The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for August 7th, 2006

The truth behind the Landis test results

Posted by disappointmentzone on 7 August 2006

Floyd Landis, as everyone knows, has twice tested positive for an unusually high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. Consequently, he was fired by his cycling team and is no longer the 2006 Tour De France champion. The recent reports on this doping scandal hinge on the recently announced fact that Landis had synthetic testosterone in his system. From the New York Times:

Tests on the A sample found synthetic testosterone, as well as a ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone nearly three times the limit set by the World Anti-Doping Agency… Landis’s B sample also contained testosterone not produced by the body.

The highest legal ratio limit is 4:1 testosterone to epitestosterone. Landis’s samples came back with a ratio of 11:1. When you consider that some of the testosterone found in his urine samples was synthetic–and that the samples in question were produced in the hours after his historic, monumental, and otherworldly comeback in stage 17–it is easy to assume that Landis was doped up on a lot of testosterone for the Tour. Imagines of Landis injecting himself with syringes full of juice easily come to mind. We’ve all hear the urban myth about the mother who’s able to lift the car off of her baby because a rush of adrenaline gives her temporary super strength, and we picture Landis as the beneficiary of some chemical cocktail that stimulates the body into a similar state. 11:1 ratio, we think, my goodness that’s a lost of testosterone!

Except…no. Landis actually had low levels of testosterone. The real scandal is that his epitestosterone levels were incredibly low. In other words, his 11:1 ratio was the result of extremely low epitestosterone, not extremely high testosterone. Normal people have a ratio of 1:1 and there are two ways basic ways to get a ratio of 11:1 ratio: increase your testosterone 11 fold or decrease your epitestosterone 11 fold. The reports make it sound as though Landis was the culprit of the former when it really was the later

This is crucial. There is no scientific evidence that epistestosterone enhances athletic performance. Testosterone, however, has proven to be capable of enhancing athletic performance. When athletes test positive for for doping one of the first signs is high levels of epitestosterone in the system since adding epitestosterone is the only way to perserve the 1:1 ratio when an athlete takes synthetic testosterone. Epitestosterone, in other words, is a great masking agent for dopers. And Landis had barely any in his system.

Now, I don’t know if Landis cheated. Given the allegations brought against him I would have assumed he’d offer a more full-throated proclimation of his innocence. Such hasn’t been the case, and that’s alarming, at least to me. But many of the newspapers and online websites reporting on the Landis doping scandal haven’t been entirely fair or forthcoming or clear about the circumstances of his positive results for doping. And that’s just as problematic.

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam, statistics | 2 Comments »

More bluster swept away from the Q

Posted by disappointmentzone on 7 August 2006

Ronnie Duncan has been fired as the Cavs’ PA announcer, the Plain Dealer is reporting. Duncan only had the job for one season. Since the first game of the season there seemed to be a fair amount of fury directed at his bombastic, though oftentimes error-prone, approach to the job. When he first said, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow,” after Eric Snow scored in a game in early December I had a nice laugh. It brought levity to the moment–this is a game, after all–and was seasonally appropriate. But his gross pronunciation of “Damon Jones” drove me insane. If firing Duncan means I never have to hear “Damon Jones” pronounced the same way again then it’s OK by me.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers, flotsam and Jetsam | 1 Comment »