Catlin says he can’t respond to Sports Illustrated allegations about Lance Armstrong
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Catlin says he can’t respond to Sports Illustrated allegations about Lance Armstrong

by Shane Stokes at 8:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Anti-doping scientist says he no longer has the data and thus can’t answer issues raised

In the wake of a Sports Illustrated article released yesterday which raises questions about his career as one of America’s foremost anti-doping experts, Don Catlin has said that he cannot comment on the issues addressed in the piece, but that he stood by test results.

“I have not been provided with either letter or any of the other materials referred to in the Sports Illustrated story, thus I do not have the context to provide appropriate comment at this time,” he told VeloNation. “Without them and without any of the data from that time period, it is not possible to provide any insight into the situation or to provide specifics on any of the analysis performed.”

Catlin was part of the USOC anti-doping committee at the same time that Wade Exum was the doping control director. Exum resigned in June 2000 due to his assertion that the USOC was covering up positive tests by American athletes, and claimed that 19 U.S. Olympic medalists from 1984 to 2000 had been allowed to compete in the Games despite having failed drug tests.

The Sports Illustrated article states that Exum’s claims appear to have been backed up by its studying of the minutes of USOC anti-doping committee meetings from 1999 and 2000. It says that the notes show that officials discussed how to informally test athletes for marijuana and performance-enhancing drugs, in order to ensure they didn’t test positive at the Olympics.

According to the Sports Illustrated writers, a debate arose during a 2000 meeting over whether they should use Catlin's testosterone testing method (CIR) before the Sydney Games. They quote committe chair Baaron Pittenger as saying, "we can handle CIR in the same way we're handling marijuana in terms of notifying the athletes.” They quote Catlin as saying in reply, "just don't connect the CIR result to the athlete. Do it as a research experience.”

In response to those claims, Catlin told Sports Illustrated that he doesn’t remember the discussion and that he was, “always fighting to expose the USOC and all its diddling around with everything.”

Armstrong’s three high testosterone samples:

Sports Illustrated’s piece is primarily focussed on Lance Armstrong, and states that the rider provided three samples between 1990 and 2000 which surpassed the 6:1 threshold allowed between testosterone and epitestosterone (this ratio has since been reduced to 4:1). The samples in question were a June 23, 1993 measurement of 9:1, a July 7, 1994 sample of 7.6:1 and one of 6.5-to-1 from June 4, 1996. The normal ration is 1:1.

Contacted by USA Cycling in May 1999 requesting results for Armstrong (then identified by his code number), Catlin said that some test results were not recoverable, but provided details of other tests including the three suspicious ones. In a letter sent to USA Cycling, Catlin didn’t mention the 6.5:1 result (which exceeded the threshold), and said that he had tried to confirm the results of the other two. “In both cases the confirmation was unsuccessful and the samples were reported negative,” he said.

Sports Illustrated interviewed Catlin last week and said that it read back his 1999 letter to him. Catlin said that because of the codes identifying samples, he had ‘no clue’ which samples belonged to the Texan. Sports Illustrated reports him as admitting the data is disturbing, and saying that one failed confirmation would be a "once-in-a-blue-moon" occurrence. He accepted that the three high T/E ratio results detailed in the letter are, “very strange.”

The piece also quotes Andreas Breidbach, who was head of the EPO testing group at Catlin’s lab between 2003 and '06. He was read Catlin’s letter to USA Cycling and, according to Sports Illustrated, expressed concern. “Wow, that should not happen. If you find a nine and can't confirm, then something is very wrong with your screening test,” he said.

Catlin commented on the tests to VeloNation, stating that he considered sufficient proof was not there. “In general, confirmations that don't succeed simply don't meet the numerous, strict requirements of T/E confirmation Standard Operating Procedure (SOP),” he stated.

“I no longer have access to any of the data or files from that era. Any records or data on the matter belong to the Federation, the USOC and the IOC.”

When Armstrong announced in September 2008 that he intended resuming competition, Catlin was commissioned to conduct intensive out of competition testing. That testing programme never took place, with just one test being taken before its abandonment in February 2009. Both sides said that the process was too complicated and costly; by then the positive value of the association with Catlin had already been felt.

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