Landis loses, questionable precedent

The Floyd Landis guilty decision came in today, with the arbitration panel handed down a decision that says the lab screwed up, but not enough. I'm a bit surprised by the arbitration ruling for Landis. I expected either a complete upholding of the scientific findings or a complete acquittal, but this sort of half decision maintains a high level of internal conflict for me. I want guilty athletes to be punished and was happy to see a house cleaning this Tour. I also want to see the testing meet scientific standards and protect athletes' rights. It's troubling, in light of the decision, to see quotes such as:

  • Prudhomme: "We have waited a long time, too long. We said since the beginning that we were confident in the laboratory (AFLD) at Châtenay-Malabry."
  • McQuaid: "He got a highly qualified legal team who tried to baffle everybody with science and public relations."
  • Decision: "311. In response to these assertions the Panel finds that the practices of the Lab in training its employees appears to lack the vigor the Panel would expect in the circumstances given the enormous consequences to athletes of an AAF. Furthermore, the other matters introduced in evidence and referred to in this section do give some cause for concern. Nevertheless, like other parts of the evidence in this matter there are no ISL Rule violations that might result in the Panel accepting the Respondent’s allegations as affecting the AAF in this case."

I find these to be a troubling trio of comments as they indicate that sloppy science is acceptable and good in the current environment. I could care less at this point if Landis is guilty or not -- he can keep racing 100 mile MTB events. I want to see cycling grow and evolve and this ruling does not feel like a step in the right direction.

Oscar Pereiro officially is the 2006 Tour de France winner, but its hard to feel that justice is served there. Pereiro's time gain was a risky fluke; his ride doesn't stand well on its own. In a scandal-ridden Tour, perhaps that's all you can get.

related articles: Tour de France 2007
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Comments (2)

"the lab screwed up, but not enough."

Where did that quote come from?

The lab made errors in the T-E test that ultimately was not used in the arbitrators ruling.

To paraphrase the ny times and si.com:

The arbitrators wrote that the screening for testosterone to epitestosterone failed to meet international standards. Even so, the presence of testosterone revealed by a second, more-precise test was enough to prove a doping violation. The precise and expensive carbon-isotope ratio analysis (IRMS), performed after a positive T-E test is recorded, was accurate, the arbitrators said, meaning "an anti-doping rule violation is established."

kwc:

The quote is mine and meant as a summary, but I re-edited because I can see how it's sloppy English. It was my translation of 311 from the report (quoted above). A Landis acquittal would feel like an OJ acquittal in that it was an attack-the-police defense, so that's not what I'm rooting for here. What's sparked my post and was ultimately dissatisfying for me with this judgment is that there seems to be a basic lack of respect for the integrity of the scientific process. That's not the direction I want to see cycling heading in order to clean up.

To quote the dissent: "as this case demonstrates, even when an athlete proves there are serious errors in a laboratory's document package that refute an adverse analytical finding, it will be extremely difficult for an athlete to prevail in these types of proceedings. Therefore, it is imperative that WADA Accredited Laboratories abide by the highest scientific standards."

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