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Book Review: Positively False

Posted on July 23, 2007

Positively FalseAs most of you know I am a big cycling fan and cycling is especially top of mind for me during July since cycling’s largest event, the Tour de France, is in full effect.

During July I usually pick up a cycling book I have yet to read and this July is no exception. This time around I read the recently released book “Positively False” by Floyd Landis.

Positively False in a memoir of Floyd’s cycling life with a focus on his 2006 Tour de France win and subsequent doping scandal which still has yet to reach a conclusion.

I was as eager to pick up Positively False as most people are to get the latest Harry Potter novel because I really wanted to hear Floyd’s side of the story in his own words. I also wanted to learn about some of the arguments and facts Floyd and his team have built up to challenge the “positive” doping tests.

While the book is Floyd’s and will tell the story he wants to tell the evidence that he and his team have put together is pretty convincing. Here are a couple of the most important and basic issues with the doping test Floyd supposedly failed:

1. Mislabeled Sample:

Floyd’s sample number is repeatedly incorrect in his documents and it isn’t event the same wrong number each time the number appears. This shows negligence and incompetence among the lab technicians at the very least.

2. The Specimen was Contaminated:

According to U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) regulations Floyd’s specimen was clearly contaminated.

3. Unreliable Testing:

In multiple tests of the same sample the test results can’t vary by more than 20% for testosterone and 30% for epitestosterone. Floyd’s varied by 181% and 238% respectively meaning the tests should have been thrown out.

4. Positive Criteria was not met in Carbon Isotope Ratio Test (the more accurate test done after the prelim tests):

Four things are tested in this test and the Word Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says all four must be positive tests for the overall test to be positive. In Floyd’s case only one of the four were positive meaning his test should be been labeled negative.

There are also many other issues including one that will be particularly interesting to all of you. The software the lab was using to test the samples was obsolete (I believe it hadn’t been updated since the 80s) and they were not operating the testing machine correctly most likely because they didn’t have the user manual. In fact, they never had a user manual as long as they had the machine.

I am still on Floyd’s side on this. The evidence is pretty clear (the lab screwed up continuously while testing his sample) and he seems like a pretty straightforward stand up guy. For more on the evidence Floyd’s defense team has put together please check out Arnie Baker’s site (Arnie is Floyd’s medical analyst and retired M.D.).

I would also recommend checking out the book if you have a chance. It is a quick read and it will give you a chance to get into the pro peleton where you will learn what goes on during a push for a win and after as things fall apart.

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