Rock (of crack) Racing

January 10, 2008

okay that was a bit uncalled for. But US domestic pro cycling outfit “Rock Racing” has hired Tyler Hamilton and wants Floyd Landis for an “advisor”. And this team is coming to play, people:

With the addition of three-time national champion Freddie Rodriguez, 2002 world time trial champion Santiago Botero and former U.S. Postal Service domestique Victor Hugo Peña, as well as domestic standouts Doug Ollerenshaw, Mike Creed and Cesar Grajales, Ball has quickly built a team that has shaped up to be one of the strongest on the North America scene.

Plus Tyler? Damn.

Wait a minnit, Rock Racing the team is a sponsor of the Amgen “We make EPO” Tour of California? And they are going to come gunning with Tyler Hamilton who should be a top-5 favorite if he hits the start line? So they are sponsoring their own rider’s win? Oh, my head hurts…

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Update 1/11/08: And now an interview with Floyd Landis.  Conditioned on the journalist obtaining answers to Floyd’s questions of USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson:

“I want short and direct answers, no spin or political bullshit,” he told me. “I made them yes/no questions and those are the answers that I want to hear. [Get those answers] and I’ll answer any questions you ask.”

Of course the science-y part comes up, as usual:

FL: Should strict liability be applied to the athletes and not the labs?

SJ: I think the labs have every obligation to manage these cases at the highest level. I think it’s fair to challenge the labs’ procedures and handling of samples. They should be able to produce documentation that they have followed their own rules in managing and testing doping samples. Frankly that gets right back to this balancing act between protecting the rights of the athletes and catching cheaters. You have to do it correctly, and the labs should be held to the highest of international standards.

FL: For example, is it reasonable that the panel admitted in the Scott Moninger case that he was not intending to cheat but convicted him, while the panel in the Landis case admitted to substandard lab practices and convicted him?

SJ: I don’t know enough information to make that comparison, frankly. I would assume in Floyd’s case that arbitrators determined that any substandard lab practices had no impact on the outcome of the test for exogenous testosterone, but I don’t know for certain.

FL (2): Here’s another way to ask it: Should the athletes be responsible and punished when they make a mistake and when the lab makes mistakes? Scott Moninger was banned as a cheater when there was no intent to cheat. In my case the lab followed none of its own rules, causing the result, and I am held responsible to explain what happened. What I’m trying to understand is why the athlete is judged as the only party who can be dishonest.

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Paved with Good Intentions

January 10, 2008

Janet of La Mancha is tilting at the windmill of science ethics again (one of her good ones made it into the anthology that is OpenLab 2007). It is a topic in which I have some interest which you will note from her “good one”.

One issue I like to explore is where and why otherwise well-meaning scientists step off the path of ethical conduct onto the freeway of iniquity. I’ve been thinking about a possible first (mis)step, the inevitable shading with methodological description. Read the rest of this entry »