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July 27, 2006

Landis over threshold for testosterone at Tour

CyclingNews.com | Phonak confirms Landis positive

The Phonak team confirms that their Tour de France champion Floyd Landis is the rider whose A-sample tested positive.

Intense speculation had focused on Landis, after it was announced that the test was taken after Stage 17, his epic breakaway to Morzine. Contrary to a couple of reports, the test was positive not for stimulants, but for a too-high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone.

The team website is unresponsive, but CyclingNews quotes a statement by the team:

“The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result.

”The rider will ask in the upcoming days for the counter analysis to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake in the confirmation. In application of the Pro Tour Ethical Code, the rider will not race anymore until this problem is totally clear.

“If the result of the B sample analysis confirms the result of the A sample, the rider will be dismissed and will then pass the corresponding endocrinological examinations.”

Spanish investigators allege that testosterone patches were commonly prescribed by Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, at the center of the Operación Puerto investigation.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 27, 2006 in Doping, Floyd Landis, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink


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If it turns out Landis has failed both the A and B tests I don't know if the Tour will ever be seen in the same light again.

Clearly his heroics only papered over the cracks after the fun and games before the Tour started.

The race really has to take a look at itself and be so squeaky clean it hurts if it is to have a future.

Posted by: Craig McGinty at Jul 27, 2006 10:53:03 AM

May I commend you on your headline, if only the major news outlets could exercise similar restraint. A quick survey confirms my fears that the damage has been done, he's being declared a doper as if it was all over and done with. Deep breath, people, let's see what the man has to say, what the b-sample has to say, and what scientists have to say about naturally-raised testosterone.

Posted by: Julie at Jul 27, 2006 11:07:35 AM


Posted by: Devans00 at Jul 27, 2006 11:34:12 AM

All I can say is that I really, really hope this was due to "pissed-off-guy syndrome", not doping. Say it ain't so, Floyd...oh wait, they all do that. *Show* it ain't so, Floyd...

Posted by: ewmayer at Jul 27, 2006 12:12:33 PM

Even if the B sample comes back negative - the damage is done. Floyd's reputation is sullied regardless of what the B test proves or disproves. Look at Lance! He's never tested positive for anything, but he's routinely accused of "getting away with it".

There should be a substantial financial penalty for officials or labs that prematurely shout out a positive A without the B to back it up.

Two words... French Lab.

Posted by: Lee at Jul 27, 2006 1:22:48 PM

I read it on this blog, in March, Urweider of Phonak had the high testosterone. Does not look good.

Posted by: LAFanDan at Jul 27, 2006 1:29:32 PM

Surely he must have been tested earlier and passed those tests. If he did inject, how long does it take for a body to react in such a way to boost performance?

Does a superior performance after a long day result in naturally more testosterone?

Posted by: e at Jul 27, 2006 1:39:03 PM

Here's a good article on testosterone levels and testing.

Previous threshholds for testosterone were a 6:1 ratio of testosterone vs. epitestosterone, but Floyd was probably tested under the newly lowered standard of 4:1. Seems doubtful that anyone would have four times the normal level, but who knows what kind of drug interactivities there are for legal medicines that could cause elevated testosterone levels.

It's really to soon to jump to any conclusions; particularly given WADA's record on these things and how rampantly unprofessional they are.

French lab indeed.

Posted by: Jason at Jul 27, 2006 2:22:54 PM

Has Landis been located for comment yet? If even for nothing more than a "no comment" or "we're prepared to fight these allegations and eagerly await the results of our 'B' sample."

Posted by: Brian at Jul 27, 2006 2:34:06 PM

Here is a good article from the american statistical association about possible false positives in testosterone testing. The findings suggest that lowering the ratio only increases the likelihood that false positives will occur.


Posted by: cycling fan at Jul 27, 2006 2:42:06 PM

"Cycling analyst John Eustice thinks Floyd Landis' testosterone test could be a false positive. Landis' testosterone levels were low; just the ratio was off. Landis' cortisone shots or beer drinking could affect that, Eustice said on The Dan Patrick Show."

Posted by: chasey at Jul 27, 2006 3:03:31 PM

All I can say is that as an absolute fan of the beautiful sport, my respect for the professional riders just continues to plummet. This is the case whether they are guilty or not.

If Landis is guilty of doping, I believe that he and his trainer Allen Lim are are complete wankers and I'll thank them for forcing me to stop being a fan of pro-racing. As an amature racer I'll always be a fan of that scene, I can predict with confidence the Cat 3's I race against don't, for the most part, take illegal drugs.

What a pity for us all...

- San Francisco

Posted by: Bennett at Jul 27, 2006 3:05:01 PM

Nice job cycling fan; that American Statisical Association article is very interesting. The money quote:

    In the short term, the bar
    for urinalysis of testosterone doping must be set much higher
    (T/E much higher than 6). The threshold should be determined
    in light of the number of athletes to be tested, pegged
    to the number of false positives that are acceptable to society,
    and based on the limitations of current laboratory methods.
    If the sizes of current databases are too small to allow
    for good estimates of proportions above large thresholds, then
    the laboratory test should be suspended until such information
    becomes available.

    Posted by: Jason at Jul 27, 2006 3:07:13 PM

    Thanks for the info. My conspiracy theory is that this report has been released partially due to the fact that Americans have dominated for the past 8 years, and Floyd's win was the final straw.

    Posted by: e at Jul 27, 2006 3:10:50 PM

    I should like to point out that Floyd is allowed to take some medications for his osteonecrotic hip, and those may or may not contribute to elevated testosterone or a false positive. I'm no scientist, but I wouldn't be shocked if this is brought up.

    I also second the idea that a B sample should be tested before any public announcement is made. Landis, as well as over one hundred other riders, made this a great tour in the face of all the controversy which threatened to do otherwise. I would be mildly surprised how tour officials are attacking a rider prematurely, were it not for the whole Operación Puerto scandal, where they did just that.

    Would the tour organizers please stop shooting themselves in the foot and behave at least as well as they expect their riders to do?

    Posted by: Scout at Jul 27, 2006 3:17:02 PM

    Here's a different way of looking at it, but maybe he just had really low levels of epitestosterone? That would make the ratio of T/E higher, without having a higher quantity of testosterone than any other rider.

    I'm not going to jump to conclusions quite yet. The timing of this announcement suggests "Frenchie media hype" right now.

    Posted by: Steve at Jul 27, 2006 3:20:44 PM

    Charles Pelkey, editor of Velonews.com, was just on NPR's Talk of the Nation. He said unnamed sources told him Floyd's ratio was perhaps as high as 11:1. But he said, in addition to that, his testosterone levels were fine--it was that his epitestosterone levels were extremely low. That sheds a different light on the subject, if true. You can listen to the audio later today: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5587194.

    Posted by: Jason M. at Jul 27, 2006 3:23:38 PM

    Note how the announcement was made by Floyd's team not by the UCI or the Tour organizers or any newspaper.

    "After the UCI announced yesterday that one rider had an A sample positive in the 2006 Tour de France, there has been strong speculation about the identity of the rider. The UCI will not confirm the name of the rider until the B sample results come back, but that could be within the week.

    The UCI said that the rider, his team, his federation, his national anti-doping organisation, and the World Anti-Doping Agency have all been informed.

    The Phonak team has confirmed the speculation that Floyd Landis returned a positive A sample after his win in stage 17 of the Tour de France. "The Phonak Cycling Team was notified yesterday by the UCI about an unusual level of Testosterone/Epitestosterone ratio in the test made on Floyd Landis after stage 17 of the Tour de France," said the team in a statement. "The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result.

    Posted by: VeloFan at Jul 27, 2006 3:32:04 PM

    Here is the WADA pdf on the testosterone testing. If he fails the C13/C12 ratio they can still test his old samples for a baseline. But the doubts will remain.

    Posted by: LarryO at Jul 27, 2006 3:58:39 PM

    The 'French lab' comments above are distressing. It would be an incredibly bad move for a lab to fake a positive result; if it was proven, no one would ever use that lab again, and the scientist/s would lose his/their jobs.

    And after such a successful Tour, it would do the TdF itself a grave disservice.

    And, anyway, if a French lab was going to fake the result of an American rider, they would've done it to Armstrong, who was considerably less popular among the French than Landis is.

    That aside, I'd honestly be surprised if this was a false positive (which I hope it is). In the NYTimes Magazine the talk about Landis's increased performance this year made me think of this post by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he points out that established atheletes rarely see substantial improvements in their performance without some external aid (Bonds, approaching 40, simply shouldn't've become the game's best player). While it's possible that the 'groove' explanation - that Landis's hip has been stabalized by repetition - is accurate, it rings somewhat hollow. (As a result, I found myself rooting for Pereiro.)

    I hope, for Landis, for the Tour, for the sport, that this is an accidental false positive, or that it can otherwise be easily explained if his ratio is indeed outside the allowed range. But blaming the result on the nationality of the scientists is jingoistic and unfair - and, frankly, the much less likely scenario.

    Posted by: Jarrett at Jul 27, 2006 4:29:01 PM