Because I’m not a scientist, I was afraid to say this even though everything I THOUGHT I had read would seem to back it up, but…the one seemingly obvious flaw in the whole case against Tour de France winner Floyd Landis is that one day’s boost of testosterone (unlike, say, blood doping, which actually increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the human body) should not be able to noticeably improve performance, but the spike in testosterone from a deliberate attempt at cheating would be easily and automatically detected in testing, SO: What sense would it make for Landis to have even tried cheating, for one day only, by use of a testosterone patch, knowing how closely the testing was being done? The guy had been tested throughout the Tour, with no noticeable signs of testosterone abnormalities, so he clearly had no long-term cheating program underway. One would have to believe the guy unbelievably stupid to think he would cheat in such an easily detectable way for almost no benefit.
But since nobody else brought this up, I thought maybe I was mistaken in my understanding of the science.
Now comes this note, though, buried in a very interesting longer piece in the Wall Street Journal: “Gary Wadler, a physician and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he doesn’t think the test results add up because Mr. Landis didn’t show an elevated ratio [of testosterone to epitestosterone] in any other tests. ‘I can’t imagine how taking a single dose of an anabolic steroid could impact performance in the sport of cycling,’ he said. ‘They need to be taken for many weeks to have an effect.'”
In short, it made no sense for Landis to cheat, and even if he had cheated, it would not have boosted his performance. His tremendous success on the last day in the Alps was his own good work, not that of a steroid.
Meanwhile, the WSJ article as a whole explains how the apparent testosterone abnormality could happen: Alcohol. It already was public knowledge that Landis, thinking he had lost the Tour after a horrible day, had been drinking beer (in public) the night before his phenomenal ride. He is now reported also to have drunk several whiskey shots. (Lance Armstrong occasionally drank alcohol, or at least beer, during his Tours as well. Think of it as a form of carbo-loading!) This is important, reports the WSJ, because scientific studies, including ones in Finland and Sweden, show that alcohol consumption can raise the hormonal ratio at issue, by as much as 200%.
By simple logic, this is a far more believable explanation for the high ratio than is a crazy, useless, utterly reckless application for one day only of a testosterone patch.
Floyd Landis is innocent. And he is a great champion.
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