CDC nonsense revisited… Again

source: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1165664

Come on, this is classic. It appears to be yet another textbook case of defaming the messenger (Hooker) and massaging/suppressing the message (Thompson walking back his intent- vaccines don’t cause autism).  Celia Farber, of all people, probably recognizes this technique. Maybe Thompson’s lawyer is playing both sides- reveal a bit (data was omitted or surpressed)  but mostly indicate that Dr Thompson was duped (didn’t know he was recorded) and/or stands by vaccines.  This way everyone everyone gets something and can parse out information in statements.  Anyway, by suppressing community commons-public domain information and more objective research, CDC and public health officials have, for years, effectively controlled, managed and massaged the message.  This is the kind of thing that WikiLeaks, DemandProgress, Anonymous, etc have been trying to fight for awhile.The journal where Hooker’s (2014) study was recently published has ‘retracted it’; this is fundamentally no different from what was done with Wakefield’s autism (1998) and Seralini’s glyphosate papers.  The journals bowed to economic (ie, funding, advertising, research, editorial) pressures to basically suppress publicly funded and properly conducted scientific research findings.  This is most curious since Dr Hooker has published many times over the years, most likely the article was peer-reviewed before publication, and Dr Hooker at least has provided a template for addressing this type of public health science.Why did the journal retract the article and likely bow to economic forces?

Because this kind of information essentially threatens moneyed, powerful interests and exposes them to many interesting legal (and ethical) questions. Also, this may be the result when publicly-funded research becomes essentially privatized and, rather than objective science truly resulting, becomes fundamentally beholden to the funding group(s).  This is how tobacco science operated for 50 years.  So, because we as a society have rolled back basic research funding and government size- essentially privatized many things that perhaps should have much tighter oversight and/or control, remain in the public domain, etc; we’ve essentially traded objective, easily obtainable information for some measure of false security, limited information access, and acquired a misplaced trust in the system.  Unfortunately the system has become corrupt and we, as a society, currently remain clueless about how to fix it.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand
===========================
A data bias was identified in a Cochrane report (link below) back in 2005 about DeStefano’s  (2003) original work.  So there was a suspicion or recognition long ago that this DeStefano et al. 2003 paper was flawed.

Further, Hinjen and DeSoto (2013) used DeStefano’s and Price’s varied papers and their data (same data set) to determine that they were improperly biasing data and improper design. When a research study is used in a statistics book as a classic example of data bias and improper statistics, that can’t be a good thing.  For a high profile outfit like the CDC and their funding pipelines, this is a PR disaster.  Thus, DeStefano et al have a ‘track record’ of manipulating their data to get the results that they want (or need).  In this case, it plays towards factors employing large scale (enforced) vaccination as a public health strategy.  This likely sits well with the groups funding this ‘research’ as they also likely profit from both vaccine sales _and_ varied aids to manage/control adverse effects.

Hooker has long been critical of DeStefano’s work (link below).  Since his 2014 paper, which began this latest CDC spin cycle, has been ‘suspended or retracted’ by the Journal, I thought it might be helpful to post a link.

Links
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Cochrane 2005 : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004407.pub3/abstract;jsessionid=6FE0084412306C5E4EE4D7C16F32E848.f02t02

Hooker 2013 criticism: http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/can-we-trust-the-cdc-claim-that-there-is-no-link-between-vaccines-and-autism/

DeSoto/Hinjen 2013: http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/41866/InTech-Vaccine_safety_study_as_an_interesti ng_case_of_over_matching_.pdf

Hooker 2014 paper: http://www.rescuepost.com/files/measles-mumps-rubella-vaccination-timing-and-autism-among-young-african-american-boys_-a-reanalysis-of-cdc-data—2047-9158-3-16.pdf

Missed cues on anthropogenic causes of human disease, new insights into climate change and suppression of objective science

Some recent posts on the AgeofAutism.com website concerning autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and perhaps chemical causation intrigued me enough to do some additional reading.

Specifically, the link  AofA polio/DDT published in 2011 caused me to embark on a rather circuitous path that eventually led to investigation of human health developments since the 1970/1980’s time frame.  There is a curious apparent synergy that also coincides with a former Mons@nto researcher quickly being placed in an editorial position at Elsevier after the Seralini paper (2012) attracted considerable attention, negative press and eventual retraction. It has curious and unnerving similarities to the processes which led to the Wakefield 1998 Lancet paper retraction and continued lawsuits,

My Reading Sequence:

1. Janine Roberts (initial polio/DDT connections, 2004)
2. Jim West (pre Roberts version of polio causality, 2003)
2A MS Biskind and Scobey papers (1949-1953)
2B Rachel Carson (Silent Spring, 1962)

3. Blaxill/Olmsted (AofA polio/DDT connection, 2011
4. BlaxillOlmsted (CA polio cases, 2014 -1)
5. Blaxill/Olmsted (CA polio cases 2014 -2)
6. Blaxill/Olmsted (CA polio cases 2014-3, link unreachable- to be updated)

7. Temekes (2012-2013 neonicotinoid pesticide PPT/information)
8. Seralini (2012, retracted paper linking glyphosate w/ mammalian health effects)
8A. Seralini 2012-13 (2014 comments to reviewers, answers to questions)

9.   Samsel and Seneff (2013 glyphosate and human health Entropy paper)
10. Seneff (W A Price Conference Feb 2014 powerpoint)

11. Mason 2014 data on glyphosate/worldwide human health

Each one of these links represents an interesting body of collective knowledge which has deep implications about human health degradation, economics,  and global ecosystem dysfunctioning, including climate change.

Suggestion: Seneff powerpt (10), Samsel & Seneff (9), Mason (11), and then go from there.
Dietary revisions as needed: go organic, gluten free, perhaps medication revisions, sunlight, exercise regimen, limited vaccination(s).

A new take on organic vs conventional farming

An interesting article by Dunning, a columnist for the magazine Scientific American, reads more like an infomercial for Trader Joe’s than exposing any new salient facts about farming types, economics and health implications regarding organic produce.  I would suggest that organic practices remains an evolving subject with many facets for further development.

Dunning cites National Review as a source.  National Review also published articles debunking climate change and supporting hydraulic fracturing to maintain US energy security.  I’d be more receptive to an article like this if it examined economics/disadvantages/etc of locally-grown produce over heavily subsidized industrialized practices such as these by Lobley (2009), Bolwig(2009), and/or McFadden (2013).

The fact that a substantial part of the US population suffers from overconsumptive diseases such as obesity, diabetes, or cancer, and the US food distribution scheme was developed to produce cheap/plentiful, mass marketed and heavily subsidized calories begs the question whether / which  types of food production are sustainable or contributes to long term food/energy security.  Further, 2/3 of the US food production is either wasted or used for animal production complicates the issues as well.

Despite the fact that organic farming had been practiced for the last 6 millenia, a multitude of factors contribute to the growth of organic farming & sales (vs conventional factory farming) in the US; namely mass marketing, rising incomes, relative prices/sales to commercially grown products, environmental consciousness & xogenous (ie, food scares, GMO) shocks.  Likewise, several longterm studies (Pimentel et al, 2005; others) examined how economics, soil health, environmental consequences and sustainability of organically-raised crops compared with conventionally-raised crops.  National Geographic ran an article about a decade or so ago looking at organic vs conventional farming in Wisconsin and indicated that organic farming there was more cost effective and environmentally sustainable practice in the long run.

To be fair, Science produced an article indicating that organic wheat had little additional nutrional value over conventionally-raised wheat.  Maybe with the rise in gluten-intolerance in the US, this finding isn’t a big deal. However, Chassy’s study compared organic and conventional produce nutrient components, finding significantly higher nutrient levels in organic produce compared to conventionally-grown identical varieties.

Many supporters of conventionally raised/organic food skeptics appear to stress that conventional produce is exactly the same as organic produce.  This is  interesting since Monsanto has been on a three+ decade long legal crusade to firewall their GMO-crops/patented stocks from competition while stressing their uniqueness versus non GMO crops, including organic ones.  The fact that Monsanto (among others) are currently developing 2nd generation GMOs to produce enhanced nutrients perhaps indicates a realization that 1st generation GMOs lacked many key nutritional metrics currently found in products grown under more natural, organic conditions.  Some feel that Monsanto’s endgame is to gain control over the planet’s food production & supply.  Organic farming practices and local economic/ecological benefits would appear to be striking an interesting, proactive contrast to those of large scale, market driven food production.
Sources: Seeds of Destruction by Engdahl;
The World According to Monsanto by Robin;
Stolen Harvest by Shiva;
Uncertain Peril by Cummings.

Consumers are increasingly turning to organic foods as a response to GMO (genetically modified) foods.  Although Dunning’s claims that 2 E coli outbreak incidents in 2006 were linked to organic produce is true, the vast majority of food borne illnesses over the last 30 years were linked/associated with conventionally raised meat/produce and/or restaurants which served meat or produce raised conventionally.  Since conventional and organic produce can be grown with manure, it would appear that careful handling / washing of produce before consumption would be advised.

With regard to Dunning’s claim of organic farmers and their pesticide use, fewer than 10% use botanical insecticides and often complement with other pest control strategies.  Finally, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that “organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems. They suggested that this agricultural process would more likely be sustainable in the long-term” by producing “yields that more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used”, and that soil fertility and drought resistance improved.

 

Link

I became intrigued by discussions about an article in “The Atlantic” which detailed the ongoing negative depiction of folks who question vaccination(s) as a medical strategy.  The first paragraph of the article depicted results from court case where religious fringe anti-medical zealots were held liable for causing the death of their diabetic daughter by witholding vaccinations and medical treatment.  By extension then, the article depicted a well known celebrity, Jenny McCarthy, who had withheld further vaccinations from her autistic son, as someone who should not be on TV or hold some ‘responsible reporting job ‘ on a reasonably well known TV show.  The reasoning became that this provides the celebrity a highly visible platform from which to spout some seemingly unscientific or dangerous rhetoric.  Barbara Lowe Fisher weighed in with an appropriate defense of McCarthy with some first rate vaccine statistics, solid references and a good synopsis of the recent history/court settlements/etc of vaccine-caused adverse events.
First of all, in this day and age, although I am hard pressed to take much of anything that a celebrity says about any subject with much more than a grain of salt, I thought that McCarthy has been right about her right and purview to morally and ethically question “this $126 billion dollar a yearcitation public health disaster doctors call autism but still can’t agree on how to define it or how often it happens”.  The fact that journalists and the medical establishment seem to engage in a high tech witch hunt is deplorable, IMHO.
 Further, I long ago realized, discovered and evaluated that much of the ‘science’ which medical / research community produces also requires a good deal of critical evaluation and understanding in order to understand properly and put in dynamic context.  Despite what the medical community might have us believe about vaccinations, there’s considerable evidence to the contrary about the necessity for the number and breadth of vaccinations given to children and adults today. Some of the reasoning was laid out nearly 30 years previously by Moskowitz.  The fundamental question remains: if vaccines are so safe, please explain why the US government has been settling lawsuits about vaccine-caused injuries for the last 20 years
CBS News has found that since 1988, the vaccine court has awarded money judgments, often in the millions of dollars, to thirteen hundred and twenty two families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines. In many … cases, the government paid out awards following a judicial finding that vaccine injury lead to the child’s autism spectrum disorder. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs’ attorneys made the same tactical decision made by Bailey Bank’s lawyer, electing to opt out of the highly charged Omnibus Autism Proceedings and argue their autism cases in the regular vaccine court. In many other successful cases, attorneys elected to steer clear of the hot button autism issue altogether and seek recovery instead for the underlying brain damage that caused their client’s autism.”: [Vaccine Court: Autism Debate Continues – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and David Kirby Huffington Post 24 Feb 2009] 
Because of contrary evidence about vaccine safety and vaccination against rather benign pathogens (ie, measles, mumps and rubella), many vaccine-related reports or studies require additional papers or citations to digest, criticisms and supporting evidence to evaluate, and a careful weighing of the scientific facts or validity for each study.  The fundamental intellectual laziness and blind acceptance on the part of the public to accept oftimes flawed research as gospel or the strident promptings of the medical community to vaccinate  at all costs remains, frankly galling.  Finally, the science that vaccine supporters want has been deconstructed to reveal the lack of robustness, flawed design, and fundamental duplicetousness- links to peer reviewdd articles are provided in the body of the blog report.

The Atlantic article cites a CDC report by Stefano (CDC DeStefano 2013 link, http://jpeds.com/webfiles/images/journals/ympd/JPEDSDeStefano.pdf )

A number of comments and critiques about the DeStefano study have been written:
cdc report  http://vran.org/in-the-news/cdc-autism-studies-flawed/
Basis for DeStefano CDC article:  Price et al 2010 link http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/4/656.long
  Price 2009 grey literature articles (link vol I) and (link vol II) [methodology outlined]

Comments about the studies are interesting. Alberto Tommasini MD and Aldo  Scabar were supportive, saying, “Environmental factors such as vaccines or some foods, which  are produced by human activity, are often perceived as non-natural. Large epidemiological studies  are very important to demonstrate the safety of these human interventions”. But pharmacologist,  Richard Deth and Edward Calabrese of the U of Massachusetts addressed the finding that “an  increase in ethylmercury exposure…was associated with decreased risk of each of the 3 ASD  outcomes [ASD, autistic disorder, and ASD with regression].” They advised, “the findings of this  study strongly suggest a hormetic response to thimerosal…Hormesis is a dose-response phenomenon  characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition…exposure to a toxin such as ethylmercury  might lead to a protective hormetic response in most individuals, but this response would be less  robust or absent in other individuals, increasing their risk.”
 Moreover, Raymond Palmer of U of Texas  Health Science Center was “disappointed that the conclusions put forth by the authors did not mention  the important caveat that the case-control design they used, would not be sufficient to investigate the  prevailing consensus of GxE [gene/environment interaction] in the development of ASD.” John Stone, father  of an autistic boy, groaned, “It is as if Sir Richard Doll had tried to lay the smoking controversy to rest  by concluding that, as not all smokers get lung cancer, smoking does not cause lung cancer… it is surprising that a study itself many years in the pipeline should be open to such basic criticisms.”  
The Price and DeStefano CDC studies failed to properly develop adequate controls for the studies: DeSoto & Hinjen chapter (2013) on Price et al 2010 http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/41866/InTech-Vaccine_safety_study_as_an_interesti ng_case_of_over_matching_.pdf
 This article outlines how the CDC studies (Price in 2009 & 2010, and DeStefano, 2013) were fundamentally flawed,  unusually biased towards finding no relationship between vaccination and autism and basically was uninformative  towards providing any insight towards answering the basic question of “vaccine-caused autism”.  The reason that  all three studies (Price and Stefano) are mentioned by DeSoto relates to the fact they used the same data sets  and flawed collection/screening methodologies.
  ========================================

Hooker Criticism of DeStefano et al study Critique of Destefano et al. 2013 J Peds. Study By Brian S. Hooker, Ph.D., P.E. in: http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/can-we-trust-the-cdc-claim-that-there-is-no-lin k-between-vaccines-and-autism/   The recent CDC study “Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism” by Destefano et al. 2013 was released in the Journal of Pediatrics last week.  This study purports that “increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines during the first 2 years of life was not related to the risk of developing an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).”  Of all of the papers I have reviewed over my 26-year career as a research scientist, this is perhaps the most flawed and disingenuous study I have encountered.  The Destefano et al. 2013 study is to science what the movie Ishtar was to cinema.
  No New Data The basis for the study is essentially a rehash of the data that was used to generate the fraudulent Price et al.  2010 Pediatrics study.  This research, (Price et al. 2010 “Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From  Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism” Pediatrics 126:656) was supposed to be the CDC’s “final  word” stating that thimerosal, the mercury-containing preservative in some vaccines, was in no way causally  linked to autism. 

Not only was this original study fatally flawed due to a statistical error called “overmatching”  but also the study authors hid data regarding the only valid part of the study (i.e., prenatal thimerosal exposure)  which showed that children exposed to just 16 microgram mercury in thimerosal in utero were up to 8 times more  likely to receive a diagnosis of regressive autism (Price C, et al.Thimerosal and Autism. Technical report.  Vol I. Bethesda, MD: Abt Associates Inc; 2009). The study authors instead falsely reported no risk of autism associated with prenatal thimerosal exposure.

No True Controls in the Study
Within the Destefano study released last week, with the help of multimillionaire vaccine industrialist Dr. Paul  Offit, CDC researchers merely added up the number of vaccine antigens that the case (autism) and control  (neurotypical) children were exposed to through the infant vaccination schedule.  The theory that they were  trying to refute essentially was “children exposed to a greater total number of antigens had a greater risk of  autism.”

 Given this train wreck of a study, it is very difficult to know where to start my critique. However, the following statement stood out from the rest as the study authors described the control group:  “    Of the remaining 752 controls included in the analysis, 186 had an SCQ (Social Communication Questionaire) score <16 but had indications of speech delay or language delay, learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or attention deficit disorder, or tics, or had an individual education plan.  This clearly shows that the 186 aforementioned controls (25% of the control group) were not controls at all but instead had some underlying developmental deficit (all of which are features of autism or autism spectrum disorder).  Unlike the study design described (i.e., where autism cases were matched to neurotypical controls), autism cases were matched with “cases” of other, similar neurodevelopmental maladies.  Thus, you would expect to see no difference between the two groups.  

 

Antigen Correlation is Meaningless
  Next, the basis of the study was to confirm or deny a correlation between the “number of antigens received”  and the incidence of autism.  The possible number of antigens per given vaccine was reported in Table 1 of  the study.  However, the term “number of antigens” is a complete white-wash of what is actually in these vaccines,  their concentrations and their relative strengths in terms of inflammatory response, and is not an accurate predictor  of how the body will respond to specific antigens.  For example, “antigens” for the five antigen DTaP vaccines (e.g., Infanrix) include diphtheria toxoid, tetanus  toxoid, pertussis toxoid, filamentous hemagglutinin and pertactin.  The number “5” assigned in this category is  merely the number of different antigens and doesn’t account for each antigen’s amount or relative strength. Neither does this account for the fact that Infanrix also contains aluminum (an adjuvant – designed to elicit a  non-specific immune response), formaldehyde and polysorbate 80, all which could also elicit some form of  inflammatory reaction.  Thus, the main “independent” variable of “number of antigens” within the Destefano et al.  2013 study is essentially completely meaningless.

 

High Participant Refusal Rate Creates Selection Bias     The high participant refusal rate in this study is also problematic.  Out of 668 cases and 2444 controls originally  selected for the study, only 321 cases (48.1%) and 774 controls (31.7%) chose to participate in the research.   In other words, 65% of the individuals contacted as potential participants flat-out refused to participate in the study.  Who could blame them?!  The CDC has been producing junk science regarding vaccines and autism since 2002  and the public knows.  This indeed could produce selection bias in that  the 35% of individuals that did participate  were less likely to believe that vaccines were responsible for neurodevelopmental sequelae including autism.       

Overmatching Statistical Error   Also, the analysis is plagued with a statistical error called “overmatching.”  For a comprehensive analysis of the previous CDC study completed on the same data set  (Price et al. 2010 Pediatrics), regarding thimerosal exposure rather than the number of vaccine antigens, please see Chapter 6, “Vaccine Safety Study as an Interesting Case of ‘Over-Matching’” by M. Catherine DeSoto and Robert Hitlan
(http://www.intechopen.com/books/recent-advances-in-autism-spectrum-disorders-vol ume-i/vaccine-safety-study-as-an-interesting-case-of-over-matching-

in the book “Recent Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorders – Volume I”, edited by Michael Fitzgerald, ISBN 978-953-51-1021-7.
   The point made by Dr. DeSoto and Dr. Hitlan is that the cases and the controls in this study are too closely matched to each other.  Cases were matched with controls of the same age, sex, within the same HMO and essentially the same vaccination schedule using the same vaccine manufacturers.  This may be seen in Figures 1 and 2 of the Destefano et al. 2013 paper which indicated that there are almost no differences between the exposure to antigens between the case (autism) and control groups in every exposure group tested. This holds for cumulative antigen levels (Figure 1) as well as single day antigen exposure levels (Figure 2). 

              This type of error of course precludes “finding
a difference” between cases and controls because all differences were matched
out case-by-case.   This would be akin to analyzing radiation workers that
got the same dosage of gamma radiation within cases and control groups to
determine the relationship between gamma radiation and cancer incidence. 
Of course, since cases and controls got the same dosage, no effect would be
seen.  However, this is an unfair study.  To see the true effect,
cases would need to be matched with controls with variable levels of gamma
radiation exposure and perhaps a “no exposure” group would be included as a
baseline comparison to cancer rates within higher exposure groups.   In
the same way, the CDC study by Price et al (2009 & 2010), and DeStefano
(2013)[because they used the same data/methods]has used these overmatched data
to obfuscate any true effect between vaccine antigen exposure and autism
incidence.    

OREGON undervaccination study– Glanz et al 2013
http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1558057#qundefined
Glanz et al in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Pediatrics discipline) which states that “children who were undervaccinated because of parental choice had lower rates of outpatient visits and emergency department encounters than age-appropriately vaccinated children.”

================================
One of the ongoing criticisms about vaccination has been the drumbeat mantra that the ‘science’ is lacking.  With the above paragraphs and peer-reviewed articles, it should be clear or self-evident that a significant amount of evidence exists for questioning the efficacy and reliability for large scale public vaccinations as a public health strategy.  Further, there exists more than a century of data (http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/graphs/) which have been collated from existing articles, disease statistics websites, and talks (Rosling).  Further, Blaylock wrote an article showing potential dangers from excess vaccinations and the likely immune/neurological responses? Blaylock 2008 article with 105 references.  

Finally, there remains a good deal of skepticism within the developing world about Western Medicine, vaccinations, and disease.  The refusal by states within Northern Nigeria, Pakistan and India to allow polio eradication programs and large scale vaccination efforts requires some understanding.  Primarily, the refusal had more to do with an abject misconceptions about health care implementation, sociopolitical dynamics, and outright deceit by Western Powers to enforce the programs.  The latter reasons- a ruse concocted by the CIA to obtain Osama Bin Laden’s DNA to firmly establish his location before a targeted assassination operation has been documented to have done more harm to large scale, long term public health programs than good.

A plug for additional evaluations of performances in professional cycling

A plug for additional evaluations of performances in professional cycling

7/16/2013
In an attempt to put another layer of contextual nuance in play here, I’ll weigh in with a perspective that has developed over the last 20yrs of watching professional cycling and a lifetime of watching professional / Olympic sports.  I am frequently a reader / follower of varied discussion forums (esp. CyclingNews (CN) Clinic forum], a cycling fan, a passionate cyclist and antidoping/clean-fair sport advocate.

Groups like the Clinic /CN Forum, generally the thoughtful posters there, and folks that post things to their blogs/webpages serve an extremely useful purpose.  If one is reasonably diligent, it becomes possible to glean varied perspectives about sport, doping, clean/dirty performances, spin, new techniques, etc.  Much of this information dissemination occurs somewhat non linearly or disjointedly, sometimes in real time, and maybe in an altogether adversarial/nonsanitary fashion.  However, all in all, discussion fora do provide context, and often comedic relief, about ideas regarding competitive cycling or sport.

Additionally, it becomes another affair to put Armstrong into proper context link with his peers & predecessors.  And another matter entirely to assess whether the faster average speeds we’ve seen in the last 60 or so years link can be attributed to PED use, equipment innovations, training, distance reductions and/or some combination(s) thereof.

Armstrong and his layers of lawyers were often very clever, resourceful and
persistent in suppressing results or report translations. Apparently, Dave Brailsford (a principal at Team SKY), & BC seem to have taken this tact- promising transparency, promising but delaying data release, or plain obfuscation, so when we here write SSDD about much of this- it’s because this appears altogether strongly familiar.

So, I am calling you out, Dave, to release data (particularly pre 2011 data) & methods so that we as the public can evaluate your team’s performances since right now it appears ‘highly suspicious’.  In the absence of a response, we can utilize other methods to derive power & performance data.

Additionally, SKY’s been very smart in ‘controlling the message’ regarding their use of or TUE of PEDs currently suspected and training methodologies.  In the case of Armstrong et al, the Reasoned Decision Report & varied confessions served as ample evidence regarding ~15-20 yrs worth of his illegitimate performances, AND, I imagine, a fair amount of information was garnered from forums.  Yes, I suppose we were ‘entertained’ by the sport/spectacle for the last 20yrs.  At least I was at the time, but now viewing varied performances (with now added perspective) from the 1990’s thru the 2000’s, I see them for what they are: namely a PED-enhanced circus that now requires a significant suspension of disbelief & discounting of facts to enjoy on any rational/defensible level.  Just because we don’t like Froome, Contador, Valverde, Martin, etc for whatever reasons- some legitimate and others pure ‘dislike’ is no reason to defacto discount facts or information because they don’t fit into our neat tidy boxes.  Groups like Change Cycling (CCN) and Antoine Vayer’s article, while not particularly enlightening to folks that have followed cycling for awhile, offer a way forward and put different performances thru the years into a type of perspective & allow for some historical context/comparison.  It perhaps puts another element that requires some degree of scrutiny- hopefully something that grassroots groups like CCN hope to do.

Cycling has, if I understand correctly, the UCI & WADA along with the Biopassport to screen athletes for PEDs or adverse blood /urine profiles.  However, to my knowledge there isn’t _any_ type of objective evaluation about performances so that one can put them into some type of context.  Short of the links provided above, there appear to be some well researched pieces of information, articles or forums where the performances become more thoughtfully and rigorously evaluated.

Why is there no current physiological evaluation (besides time) for putting the performances into context?  Brailsford et al seems to feel that the sporting public would be unable to ‘understand’ or might misuse the data.  However, I imagine that an objective group with specialties in human physiology & performance, along with folks having an understanding of what compounds are contained in an athletes TUE, might be able to put much what we’re seeing into some type of context.  I imagine that the Clean Cycling group was likely headed in that direction to a degree.  In the absence of some type of objective oversight, I suppose that debate in the CN Clinic will  have to suffice and periodic perspectives from folks like Vaughters, Ashendon, Kimmage/Walsh, Lemond, etc might enhance our collective understanding.

I, for one, started out as a ‘believer” in Froome/Contador/ Armstrong/Landis/Ullrich/Vino/Hamilton/Riis/etc in cycling because they seemed genuinely elite athletes, and to a certain degree they were supremely talented. However, I imagine the more we read and find out about how these varied professional businesses operate, it becomes clearer that results help drive sponsorship dollars and endorsements in a strange vicious cycle. Unfortunately, these athletes or their teams/federations appear to have turned increasingly to chemical means to maintain their fitness, status, place in the peleton, public accolades, whatever. As one cyclist (Fignon?) or journalist put it – ‘these drugs have made racehorses out of donkeys’; and therein lies the problem.

In the case of Froome, I needed to suspend disbelief over both his current & recent performances in 2013, and his rather remarkable career trajectory thus far that they are indeed legitimate.  Apparently, Paul Kimmage’s tweet put it more succinctly with the “when elephants fly, I’ll have seen everything’ remark.  When was the last time a cyclist (& really team) held such a high level of form over such a long time & against competitors that likely dope? Competitors include Saxo, Movistar, etc- these teams nearly uniformly have cyclists that have been popped for doping, have DSs that competed in the EPO-era (1990s) and/or have staff long engaged in performance enhancement(s).  I don’t recall such a spring season to stage racing-long peak- that, in itself, appears suspicious & requires explanation- probably the 1990’s.  I believe a poster here in the Clinic calculated Froome’s watts/kg for Ax3 & Mt Ventoux.  Apparently, no real dropoff in performance occurred and his power numbers were few percent higher than current competitors & his times were at levels that approach/beat cyclists from an era in which a high degree of the peloton was significantly doped. So whether he’s using old school EPO/bloodbags or new school AICAR, GW1516, Telmsartan, Gas6 doping techniques, it doesn’t matter since it’s all performance enhancing.

We can argue issues of drafting, wind direction, etc all we want, but mostly his/Sky’s relative performances and fatigue on the part of his primary competitors illustrate a fundamental paradigm shift (IMO) between old-school doped vs ‘super-doped’/’gene-doped’/’training-cleanish’ performance.  Froome’s attacks seemed surrealistic & require some additional insights from physiologists/blood passport evaluators/etc.  He appears now able to attack, ride with no significant loss in power output (ie, fatigue curve slope is shallower than competitors), recovers within a short time and then attack again- riding fairly well known (doping) cyclists right off his wheel.  The Rope-a-Dope with Quintana after dropping Contador (on Mt Ventoux), Froome’s ITT performance and his spring performances now require some significant adjustment about athletic understanding and training for endurance sports (if done cleanly), objective evaluation of data, and (relative to a likely semi-mostly-partially doped peloton) a proper explanation of techniques taken to achieve these remarkably consistent results.  This would, for me anyway, allow a recalibration of belief once more in cycling as a sport rather than the ‘wrestling on wheels version’ we’ve now seen for the last 20 yrs.

Thirty years ago (maybe longer), the main dynamic seemed to involve amphetamines, steroids, and bronchial dilators which were good for short term classics-type events. Now it is HGH, rEPO/CERA, blood transfusions, steroid/hormone patches, plasma volume expanders, oxygen uptake extenders, recombinant hemoglobin, etc and which convey long lasting effects upon physiological performance and endurance. I am currently at a loss as to how to understand lengthy TUE lists in terms of performance. Additionally, many of the things these athletes take also help elude doping controls or pass tests; these amendments also may cause as yet unknown health problems. Doping, unfortunately pervasive in many sports and at multiple levels (pro-masters-college-high school-weekend warriors), creates issues since many/some/most athletes cannot afford or wish to take the pharmacy of drugs necessary to not only just compete but to win and get that endorsement or sponsorship or medal or t-shirt/cheap trinket. And that is why fundamentally, the debate on PEDs in sport/sport biz matters- it, for the most part has tended to be an unlevel playing field with respect to money, fair competition and results.  SKY simply appears to be the latest well-moneyed, perhaps agency-protected version of this.

These amendments to enhance performance have, at times, made it seem as though
these were ‘extraordinary’ or ‘superhuman’ or ‘physiologically impossible’. I
believe that is why Lemond ( VO2 max mid 90s) has such a problem with
Armstrong (reported VO2 max 75-82) and likely Contador. They both climbed
certain parts of TdF HC climbs considerably faster than Lemond had, apparently
‘effortlessly and ahead of (for Armstrong) known dopers (eg Ullrich, Mayo,
Hamilton, maybe Virenque). For Lemond and a lot of others, these feats should
be physiologically impossible (based on known facts) without doping.

Froome’s rise appears as though he’s somehow superseded his natural physiological limits in relatively short order.  That is, a few years ago when he was peloton fodder & finishing minutes back in many MTF races, he had VO2max(1) and watts/kg(1).  Over the last few years, he’s raised this (apparently ‘cleanly’) to VO2max(2) and watts/kg(2) through the use of sophisticated training techniques, weight loss, etc.  Additionally, he’s done this while apparently overcoming some kind of severe parasitic disease that requires significant chemotherapy (perhaps ameliorated by enhanced use of corticosteroids) and his dropping off the map bloodpassport-wise for significant parts of the season- only to magically regain form in time for stage racing season.  The fact that British Cycling has apparently (read this in a post) been handing out TUEs rather indiscriminantly and Sky’s been rather cagey in varied responses for data release suggests that there’s a lot of unavailable information which would help in the understanding & context of current performances.

The irresponsibility of varied journalists/oversight agencies to thoroughly investigate or report on these issues, fundamental intellectual laziness of many fans, and the disjointed nature of many testing national/international bodies in how they report & share information has compounded the problem as well.  Additionally, due to the inability of testing groups to consistently / reliably catch violators and a proper understanding of varied clean/doped performances, it appears as though it may be time to enforce some kind(s) of objective arbiters in these kinds of endurance events.  The forum clinic (varied threads) does serve as a unique fashion in the sense that there’s a realtime messy evaluation but perhaps something along the lines of a WADA/Bloodpassport/ data evaluation objective aggregate group appears needed.  To rely on a teams “trust us, we’re clean” or lack of institutional oversight (ie, UCI), the next best option appears online forums where there appears to be legitimate sharing/evaluation/semiobjectivity without the agenda-injecting monetary aspect.
Postscript: the new frontiers in PED use, evaluation of performance

Gas6 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2176185/
http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/Progress-toward-an-alternative-for-EPO—Gas6-offers-remedy-where-EPO-fails-today.aspx

Power evaluations Vayer – performances 1990-present>> putting ‘not normal’ performances into context
http://www.joomag.com/magazine/alternativ-editions-not-normal/0269766001370594539
Power evaluation- http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/Analysing-Froomes-Performance.html?page=all

Cytocrhrome C oxidase (COXc) doping http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22cycling%22%22cytochrome+C+oxidase%22+%22doping%22&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=d-DdUeCVNtKy4APkt4GIDQ&ved=0CCgQgQMwAA

TID triiodothrionine (T3) use & endurance athletes
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?start=10&q=%22thyroid+hormone%22+%22triiodothyronine%22%22endurance+athletes%22&hl=en&as_sdt=0,6&as_ylo=2009&as_vis=1

Clean performances exceed doped ones:
http://www.sportsscientists.com/2013/07/clean-performances-to-surpass-doped.html

AICAR, GW1516, & Telmsartan – new genetic doping agents
https://www.google.com/search?q=%22aicar%22%22froome%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#client=firefox-a&hs=WqC&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&q=%22aicar%22%22use+in+endurance+sports%22&oq=%22aicar%22%22use+in+endurance+sports%22&gs_l=serp.3…12306.18190.0.18829.29.28.0.0.0.15.348.5843.0j18j8j2.28.0&#8230;.0…1c.1.19.psy-ab.PFT1fLyTWPo&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48705608,d.aWc&fp=a144351cce8306e3&biw=1363&bih=869

Aicar- endurance sports
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22aicar%22%22endurance+sports%22&btnG=&hl=en&num=20&as_sdt=0%2C6

Change Cycling Now http://www.changecyclingnow.org/

New take on obesity

An interesting read / take on obesity.  The author, Berreby, cites some studies that provide some greater context about how obesity is likely more than genetics of human origin, has some genesis in the everyday chemicals/compounds in our food stream, and the incessant scream of western capitalistic media & 24hr food availability.

The Obesity Era
As the American people got fatter, so did marmosets, vervet monkeys and mice. The problem may be bigger than any of us’…
http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/david-berreby-obesity-era/

Missing are maybe some key insights about climate change (earlier spring & later winters, competitor dieoff) [see Flannery’s take on climate change] contributing to bigger animals and perhaps the entry to our food stream of things like high fructose corn syrup which corresponds nicely to a start of the current obesity epidemic. ALso, the fact that a virus (AD-36, also reported as ADV-36 in most peer reviewed literature) may be a cofactor. Maybe, this also suggests that a vaccine (cool- just what we all need, more vaccinations) has been in development (search “ADV-36” “virus””patents”). This virus- more active when, or contributing to, immune inflammatory responses (Na & Nam http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/205/6/914.full), appears associated with respiratory infections & targets various tissues associated with adipose (fat) cells.

Key Pts
1. A report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co predicted in May 2012 that ‘health and wellness’ would soon become a trillion-dollar global industry.

2….it’s obvious who is to blame for this frightening global blanket of lipids: it’s us, choosing over and over again, billions of times a day, to eat too much and exercise too little.

3.The personal choice theory & big government’s response: Michael Bloomberg, recently put it, defending his proposed ban on large cups for sugary drinks: ‘If you want to lose weight, don’t eat. This is not medicine, it’s thermodynamics. If you take in more than you use, you store it.’

4. The alternative ‘no personal responsibility’ theory: Yet the scientists who study the biochemistry of fat and the epidemiologists who track weight trends are not nearly as unanimous as Bloomberg makes out. In fact, many researchers believe that personal gluttony and laziness cannot be the entire explanation for humanity’s global weight gain.

‘The previous belief of many lay people and health professionals that obesity is simply
     the result of a lack of willpower and an inability to discipline eating habits is no longer 
     defensible.’’ Berraby

‘Virtually in every population of animals we looked at, that met our criteria, there
was the 
same upward trend,’ David Allison, biostatistician at U Alabama, Birmingham

5. Yet a number of researchers have come to believe, as Wells himself wrote earlier this year in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that ‘all calories are not equal’. The problem with diets that are heavy in meat, fat or sugar is not solely that they pack a lot of calories into food; it is that they alter the biochemistry of fat storage and fat expenditure, tilting the body’s system in favour of fat storage. Wells notes, for example, that sugar, trans-fats and alcohol have all been linked to changes in ‘insulin signalling’, which affects how the body processes carbohydrates. This might sound like a merely technical distinction. In fact, it’s a paradigm shift: if the problem isn’t the number of calories but rather biochemical influences on the body’s fat-making and fat-storage processes, then sheer quantity of food or drink are not the all-controlling determinants of weight gain. If candy’s chemistry tilts you toward fat, then the fact that you eat it at all may be as important as the amount of it you consume.

We are, of course, surrounded by industrial chemicals. According to Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, an organic compound called bisphenol-A (or BPA) that is used in many household plastics has the property of altering fat regulation in lab animals.