Canadian Cyclist


May 23/07 11:51 am - Landis Hearing

Posted by Editoress on 05/23/07

Landis Hearing - Day 8

Andrew Rogers is covering the final two days of the arbitration hearing on Floyd Landis for CC. Here are his comments on yesterday's testimony, plus photos.

Tuesday, March 22, 2007

"A squashed hedgehog"

Simon Davis, the Technical Director of Mass Spec Solutions, testified this afternoon at the Floyd Landis arbitration hearing, citing various missteps and mishandling of data by the LNDD (the French lab) handling Floyd Landis' samples. Dr. Davis' insights into the complex world of isotopes and the machine (the mass spectrometer) that handles the data testing samples led him to state repeatedly that missteps will significantly alter test results. Likewise, Landis' positive testosterone results were were left in serious doubt - as to their validity - after Davis' testimony.

Previously, Dr. Davis had claimed that critical evidence stored as electronic data files (EDF) had been erased from the hard drive and that the original data was destroyed at the Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage (LNDD).

Mr. Davis' technical prowess was tempered by his turns of phrase, such as using a "squashed hedgehog" analogy to state his opinion on how the mass spectrometer machine was employed by the self-proclaimed "experienced" LNDD lab technicians, noting: "It shows a complete lack of understanding of the unit...."

From magnets that were left dangerously dangling on evidence, to examples of the test data values showing significant differences in various documents, the winds of guilt seem to be shifting from Landis, to how the results were handled--and by Davis' accounts--seemingly altered:

"If your magnet rings aren't right you are dead in the water .... I was astounded ... if that magnetic field is not correct the ions will go all over the place .... it can be potentially catastrophic ... nobody can deny that."

The analogy is like when you leave a speaker next to a color TV; what happens is that the ion flow of the instrument changes, affecting the calibration. Magnetic rings on the mass spectrometer were left on until fairly recently - and their (magnetic rings) usage is only to move the machine from one point to another.

All afternoon, Landis' attorney, Maurice Suh, guided Dr. Davis down the confusing path of isotopic variance. Suh's intention was clear: Technical and human missteps can produce less than accurate results. When asked by Suh what is the impact on isotopic values when so many variances are introduced, and procedure is not followed, Davis simply (for once) replied: "Yes, that can change them significantly ... "

Dr. Davis emphasized that even when the French lab re-sampled Landis' tests various times (some in his presence) they were not documented, "so we have no idea what's going on ... it's a long process and sometimes engineers desperate to get home sometimes pick the best five out of ten examples ... "

Computers also played a role as an accomplice in this puzzle, since the LNDD was using an old computer with dated software (an Optima application used to interpret the data), from 1987, "the same used with Mr. Landis' sample."

As Davis casually remarked: "0S 2 was good software for its time, but that was a long time ago".

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Dr. Davis opens the last day of hearings.


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