Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My heart broke a little when i heard the news today about Tyler Hamilton.

Why is it that I believe Tyler when I have a hard time believing Bonds?

From Tyler Hamilton's website:
April 18, 2005

The day they told me I had tested positive for the banned performance enhancing method of homologous blood transfusing I threw forward my arm, and said – “It’s a mistake. Take another sample”.

I was refused.

At that moment, sometime around 8 PM on September 16, 2004, I began the long process of trying to get to the bottom of those results.

There has been a lot of speculation about my case so I’ll try to set things straight the best I can issue by issue. Some of the details are more complicated than others but I’ll try to keep things simple. I have nothing to hide, and I don’t mind sharing all the twists and turns of my story with you. Even the parts I can’t explain. Here goes -

Spring Off Scores: An off score is a measurement based on an equation incorporating hemoglobin and reticulocyte counts. These counts are measured during random “health tests” conducted on riders during races. They are also commonly referred to as “vampire tests” – because drug control officers visit the race hotel to wake riders and take their blood before a start.

Health tests administered on my blood at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Tour of Romandie and Dauphine Libere registered uncharacteristically low reticulocyte counts, which is the count of new red blood cells.

Medical expert Jim Stray-Gundersen, who has conducted more than 10,000 blood tests on athletes participating in doping research programs, testified during my hearing that my reticulocyte counts from these three races were so low they “are not to be believed”. Of the thousands he’s evaluated in his career, he has only seen one test come up as low as mine – and it was an instance when he knew for a fact, the sample had been “mishandled” during transport to the lab.

My story really starts at the Tour of Romandie when Phonak disputed the entire team’s hematocrit readings from one of the UCI’s morning health tests . Riders who did both Liege and Romandie showed gains of an average of 4 points in a span of 4 days. In addition, the readings were also about 4-5 points higher than the team’s own results taken the night before.

I had been health tested before the start of Stage 2. After the stage, I was told I would have to provide an additional anti-doping test because my hematocrit result from the morning was high. One of the things I was tested for was EPO. The result was negative.

Hematocrit readings are meant to measure the percentage of red cells in your blood. These readings can vary for a number of reasons. Everything from the machine’s calibration to the way the sample is drawn can affect the result. In 2004, multiple teams complained to the UCI about scores they felt were inaccurate. In fact, Dr. Zorzoli, of the UCI, testified to this fact in the Phonak/CAS hearing in January.

Tyler Hamilton

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