At the Landis hearings the testimonies by Drs. Don Catlin, John Amory and Wolfram Meier-Augenstein add up in a surprising way. It never seemed possible—let alone likely—that the average public would follow the science involved in the IRMS testing, but the transcripts are comprehensible. Near real-time access to the proceedings has been possible thanks to Trust But Verify. Surprisingly, Catlin, Amory and Meier-Augenstein were able to paint a coherent picture of issues that seem to give any reasonable person pause to consider the contents of Mr. Landis’ urine last July.
Catlin has essentially testified that to be a WADA-accredited lab, one of the most important responsibilities a lab shoulders is not bearing witness against another lab. The distinction is significant in that it defines a lab’s duty not as fact-finding instrument but enforcement apparatus.
Amory provided testimony on the only peer-reviewed study of testosterone gel use as a recovery aid. This is exactly what WADA alleges Landis did. The study says it doesn’t work. Now, athletes have been known to be terminally stupid, stupid enough to believe that old wives’ tales will make them invincible. Considering that it is possible that Landis could, unfortunately, be that stupid (witness his dealings with one Will Geoghegan), Amory went on to testify that Landis’ test profile didn’t fit any known profile of metabolized testosterone gel. Put another way Amory said, “Eating a truckload of oranges won’t make you faster, but if you try it anyway, your urine will come out orange and as we can see, Mr. Landis’ urine is still clear.”
And flown in from Ireland, Meier-Augenstein told us in terms accurate to a thousandth of an inch close is good in horseshoes and hand grenades but the margin of error in the LNDD work was too great to consider positive. This is like dropping a bomb in Iran. It’s close to Iraq, and shares 75% of the spelling, right down to the order of the first three letters; could the difference between “Q” and “N” really be that big a deal? Only if you want to avoid an international incident. Oops.
Occasionally, an accused athlete will cry out that he or she is the subject of a conspiracy. Judging from the LNDD records, the work seems too shoddy to meet the standard for deliberate. So that brings up the question: Could it be WADA believes it must not only not lose any case it prosecutes, but it must also get results? Could it be that Pound, Tygart and company believe the organization must have periodic prosecutions no matter how tenuous the data? This smacks of the often-rumored scene in which Dick Cheney screams at the CIA: “Find me some damn WMDs!”
Catlin’s testimony is the most disturbing of the bunch. Testimony concerning the WADA laboratory code of ethics that Catlin drafted—but was changed by someone else—shows that labs are not to testify against other labs. WADA strategy is to circle the wagons first and foremost. In other words, prosecution trumps truth. What is shocking is that finding the truth is not a priority. Implicitly, the mission is to get positive tests and then to do anything necessary to support the result, rather than make sure the result is accurate.
Whether or not Landis doped, the system exposed in the course of these proceedings should not be tolerated. It is not based on a presumption of innocence nor does it place a supreme value on fact. American tax dollars should not fund this operation. It seems likely now Landis didn’t dope and WADA and USADA are colluding to cover the incompetence of the lab with an organizational structure designed not to protect the sport but to legitimize careless lab work as irrefutable proof. USADA is funded by Congress. If you vote, you get say in whether or not these practices continue. By writing your Congressman, you might help save cycling from a fate worse than doping.
This entry was written out of love, frustration and a desire to see some clean, healthy competition in the PRO peloton. Thanks to Padraig for this great contribution.