Sunday, April 29, 2007

LNDD deleted Landis S17 data

It took just a day, between me proclaiming "For sure, there will be more breaking news in the next 16 days" in the Floyd Landis saga, and a news release from the Landis camp claiming "CRITICAL LANDIS STAGE 17 EVIDENCE ERASED FROM HARD DRIVE AT LNDD, ORIGINAL DATA DESTROYED". With this regularity, expect the next round of breaking news in a week from today. TBV puts the recent news into perspective:

"We can't tell now if this represents a real problem for USADA, or a hyped reaction by Landis to a wrong timestamp on a copy, reflecting yet another "harmless clerical error" by the LNDD. There's more to both sides we aren't hearing."

For just like last Monday's news, it'll take a few days for the dust to settle, and to see what really is to make of this discovery. Meanwhile, DPF has started its own thread about the news. And after a long absence, Floyd is back.

Rant has also been busy:
Breaking News: Original Stage 17 Data Files Erased At LNDD
The new 18.5 minute gap

Mission accomplished ...

With much more pleasant temperatures today for cycling, I completed a 55.4 mile ride from Belmont to Chain Reaction Bicycles in Los Altos (the Redwood City store is closed Sundays), and back with a couple more loops in Woodside; the route goes by my boss' house, but the Oracle said that he's out racing his sailboat or something. This brings me to 87 miles for the weekend, 245 miles for the month, and 1000 miles for the year.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sat, Apr 28

Other than at DPF, the brouhaha over last Monday's news about Floyd Landis seems to have settled down. Amidst continuous conspiracy theories and speculations about the science, the conduct of USADA, and the performance of LNDD, floridacyclist brings it to a point:

"That the process is riddled with flaws doesn't mean USADA is proceeding in corrupt fashion, guided by unethical motives, and deliberately, with malicious intent, gaming those flaws just so they can nail a guy they know otherwise wouldn't be nailed. Sometimes it's just a whole lot simpler than that. Sometimes there's not an evil monster hiding in every closet and no ghouls and goblins under every bed. Sometimes it's just as simple as what it appears. The greatest likelihood among the various possibilities that could match the known observances is this: USADA is pursuing the truth as it believes it on the basis of the evidence, with no prejudice, malice, or dark conspiracy. Occam's Razor."

The question of Landis guilt or innocence has to be separated from the issues with the anti-doping system. What we know is that the anti-doping system needs an overhaul so that accused athletes get a more fair chance to appropriately defend themselves against the charges; it is probably too late for Floyd to savor this. Whether or not the issues with the anti-doping system quite generally have contributed to positive doping results, will transpire in the USADA hearing that will start May 14. There was an official request from Landis' lawyers to delay the hearing in order for them to be able to consume the results from the B sample analysis, but I have not heard whether this was granted or not. It is also not clear whether Landis has already received any data from USADA or LNDD. For sure, there will be more breaking news in the next 16 days.

In other news, the plan for today was to climb Mt. Diablo, but the day started out with a strategic mistake: I left too late. By the time I was about to start cycling at around 10:30am, the thermometer in my car already showed "83F", and once reaching Athenian School in Danville, I saw hordes of cyclists coming towards me, but none going my direction. Nevertheless, I climbed for a bit until I decided to turn around, and race along shady and cooler Danville Blvd. Tomorrow is another day; with 55 miles to go to reach 1000 miles for the year, there's enough incentive.

2007 riding stats: #of rides: 28, annual mileage: 945, pace: 2923

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The FreeFloyd mugs are here

Yesterday I received my FreeFloyd mugs. They're real and they're fabulous, and most importantly, they don't leak.

Monday, April 23, 2007

USADA's Kangaroo court

In three weeks from today, the USADA Kangaroo Court comes to California to sentence Floyd Landis. An emailer from France, lndd@lequipe.fr, leaked uhmm sent us this promotional poster:

Landis' press conference

After the breaking news surfaced earlier, meanwhile, Floyd Landis had held a press conference at 10am PST. TBV listened in:

Landis hasn't gotten any official results, and hopes to get them in a few days. As noted in the earlier press release, they complained that USADA ran the analytical process, with their expert and attorney "over the line", while Landis' experts Scott and Davis were kept on the other side. They said that they were denied visibility into the critical parts of the analysis.

[Click to continue reading]They also explained the lockout: USADA's experts went home, and left instructions that if there was no USADA expert, there could be no Landis experts. Landis claims the refusal of entry had nothing to do with behavior by their experts.

The samples were tested serially, in batches of two, and that Landis' experts had heard of "top line" positive results during the week. They feel these conclusions are premature without seeing the supporting data they were not allowed to see, which many of us have learned are critical to the accuracy of the result.

Landis believes the leak could only have come from LNDD or USADA, an issue they expect to take up with the arbiters this week.

At the conclusion of the prepared remarks, Floyd gave a blistering attack, saying that he won the Tour fair and square; that is disappointed but not surprised by the leaked results, which show that what few rights athletes have are routinely ignored, reflecting a lack of ethics by the agencies. He thinks what happened at the LNDD borders on deliberate falsification and destruction of evidence.

During the Q and A, they suggested they might appreciate a delay in the hearing date, and are contemplating recourse to Civil Court.

Suh suggested that the process at the LNDD should result in non-admission of the new results.

Striking at bait dangled by one reporter, Suh went along with the characterization of anti-doping enforcement as a witch-hunt bordering on McCarthyism.

All told, it was about what one could have expected -- not much hard data was presented, and some of the questions seemed clue-challenged. It is very difficult for the Attorneys to get across how they feel about the system. Suh repeated himself several times, saying this is "very troubling." Another reporter wanted to know why Landis' experts could just stop things when they were denied access, and had to be told the tests were happening no matter what Landis' did.

In the meantime, the biased reporting of L'Equipe, taking the leak with no balance, races around the world.

Rant posted his version of Floyd's press conference.

Mon, Apr 23: B sample analysis leaked

Before even USADA or AFLD learned of the results from LNDD's analysis of Floyd Landis' B samples from before and after S17, who other than L'Equipe leaked them. Don't say you're surprised. Allegedly, the analysis shows traces of synthetic testosterone ... and according to AP via sports.yahoo.com, LNDD used a new technique to distinguish natural from synthetic testosterone. Thomas A. Fine over at DPF notes that

"once again they've seriously misrepresented the mechanics of this test. (I suppose maybe this is a translation problem -- Marc?) This test is fully and completely unable to "distinguish" the origin of testosterone. The substances are identical, and in no way can be separated. The test yields a single number that indicates how much one metabolite deviates from others. Some deviation is normal. And more deviation is increasingly unlikely to be natural. That is all this test can do."

Anyhow, who got Vrijman's phone number ? Tygart is happy that he could finish another chapter in his upcoming book.

The controversy about the denial to give lab access to Paul Scott, Landis' observer, apparently is due to a prior agreement that says that Scott would attend the tests with two USADA observers; those two USADA folks though didn't show up.

Landis' press release:
USADA ORDERS LNDD TO DENY FLOYD LANDIS’ OBSERVER ACCESS TO “B” SAMPLE RETESTING
Retesting Conducted Without Independent Observer OversightApril 23rd, 2007

New York / Paris, April 23, 2007 – Under the order of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Paul Scott, expert consultant to 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis and observer at the illegal retesting of Landis’ already cleared Tour de France samples, was yesterday denied entry to the Laboratoire National de D├ępistage du Dopage (LNDD) at Chatenay-Malabry. As such, the analysis of two samples was conducted without a Landis representative as witness. Such behavior constitutes a clear and direct infringement of Landis’ rights while casting severe doubt on the integrity of an already dubious process.

This latest incident comes on the heels of a week in which Landis’ observers have been repeatedly and improperly restricted from accessing key phases of data processing and analysis while USADA’s expert and lawyer were able to have free lab access and directed the retesting process of LNDD.

[Click to continue reading]Per the pre-arbitration process, there was to be an independent expert appointed by the arbitration panel whose role was to determine if the testing methodologies are flawed and to provide an additional degree of protection for Landis. USADA knowingly directed that the testing begin April 16 despite the fact that no such expert had been named.

According to Scott, LNDD lab director Jacques de Ceaurriz did not allow him to enter the facility Sunday morning. Ceaurriz cited direct orders from USADA to prohibit any further observation of the ongoing retesting.

During the analysis, USADA observers regularly provided specific direction to the LNDD, over-ruling the Landis observers’ objections and conferring with LNDD staff in private during sample processing. Landis and his team find this behavior to be particularly troubling as these deliberate actions confirm their position that the samples have been subject to mishandling, further malfeasance and potential results falsification.

Scott, former director of client services at the UCLA Olympic Laboratory, left UCLA last October and shortly thereafter was added as a consultant to the Landis defense team. Early on, Scott cited the poor handling of Landis’ Stage 17 sample as the primary example of the deep problems in scientific method and fact finding in this case.

Scott said, “In my years at the UCLA lab, I’ve never seen anything like what I experienced at the LNDD yesterday. The limitation placed on me and Simon [Davis – an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectometry expert also selected by Landis to observe the retesting] demonstrates the lack of objectivity in this process, USADA’s interest in controlling and limiting our observation of the retesting is an example of one of the most egregious problems in the fundamental science of anti-doping that I have experienced.“

Given the indisputable conflicts and documented incompetence at the LNDD, testing Landis’ “B” samples there without witness or Panel appointed independent expert highlights USADA’s out-of-control prosecution. The outrageous and improper limitations placed on Landis’ observers reinforce the injustice inherent to this entire process. This is particularly evident in the case of this unprecedented retesting, where both USADA and the LNDD have a vested interest in colluding to corroborate the flawed results of Landis’ Stage 17 sample.

Scott added, ““Good science does not fear being an open book. Any science that is not neutral and objective is not science at all. Labs acting under the direction of prosecuting Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) are, by definition, not independent. As service providers hired by ADOs, they have a vested interest in the results desired by their client. In this case, the client is USADA and the lab is the LNDD. From what I have witnessed so far, I have significant concerns that their analysis will render results that are scientifically invalid.”

By exhausting sample material during the retesting without providing the checks and balances necessary to protect the interests of the athlete, USADA has willfully destroyed evidence that can be used to independently verify whatever results come out of the conflicted LNDD facility.

“This is yet another in a series of malicious actions by USADA that tramples my right to have my case heard in fair and just way,” said Landis. “How can I be expected to prove my innocence while USADA endeavors to break their own rules at every turn? I’m infuriated by the behavior of USADA and the LNDD. Together, they have turned this proceeding into a full-scale attack on my civil rights and a mockery of justice.

For more coverage:
trustbut.blogspot.com/2007/04/pressure-doesnt-build-character-it.html
trustbut.blogspot.com/2007/04/monday-roundup_23.html
rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=226
rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=227
rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=228

As Rant said correctly, there's a wild ride ahead.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sat, Apr 21

Matt @ freefloyd.org "finally" caved in to one person's repeated requests for FreeFloyd coffee mugs, and so he has now added them to his store offerings. 100% of the sales proceeds of all his store articles are going directly to the Floyd Landis Fairness Fund. My mugs are now on their way.

My foot has recovered enough to ponder going for a ride today, and before the rain is back later this afternoon. Two weeks of rather inactivity will even make me ride at a chilling 50C.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pound and Tygart tell their story

Rumor has it that Pound and Tygart will release their own two-book series on June 26, on the same day as Floyd Landis will publish "Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France". While LNDD is still at dinner ordering the fifth course after one hard day's work on Floyd's B samples, L'Equipe got impatient waiting for results, and then instead leaked the book covers.


(Photo borrowed from Neil@ROAD)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sun, Apr 15

To quote Floyd Landis in his FFF video: "I would rather be racing my bicycle" ... unfortunately for me, rain and foot pain (that prevents from even walking properly, let alone pushing pedals), kept me from cycling this weekend. Instead I'm trying to convince my wife that I need a new bike. My Trek 2000 weighs in at about 20-21 pounds, with the front wheel including tire, alone at 1300g. I already checked out Chain Reaction Bicycles in Redwood City; they have a big sale going. Alternatively I was thinking to just upgrade components, and get a set of Mavic Ksyrium elite's or SL's. Or a PowerTap wheel. Or both. Or a new bike and Mavic's ... decisions, decisions.

I thought it to be a new Blogger feature, but I just realized that the reason for Blogger adding word verification to my blog for publishing a post, is because they think my blog is a spam blog. Interesting. It seems that what I write is "irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site". Prior to this post, I had 830 links in my blog, 252 pointing to blogger.com, 323 back to my own blog (via subject links, email links, comment link, and picture links), and TBV being the next with 36 links, out of a total of 70 posts. Yeah, about one link per two posts is quite large, sorry. As far as "repetitive" goes, well, I can't stress often enough that USADA screws Floyd Landis, that USADA screws Floyd Landis, and lastly, that USADA screws Floyd Landis. Is this nonsensical ?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Floyd participating in the Teva Mountain Games

Amidst the rather disappointing news regarding Floyd Landis' battle with USADA over the last two days, he is already looking past his USADA hearing that starts May 14. floydlandis.com announced today that June 2-3, Floyd will be taking part in the Teva Mountain Games, a two-day team sport event. [Read more].

Thursday, April 12, 2007

USADA's fishing expedition

Received and posted by TBV:

1 USADA Document Request of April 3
2 Landis Response to USADA Document Request

TBV thinks that "the financial record search is part of an attempt to root out any big money behind Landis, possibly in the form of Armstrong or Andy Rihs, the latter which might be claimed to be in violation of some "ethics" rules by the UCI. The parts about payments to doctors and trainers come off as intimidation, but could be seen as tracking down his "network of doping doctors and support systems"."

In my mind, this request for all this documentation supports the theory that USADA is not at all out to find the truth but as Dugard said, out to "break him down and make him "poor like Tyler"". Floyd's comment:

"In light of the fact that USADA won’t produce critical information or allow me to depose or call key witnesses in person that will help me get a fair and unbiased hearing in May, it’s outrageous that they would send a letter to my lawyers asking for things like receipts for medical visits, complete donor-records from the Floyd Fairness Fund and a history of all of the posts that I made on the Internet. That’s just harassment, and the last time I checked, it would constitute an invasion of my privacy and of the privacy of everyone who wants to see this hearing conducted in accordance with the principles of fairness and justice.”

Also received from FFF:

USADA DENIES LANDIS REQUEST THAT Sample RETesting Take Place at UCLA Olympic Laboratory, LANDIS To SEEK Split of Remaining “B” Samples

The denial to have at least half of the samples analyzed by the world-class lab at UCLA, just fits into the picture. What is USADA afraid of ? That the analysis comes back negative ? They must have a strong conviction that LNDD will declare the B samples positive. Since a positive results can't be used to declare an AAF, the only other purpose is to attack Floyd's credibility. QED.

Thu, Apr 12

The arbitration panel in Floyd Landis' doping case, has made public its first final arbitration decision. Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times paints a rather negative picture about the two rulings made against Floyd Landis:

1. Request for depositions of witnesses was rejected
2. Request to prohibit testing of seven 2006Tdf B samples could not be granted

On the other hand, Landis will have the opportunity for cross-examination of lab technicians that are USADA's witnesses. As for the proposed testing of B samples at LNDD (yes, no typo, it is LNDD), the samples are property of the UCI, and unless for declaring an AAF, they can use results from the analysis for other reasons. The panel declared that they may allow the findings as evidence.

I'm wondering now what could come out of testing the B samples at LNDD. The 7 A samples all have tested negative, so if the B samples are negative, then no surprises here. If the B samples test positive, this means that LNDD screwed up analyzing either the A samples or the B samples. Which results should be trusted? How much time and effort would it take for an investigation in order to find out whether result A or B is the correct one? I believe that USADA's request for more B sample testing has the same reasons as asking from Landis "a large volume of medical records as well as financial records of his legal defense fund, including the names of all donors of more than $250." ... make him bleed more. Christopher Campbell, Landis's representation in the arbitration panel, has therefore rightfully expressed his partial dissent on the rulings; rulings, which I doubt though will have a major impact on the outcome of the hearing.

For more comprehensive coverage, check out TBV.

32 days to go until May 14; expect more suspense until then.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy Easter



This afternoon I've been watching S17 of the 2006 TdF. It became clear how much of Floyd's lead that day was the responsibility of the peloton. First they've worn out Pereiro's helpers, and then still nobody wanted to chase. Only until the peloton was more than 9 minutes behind Landis, they picked up the pace. As for Floyd's power output on Col de Joux Plane, the last hill before Morzine with an 8%+ average grade, the camera got a glimpse of Floyd's PowerTap: 367 watts and 20.5 mpH. I can do this too ... downhills. But what an incredible ride it was. Thanks Floyd!

"Landis's Day in Court"

This is the headline of an article in the May 2007 print edition of Men's Journal, written by Joe Lindsey. From the table of contents:

72 Current Events
Why Floyd Landis's doping defense might actually work

The article talks about the upcoming USADA hearing, and that while the media and most observers have already proclaimed Landis guilty, it may actually be the USADA being on the defense. The hearing will be open to the public as per Landis' request, and his lawyers will not only attack the credibility of LNDD but also USADA's rules. Lindsey lists four contentions why Landis "could walk":
  1. wrong sample: the '995474' vs '994475' mixup
  2. faulty machinery: improper operation, antiquated software
  3. bad protocol: same techs involved in A and B sample analysis
  4. ambiguous rules: the fact that a reading for only one metabolite were out of range

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Wed, Apr 4

The Floyd Landis Fairness Fund (FFF) announced three more Townhall Meetings, probably the last ones before Floyd's May 14 USADA hearing:

- April 14 in Scottsdale, AZ
- April 18 over yonder in Atlanta, GA
- May 6 in Irving, TX

An indication that my mind has spent too much time on topics related to doping in cycling, was when I received the May edition of the Bicycling magazine with the headline "Blasting off the Pounds", and thought "Hey, there's a typo"; well, the article was then about shedding pounds and not Pound. Sigh.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sun, Apr 1

More breaking news: Rant reports "Pound Suspended Indefinitely, McQuaid Sent To Detox" ... Velochimp reports that Floyd Landis was cleared of all charges ... Cyclingnews is running a news special, announcing that the prologue of the 2009 TdF will be held in Dubai, that NASCAR wants to sponsor a US cycling team, and that WADA is apparently now being called "Where Are the Drugs Agency" .... what is going on ? Well, it's April 1. It would be nice to read the first two headlines TOMORROW.

Real was today's ascent to Mount Diablo, together with Holger and David. It's been a gorgeous day, and with my legs still feeling yesterday's ride, I struggled a bit on the last two miles. Going back downhill was a blast, of course.

2007 riding stats: #of rides: 23, annual mileage: 794, pace: 3184.