/7"
The results form indicates it is the result of testing the vial numbered "423456/4"
There are the results of 3 separate tests on the same specimen of blood (80mg alcohol in 100ml is the UK limit). The 3 results are: 1mg/100ml, 95mg/100ml, 265mg/100ml.
The results form dismisses the two extreme results (1mg/100ml and 265mg/100ml) with no justification leaving the final result as 95mg/100ml, over the limit.

Despite being able to show that the proper process was not followed, that the labels don't match, that there is major doubt over the validity of the test, you are convicted of drink driving.

Because of this conviction you lose your job (which involved a fair amount of driving). Worse still, all of your colleagues and some of your friends start saying things like "Well, we all knew he did the occasional bit of drink-driving. I think it's a good thing he's been caught."

?
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #68 on: July 02, 2008, 10:54:14 pm »

I know this analogy is contrived and doesn't quite fit the Mass Spec and carbon isotope parts, but lets see how close we can get it.


I think your analogy is pretty close to the way I feel about the affair. 

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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #69 on: July 02, 2008, 10:57:47 pm »

Because of this conviction you lose your job (which involved a fair amount of driving). Worse still, all of your colleagues and some of your friends start saying things like "Well, we all knew he did the occasional bit of drink-driving. I think it's a good thing he's been caught."


And some people will read in the newspapers of your plight then say things like "Well he must be a drink-driver - all drivers do it."

Thanks, David, for your explanation of the testing process (^ up there) - very enlightening and informative.
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #70 on: July 02, 2008, 11:46:49 pm »

Because of this conviction you lose your job (which involved a fair amount of driving). Worse still, all of your colleagues and some of your friends start saying things like "Well, we all knew he did the occasional bit of drink-driving. I think it's a good thing he's been caught."


And some people will read in the newspapers of your plight then say things like "Well he must be a drink-driver - all drivers do it."

Thanks, David, for your explanation of the testing process (^ up there) - very enlightening and informative.


My explaination is probable not exactly correct, and skips some details, but provides sufficient information to give a representative flavour of the protocols and methods used. 

I am glad you found it helpful.

..d
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #71 on: July 03, 2008, 12:30:41 pm »
This "beyond reasonable doubt" angle smells bogus.  We're not talking about murder here, we're talking about breaking the rules of a game. 

The referee's decision is final.  Sometimes it goes against you.  You shuts yer yap and deals with it.

Quite how courts got involved is beyond me.
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #72 on: July 03, 2008, 12:40:59 pm »
This "beyond reasonable doubt" angle smells bogus.  We're not talking about murder here, we're talking about breaking the rules of a game. 
Well it's not really just a game is it? Millions of pounds are at stake (not for the one man but the entire sport) - it's more like fraud.
Look at how all the really complicated and serious fraud cases take months and months to hear and need no end of experts to get through it all....
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #73 on: July 03, 2008, 12:53:22 pm »
But the rules of the game are what is being discussed.  And in every game I've ever played, "the referee's decision is final" with a caveat or two about the video ref or somesuch. 
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Re: The end of the road for Landis.
« Reply #74 on: July 03, 2008, 01:56:26 pm »

I know this analogy is contrived and doesn't quite fit the Mass Spec and carbon isotope parts, but lets see how close we can get it.


I think your analogy is pretty close to the way I feel about the affair. 



+1.  It's a fit-up >:(
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