Ashenden: “The experts were only allowed to see the first nine of Armstrong’s 38 blood results”
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ashenden: “The experts were only allowed to see the first nine of Armstrong’s 38 blood results”

by Shane Stokes at 5:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Anti-doping scientist says McQuaid ‘deliberately misled the public and media’

Michael AshendenFollowing yesterday’s confirmation by the UCI that none of the biological passport experts were given Lance Armstrong’s blood profiles after May 2009, former bio passport panel expert Michael Ashenden has accused its president Pat McQuaid of having ‘deliberately misled the public and media’ on the matter. He has also said that those experts only saw one quarter of Armstrong's test results, and none of those flagged as 'highly suspicious' in the USADA report.

Although McQuaid asserted recently that all of Armstrong’s biological data had been evaluated by the experts and no problems were found, the governing body conceded this was not the case in a communication issued yesterday.

It was an admission that it had essentially been forced to make by Ashenden after the latter released Armstrong’s biological passport code number and called on the other eight experts on the panel to confirm if any of them had been shown his values for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

“Lance Armstrong’s profile was not flagged as being abnormal by the Athlete Blood Passport software at any time during the period 2008 to 2010. Consequently, it was not submitted to the experts again,” the UCI stated in a press release issued yesterday.

This contrasts with McQuaid’s comments in a recent VeloNews interview, when he suggested the opposite. “He had something like 30 tests during the 24 months of his comeback. Those 30 tests were evaluated, I’m not sure if all 30 were blood tests for the passport, I’m not sure of the proportions, but anyway, all of the tests were evaluated by independent experts, including, I think, Michael Ashenden,” McQuaid said earlier this month.

“But they would be evaluated as anonymous; they don’t know who the athletes are. And none of them, when we went back and looked at the Armstrong tests, none of them at no time did the experts say to the UCI there was suspicion, and that he should be targeted. His passport was normal.”

Giving a reaction to VeloNation today, Ashenden has blasted McQuaid over the issue. He charges that the president misled the media, and also that other biological passport cases have proceeded without the software being triggered, such as that of Franco Pellizotti. “The facts have now been established and neither I nor any other experts were given an opportunity to review Armstrong's suspicious blood results during his comeback Tour de France races,” he said.

“Whether the profile triggered the abnormality thresholds is a deliberate red herring planted by the UCI, and its misleading for two reasons. First, because McQuaid stated that the experts had reviewed "all" of Armstrong's results. It is now clear that McQuaid's statement was untrue, because the experts were only allowed to see the first nine of Armstrong's 38 blood results. Specifically, it is now clear we were not shown Armstrong's suspicious results during the Tour de France races.

“Second, because the abnormality in Armstrong's profile was a series of flat results, not spikes in blood values, the software was not engineered to detect that abnormality. In other words, the abnormality does not show up in the software and would not have been flagged, but it does become evident to an expert when reviewing the raw blood results.

“A series of blood results can be suspicious and consistent with blood doping but not flagged by the software, which the CAS had already concluded and as can be found in its Pellizotti finding.”

When Armstrong declared prior to the 2009 season that he would return to competition, the UCI said that he would be fully tested and monitored in the same way as the other athletes in the biological passport programme. Ashenden clearly questions if this happened, and also refers to the rider’s payments of large sums of money in the past as an example of a compromised relationship.

“The facts we are left with are that the UCI chased Armstrong down to pay them one hundred thousand dollars, and in the year or so after that money was paid to them the UCI did not disclose Armstrong's suspicious blood results to its panel of experts,” he told VeloNation.

“The payments have been known about for a considerable time, but only now has the UCI been forced to admit that they never disclosed Armstrong's suspicious blood results. This latest revelation demands an independent inquiry into what actually transpired between the UCI and Armstrong, and the Lausanne laboratory who also had access to those blood results.”


Also see: Armstrong’s blood profile was never submitted to bio passport experts after May 2009 (includes UCI statement)


Ashenden has also issued a general statement on the matter, which is replicated below.


MCQUAID MISLED PUBLIC ABOUT ARMSTRONG BLOOD VALUES

The President of the International Cycling Union Pat McQuaid has been deceitful and deliberately misled the public and media about Lance Armstrong’s suspicious blood values during his comeback in 2009 and 2010.

During the last 24 hours the UCI have been forced to admit that they never sent Armstrong’s suspicious blood values to their expert panel for scrutiny. This admission flatly contradicts an interview Pat McQuaid gave to the website Velonews five days ago, in which he gave assurances that all of Armstrong’s blood values had been reviewed by the experts and found to be normal.

Today [Tuesday – ed.] the UCI sought to dodge accountability by putting forward the limp excuse that Armstrong’s profile had not been shared with the experts because it was not flagged by the passport software. The UCI also sought to shift responsibility by claiming that the decision on which passports to share with experts were made by the Lausanne laboratory, not the UCI. However, Pat McQuaid has previously stated that the UCI do themselves also examine the raw data from passports (for example in Pat McQuaid’s Open Letter to cyclists on 17 May 2011). The UCI have also repeatedly claimed to target test their riders based on information gleaned directly from their blood profiles. Therefore, because the UCI inspects the raw data themselves, and because they use that information to conduct targeted testing, it is simply untenable to believe that the UCI did not examine the passport profile of the podium finishers from the 2009 Tour de France.

If the UCI failed to examine Armstrong’s raw data when he placed third at the 2009 Tour de France, the UCI were derelict in their obligations to faithfully run the passport on behalf of the riders, teams and race organisers who contribute 85% of the costs of running the passport program. Those stakeholders deserve to know that their program is being run by competent and diligent managers.

If on the other hand the UCI did examine Armstrong’s raw data but failed to recognise that flat line blood values in tandem with suppressed bone marrow activity in the third place getter of a major Tour was consistent with the possible use of blood transfusion, they have proven themselves to be biologically illiterate. This immediately puts into question the veracity of the UCI’s repeated statements that their interpretation of the peleton’s blood values indicates a decrease in the extent of doping since 2008. There could be fifty cyclists doping
like Armstrong and the biologically blind UCI could be completely unaware of their existence.

The fact that the UCI demanded one hundred thousand dollars from Armstrong, and later failed to share his suspicious blood results with their expert panel, is a damning pair of facts that must be scrutinised by an independent agency. Because Armstrong’s blood results were also accessed by the Lausanne laboratory, who were given a free analyser paid for by Armstrong, their involvement in this highly questionable scenario must also be included in a forensic scrutiny of the triangular relationship between the laboratory, Armstrong and the UCI.

Michael Ashenden Director, SIAB Research

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