Is here, courtesy of a commenter on Gene Veith's site, which I heartily recommend.
In the linked article, it's noted that about five years ago, scientists realized (a la Walter Shewhart) that if you tracked the patterns in blood tests, you will start to notice some anomalies that are statistically significant. To use the quality engineer's way of describing things, you put the results on a control chart and watch for violations of the Western Electric rules. When you see violations, you ask the doctors if the violation is consistent with doping--usually adding extra red blood cells or EPO to the rider--and make your decision. It's a pretty neat technique, and one that I've discussed (when applied to another topic) recently in an interview. It's used to prevent trouble in car parts and medical devices.
The article suggests that it's likely Armstrong did dope, a conclusion with which I tend to agree, but there are still a number of questions out there. First of all, if the tests are consistent with doping, why bother with getting eyewitnesses, a number of whom are dopers themselves?
More importantly, if it's all about the sanctity of the sport, shouldn't USADA be checking the results for all athletes tested before going to the press? Shouldn't they be looking at ways to get these analyses done in a shorter period of time? Shouldn't they be working to quantify the danger of the drugs and the advantage gained? To put it mildly, if the USADA's PR department was told to make the group look like jerks, they did a great job--or possibly Armstrong did it for them.
Quick note on the science: both EPO and blood doping (adding red blood cells) work by increasing the amount of oxygen the lungs can get to the muscles. Above a certain limit, it's a health hazard--I'm fairly close to the upper limit without EPO or doping, but it doesn't make me much faster. So what we have here is dopers using their own blood to "optimize" their oxygen intake--it's not quite the same thing as the East German swim team, Ben Johnson, or Lyle Alzado taking all the horse steroids as they could get away with.
Friday Faves Potpourri - I don’t have a bookish list of Friday Faves this week, but I’ll plan one for next week. Meanwhile, join me for another post of potpourri. ~This week, my hu...
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