Skip to Content

Floyd Landis: The Isotopes Weren’t Lying, After All

This post from 2006 on the science behind Floyd Landis’s suspicious steroid blood tests set my blog record for comments – the debate went on and on about Landis, about the lab that reported the results, about how the samples were handled, etc.
Well, Landis has now admitted using performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career. Widely, expensively, and thoroughly did he use them. The blood test was correct. Carbon isotopes don’t lie.

37 comments on “Floyd Landis: The Isotopes Weren’t Lying, After All”

  1. MTK says:

    Not entirely correct.
    Landis admits he used performance enhancers throughout his career including HGH at the 2006 TdF, but maintains that testosterone was not a PED he used in 2006. He maintains that the test was an error.
    I know there is no reason to believe Landis at this point on anything, but what does it gain him to lie about this one point when he’s now admitted to a wide range of doping improprieties since 2002, including during the race in question. In other words why cop to zillion things you were never caught doing, yet lie about the one thing you were caught doing?
    I also don’t question the actual data, including the isotope data, but I do question the integrity of the sample, WADA’s ability to enforce and unify standards, and the fairness of the process. If you look at everything brought up in this case and others it’s clear that WADA has real quality issues.
    The analogy is when a pharma or generics company manufactures a drug out of compliance with GMP and then defends themselves by saying there are no issues with the drug. We all know that’s a poor excuse and that without proper QA/QC those lots should not be sold. They are by definition bad lots. Same thing here. No matter the test results, we have no assurances here.

  2. BerylliumFrameJob says:

    Isotopes don’t lie. Clearly Floyd does or has. You’ve go to wonder if Floyd feels that if he can’t clear his name, he will take as many others down with him as possible. In the absence of definitive information, our personal biases may emerge. I would hate to have Levi Leipheimer dragged into this. But some of this stuff just seems bizarre. EPO, makes sense. Testosterone, check. Female hormones? Really? Insulin? What next? Pitocin?
    But I guess it’s all part of the rich tradition of competitive cycling. Whether it’s Mauro Gianetti ending up in the hospital with perfluorocarbons in his blood, or the widespread historical use of the “pot belge” “variously constituted from cocaine, heroin, caffeine, amphetamines, and other analgesics”, you can always count on the cyclists to be pushing the envelope of the pharmacopeia.

  3. Hap says:

    The problem is, saying “I didn’t do PEDs and the test was messed up” sounds a whole lot different than “I did PEDs, but not in the test in which they caught me”. It sounds like the man who bought lottery tickets with his mom, won, and then claimed that it was his ticket that day and not the ones he had bought every other day with his mom. It doesn’t really come off as credible – even if the testing authorities screw up in lots of ways, they can be evaluated and checked on lots of standards, while all we have for Landis is his word. Which is crap.

  4. MTK says:

    Hap,
    Therein lies the problem. WADA is judge, jury, and executioner. They certify the labs and they are the ones that are supposed to set and enforce standards. They are self-policing.
    Testing can only be conducted at WADA certified labs. Athletes cannot get an independent lab test of the sample. WADA requires that the A sample and the confirming B sample are tested at the same lab. Not even another WADA certified lab, the exact same lab. WADA certified labs cannot engage in testing to support an athlete’s defense. WADA’s Ethics Code of Conduct prohibits WADA-certified lab personnel from questioning the results of other WADA labs or doing anything that would “undermine the integrity of the anti-doping process.”
    In other words, the entire system is set up and rigged to ensure that results can never be questioned or independently checked. Don’t fool yourself. This is Landis’ word vs. WADA’s and neither has any credibility.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Off subject, but the substance Corexit is getting a lot of attention. I tried to look up the structure – http://tinyurl.com/33v8fwc
    No dice – is it a cocktail? Any readers know?

  6. pete says:

    Let’s cut out the subterfuge. This sport is fairly crying out for a “Dopers Open”:
    – Thirty days in the Andes
    – “BYO”
    – Pharma sponsorship opportunities

  7. The isotope test was actually the second test run on the urine sample. The T/E ratio was the first and was designed as a screening test. The arbitration board was convinced and stated in their report that that test was so poorly handled as to be invalid. Had they followed proper procedures, the screening test would have said he was innocent and none of this would have happened.
    But what would you expect from a lab that uses whiteout to correct errors?

  8. Hap says:

    1) Are there any drug compliance agencies capable of policing sports, if WADA can’t? (Is there anyone else who is capable of validating their methods, for example?)
    2) How does law enforcement do toxicology tests and verify in the same way that they’re accurate? Since people’s careers are on the line, that might be the appropriate standard, and if they can’t do it, well, then we have a much bigger problem.

  9. Hap says:

    If the first test was passed, why was the isotope test done at all? If the positive test was badly performed enough to be invalid, why wasn’t he reinstated?

  10. Ernst Blofeld says:

    I wonder if any previous statements in the last few years under oath put him in legal jeopardy for using test, and that’s why he’s not copping to it, while admitting to using other drugs.

  11. SRC says:

    So how long until cyclists start doping with testosterone derived from temperate-zone C4 plants?

  12. Johngreenink says:

    But MTK, your point still does not make any sense. First of all, what motivation could there possibly be for WADA to find adverse findings against athletes? If the answer is ‘To look like they’re tough on doping’, that’s ridiculous because it implies that every single person at WADA is in on the ‘conspiracy’. One voice of dissent from one lab worker would mean the whole system would fall apart. Cyclists know that if they get involved in professional cycling, these are the rules. WADA watches over them.
    So Landis comes along to question the legality of WADA’s methods. And he does so despite the fact that he’s been doping for years. What a wasted opportunity. He has just made WADA all the more credible, and more or less justify their findings.

  13. anonym says:

    I have no particular reason to doubt whatever blood test Landis was given. But I don’t think it’s very strong evidence for the reliability of a testing method that it fingered a professional cyclist who later confessed to being a doper. Frankly, put me in a room full of champion tour cyclists and I can probably identify you a drug user using a blindfold and a dowsing stick.

  14. MTK says:

    #13,
    You misunderstand. I’m not saying they made up this or any other “positive”. WADA isn’t making up stuff necessarily, but they will not, absolutely not, acknowledge or admit mistakes, missteps, inconsistencies, or anything else that might, in their minds, question the integrity of the testing. And you can’t voice dissent. It’s against the WADA Ethics Code of Conduct. Violate that and your lab is going to be stripped of certification and a huge chunk of business.
    How can you trust a system that sets it’s own rules and standards, doesn’t allow dissent, and doesn’t allow outside verification? The entire system is arbitrary, non-uniform, devoid of any checks and balances, replete with conflicts of interest, and completely closed and opaque.
    Other than that, it’s great.
    There are a few cycling teams which have strict anti-doping guidelines and are conducting testing in addition to regular WADA testing. They also make these results publicly available. Their stated goal is to provide transparency and to ensure clean riders. Their unstated goal is to be able to “prove” their riders are clean should a WADA test come back positive, because otherwise their is no way to fight that should one be innocent.

  15. PR says:

    Since these folks and other athletes are involved in contests to define and push the extreme limits of human physical performance, why not let them have “dopers opens” as was suggested above?
    Who cares how these freaks define the extremes whether it be with a compound synthesized by a chemist or by virtue of the fact that many of them have superior physical abilities due to rare genetic changes in collagen or other structural proteins (hypermobility syndromes) or endocrine defects?

  16. MTK says:

    #13,
    You misunderstand. I’m not saying they made up this or any other “positive”. WADA isn’t making up stuff necessarily, but they will not, absolutely not, acknowledge or admit mistakes, missteps, inconsistencies, or anything else that might, in their minds, question the integrity of the testing. And you can’t voice dissent. It’s against the WADA Ethics Code of Conduct. Violate that and your lab is going to be stripped of certification and a huge chunk of business.
    How can you trust a system that sets it’s own rules and standards, doesn’t allow dissent, and doesn’t allow outside verification? The entire system is arbitrary, non-uniform, devoid of any checks and balances, replete with conflicts of interest, and completely closed and opaque.
    Other than that, it’s great.
    There are a few cycling teams which have strict anti-doping guidelines and are conducting testing in addition to regular WADA testing. They also make these results publicly available. Their stated goal is to provide transparency and to ensure clean riders. Their unstated goal is to be able to “prove” their riders are clean should a WADA test come back positive, because otherwise their is no way to fight that should one be innocent.

  17. rcyran says:

    I’m still not sure if Amgen’s sponsorship of cycling’s Tour of California is done ironically.
    As for Landis, the doping isn’t the thing that’s really awful. It’s that he asked for fans to give him cash to defend himself – and he raised quite a bit of money.

  18. Cycle racer says:

    Tour of California sponsored by the makers of EPO Amgen!

  19. Travis says:

    Landis gets busted, then outs Armstrong too. Landis has a positive blood test, but Armstrong doesn’t. How can this be?
    We ALL thought Lance was juiceing (c’mon, you did too)
    Why is it so damned hard to prove? How can Lance’s isotopes be ok?

  20. Vinny B. says:

    I would not be surprised in the slightest if Armstrong hired Karl Rove years ago to fix his blood samples and to keep people quiet. After all, if Rove would lie to the world when millions of lives are at stake, why wouldn’t he do so for some cash from Armstrong?

  21. Hap says:

    Other than because he won’t work for anybody to the left of Pol Pot? I don’t think there’s enough money in Armstrong for Rove. Exxon, maybe, Lance Armstrong…not so much. Since Armstrong hasn’t become dictator of a small European nation or gone to work for China, I don’t see why Rove would be interested.

  22. SRC says:

    School’s out, I see.

  23. Hap says:

    Rush – Haven’t Mommy and Daddy told you that you’re not allowed to blog until you finish your creative writing assignment for tomorrow’s show?
    Back to work or no Vicodin for you.

  24. SRC says:

    Perhaps we should subsidize daycare. It would cut down crap on the Internet.

  25. memomachine says:

    Hmmmm.
    The comments were pretty interesting until the leftards decided to get their freak on.
    Pity.

  26. Evorich says:

    I’m still not convinced of his motivations. And he seems crazy enough to actually exajerate in the opposite direction just to cause a scene given that he doesn’t really have anything better to do these days! I mean, there’s a whole new book deal in this now!
    Either way, I wonder if some fans that funded his campaign now have cause to sue him to get their money back.

  27. Hap says:

    #25: Thank you for your kind advice and cogent contributions.
    Perhaps you should go back to your day job writing layoff memos for drug companies. At least it’s a growth business.

  28. CRH says:

    #17: “As for Landis, the doping isn’t the thing that’s really awful. It’s that he asked for fans to give him cash to defend himself – and he raised quite a bit of money.”
    If ‘fans’ are stupid enough to give any ‘athlete’ money to defend themselves–then they deserve to get taken.

  29. John FitzGibbon says:

    Hey quick question on this
    I’m a former athlete and I work out a lot/power lift. I have been approached on 3 separate occasions at the gym with an offer of cash for a little side work on PEDs in the lab. I’ve turned em all down, but how many of you have ever been in the same situation, I’m just curious.
    Also, while Ben Johnson at the 1988 olympics was caught for PEDs, his manager swears the test was wrong. Not because he wasn’t doping, but cause he had never given ben the drug he was caught with. I mean he fully admits cheating but claims he was caught for a drug he didn’t use.

  30. Denny, Alaska says:

    Guess the next doping bicycle racer who gets caught may have a really, r-e-a-l-l-y tough time appealing to his fans for funds to help in his legal defense, eh?

  31. #9
    The tests are set up 1 –> 2 as #2 is a far more expensive, but also more rigorous test. Many people fail #1, but not #2.
    The regulations have the 1 –>2 order to save money, not to establish validity. They could run the isotope test on everybody, but it would be extremely expensive.

  32. Hap says:

    But if the second test was invalidated (if it was judged to have been done so badly that its outcome can’t be trusted), then the positive first test wouldn’t really be proof of drug use, because it could have a high enough false positive rate so that its judgement couldn’t be trusted, either. At that point, you can’t readily retest [because if the sample provenance is problematic, you can’t trust that it hasn’t be tampered, and by the time everything came out, you couldn’t detect something from years before (or even months)], so why wouldn’t he have been reinstated? If you can’t show he did it, then he’s not guilty.

  33. Sili says:

    The comments were pretty interesting until the leftards decided to get their freak on.

    Hey! I haven’t said a word on this thread till now!
    If Landis really were doing that much shit, then what are the odds that he knew exactly what he was getting? Much like ecstasy is mostly dangerous because of all the additives used to cut/modify the drug.

  34. Hap says:

    I think I’m (one of) the “leftards” of note.
    Besides, being called a “leftard” is kind of like being called “stupid” by the drunken 25-year-old ex-used car salesman (fired for even more egregious dishonesty than is normal for his trade) next door – knowing stupidity based on copious personal experience doesn’t particularly help one recognize it in others.

  35. Paul Hyland says:

    I have written a poem which encapsulates the public sentiment.
    It is called “Floyd and Lance – A Poem”
    You used to ride a bike with Lance
    Up and down big hills in France
    Lance had Cheryl Crow, you wanter to meet ‘er
    But now you say that Lance was a cheater
    You said that Armstrong has been doping
    He said you’d been drunk and groping
    You say that since your very first meeting
    Lance was using Erythropoietin
    You used to be a Mennonite
    But now you stay up half the night.
    So what went wrong, we all enquire
    Where is the Floyd we used to admire
    So what will cyclimg become?
    Dum de dum de dum de dum.
    Thank you. Paul Hyland

  36. anonymous says:

    Similar comments were made WRT baseball when the Balco story broke – natural league vs dopers league. Apply the same principle to the Olympics. Hold the non dopers’ summer and winter Olympics one year, then do likewise for the dopers’ Olympics two years later. If nothing else, the ratings would be interesting.

  37. Jose says:

    Looks like microdosing isn’t just for PK/PD anymore….
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/sports/cycling/26micro.html

Comments are closed.