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Floyd Landis Failed Test, Now Flails At WADA And UCI

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Poor Floyd Landis. Without his title. Without a team. About to undergo hip replacement surgery. And now he’s starting to sound paranoid. Saying in his own way that, “They’re all out to get me.”

Landis says that there is no chance that he was slipped a testosterone mickey by a member of his Phonak team. But when it comes to the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Union Cycliste Internationale, Landis told USA Today, “There’s some kind of agenda there. I just don’t know what it is.”

He’s also complained about the manner in which his case has been handled by the authorities, which isn’t being paranoid; it’s just being a whiny baby.

Landis has been repeating the same old line about how many times he was tested on the Tour where there wasn’t a problem, and how it would be stupid to take testosterone one time for a one-day boost.

Here’s what Landis has been saying: “Nobody in their right mind would take testosterone just once; it doesn’t work that way.”

Dr. Gary Wadler – one of the leading doping experts in the world – has weighed in on the matter. "Things don't add up," he said. "Most of us (experts) have a hard time fully understanding that sudden and dramatic effect. … I can't quite put it all together."

Dr. Wadler went on to say that a person can take a substance called a luteinizing hormone (LH) – which is also banned – to raise their natural testosterone levels. This LH stimulates the production and secretion of natural testosterone.

So here’s a scenario for your consideration.

Cyclists know that the limit on their testosterone-epitestosterone ratio is 4:1 – which is four times the normal ratio – and supplement so that their ratio stays in line. By the way, the existence of this 4:1 ratio is a de facto acceptance by the cycling authorities that a certain level of doping is permitted. People can argue the point that this ratio is an acceptance of a certain level of doping, but looking at the data indicates that ratios higher than 1:1 are extremely rare and usually caused by disease or doping.

In cases where a person wants to control how much test gets into their system, testosterone can be effectively delivered via a transdermal patch that is usually affixed to the scrotum or abdominal region, or by rubbing a testosterone gel directly into the abdominal region. This way the user gets a slow, controlled dose of test.

There is evidence that the normal dosage provided by the testosterone patch – under certain conditions – can raise the free-testosterone levels of the user by four times. From this you could conclude that using testosterone patches in a manner to deliver more than the usual dose could result in raising a person’s test levels a lot more than four times the norm.

So people who use testosterone don’t use it “just once.” The gel and the patch can deliver test constantly via the skin. So clear your mind of the image of body builders injecting testosterone.

For cyclists in general, they could be using synthetic testosterone, or could be engaged in a regimen designed to raise their natural testosterone levels well above normal, and despite this keep their test/epitest ratio at or slightly below 4:1. By keeping their ratio at this level they wouldn’t raise any red flags, and as a result wouldn’t have their urine tested for synthetic testosterone. Only if their ratio was above 4:1 would the testers look for synthetic test.

And if a rider is using LH, he could claim that he is not taking testosterone and also wouldn’t have traces of synthetic testosterone in his system, since LH stimulates the body’s natural test production.

This explains how Landis could have avoided detection throughout the Tour’s drug tests prior to his Stage 17 win; his ratio was in line and didn’t raise any red flags. Don’t forget, a person’s ratio could be in line if they were using synthetic testosterone. This is why keeping the ratio at 4:1 is key.  Who knows what the testers would find if all urine – regardless of the ratio – was submitted to testing for synthetic testosterone.

You must keep in mind that athletes who dope don’t just dope by using one item, and they don’t always just take a substance on the morning of a competition that will have a direct result on them for that day. Doping is a very sensitive and sophisticated endeavor that has to be constantly monitored, and in the case of circulating levels of hormones, an athlete's levels can fluctuate wildly during the doping regimen and especially in response to competition. This is why the Balco system required that their athletes submit to an almost constant routine of blood, urine and fecal tests. The Balco plan was to so closely monitor their athletes that they could avoid testing positive under any circumstances.

In the Landis case, don’t forget that in Stage 16 he finished about eight and a half minutes off of the pace. Landis was the leader of the Tour at this late stage of the race, and he was considered to be in command. Looking back, Landis’ awful showing in Stage 16 should have been as much of a red flag as was his remarkable performance in Stage 17.

Landis’ crash in Stage 16 could have been caused by a minor mistake in whatever regimen that he was following. Did he forget to apply his testosterone gel or did his patch fall off before the day’s dosage of test was delivered? Or was someone on Landis’ team monitoring his ratio throughout the tour, and did this monitoring indicate that Floyd’s ratio was in danger of getting out of line, necessitating that he forego his daily doses sometime around Stage 16?

We’ll never know for sure unless Floyd decides to 'fess up. But just as sure as a foul up with regard to his preparation resulted in his failed test after Stage 17, an equally fatal foul up occurred sometime prior to Stage 16.

As a result of Stage 16, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Landis overreacted to this crash. Whether he overdid his testosterone application or went overboard with his LH dose, his miscalculations were fatal. Perhaps Landis’ lame “blame the booze” excuse could be valid in that his drinking binge threw a monkey wrench into his doping binge.

Or perhaps Landis felt that he was so out of contention that he could ramp up his dosage because there was no way that he could make up all that lost ground in just one stage, and probably wouldn’t get tested because there was no way that he could win the stage. Maybe Landis surprised himself by turning in such a great performance in which he not only won the stage, but regained the yellow jersey.

Regardless of the hows and whys, once Landis’ ratio tested at over 4:1, that gave the authorities the opportunity to look for – and ultimately find – the synthetic testosterone that Landis could have misapplied during the Tour or at sometime before the Tour. Don’t forget, Landis could just have used LH during the Tour – thus being able to say he didn’t use synthetic testosterone – and still could have raised his natural testosterone levels high enough to fail the ratio test.

When you consider that the accepted test/epitest level is 4:1, it’s not that hard to understand how someone’s ratio could be thrown out of whack. When you keep in mind the way in which athletes dope, it isn’t that hard to get a good idea of how things could have gone wrong for Floyd Landis.

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About Sal Marinello

  • I wonder if it hurts to take the patch of the ‘nads. Or maybe cyclist’s balls are so numb by the time their done for the day that they don’t even notice.

  • Does WADA test for tinfoil?

  • Mike

    According to Landis’ comments on TV – he said his testosterone level tested NORMAL while his epitestosterone tested LOW. He DIDN’T have a RAISED testosterone level, just his RATIO of T/E was high. The LOW result on the epitestosterone CAUSED the ratio to be out of range – NOT that he took additional testosterone!!

    I wish the media would get this FACT straight and stop saying Landis TOOK testosterone….. it is not a correct statement!

  • – Why aren’t athletes tested all over the year ?
    – Why aren’t all samples tested for syntehtic ? Just because of costs ? If more tests were done, cost would go down, right ?
    – Why aren’t all samples kept for future tests (let’s say 2-3 years, when the testing technology catches up with the cheating one) ?
    – Why aren’t managers/directors never affected by these failed tests ?

    I often doubt that everything is really put in place to detect the cheaters.

  • sal m

    guys i think that certain loopholes,like the ones jerome has pointed out, exist simply because the authorites are willing to tolerate a certain amount of doping.

    everyone bandies about the 4:1 ratio issue without really thinking about the reality that it represents. a 4:1 – hell even a 3:1 – ratio happens because of disease or doping. a person’s test levels are steady and can be charted over a period of time, so any normal spikes can be accounted for.

    a 4:1 ratio is due to manipulation.

  • Drew Sharp weighs in…

  • sal m

    the espn reporter who broke the bomar story said that bomar didn’t tell the program what he was doing, and that the kid would go to the dealership before practice, check in and go to practice, then go back and check out.

    these kids have to fill out paperwork that goes through the school’s compliance director for approval. so the school will definitely have some cover, whether or not it’s enough to avoid sanctions we’ll see…

    for what it’s worth, this isn’t as bad as the bush and leinhart issues, or the jarrett issue.

  • PatsFAn

    Your argument works, except for one very vital mistake: Floyd’s T wasn’t high; his E was exceptionally low, skewing the ratio. He says it on his own Web site, as do a few other URLs which actually have the information *correct*.

  • sal m

    that’s what he says, however, his test was 11 times higher than normal and he had synthetic test in his system as well.

    landis’ site – where he stopped people from leaving comments – is hardly a source for accurate information, as his defense is laughably pathetic.

  • Justin

    godd!!! Floyd is innocent ppls