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Thursday, September 20, 2007

FLandis

[thanks banks]

Landis banned two years for doping, will lose Tour title
Associated Press
Updated: September 20, 2007, 2:05 PM ET PARIS --

Floyd Landis lost his expensive and explosive doping case Thursday when the arbitrators upheld the results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion used synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory, The Associated Press has learned.

The decision means Landis, who repeatedly has denied using performance-enhancing drugs, must forfeit his Tour de France title and is subject to a two-year ban, retroactive to Jan. 30, 2007.

The ruling, handed down nearly four months after a bizarre and bitterly fought hearing, leaves the American with one final way to possibly salvage his title -- an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

If Landis doesn't appeal, he'll be the first person in the 105-year history of the race to lose the title because of a doping offense.

According to documents obtained by AP, and to be made public later Thursday, the vote was 2-1 to uphold the results, with lead arbitrator Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren in the majority and Christopher Campbell dissenting.

"Today's ruling is a victory for all clean athletes and everyone who values fair and honest competition," U.S. Anti-Doping Agency general counsel Travis Tygart said.

It's a devastating loss for Landis, who has steadfastly insisted that cheating went against everything he was all about and said he was merely a pawn in the anti-doping system's all-consuming effort to find cheaters and keep money flowing to its labs and agencies.

Landis didn't hide from the scrutiny -- invited it, in fact -- and now has been found guilty by the closest thing to a fair trial any accused athlete will get.

Despite the result, it's hard to see this as a total victory for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which prosecuted the case. This was a costly affair for the agency, and it exposed flaws in the system.

In its 84-page decision, the majority found the initial screening test to measure Landis' testosterone levels -- the testosterone-to-epitestosterone test -- was not done according to World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

But the more precise and expensive carbon-isotope ration analysis (IRMS), performed after a positive T-E test is recorded, was accurate, the arbitrators said, meaning "an anti-doping rule violation is established."

"As has been held in several cases, even where the T-E ratio has been held to be unreliable ... the IRMS analysis may still be applied," the majority wrote. "It has also been held that the IRMS analysis may stand alone as the basis" of a positive test for steroids.

The decision comes more than a year after Landis' stunning comeback in Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour, one that many people said couldn't be done without some kind of outside help. Flying to the lead near the start of a grueling Alpine stage, Landis regained nearly eight minutes against the leader, and went on to win the three-week race.

"Well, all I can say is that justice has been done, and that this is what the UCI felt was correct all along," Pat McQuaid, leader of cycling's world governing body, told The Associated Press by telephone. "We now await and see if he does appeal to CAS.

"It's not a great surprise considering how events have evolved. He got a highly qualified legal team who tried to baffle everybody with science and public relations. And in the end the facts stood up."

Landis insisted on a public hearing not only to prove his innocence, but to shine a spotlight on USADA and the rules it enforces and also establish a pattern of incompetence at the French lab where his urine was tested.

Although the panel rejected Landis' argument of a "conspiracy" at the Chatenay-Malabry lab, it did find areas of concern. They dealt with chain of command in controlling the urine sample, the way the tests were run on the machine, the way the machine was prepared and the "forensic corrections" done on the lab paperwork.

"... the Panel finds that the practises 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 adverse analytical finding, the decision said.

The majority repeatedly wrote that any mistakes made at the lab were not enough to dismiss the positive test, but also sent a warning.

"If such practises continue, it may well be that in the future, an error like this could result in the dismissal" of a positive finding by the lab.

In Campbell's opinion, Landis' case should have been one of those cases.

"In many instances, Mr. Landis sustained his burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Campbell wrote. "The documents supplied by LNDD are so filled with errors that they do not support an Adverse Analytical Finding. Mr. Landis should be found innocent."

And in at least one respect, Landis, who spent an estimated $2 million on his defense, was exonerated because the panel dismissed the T-E test. But in the arbitration process, a procedural flaw in the first test doesn't negate a positive result in follow-up tests.

"An arbitration panel is entitled to rely entirely on the IRMS analysis as an independent and sufficient basis for finding that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred," the decision said.

In his dissent, Campbell latched onto the T-E ratio test, among other things, as proof that the French lab couldn't be trusted.

"Also, the T-E ratio test is acknowledged as a simple test to run. The IRMS test is universally acknowledged as a very complicated test to run, requiring much skill. If the LNDD couldn't get the T-E ratio test right, how can a person have any confidence that LNDD got the much more complicated IRMS test correct?"

It was confusion like this that led to the system receiving the harsh review Landis was hoping for during a nine-day hearing in Malibu, Calif., in May.

But Landis also took his share of abuse, and ultimately, USADA still improved to 35-0 in cases it has brought before arbitration panels since it was founded in 2000.

This was a nasty contest waged on both sides, with USADA attorneys going after Landis' character and taking liberties in evidence discovery that wouldn't be permitted in a regular court of law. And Landis accused USADA of using a win-at-all-costs strategy and prosecuting him only to get him to turn on seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who has long fought doping allegations that have never been proven.

Addressing "problematic behavior on the part of both parties," the panel wrote it would not revisit the conduct of either side.

"They are just part of the litigation war games the parties counsel engaged in between themselves," the decision said.

More than the complex, turgid scientific evidence, the hearing will be remembered for the Greg LeMond brouhaha.

The hearing turned into a soap opera when the former Tour de France winner showed up and told of being sexually abused as a child, confiding that to Landis, then receiving a call from Landis' manager the night before his testimony threatening to disclose LeMond's secret to the world if LeMond showed up.

LeMond not only showed up, he also claimed Landis had admitted to him that he doped. That was the only aspect of the LeMond testimony the panel cared about.

"The panel concludes that the respondent's comment to Mr. LeMond did not amount to an admission of guilt or doping," the majority wrote.

This year's Tour began without the official defending champion, and the traditional "No. 1" jersey wasn't handed out when the race began in London. It only got worse as doping allegations and suspicions devastated the 2007 Tour. Three riders, including former overall leader Michael Rasmussen, and two teams were expelled during the three-week race.

At 31, Landis has vowed he hadn't given up on cycling -- he raced in small, nonsanctioned events in Colorado this summer -- even hoping to some day wear the yellow jersey again.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

15 comments:

dr-nitro said...

They recognize errors, but convict anyway. I personally feel that it is more important to make sure that the testing procedures are accruate, reliable, and fair before they can be used to strip someone of their livlihood. But instead, they make a comment like, if they continue to do sloppy work, we may end of overturning future AAFs. If it is grounds for dimissal in the future, it is grounds for dismissal now.

Oh well, time for Floyd to start driving around the horse drawn buggy.

Anonymous said...

He got royally buggered.

Anonymous said...

USADA wanted to keep their 35-0 record showing, like Landis, they'll do anything to win.

shawndoggy said...

Why haven't the riders unionized? It'd seem reasonable to me that a riders organization should be given the right/ability to keep a mirror set of AB samples and to test them in the event of a UCI positive at a (agreed to be reliable) lab of their choosing. The testing would be out of the hands of the individual rider and with a rider advocate, giving at least an apparent air of legitimacy if the results are different. And if they are the same? Well poor rider, then yer double hosed.

I'd believe floyd now (and have a little empathy) if he pulled a zabel and admitted he did it. But even if he really didn't do it, he's always going to have a question mark in my book.

Oh yeah, I think he did it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he can be on the anonymous team being formed soon? The men behind the masks?

GO Team Zorro!

Morgan said...

If USADA had lost, it would have been a bad precedent. The decision to uphold the suspension is bad for Floyd, but I think it's good for pro cycling on the whole. I think that the evidence showed guilt, but the case also inspired some reasonable doubt. Just like a wildfire, this will hurt some people but on the whole help the system.

CyclistRick said...

Reasonable doubt? Sorry Morgan, the reasonable doubt in this case is whether the lab that tested can do anything right; Keystone Kops masquerading as scientists. As I have said before, the so-called science in this case would not be allowed in most 6th grade science fairs it was so bad. This is a victory for nothing. Don't know if Flandis did the deed, but what I do know is that the process is completely F*@%ed. The opposite decision would have done more for the sport, in my opinion, as it would have forced the powers that be to get the right tests, procedures, and personnel into the process; as it is they got the message that they can make all the egregious errors they want and still screw someone.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just not seeing how Landis got screwed. He has/d a half dozen laywers working on his behalf and due process up the whazoo. Those who clamor for higher standards of proof and complete infallibility in testing procedures fail to recognize (or don't care) that such a regime would only make doping more prevalent than it already is.

Nome Agusta said...

I wonder if he will cancel his Mt. Diablo appearance.

phipps said...

I was wondering the same thing. He's in my age group. If he shows up and wins I will protest.

banks said...

Interesting idea Shawndoggy. I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk of unionizing in the past.

bikelawyer said...

FLOYD LANDIS: SCREWED, BLUED AND TATTOOED


It seems that Floyd Landis lost his expensive and explosive doping case Thursday when the arbitrators upheld the results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion used synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory. According to documents obtained by AP, and to be made public later Thursday, the vote was 2-1 to uphold the results, with lead arbitrator Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren in the majority and Christopher Campbell dissenting.

Floyd Landis Decision is a good case for politics coming into a hearing process.

What is disturbing is the finding by the majority that the initial screening test performed by the French Labratory, Chatenay-Malabry, to measure Landis' testosterone levels -- the testosterone-to-epitestosterone test -- was not done according to World Anti-Doping Agency rules. The majority then went on to find that the subsequent test performed by this same lab, the highly technical carbon isotope test, was accurate and showed that Landis cheated. But the question must be asked, as was pointed out by the dissenting arbitrator, if the Chatenay-Malabry lab got the simple test wrong how was it that it got the complicated test right.

The dissenting arbitratory, Christopher Campbell, wrote: "In many instances, Mr. Landis sustained his burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt . . . The documents supplied by LNDD are so filled with errors that they do not support an Adverse Analytical Finding. Mr. Landis should be found innocent."

To those of you who think that it rare for a lab to screw up or falsify records, read on. The misuse of scientific evidence is a serious problem. Even the FBI laboratory is under suspicion. In West Virginia, a serologist falsified test results in hundreds of cases over a ten-year period, sentencing hundreds of defendants to lengthy prison terms. In Texas, a pathologist faked autopsy results, resulting in as many as 20 death penalty verdicts. A police chemist elsewhere falsified reports and sent hundreds of innocent people away to jail on rape charges. Most misuse of scientific evidence is pro-prosecution.
Where scientific evidence is found unreliable, it should be thrown out. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court took up this issue. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, (1993), the Supreme Court directed federal judges to examine the method or reasoning underlying the admission of expert evidence and to admit only evidence that was reliable and relevant. No longer could judges defer to the appropriate expert community to determine whether the evidence was reliable, nor could they any longer leave it to the jury to decide. Judges now were to act as "gatekeepers," screening expert evidence to ensure that what was admitted was both relevant and reliable. Daubert sheds light on shoddy procedures, protocols, and proficiency testing.
The role of a federal trial judge post-Daubert has been described as that of a "gatekeeper" whenever scientific evidence is concerned. Trial judges now must not only decide whether the expert is "qualified", but they must also decide whether the expert's methodology is "reliable." In a Daubert hearing, the trial judge applies Rule 104(a) of the Federal Rules of Evidence to qualify the expert witness and make a preliminary finding as to whether the reasoning or methodology underpinning the expert's proffered testimony is scientifically grounded and can properly be applied to the facts at issue.
It was clear that the Chatenay-Malabry lab got it very wrong, and the case should have been dismissed. To allow evidence like this to convict is to elevate a travesty to the level of justice.

Anonymous said...

FLOYD LANDIS: SCREWED, BLUED AND TATTOOED


It seems that Floyd Landis lost his expensive and explosive doping case Thursday when the arbitrators upheld the results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion used synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory. According to documents obtained by AP, and to be made public later Thursday, the vote was 2-1 to uphold the results, with lead arbitrator Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren in the majority and Christopher Campbell dissenting.

Floyd Landis Decision is a good case for politics coming into a hearing process.

What is disturbing is the finding by the majority that the initial screening test performed by the French Labratory, Chatenay-Malabry, to measure Landis' testosterone levels -- the testosterone-to-epitestosterone test -- was not done according to World Anti-Doping Agency rules. The majority then went on to find that the subsequent test performed by this same lab, the highly technical carbon isotope test, was accurate and showed that Landis cheated. But the question must be asked, as was pointed out by the dissenting arbitrator, if the Chatenay-Malabry lab got the simple test wrong how was it that it got the complicated test right.

The dissenting arbitratory, Christopher Campbell, wrote: "In many instances, Mr. Landis sustained his burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt . . . The documents supplied by LNDD are so filled with errors that they do not support an Adverse Analytical Finding. Mr. Landis should be found innocent."

To those of you who think that it rare for a lab to screw up or falsify records, read on. The misuse of scientific evidence is a serious problem. Even the FBI laboratory is under suspicion. In West Virginia, a serologist falsified test results in hundreds of cases over a ten-year period, sentencing hundreds of defendants to lengthy prison terms. In Texas, a pathologist faked autopsy results, resulting in as many as 20 death penalty verdicts. A police chemist elsewhere falsified reports and sent hundreds of innocent people away to jail on rape charges. Most misuse of scientific evidence is pro-prosecution.
Where scientific evidence is found unreliable, it should be thrown out. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court took up this issue. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, (1993), the Supreme Court directed federal judges to examine the method or reasoning underlying the admission of expert evidence and to admit only evidence that was reliable and relevant. No longer could judges defer to the appropriate expert community to determine whether the evidence was reliable, nor could they any longer leave it to the jury to decide. Judges now were to act as "gatekeepers," screening expert evidence to ensure that what was admitted was both relevant and reliable. Daubert sheds light on shoddy procedures, protocols, and proficiency testing.
The role of a federal trial judge post-Daubert has been described as that of a "gatekeeper" whenever scientific evidence is concerned. Trial judges now must not only decide whether the expert is "qualified", but they must also decide whether the expert's methodology is "reliable." In a Daubert hearing, the trial judge applies Rule 104(a) of the Federal Rules of Evidence to qualify the expert witness and make a preliminary finding as to whether the reasoning or methodology underpinning the expert's proffered testimony is scientifically grounded and can properly be applied to the facts at issue.
It was clear that the Chatenay-Malabry lab got it very wrong, and the case should have been dismissed. To allow evidence like this to convict is to elevate a travesty to the level of justice.

dr-nitro said...

The lab was sloppy. USADA recognized it. There is a chance that that sloppy lab work produced the positive.

The concern that calling for following established protocol is unfounded. Higher standards do not necessarily mean that the guilty will get away. If you are simply stating that labs should follow established protocol, such that the results are not a function of sloppy lab work, then adhering to the protocol will not lead to the guilty getting away. However, it will protect those who are falsely found guilty.

It could also be said that the guilty could get away because of sloppy lab work. Basically, when we are talking about sloppy lab work, it produces error that could go either way.

So, improving lab work will both enhance the capability of capturing dopers and decrease the probability that an innocent athlete gets busted. Thus, it is a win win proposition. However, it looks like USADA went with the convict convict choice.

Anonymous said...

get your head out of the sand people, or do you think Lance beat all the cheaters clean as well. Please.... it was accepted and they did. I would like to believe in Santa Claus too.