WADA panel member Wadler Q&A
Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list and methods committee, spoke Thursday with ESPN.com about Floyd Landis, testosterone and testing.
Question: What do today's events mean for Floyd Landis and his victory in the Tour de France?
Answer: I would have been a lot happier if this had not appeared in the public domain until there was a confirmation of the "B" sample. Typically, the "B" sample confirms the "A" sample, but you don't know that until you do it. What we're hearing now is conjecture. If it is confirmed, it would be another very sad day in the long history of elite cycling.
Q: How often does a "B" sample differ from an "A" sample?
A: It's extraordinarily unusual. It's not common. The technology is quite sophisticated these days and you don't find that occurring very often. I'd be surprised if the "B" specimen doesn't confirm the "A," but until we know, we don't know. We have to be fair to athletes. They have due process. They are innocent until proven guilty. We should not be trying [anyone] until we know what the findings were, and he will have a chance to appeal this. We have to be a little bit cautious.
Q: Under World Anti-Doping Agency regulations, what is an acceptable testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio?
A: It used to be 6-to-1. It's now 4-to-1. Most people are 1-to-1 or 2-to-1.
Q: Does a test positive for high levels of testosterone equate to a failed test?
A: The question for any given individual is, what does an abnormal or elevated ratio mean? Some people are born with [ratios] that are normally 4-to-1, or maybe 8-to-1. If they are consistently that way, week after week, there are ways to evaluate that. If the elevation exists and occurs naturally in that athlete, we can figure that out. This particular athlete -- Landis, in this case -- I'm sure has had multiple drug tests and a history of his testosterone to epitestosterone ratios, and if there's a sudden aberration, it sends up a red flag.
Q: For a cyclist, what's the benefit of elevated levels of testosterone? Why would a cyclist use it?
A: It's certainly not one of the first-line drugs one thinks of for racing. Steroids can increase strength and improve recovery time and prevent the breakdown of muscle, maybe make him more assertive and aggressive. All of those could have some positive attribute. But most steroids are given in cycles [6-12 weeks] and in context of working out in a gym with weights. It makes no sense to me why an athlete would take testosterone the day of a race when it doesn't work that way. It doesn't make sense in terms of the pharmacology of the drug, and it really doesn't have the attributes that would be attractive to a cyclist -- particularly one running the risk of violating anti-doping regulations.
Everybody knew the spotlight was on cycling. For eight years, the world has been watching cycling particularly closely. It would be the ultimate form of denial, or the ultimate sense of invincibility, to think you're going to evade that. And when the pharmacology of the drug doesn't really, in my judgment, seem like a drug of particular note to a cyclist, it doesn't really compute.
Q: When should we expect to learn the results of the "B" sample?
A: Certainly, with all that's going on, you could expect to see results within 24-48 hours.
What worries me is we will succumb to doping fatigue, that we will turn off our interest in doping, particularly the impact it has on young people. So much of our sports culture has doping issues around it, and people are getting tired of it. And they can't afford to get tired of it. The price is far too great for our society to develop a laissez-faire attitude. We cannot succumb to doping fatigue.
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