Roostered? Stitched up. It's a phrase used on the forum of Dailypeleton.com where Floyd Landis has been holding court since Saturday. This forum has seen 750+ postings to an anti-doping topic started by Landis.
Perhaps one of the reasons Landis broke cover on this forum is because of the quality of the debaters: as well as judges and lawyers there are key scientific experts. All have been eager to either support or debunk the claims from Landis that he was stitched up.
Many of these learned cycle sport fans will now be poring over the documents published on Floydlandis.com. Many of the arguments used to date have been in the ping-pong style of how-many-angels-can-dance-on-a-pinhead because there's been little concrete data to work with. That all changed this morning.
The defence being put forward by Landis' friend Arnie Baker MD, the famous cycling coach, is that the Parisian lab which conducted the Landis A and B tests was sloppy. A catalogue of paperwork errors is bad enough, argues Baker, but the lab was also guilty of sample mishandling errors which led to contamination of the samples. A lab statistician who works in clinical research for drug companies gives an explantion of how this could have happened here.
Critically, the defence isn't arguing that the anti-doping tests don't work – a line of attack previously accused athletes have used, generally unsuccessfully – but that the French lab made many errors.
And, if Baker is right, the media has been wrong all along by stating that Landis was found to have "elevated testestorone levels" after his stage 17 win. Landis has long claimed that his testesterone level was not high, but that his epitestosterone was low, a key difference. This slide explains Baker's point.
Some months ago Landis said: "It is widely known that the test in question, given as a urine sample after my victorious ride on stage 17 of the Tour de France, returned an abnormal T/E ratio from the “A” sample. I want to be entirely clear about one point of the test that has not been fairly reported in the press or expressed in any statements made by international or national governing bodies; the T value returned has been determined to be in the normal range. The E value returned was LOW, thus causing the skewed ratio. This evidence supports my assertion that I did not use testosterone to improve my performance. I emphatically deny any claims that I used testosterone to improve my performance."
This quote was used in an online petition created by the BikeBiz.com editor but the mass media - and cycle journalists - continue to state that Landis was busted for a high level of testosterone.
This morning, a statement on Floydlandis.com said the lab was at fault because:
- The details of the carbon isotope ratio test (CIR), demonstrating that the CIR conducted on Landis’ urine sample does not meet the WADA criteria for a positive doping test
- Demonstration of an unacceptable variation in sample testing results
- Errors in fundamental testing procedure and protocol
By publishing the full lab report Landis and his legal team is looking to sway public opinion in advance of the hearing before the American Arbitration Association. This is expected some time in January. The request to make the hearing public is likely to be accepted.
Following an operation to replace his damaged hip, Landis will begin training in two weeks. "He hopes to return to France to defend his Tour de France title," said his spokesman, Michael Henson.