Landis case: Test results "totally unreliable"; USADA grills Landis about former manager's LeMond th
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 11.00pm
Errors in the use and maintenance of the machines used to test Floyd Landis' urine sample made the d
Dr Simon Davis, an expert on mass spectrometry, testified in yesterday's afternoon session of the hearing into Landis' doping positive at stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France.
The crux of the case against Landis is that mass spectrometry indicates that the testosterone in Floyd Landis' samples was not natural. To determine this, the tests measure the ratio of two carbon isotopes in the sample. Davis gave a detailed description of the science and technology of the method used to measure the isotope ratio, known as gas chromatography continuous-flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry or GCC IRMS.
He added that he had examined the working practices at the LNDD, the French anti-doping lab that tested Landis' samples. The data and results produced by the lab were "totally unreliable," he said. When asked if he had seen the user manual for the Isoprime mass spectrometer used at LNDD, Davis replied, "I wrote part of it."
The equipment used to test the samples was wrongly set up, Davis said, and not tested frequently enough to be sure that it was accurate. "One of the problems with GCC IRMS is that the systems are imperfect. It's tricky to get accurate results measuring small amounts compared to large amounts. Whether it is 'fit for purpose' as [Professor Christiane Ayotte, director of the WADA-accredited lab in Montreal] said, you need to test continually." Dr Davis stressed the need for expert operation and maintenance of the test equipment. The LNDD lab didn't have the necessary manual, it was revealed. "It's essential [to have the manual]," Davis said. "They aren't washing machines. They are very complex. You can't keep the details in your mind. The best way is in an electronic document. Most users are not machine experts, and they require instructions and procedures to ensure the machine is working correctly and properly."
USADA grills Landis on character In the morning session, Floyd Landis took the stand but the cross-examination by USADA attorney Matt Barnett focused on Landis' character rather than on the question of whether or not he took testosterone before winning stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France. In his testimony on Sunday, Landis claimed it would be out of character for him to dope. "To me, bicycle racing was rewarding for the pure fact that I was proud of myself when I put the work into it, and I could see results and get something out of it," he said. "It's a matter of who I am, and it wouldn't serve any purpose for me to cheat and win the Tour because I wouldn't be proud of it and that's just not what the goal was in the end."
With Landis' character on the table, Barnett questioned him over his response to the actions of his former business manager Will Geoghegan. Geoghegan is alleged to have made threatening phone calls to three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond the evening before LeMond testified last Thursday. The Landis camp didn't sack Geoghegan for this alleged witness-tampering until LeMond raised it in his testimony, however. Landis said he had told Geoghegan and the rest of his team about Lemond's admission that he'd been sexually abused as a child, and that he had given Geoghegan LeMond's phone number when the two "synched phones."
Geoghegan called LeMond and threatened to reveal this, and Landis said Geoghegan told him immediately what he had done. "In hindsight, we probably should have fired him immediately," said Landis, who explained that he had wanted to confer with his lawyers before acting. "Everything I did after I got here that morning and discussed it with the lawyers was based on what they advised me to do," he said. Attorney Barnett implied that the Landis camp must have been hoping the call would not come out. "You knew it would shatter your credibility if it came out that Geoghegan made the call?" Barnett asked. "He's my friend," Landis said. "I guess I assumed he'd make a big deal out of the call. Yeah, I mean, it was a big deal." As the Trust But Verify blog [http://trustbut.blogspot.com/ ] remarked, "Not much here, and Barnett was given the job of digging to try to find some dirt. His heart didn't seem to be in it."
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