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 Landis and Testostrone
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 08/05/2006 :  04:58:25  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
Hey all--

Now that Floyd Landis' "B sample" has also come back positive, I have a question about doping-- testosterone in particular-- and its effects.

As anyone who's following the story knows, Landis was winning the Tour up until the 16th stage. At that point, he was crushed, dropping to 11th place back over eight minutes from the leader. In the 17th stage, however, Landis managed an amazing comeback, pulling to third place just 30 seconds back.

Now, however, it's been revealed that after-- and only after-- that 17th stage, Landis had unusually high levels of testosterone, including, apparently, synthetic testosterone. Landis maintatins that he's never doped up, but in light of the evidence, I'm, well, skeptical to say the least.

One thing strikes me as odd, however. If up until stage 17, Landis' test came back clean then we have to assume that he didn't take anything until after the 16th stage-- that is, until he was crushed riding into the Apls. We can imagine that Landis finished the 16th stage, saw that he was virtually certain not to win and then said to someone (a trainer? agent? fellow rider?), "give me a shot of that super-duper fake testosterone." But would such a chemical work so quickly that in but a few hours he could manage such an amazing comeback? If I shot up some testosterone, could my 5k time drop from the high 18:00's to the high 15:00's? In just a few hours' time?

My understanding was always that doping up like this took time to realise effects. I cam imagine that getting a fix of oxygen-rich blood might have some more immediate results. But taking testosterone? Isn't the point to use it to quickly build muscle mass and the like? If so, aren't we talking about weeks or months of work? And not hours?

Can anyone explain any of this?

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 08/05/2006 :  13:12:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
This got me curious, as well. I'd always thought of testosterone as being only useful for building muscle mass over time. I get the impression from the following quote from Wikipedia that there are immediate as well as long-term effects from using testosterone:
quote:
Testosterone may be administered to an athlete in order to increase performance, and is considered to be a form of doping in most sports. In males, a testosterone patch is applied to the scrotum for several hours before activity.
But I didn't yet find any discussion of that immediate effect, which is implied by that quote.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/05/2006 :  15:11:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
I just heard a racing official on the radio news say that there is some short term benefit to testosterone in that it increases aggression, perhaps useful when competitive racing. Or, he said, it might give a racer a psychological boost just knowing it's in their system (essentially suggesting a placebo effect).

As an official, I do understand his concerns. When it comes to keeping a level playing field in any sport, it almost doesn't matter what specific benefit an athlete may receive from a particular drug or hormone. It's the doubt itself. Could the drug have contributed to an athlete's victory? If there is a non-zero possibility, then it wasn't a fair race.

However, looking at it from Landis' point of view, I can see almost no reason why an athlete would risk disqualification by taking a detectable substance with almost no short term benefit in the middle of a race. It doesn't add up.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 08/05/2006 15:13:02
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 08/06/2006 :  18:56:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
It gets more bizzare after I read this story in USA Today. It's not about Landis, but it involves testosterone doping:
quote:
Graham has been involved with at least a half-dozen athletes who have received drug suspensions. He has accused Oregon massage therapist Chris Whetstine of rubbing a steroid cream on Gatlin to trigger the positive test. Whetstine denies the allegations.

"Somehow, when we are going to doping control, Chris stopped Justin and is like, 'Let me massage him really quick, coach,' Graham told ESPN.com. "I was like, 'No, you ain't got to massage it, man. ... He kept coming at Justin. 'Let me massage it.' ... (Whetstine) pulled a tube out of his pocket, not out of his bag, and then he just squirted a tube on Justin's leg."

Gatlin went straight to a doping test after the application of that cream, Graham said.


Now, say what you will about the track and field mess. It all sounds sketchy. But how realistic is this "cream" that can give a (false?) positive in some tests? If that's the case, then it really is possible to not know you've taken something. A crooked trainer or "teammate" could apply a cream giving the impression that it's harmless, when it's really a topical testosterone application that is certain to yield a positive result the next day!

I'm level-headed enough to realize that the evidence is stacked strongly against Landis, and I really have no vested interest one way or the other in all of this. But I was caught up in his story, and I find the idea that he knowingly took testosterone just once to be so far-fetched that some element of the story has to be missing.
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9680 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  03:11:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
Well the creams are meant to soak into the body, and the muscles. I'd be surprised if it didn't show up in a test. How quickly, that's another question. When you feel the "heat" in the skin/muscle after a liniment has been applied, then you can be sure it's in the system.

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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  05:55:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Well the creams are meant to soak into the body, and the muscles. I'd be surprised if it didn't show up in a test. How quickly, that's another question. When you feel the "heat" in the skin/muscle after a liniment has been applied, then you can be sure it's in the system.

Right, Mab-- I have no doubt that a special cream can be detected right away. What I was (and still somewhat, though Mooner cited some interesting stuff) confused about was the speed with which testosterone worked.

You take some testosterone. The next day, you can work out a little longer and a little harder than normally. You recover a little faster so that the day after that, can work out a little longer and a little harder than before. And so on. And after a few weeks or months, perhaps, then you can take on the 17th stage of the Tour and blow past the competition by over 5 minutes. But is it really possible that a guy can get crushed one day, juice up, and then turn around and do the crushing the next?

My other recent observation was that if you can take testosterone via a cream-- say, a cream disguised as a massage cream (think Bengay), then it wouldn't be too hard to give it to a person without that person's knowing it.

This sort of thinking, of course, smacks of Conspiracy, and I don't want to go down that road right now. But clearly, things are amiss in the world of lesser-followed sports like cycling and track and field!
Edited by - Cuneiformist on 08/07/2006 06:27:22
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  11:07:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Using a creme containing synthetic testosterone on Landis without his knowledge seems plausible, even if not probable. If a patch can be used to administer the hormone, per Wikipedia, then a creme ought to be able to do the job. If this happened, it could have been done by a sympathetic but idiotic trainer who took it upon himself to give Landis a "boost" at a time when it appeared he was losing badly.

Or it could have been a conspiracy to make sure any come-from-behind win was voided by testing later. If a conspiracy, it would have not required an elaborate plan, or many conspirators. A trainer, and one guy to pay him off and supply the creme. Or perhaps the testosterone could be applied to Landis' clothing, and a laundry service could be the culprit? Not all conspiracies are myth. Bonny and Clyde were real. Every crime that requires more than one person is a conspiracy. It's just the huge, implausible conspiracies that give conspiracy buffs a bad name.

I think the main reason we're discussing this at all is because Floyd Landis is a remarkable athlete who seems to us to be the very last kind of person who would cheat in such a manner. Yet William of Occam says he's guilty. But even Occam's been wrong a time or two before.

There are certainly a lot of plausible reasons that Landis might have been tampered with. National pride, huge endorsement deals, etc. After all the years that American Lance Armstrong (who was constantly accused of doping, while always passing every test) had dominated the Tour de France, the very possibility that another American even might win the event might have caused someone to rig Landis himself to fail the testing. There seems plenty of evidence that a rather large group of people had "conspired" to besmirch Lance Armstrong. This way of foiling the Americans would also have the effect of letting the Lance Armstrong deniers nod knowingly to one another.

We simply may never know for certain.



Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  12:41:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Using a creme containing synthetic testosterone on Landis without his knowledge seems plausible, even if not probable. If a patch can be used to administer the hormone, per Wikipedia, then a creme ought to be able to do the job. If this happened, it could have been done by a sympathetic but idiotic trainer who took it upon himself to give Landis a "boost" at a time when it appeared he was losing badly.

Or it could have been a conspiracy to make sure any come-from-behind win was voided by testing later. If a conspiracy, it would have not required an elaborate plan, or many conspirators. A trainer, and one guy to pay him off and supply the creme. Or perhaps the testosterone could be applied to Landis' clothing, and a laundry service could be the culprit? Not all conspiracies are myth. Bonny and Clyde were real. Every crime that requires more than one person is a conspiracy. It's just the huge, implausible conspiracies that give conspiracy buffs a bad name.

I think the main reason we're discussing this at all is because Floyd Landis is a remarkable athlete who seems to us to be the very last kind of person who would cheat in such a manner. Yet William of Occam says he's guilty. But even Occam's been wrong a time or two before.

There are certainly a lot of plausible reasons that Landis might have been tampered with. National pride, huge endorsement deals, etc. After all the years that American Lance Armstrong (who was constantly accused of doping, while always passing every test) had dominated the Tour de France, the very possibility that another American even might win the event might have caused someone to rig Landis himself to fail the testing. There seems plenty of evidence that a rather large group of people had "conspired" to besmirch Lance Armstrong. This way of foiling the Americans would also have the effect of letting the Lance Armstrong deniers nod knowingly to one another.

We simply may never know for certain.
Right on all counts, Mooner. And let me say that the Anti-American bit is compelling. I was in Italy when he won, and all the papers had rather snide headlines about it all. Things like "Americans Win Yet Another Tour" or "Tour Stays with Americans." You could practically see the eye-rolls and curled lips.

Meanwhile, the actual story of Landis-- dead hip and all-- gets lost in the sneer.

Very odd, that. But I'll keep following the story and see what turns up...
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  14:12:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
quote:
But would such a chemical work so quickly that in but a few hours he could manage such an amazing comeback?


Typically the gains you get from using testosterone supplements (pills, injection, patch, etc) are only realized in the form of extra muscle tissue. This doesn't happen overnight, but over the course of several weeks of intense training while using the steriod. You get stimulated muscle growth, enhanced muscle endurance, and increased cardiovascular capacity due to the increase in red blood cells that the steriod stimulates.

But you do not get these benefits in a couple of days, and you must train intensely as well.

If you just took an anabolic steriod, and didn't do intense training, the only thing you would get is the negative side effects.

I find it extremely unlikely that testosterone given during the course of this race could have any impact on the athlete's ability.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  14:31:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude
I find it extremely unlikely that testosterone given during the course of this race could have any impact on the athlete's ability.
Then what motive would Landis have for knowingly taking it?


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  14:54:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

quote:
Originally posted by Dude
I find it extremely unlikely that testosterone given during the course of this race could have any impact on the athlete's ability.
Then what motive would Landis have for knowingly taking it?


I know! This is what I don't understand. If the benefits after only a few hours of doping up on testosterone are minimal, then why do it? It's exactly for this reason that makes me think something else is going on.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  15:18:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
One thing that I think has been overlooked is the testing procedure. These questions come to mind:

How long after taking testostrone can a positive result be achieved?
What are the false-positive and false-negative rates of testing?
How much does one need to take to get a positive result?
How is the testing actually done, i.e. is there room for fraud? Taking someone else's urine for example.

Once these are answered, I think that we can come to some sort of tentative conclusion of what actually happened and then we can use this to gather whether it was sensible for him to take it or not.

Then again, we are assuming he knows everything that has been discussed in the thread, which may not be the case. He may have thought it worked like a miracle drug. The the placebo effect, as HH already addressed, comes into play.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  16:22:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
OK, so here is the scoop on the testing-- or at least some of the testing:
quote:
Representatives of two internationally renowned doping labs are in Paris to witness the test that will decide whether Tour de France winner Floyd Landis should be stripped of his title and banned from cycling, according to Howard Jacobs, one of Landis' attorneys.
Of course, stuff could have been tainted before then, but it seems that the people running this show are top flight.

Other research shows that the tests don't seem to turn up false positives (see here). Note also that the expert interviewed in the above story says:
quote:
When athletes take synthetic testosterone to boost performance, it typically helps them get stronger, recover faster from workouts, prevent tissue breakdown and increase their assertiveness, said Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency who stressed he was not speaking for that group.

Testosterone can be injected, he said, though athletes are moving toward taking it by skin patch or cream, which allows lower doses that might escape detection. Typically, athletes take the hormone daily for weeks or months during training, Wadler said, because it takes a while for the benefits to appear. [emphasis added]


And finally, Landis himself observed:
quote:
I put in more than 20,000 kilometers of training for the Tour . . .I won the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia. I was tested eight times at the Tour (de France); four times before that stage and three times after, including three blood tests. Only one came back positive. Nobody in their right mind would take testosterone just once; it doesn't work that way


All these suggest, Ricky that to some extent, things were working as we expect. The testing companies are pretty good, and there's lots of transparancy and oversight. Moreover, Landis seems to have in idea about what the drugs were, and those ideas conform to what an expert said: you don't take testosterone once, and if you do, you don't get much benefit from it.

I just don't know.
Edited by - Cuneiformist on 08/07/2006 16:23:00
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2998 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  16:45:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
I was listening to ESPN radio. One of the announcers, who said he follows cycling, stated that Landis was tested at least 8 times during the race, and only on the test for the last leg was a positive made. Apparently, if you lead a lap or wear the yellow, you get tested, and then they randomly test 3 or 4 other cyclists. So, he says, why did he pass the other tests, then take a substance which has no benefit to cyclists and then get caught?

Something smells rotten in Denmark/Paris....

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  20:04:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
Thanks Cune, I was going to look all that up tonight but you beat me to it.

I see no other way to explain the results. I'm certainly warming up to conspiracy.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  23:52:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
H.H. asked:
quote:
Then what motive would Landis have for knowingly taking it?



None.

Unless he was taking it all along and also taking some agent that masked the presence of the steriod to the testing procedures, and I don't know if such a thing exists.

There would be absolutely no point in staring to take an anabolic steriod at any point during the race, as there is no enhancement benefit to doing so. It would only expose you to a risk of being kicked out of your sport for doping.

There are, at the very least, some unanswered questions concerning his tests.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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