Time shifting

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The secondary title to this piece is “Hey, I didn’t take clenbuterol recently!”

Are we looking at the time-shifted positive dope test? And, if so, would it make any difference in the analysis?

The concept I’m suggesting is as follows: Traces of a banned performance enhancing drug (i.e., PED) showing up in one’s blood stream because of the re-introduction of blood cells via a transfusion (i.e., blood doping) has the unwanted secondary effect of time-shifting the presence of that PED from then to now.

To put it plainly, the PED is used by an athlete at a prior date, pre-competition, the resulting benefits realized at that time. Secondly, at some intermediate point in time, the athlete removes and stores some of his own blood (said to be around 4 pints). Thirdly, the athlete re-introduces his own packed blood cells via a transfusion during competition (in this instance, on July 21 in Pau, the rest day of the Tour). Then, finally, a drug test performed by a regulatory agency finds trace amounts of that PED in a blood sample taken following the athletes transfusion of the older, tainted, stored blood.

The epilogue to this sorted tale is that Christmas may have come a little early this year. Real early. As in July.

Rasmus Damsgaard, who previously ran the internal anti-doping programme in the Astana team, has already suggested that the Clenbuterol traces might be linked to a transfusion of blood taken out earlier in the season.

“If the data is correct then it’s most likely that it is a ‘Landis’,” Damsgaard told Danish TV station TV2 via SMS. “It would suggest that he has received a transfusion of his own blood, taken out a few months earlier when he used clenbuterol, which he has gotten back into his body.”


Can this prove doping? Should it?

A lot more on the topic over at sportsscientists.com.

Update: Another piece up at sports.espn.go.com.

I’d like to draw your attention to this portion of the interview:

The concentration of clenbuterol in Contador’s urine sample was extremely low, but within the context of current anti-doping rules, that doesn’t matter. As WADA director David Howman told the Associated Press, clenbuterol is not “a threshold substance,” meaning an accused athlete is accountable for it whether the quantity is large or infinitesimal. The amount found in Contador’s sample has been described as 40 times less than what a WADA lab is required to be able to detect, but again, that refers to a standard for lab performance and is irrelevant to an athlete’s guilt or innocence under the WADA code.

However, many experts agree that testing methods for clenbuterol have become so sensitive, it is now being detected at non-performance enhancing levels, opening up a debate about whether WADA should establish a threshold. Paul Scott, a lawyer who has helped many athletes defend themselves against doping charges, said the small amount of clenbuterol found in Contador’s samples mean that it was “impossible” he took it for doping purposes during the race. “You’re going to see a lot more of these [positives] if WADA doesn’t change their policy,” he said. Id.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

15 Replies to “Time shifting”

  1. …makes absolute sense to me…

    …senor contador’s comment “I passed a test before July 21st,” he said. On July 20th I passed a test – the day before.” sounds like a ‘tranquillo’ statement meant to pacify the masses…

    …i’d love to be privy to the immediate conversation between a guilty rider & his ‘dope’ doctor when the first accusation arises…

  2. “Tour de France winner addresses press conference, proclaims innocence and expects to be cleared”

    …boy oh boy…gotta give ‘berto points for originality on that one…i don’t believe i’ve ever heard another accused doper/cyclist use a strategy like that before…

  3. Written and well summarized, BJ. Seems they can also now test for blood bag residuals too. I’m loving the fact that 2 podium finishers from 2 grand tours this year have been smacked. Here’s to catching them all.

  4. I think this is the most likely scenario (and probably why Landis had a suddenly elevated T/E ratio as well). Sure he probably didn’t take clenbuterol that day, but what was he doing 4 weeks earlier? Bulking up for the coming beat down and muscle loss during the Tour? I think it’s about a 40 day max holding time for blood, unless they prep it for cryo-storage. Can they test for excess glycerol in the blood?

  5. You know, this happened way back in the ’84 Olympics. A Finnish runner tested positive for steroids that he’d been taking months before. Poor planning in the blood doping thing.

    Shows how stupid some of these guys really are…

  6. So maybe the “ultimate fix” for blood doping is to insist that everyone who will ride TDF has a shot of various tracer molecules at 10 day intervals starting 80 days prior to TDF and finishing just enough in advance to allow everything to clear? That way, harvested blood would stick out as if it had been bar-coded once it was re-injected.

  7. ‘Albuterol Clentador’…somebody else came up with that but i think it’s creative genius…

  8. I’m curious how they can differentiate between blood bag residuals and saline IV bag residuals. IV fluid replacement during stage races is common and legal. I would have guessed the bags were the same material.

  9. Art, I think that is an excellent question. Also, the storage of the blood sample post extraction from the athlete can apparently introduce the same plasticizer residue. I’m currently trying to get my head around it and get a post together. Hopefully I’ll have something later today.

  10. …i agree, it is an excellent question but i’ve still got to wonder about this whole tainted meat defense…

    …it seems based on introducing as many variables as possible, in my mind, to throw off the scent…define your defense & stick w/ it…‘clentador’ & his lawyers have had this information since august, so why the waffling now ???…

    …why the grasping at straws ???…

    …as we’ve learned from the ‘lance chrinicles’, while team leaders might be sequestered away from the rest of the team for the most part, team meals are taken together…it’s a morale, team spirit deal-y…so, why was “he” the only one on the team who tested positive…

    …plus the half-life of clenbuterol is what ???…30 to 36 hours ???…

    …either way, it just never stops in cycling does it ???…

  11. Not all bags use PVC (that use plasicizers) there are other materials such as EVA and others, there are also different types of plasticizers such as TOTM, DOM and DEHP (which is the one most manufacturers have moved away from)

  12. Pingback: Space bag plasticizers | Drunkcyclist.com