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NY velocity Michael Ashenden interview

DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
edited April 2009 in Pro race
http://nyvelocity.com/content/interview ... l-ashenden

This is a *very* long read but it is superb and gives you all the damning LA evidence you need, without resort to speculating about what he was up to in the bog for 30 min :D

Possibly a companion piece to Ashenden's Competitior Radio interview from 2006:

http://www.competitorradio.com/details.php?show=68
Le Blaireau (1)

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  • Seeing as this story now has it's own thread, it seems appropriate to repost the following here.


    Of course, Ashenden is not alone...

    UCI experts do not believe in Armstrong

    It may be that Lance Armstrong never officially tested positive, but according to Robin Paris Otto, one of UCI's anti-doping experts and the man who in 2000 developed the first analytical method for the detection of EPO, there is evidence that the opposite is true.

    ...He adds that the results which showed that the American was doped in1999 must be considered to be valid from a scientific point of view . "The methods used were valid. It is clear that the question mark concerning whether Armstrong was doped really is more of a legal than scientific nature. So there is scientific evidence that he was doped in1999 and that he took epo. To deny it would be to lie. "

    http://www.feltet.dk/index.php?id_paren ... yhed=17128
  • Blimey, that's a bl00dy good, if very long, read. Really fascinating, and not just the bits about LA either. Reckon Michael Ashenden would make a great dinner guest or guest on a chat show, he seems to be able to explain scientific complexities quite well.

    Shame is that that kind of interview only gets a limited 'airplay' if you like, when it really deserves to be in a major newspaper or something like the OSM. Chances of that though...
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    I really do recommend having a listen to his Competitor Radio interview - if you can get past the hosts banging on about the Landis case for the first 20 min or so, it becomes much more interesting.

    On a more superficial note, after listening to the interview I made up an image in my head of someone quite old from the way Ashenden sounds, but he actually looks quite young.
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • I'll give that a listen later.

    Yeah I always thought Michael Ashenden was quite alot older, in fact I imagined he'd look rather like Michael Aspell for some bizarre reason :D
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    Definitely more Michael Stipe than Michael Aspel!
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    The most important part of that interview (coz really, who give a f about 99)

    MA: The passport, we held a lot of hope that it would reveal autologous transfusion, the underlying theory is that if you re-infuse a bag of blood, then the concentration of red cells in circulation, the hemoglobin concentration, is going to be increased. And we should be able to spot the elevated values compared to what it was before the transfusion.

    The unfortunate reality is that we've conducted a couple of studies in Denmark where we have replicated that practice in volunteers, and we were puzzled and disheartened to find that there just wasn't the increases in hemoglobin that we had expected. For some reason the body regulates differently between transfusions and EPO. With EPO your hemoglobin rises markedly. With transfusions it just doesn't seem to.

    We don't fully understand why, we've got a few clues, but the bottom line is yes, transfusion is apparent in the blood passport approach, but the changes aren't usually substantial enough that in itself we will be able to impose a doping violation just on changes in the blood. We would probably need to supplement that with other sorts of evidence.


    Welcome to the new clean cycling.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • stagehopperstagehopper Posts: 1,593
    Very good interview and highly revealing in many respects. Nails a lot of the myths re: Armstrong and 1999.

    The only thing he's got wrong, after clearly stating the samples weren't spiked, is confusing the issue by adding that anyway he didn't think it would be possible to spike samples with synthetic EPO to those sort of accuracies.

    Once you've got to this stage:

    "The concentration of EPO in the urine is measured by immunoassay. The concentration of EPO in the retentate is adjusted to an optimal value (no adjustment if the concentration is low, but adjustments made if the concentration is too high). Twenty MICROLITRES of the retentate are applied to the gel (1 litre = 1 million microlitres)."

    You can just reconstitute the retentate in a solution containing synthetic EPO to the right % you need and then refilter in the centrifuge. Using successive dilutions of a more concentrated standard solution of synthetic EPO can give you extremely accurate amounts of compounds at the nano scale. Pretty bog standard technique so no need for sub-microlitre pippetting.

    As for the Biological Passport, surely the fact that even though they can't yet sanction for autologous transfers the samples are being stored for 8 years, is a deterrant in itself? Those riders showing "unusual" patterns are beign targetted more, the data set gets wider, the opportunity to dope between random checks gets smaller. And with the likes of the AFLD saying they think they'll be able to test for autologous transfers soon, it's a risk only the highly stupid will now take .... so 10% of the peloton ...
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    iainf72 wrote:
    Welcome to the new clean cycling.
    Well the passport has apparently delivered enough evidence to get some riders banned, although the UCI said this months ago when it promised to announce things "in days or weeks". I don't see the passport as magic but a useful step and something to be used in conjunction with other methods like start line haematocrit testing, total body haemoglobin counts and the application of intelligent, targetted, all have their uses. You might not catch all the riders but you'll get a few and this increased fear of detection will scare some and make others reduce the extent of their cheating.
  • UnsheathUnsheath Posts: 49
    A very long read but definitely well worth it. That's the first time I've seen the alleged 99 EPO offense explained in full and does offer you an insight into the type of program US Postal were on. Pretty irrefutable information on a multitude of scales.

    One point I'll like to add is that the 8% or so that were caught with EPO were in fact only those that registered above the 80% isoforms and other 'criteria' It is conceivable that many athletes were using EPO before the tour but ceased their program a week or so out so no EPO was detectable in their system by the time testing began. Remember that the last thing teams needed was to be caught red handed with supplies right after the Festina Affair. If that is the case the doping percentage would have been greater as the benefits of EPO lasts for weeks. It seems like the test Ashaden was using would only definitively catch the cheats if they were topping up at the tour to tip them over the 80% isoforms threshold. Something Lance was doing every 2-3 days.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Unsheath wrote:
    It seems like the test Ashaden was using would only definitively catch the cheats if they were topping up at the tour to tip them over the 80% isoforms threshold. Something Lance was doing every 2-3 days.
    If this is the case, as Ashenden believes, then it is clear he was the rider doping the most. Given the way haematocrit can drop during a 3 week Tour, any rider dosing like this throughout the race is going to be on a different level to their peers, even if the others arrived with sky-high haematocrits.

    But this suggests two things. Look at the final TT and either the other riders are using some doping to boost their performance or Armstrong was only scraping into the lead thanks to this doping, and without the methods described by Ashenden, he'd be down behind the likes of Boardman. The Brit started with excellent TT performances but faded by the end. If Ashenden is right, the results are massively distorted.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    Kléber wrote:
    You might not catch all the riders but you'll get a few and this increased fear of detection will scare some and make others reduce the extent of their cheating.

    I get the impression the good prepatores were aware of the limitations before the passport started so knew what they could and couldn't get away with.

    The transfusion thing is interesting because you end up with a situation as with EPO. They can look at the results and know someone is using synthetic EPO but unless those thresholds are breached there is no doping offense. Same with the transfusions, they'll know people are doing it but won't be able to sanction

    Further proof that the devil gets all the best tunes.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    Kléber wrote:
    Unsheath wrote:
    It seems like the test Ashaden was using would only definitively catch the cheats if they were topping up at the tour to tip them over the 80% isoforms threshold. Something Lance was doing every 2-3 days.
    If this is the case, as Ashenden believes, then it is clear he was the rider doping the most. .
    All the tests show is that of the suitable (87 from what, 250-300?) samples tested for synthetic EPO, Lance has 6 out of 13 positives. Not necessarily the same thing. If I were a team manager hell-bent on winning under such conditions, I'd make sure that a) my doping programme was as undetectable as was practical, b) my non-GC riders didn't get any delusions of grandeur and try for stage wins that would bring them into the testing net and c) once their random test had been carried out, maximise their doping programme for the remainder of the race. There could well have been many others cranked up as much - or even more.
    Kléber wrote:
    But this suggests two things. Look at the final TT and either the other riders are using some doping to boost their performance or Armstrong was only scraping into the lead thanks to this doping, and without the methods described by Ashenden, he'd be down behind the likes of Boardman. The Brit started with excellent TT performances but faded by the end. If Ashenden is right, the results are massively distorted.

    Are the results distorted? - most certainly but I wouldn't say Armstrong only "scraped" past Zulle - he already had a GC lead of over 7 minutes plus was getting all the time checks so he knew he had the stage in the bag. I doubt that he would go for broke under such circumstances.

    (PS Vandevelde coming in just 12 seconds behind Boardman. Who'a thunk?)
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    That's true LangerDan but he still took the win. If he was on the same programme as Boardman, chances are he would have finished a long way done, not to mention suffering like a dog in the Pyrenees.
  • stagehopperstagehopper Posts: 1,593
    Kléber wrote:
    Unsheath wrote:
    It seems like the test Ashaden was using would only definitively catch the cheats if they were topping up at the tour to tip them over the 80% isoforms threshold. Something Lance was doing every 2-3 days.
    If this is the case, as Ashenden believes, then it is clear he was the rider doping the most. Given the way haematocrit can drop during a 3 week Tour, any rider dosing like this throughout the race is going to be on a different level to their peers, even if the others arrived with sky-high haematocrits.

    But this suggests two things. Look at the final TT and either the other riders are using some doping to boost their performance or Armstrong was only scraping into the lead thanks to this doping, and without the methods described by Ashenden, he'd be down behind the likes of Boardman. The Brit started with excellent TT performances but faded by the end. If Ashenden is right, the results are massively distorted.

    weren't his tests clear for the last week?
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    If the EPO levels were down, taking it 10 days before the end would have kept up production of red blood cells. Taking EPO in the final days would probably offer little benefit.
  • stagehopperstagehopper Posts: 1,593
    cheers Klebs - was a bit confused over the point you were making.

    Still think it's extremely difficult to make these direct comparisons when there's noe way of measuring health, fuelling, desire, bike handling etc
  • micronmicron Posts: 1,843
    This is a great piece - not only does it make a strong case for the 99 positives but Ashenden is an extremely plausible, measured character who clearly sees both sides of the story and appreciates that the doping problem isn't black and white.
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    iainf72 wrote:
    Kléber wrote:
    You might not catch all the riders but you'll get a few and this increased fear of detection will scare some and make others reduce the extent of their cheating.

    I get the impression the good prepatores were aware of the limitations before the passport started so knew what they could and couldn't get away with.

    The transfusion thing is interesting because you end up with a situation as with EPO. They can look at the results and know someone is using synthetic EPO but unless those thresholds are breached there is no doping offense. Same with the transfusions, they'll know people are doing it but won't be able to sanction

    Further proof that the devil gets all the best tunes.

    Untl the autologous transfusion test comes online. Though I'm not trying to suggest the testers would be happy for the riders to be lulled into a false sense of security...

    When you're fighting a war, you don't tell the enemy what you're capable of (if you're smart). Remember Mircera....
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    If you can't prosecute, you get intelligence. A rider prone to blood transfusions is likely to be on an organised medical programme and probably taking other things, so the passport might stop you from busting the rider but you can learn more. Who knows, a tip off to the police and the rider is caught.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    DaveyL wrote:
    When you're fighting a war, you don't tell the enemy what you're capable of (if you're smart). Remember Mircera....

    Quite right.

    However, we've had years of them knowing who was using EPO but not being able to call a positive. Over the years, how many of those riders have faced a sanction? 5%? More? Less?
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • donrhummydonrhummy Posts: 2,329
    It is a good read, BUT, there's a few statements that are a bit worrisome for such strong claims of "proof".
    One of the things, I guess there's been misinformation in this particular area - is that the samples weren't analyzed properly, that they were analyzed using a different protocol than what was used in proper dope controls - and that's just not correct...The laboratory, I've checked with the people who did the analysis, and I very carefully went through it with them. They're absolutely 100% sure that these results are valid.

    Read that carefully. He's saying that there's no way the samples were analyzed improperly because the very people accused of that insist that it's not true. How's that evidence?

    I'm not saying that Lance is necessarily innocent, but that doesn't answer his claim. And it certainly doesn't address the conclusion by the UCI-hired 3rd party who showed that a number of chain-of-custody steps were ignored/missing.
  • leguapeleguape Posts: 986
    micron wrote:
    This is a great piece - not only does it make a strong case for the 99 positives but Ashenden is an extremely plausible, measured character who clearly sees both sides of the story and appreciates that the doping problem isn't black and white.

    Agree. That's the first article I've read where I can see and understand the evidence in a clear manner, laid out in a way which is pretty persuasive.

    Even when he's dealing with the subject of Coyle it reads like a guy who isn't scoring points, just putting a cogent case.
  • donrhummy wrote:
    It is a good read, BUT, there's a few statements that are a bit worrisome for such strong claims of "proof".
    One of the things, I guess there's been misinformation in this particular area - is that the samples weren't analyzed properly, that they were analyzed using a different protocol than what was used in proper dope controls - and that's just not correct...The laboratory, I've checked with the people who did the analysis, and I very carefully went through it with them. They're absolutely 100% sure that these results are valid.
    Read that carefully. He's saying that there's no way the samples were analyzed improperly because the very people accused of that insist that it's not true. How's that evidence?
    If you really read what he says carefully, you will see that he says much more than that, focus on the phrase 'I very carefully went through it with them'. I.e. he himself examined their data and procedures and could not find fault with them.
    donrhummy wrote:
    I'm not saying that Lance is necessarily innocent, but that doesn't answer his claim. And it certainly doesn't address the conclusion by the UCI-hired 3rd party who showed that a number of chain-of-custody steps were ignored/missing.
    That would be the Vrijman report, described by WADA as being 'so lacking in professionalism and objectivity that it borders on farcical'. Vrijman's main criticism was that the lab had not followed the protocols needed to secure a conviction when the only reason that they did not do this was because they were conducting a research project, not conducting tests that might be used to sanction any rider! And whatever housekeeping protocols were followed, the science is still sound, as Ashenden and Otto make very clear. As WADA put it:

    The process used by the French Laboratory in conducting its research was not the process used for analysing samples for the purpose of sanctions. Mr. Vrijman, at all times, confuses this fundamental difference and seems to indicate that, in conducting research, the laboratory was required to carry it out in the same manner as for analysing samples for adverse analytical findings. This is not the case, and Mr. Vrijman, in directing himself to the rules relating to samples collected for analysis rather than understanding the difference for research, has totally misdirected himself in his inquiry. This very basic error leads to ill-informed and incorrect outcomes.

    And...

    Mr. Vrijman fails to cite any rule or regulation, by number nor reference, where he can establish that his speculations show a breach. Without a breach of rule, there cannot be allegations of misbehaviour or wrongdoings. There have not been any.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    The Vrijman report was an embarrassment. Being so one sided and badly handled, it only provided more ammunition for Armstrong's doubters. Even WADA felt moved to use damning words: "When the facts are wrong the conclusions that are built on these facts are wrong. Mr. Vrijman’s report is fallacious in many aspects and misleading."

    You can read WADA's response to the Vrijman Report [url=
    http://www.sportslaw.nl/documents/cms_s ... ort%20.pdf
    ]here[/url].
  • Kléber wrote:
    The Vrijman report was an embarrassment. Being so one sided and badly handled, it only provided more ammunition for Armstrong's doubters.
    The most obvious conclusion is that, in order to protect Armstrong, Verbruggen wanted a hatchet job doing on the LNDD, and Vrijman dutifully delivered him one...
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