Bicycling --- a Strategy for Truth in Drug Tests

(2008 Dec blog post)

In a different blog post on bicycling on this site, I was commenting on the fact that a French newspaper was downright fanatic in its attempts to 'bring down' Lance Armstrong, on the basis of a 'B sample' of a drug test done about five Tour-de-France's in the past.

In bicycling drug tests, they (the governing sports organization) take an A and a B sample. The bicycling drug testing organization(s) use the B sample, as needed, as a way to corroborate the results of tests on the A sample.

My main beef with this methodology is that the B test is usually done by the same group that tested the A sample. How likely is it that they will announce B sample results different from the results they announced for the A sample?

If they DID announce different results, they would be making themselves look incompetent. They will, just naturally, be strongly motivated to announce the same results they got with the A sample --- no matter what they found with the B sample.

When Lance Armstrong was subjected to this methodology along with the accusations mentioned above, my first thought was that this 'conflict of interest' should be eliminated by having the B sample tested by a different lab --- preferably a lab not associated with any bicycling/sports organization involved in the brouhaha.

In the 2008 Tour de France, one of the new U.S.-sponsored teams came up with an 'additional' sampling approach.

At the end of each race day, they took blood samples of all their riders.

This is a good idea. They can keep the samples --- for seven or eight years if necessary. Then if some fanatical French newspaper, or whoever, wants to claim there was drug or blood-doping abuse by one of the team's riders, 'they' can pull out multiple samples for re-testing --- by 'independent' testers --- by the team and/or the sports organization and/or the sports organization's testing lab.

    (The storer-of-the-samples could be either the team or the sports organization. One A-and-B sample approach would be to have A samples stored by the sports organization and B samples stored by the team. Or, A-and-B samples stored by the sports organization, and C-and-D samples stored by the team organization. In any case, no two tests, on the same set of samples, should be done by the same lab.)

Admittedly, those who bring up the charges will say the team samples are bogus --- they've been switched, or whatever. But, at least the team can be confident in their defense of the charges.

This is another way to promote some truth in drug testing in the sports world.

Admittedly, there are even more difficulties, because some types of drugs and blood-doping may offer testing difficulties --- especially if 'masking' techniques are devised and used.

But, in spite of these continuing sources of questions, the storage of team-taken samples, as well as sports-organization-taken samples, seems to be an advance toward 'truth in drug testing' in sports. But especially important is using a DIFFERENT lab for RE-testing.

    Now, if only we had some testing technique to apply to 'players' in the financial industry. How to test them for mis-behavior, or tendencies thereto? I will have blog posts and 'hall of shame' web pages on the financial industry in other pages on this site. If I can think of (or find) such a technique, I will post it in those pages. (One possibility is using the size of the amygdala of the brain. More on that later, in other posts.)

In the meantime, I look forward to the drama of the 2009 Tour de France --- and other bike races in years to come.

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Posted 2008 Dec 24.
Changed, to facilitate better printing, 2009 Aug 25.
Changed slightly 2013 Apr 16.