Off-topic: Floyd Landis, the Tour de France, doping, and security

Off-topic: Floyd Landis, the Tour de France, doping, and security

Summary: Yesterday, Bruce Schneier suprised us with a post about security of a different sort -- one that had to do with the doping scandal surrounding Floyd Landis. Landis crossed the finish line in the Tour de France with the best time of all the riders but his urine samples which tested positive for inhuman testosterone levels have cast an immense shadow of doubt over his victory as well as the sport of cycling, if not all of professional sports.

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TOPICS: Security
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Yesterday, Bruce Schneier suprised us with a post about security of a different sort -- one that had to do with the doping scandal surrounding Floyd Landis. Landis crossed the finish line in the Tour de France with the best time of all the riders but his urine samples which tested positive for inhuman testosterone levels have cast an immense shadow of doubt over his victory as well as the sport of cycling, if not all of professional sports. Wrote Schneier:

Drug testing is a security issue. Various sports federations around the world do their best to detect illegal doping, and players do their best to evade the tests. It's a classic security arms race: improvements in detection technologies lead to improvements in drug detection evasion, which in turn spur the development of better detection capabilities. Right now, it seems that the drugs are winning; in places, these drug tests are described as "intelligence tests": if you can't get around them, you don't deserve to play.

I used to race bikes and although I was not a professional or in one of the top two elite classes of the US Cycling Federation, I was what racers refer to as a Cat 3 (Category 3).  The competition was very intense, required an ungodly number of hours of training to stay competitive against other Cat 3's and even then, you were quite often thrown into the same race that the more elite racers competed in. On the racing brochure, this race would often be called the Pro/1/2/3 race. 

Between training and racing, I got to hang around some athletes that were far more gifted and elite than I was and I'd like to think I still have a sense of how racers think. My last race took place in Attleboro, MA in July 2001.  It was the day that I herniated three discs in my lower back when I bent over to pick up my bicycle pump. I haven't raced since and earlier this year, one of those discs ruptured, requiring surgery. I'm on the mend now, engaged in an intensive self-directed physical therapy program. A bad back can suck the joy of life right out of you and when you have one, no one but you and others that have been through it too can really appreciate the pain you're in. This is why I empathized with Pamela Jones over at Groklaw when I read how she hurt her back (a virtual hug to you Pamela... which right now, is better than the real thing because that would hurt too much). 

Anyway, while the injury may have kept me out of the saddle (I hope to get back), it hasn't stopped me from being an avid cycling fan -- one who, even in the face of very incriminating evidence, isn't quite ready to join the court of public opinion that has rendered a guilty verdict against Landis.

Here's my response to Schneier's blog entry that explains why.

Topic: Security

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  • Assuming facts not in evidence

    We now the #17 test had 11:1 T/E, and 3.99 CIR ratio. We do not have any idea what the T/E was in the pre/post tests. With them having been negative, there was no need to do the IRMS test, and likely the A and B samples were disposed.

    So, as useful as it would be to know, we may not be able to tell that there was a discrepency that can't be accounted for. Without the IRMS of pre/post, we don't know one way or another. In this case, the 'precautions' for the rider may end up screwing him.

    -dB
    dbrower
  • Floyd: - + - ?

    I have a real question about the Floyd Landis case, and I wonder if you?ve have it too.

    In stage 15 (L?Alpe D?Huez), Floyd took back the yellow jersey. The leader is always tested, so he was tested. And he was negative. Testosterone ratio was less than 4:1, no exogenous testosterone. In stage 16, Floyd bonked. He wasn?t in yellow and didn?t win, so he wasn?t tested. In stage 17 Floyd made his incredible comeback. Since he won the stage, he was tested, and his testosterone ratio was 11:1, and exogenous testosterone was found in both A and B samples. Stage 18 was flat, nothing changed, and since Floyd was not in yellow, he was not tested. Stage 19 was the time trial, which put him back in yellow, so he was tested again. And he was negative again. Testosterone ratio was less than 4:1, no exogenous testosterone.

    Those are the facts, nobody denies these, including Floyd.

    So here?s my question ? is it really possible for someone to be negative, then two days later be that positive, then two days later be negative again?

    It doesn?t make any sense to me. I don?t see any way to explain this physiologically. If he was doping, he would have been positive in all three tests. Even if he only started doping on stage 17 ? which would be ridiculous, but even if ? he would still have been positive on stage 19.

    So set aside the fact that Testosterone doesn?t help GC riders, set aside the illogic of taking Testosterone when you know you?re going to be tested for it, and set aside Floyd?s denials, which I want to believe but hey, people lie.

    There is just no way to explain the facts if Floyd was doping. The only explanation I can see which fits the facts is that someone tampered with the stage 17 samples.

    What do you think?
    ole@...
    • Landis, doping ?

      Aside from your very credible remarks, I also would like to know if it has ever been determined whether in cases of extreme stress and physical testing, have testosterone levels ever been noted to increase above normal levels.

      Lets face it on the race day that he was tested he had just accomplished a hurculean task. He needed, the body provided?
      kooeskooee
      • sure

        He needed and his body provided... artificial testosterone. LOL
        schloren
  • Floyd Landis, Failed Test

    It is reported that the immediate response from Landis upon hearing of his failed test was a "deer in the headlights" look. I find it unreasonable to accept the fact that this very savy racer was so naive as to not expect a drug test at the end of the race. Could it possible be that following the years of domination by an American racer, someone in the French contingency could just not take another year.

    What really gets me is LaMond's immediate rise to deprecate the character of his fellow racers. No judge and jury needed here. String em up. If a French compontent to this mystery(Government, Corporation, or Citizen) were indeed involved, there is no way we will ever know.
    kooeskooee
  • Guilty ???

    As a fan of cycling as well as a security engineer, it has confounded me as to why his team (or any team for that matter) doesn't have processes in place to defend against this type of attack. Shouldn't every team monitor in the least their team leader in order to defend against this (if it is indeed sabotage)? This is a big investment. Me?... I would have samples at every opportunity and certainly every time the testers come by, and if I don't test, I would store them just in case. And baselines... why don't they have baselines on him? I'm disgusted by the fiasco. At this point just waiting for resolution, But I'm still a big fan!
    atomgirl
  • Cheaters everywhere

    If you think you weren't racing against doped-up elites and CAT 3 racers in the US Cycling Federation, think again. The strict doping controls need to be enforced there first. You might be a professional cyclist by now if you'd been doping at the amateur level.
    LPrescott