Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Baseball Positive (Update #1)

Update #1:  Jayson Stark provides a well-written, reasoned approach to assessing what the two positive tests in baseball mean.  He mentions only in passing that two violations may indicate to some extent that the testing is working, but he carefully avoids falling into the trap of being swayed to believe that a few positives demonstrates an effective testing program.  In fact, his view shows quite the opposite opinion.  Most of the piece discusses the short-comings of testing, including the fact that testosterone may only trigger a positive for several hours after use.  The article closes with a discussion of the back-and-forth between Conte and MLB as to how often the CIR test is used on samples that don't exceed the 4:1 ratio (T/E test).

The real gem of the article is this bit:

People within Major League Baseball "think the use of this is really widespread," an official of one club said this week. And you want to know what's scary?
 He said that BEFORE Colon's suspension got announced Wednesday afternoon.

There is apparently at least "an official of one club" with a brain, even if that brain only allows him to speak on the condition of anonymity.


Bartolo Colon became the second MLB player in the past week to face a 50-game suspension for using testosterone, following a 50-game suspension for Melky Cabrera issued last week.

Are these positive tests in such close proximity just a coincidence, or is baseball taking a hard-line stance in making improvements to the system?

Perhaps the ITF should consult with MLB about how to time tests such that the testing actually has a chance to yield positives.  Tennis doping violations from the past show that tennis is almost completely free of testosterone use, or the ITF is completely incompetent at testing effectively for it (theoretically, I guess it could be both).

Now more than ever, it's imperative for the ITF to explain why no off-day testing is done at Grand Slams.  Baseball is showing that it is possible to detect testosterone under proper testing management.  Such management does not include making players fully aware that they will only be tested immediately following the completion of a match.

Update from THASP:  Just to add this little tidbit from the Bartolo Colon suspension for those claiming the  PRP treatments he received (and which Nadal and other players are getting) as an example of the success of that procedure:

"Colon has credited a stem-cell procedure two years ago for saving his career. He had fat and bone marrow stem cells collected and injected into his troublesome right elbow and shoulder in an innovative and unproven technique. Colon had no idea how it would turn out, but he responded and spent 2011 with the Yankees.
Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon in Florida, told The New York Times last year that he flew to Colon's native Dominican Republic and helped a team of doctors there with the treatment on Colon. He said he has used Human Growth Hormone in the procedure before, but not in this case with the pitcher.
HGH is banned by Major League Baseball."

Perhaps we have now gotten to the bottom of his "success."  Why is it that whenever you have PRP therapy, you have a dubious doctor with ties to HGH and questions about steroids? 


  1. I will bet money that tennis does not use the CIR (carbon isotope ratio) test the majority of the time!

    1. That would be interesting to know. To hear Richard Ings tell it, the CIR testing is commonplace in the "WADA regime." Like you, I wonder how that equates in terms of percentage of tests for tennis. Lucky for us the ITF doesn't believe in any transparency.

    2. I believe they only check when there is a high ratio of testosterone to epi of at least 4:1 (1:1 is normal).

    3. If I understood Richard's analysis correctly in a recent thread, he was saying that the CIR test should be (and presumably is) used when there is a "suspicious" profile that still does not exceed 4:1.

    4. Here is a re-post of what Richard said in the Canas thread:

      Richard Ings August 15, 2012 7:51 PM

      In the good old days of anti-doping (that is before about 2008), CIR was applied when a T/E ratio exceeded 5:1. But we learned via Balco that not only do athletes manipulate the T but they also manipulate the E to finesse their T/E below the trigger point.

      So competent ADO's doing testing should not just look at the T/E ratio but also the total amount of T as well as substances that may artificially reduce the amount of T. Basically competent ADO's would be looking at the steroid profile of an athlete and place unusual steroid profiles in a target test program using CIR for tracking down endogenous steroids, the many forms of EPO/CERA testing to look for blood manipulation, and other forms of blood cell matching to look for blood transfusions.

      I know the head of the LOCOG anti-doping program and they are all over this and have huge resource to target test these sorts of profiles. I suspect that the discuss thrower was one example of such target testing and who knows how many hundreds of others target tests there were.

      The prevailing mood in such testing programs is not to have a doper slip through any cracks. And the IOC retesting program (yippee they implemented that…..finally) is a very robust deterrence.

      But as always you can test but you can't tale a case forward unless the test shows something more than just being suspicious.

      We will know if the London games were really clean in 2020 when the 8 years statute of limitations is up for retesting samples. Any dopers have 8 years to enjoy the fraud.

    5. I guess to be more specific about my previous post, I would like to know what percentage of "suspicious" profiles of tennis players are subjected to the CIR test.

  2. As for the update related to PRP, the trend of athletes seeking out this treatment is most certainly worthy of investigation by the relevant ADOs. For a procedure that could be performed by a wide range of qualified professionals, the percentage of those "PRP treatments" performed on athletes by "doctors" with ties to PEDs is disturbing. It only raises more questions when some studies show that the treatment may be ineffective.

    The procedure would presumably be more effective with the introduction of hGH (even assuming it's effective at all without the hGH). Adding more complexity to the matter is the lack of clarity around what a TUE may allow players to do with hGH.

    1. Not only tied to PED's, but done in another country. Does a doctor really need to fly to the Dominican Republic to do that procedure? That is one hell of a house call.

  3. Skip Bayless set off a bit of a firestorm today by suggesting that Derek Jeter's play at the age of 38 should be subject to some skepticism. He obviously chose his words carefully but it's interesting that when confronted by what Bayless said Jeter's response was "what do you want me to say?" Many on the ESPN forums have picked up on the fact that he seemed to be caught off guard and his first thought wasn't to simply deny the allegations. Instead he said "what do you want me to say?" and made some comment about how "maybe Bayless should be tested." Somewhat Nadalian in his retort.

    I've been drinking beer and responding to all the "Jeter's above suspicion and is a class act" posters with " so was Andy Pettitte." But it is pretty interesting how many of the posters admit to having suspicion.

    1. It is worth noting the potential accusations of East Coast bias and the refusal to draw inferences by the media, but it is no accident that Jeter plays for the Yankees - as have: Colon, Cabrera, Pettitte, Clemens, Jason Giambi, Jason Grimsley and Alex Rodriguez.

      Far be it for me to suggest that there is a pattern associated with players who have 'big years' playing in NY.

      Ignoring the insane - deport Latinos who fail dope test rants of some people, it does seem that Latinos get caught more often than non-Latinos. Latinos seem to be the baseball version of East Europeans in track and field.

    2. Weren't there lots of 1990s Yankees on the Mitchell Report? I'll have to double check. While not impossible, it's hard to believe Jeter was not doping while almost everyone else on his team was.

      There was a chat on Deadspin yesterday with Mr. Sports Journo the anonymous sportswriter who is famous on twitter - in his chat yesterday he said that if Jeter ever tested positive it would be the "last great shock" to sportwriters and fans. He also said a Jeter positive test would kill baseball because of Jeter's reputation.

      To me, the only person that would cause more heartache if he ever tested positive would be Cal Ripken Jr.

    3. At the moment it seems that no one is willing to suggest that there is systemic institutionalised doping at any club but rather that clubhouse security is so lax that senior team management have no idea what their star players are doing or who they are hanging out with.

      Another player who seems to have discovered the Yankee fountain of youth is Mo Rivera who seems to have lost nothing over the years when most people decline.

      I am sure that a Jeter positive is as likely as a Nadal or Williams positive test. You can bet your life MLB will make sure that it never happens.

  4. The only effective anti-doping agency is VADA. Unfortunately, they only deal with boxing and MMA. They use CIR as a screen test and caught 2 boxers in rapid time, Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto. USADA and the like just put out propaganda.

  5. When I saw "VADA" above, I thought it was a misspelling. Apparently, it's not:

    Has anyone ever heard of this organisation?

  6. 38 blod samples plus 10 testimonies from former teammembers (including George Hincapie, one of the most respected U.S. riders). Plus Landis. Plus Hamilton. Plus Ashenden (one of worlds foremost blood doping experts).

    Armstrong failed the last tough uphill.