Captain's analysis of Garmin blood data

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Dear Wiggo said:
Good, because I certainly did not do that, and neither did CaptainBag.

There's 2 possibilities:
1. the ABP is enough to determine dodginess, in which case we should be able to look at the data and determine its dodginess without additional explanation - so far we have "Ryder was sick" and "Everyone at the Giro tested high".
2. the ABP readings are too open to interpretation or "explanation", in which case:
a) the ABP is worse than useless and
b) releasing values is disingenuous at best
For the record, I think option 2 is correct.

Performance is not science. Variables and data are nice, but its hard to know exactly how they all interact. I'll go further to say that often, the scientific method of isolating certain variables for better understanding can often be detrimental to an intrinsic understanding of performance.

When evaluating clean or dirty performance, variables matter more. We understand some values in terms of others, and can observe their interaction. The ABP is not useless, though, as egregious manipulation can be observed and analyzed easily. Theres proof in the obvious analytical positives we've seen.

It gets dicey when we look at subtleties. As an athlete, with anecdotal experience and evidence towards the influence and importance of subtleties in individuals biology and training, I will always give the athlete benefit of the doubt when small variations don't meet our expectations.

My answer to your question is shared by many, in that the ABP scared off arrogant/reckless doping. We are still looking for an indicator of microdosing, but the ABP is still valuable
 
Sep 29, 2012
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More Strides than Rides said:
My answer to your question is shared by many, in that the ABP scared off arrogant/reckless doping. We are still looking for an indicator of microdosing, but the ABP is still valuable
Hct <= 50% did the same thing and costs a whole lot less It never pretended to indicate cleanliness - but it sure stopped riders from dying of spontaneous blood clotting.

I'm actually really annoyed Ryder crashed out of the Tour, because if he hadn't, I honestly believe we would have seen something beautiful (ever watched Alien Resurrection?).

You are prepared to give the athlete the benefit of the doubt, and that is good. It balances my cynicism.

Personally, this is the big picture as I see it, and it includes the rider, their history, and their team manager:

In 2012, JV says Brad was clean at the 2009 TdF.
I ask, and it turns out Brailsford's head coach at Sky (Rod Ellingworth) coached Brailsford's track prodigy, Brad, in 2009.
JV implies he spent very little, if any time with Brad in 2009.
JV had no idea Brad was going to stomp all over the Tour - in fact noone did - especially not Sky's head coach, who trained Brad for the race, and subsequently quintupled Brad's price (2M salary + 2M transfer fee) for 2010.
In both Giro and TdF, there's a mysterious 3rd week bump.

In 2012, JV says Ryder won the Giro clean in 2012.
I ask, and it turns out JV was not at the Giro - he did not even know what time Ryder's final TT started.
Ryder's first coach used to finger *** lactate test him in the forest when Ryder first started being coached - whether there were people watching / walking past or not.
4 months post Giro, JV releases Ryder's blood values - to Captain Bag.
I ask, and JV says noone else was interested in them.
Captain Bag has minor reservations, but gives them a pass in his inimitable style.
JV says everyone tested high for first test at Giro - he spoke to other team doctors.
I ask and he says team owners aren't really interested in that nitty gritty detail.
I ask will he release a domestique's blood values to corroborate the claim. *crickets*
Captain Bag ignores final day's anomaly (static Hgb / Hct, 27% increase in retics), and is now dismissing it (me) with

@dpmccormac people can see whatever they want to see in data. You do great work and stimulates thought. You should be funded.
@captaintbag1 the first is true fer sure, n a several people wanted captain to see dopin in Hesjedal giro retic
Keep in mind - I never said it was doping (red flag is what I said #magic), then asked him to explain how it was possible.
Ryder's 3rd week has a mysterious bump in it - an increase in Hgb after holding onto the leader's jersey for 3 days in a row.
And it's September when the Giro values are released, but the July Tour value(s) are missing. Coincidence?



I don't remember all the details of everything that's been said by JV or Brad or things I've read about Ryder. But there's a picture constructed - rightly or wrongly - and these blood values only provide a small part of that picture.

I don't think the peloton is anywhere near clean. I don't care if they're going slower. Festina did happen. The Tour of Redemption did happen. It was all a fabrication.

People doped to win then. They do it to win now. At the 2008 Tour of California, JV said, "The best PR for us right now is to do well in the race."
 
Your points are bolded, I have moved them around to combine my answers.

1. I am not looking at 1 data point, I am looking at the overall trend, from start of dataset (offseason = lowest Hgb) to end of dataset (mid-GT = highest Hgb).

DM's data goes up and down. The last 2 data points go up. That is not a trend. You have no trend line.

2. If you are a statistician or similar, why use such a craptastic graph type, clumping 3 rider's values one on top of the other, seriously? Are you deliberately trying to obfuscate?

It's called an "overlay" and I didn't label the axes. That was the only crappy part. If you have never seen two (or more) sets of data overlaid on a single graph (they were color coded, one rider per color), then I'm not sure what to say. Actually, you posted one yourself, the CV and DM data.

However, there is a difference between connecting data points and drawing conclusions about a trend.

Let's try this:



edit: 1) time is in seconds, I forgot to include units, 2) R2 = 0.98 belongs to Mark's data

There are 2 trends here:

I) Mary is getting slower.
II) Mark was improving, but plateaued.

I cannot say anything about John. That is the same case for DM's data. It is scattered about and the last 2 data points just happen to go up. No trend.

3. If you have the raw data, I would welcome it, the graphs are miniscule and detail is difficult to confirm precisely.

I blew up the graphs, drew a box in Powerpoint and estimated the intercept from the line. Learned that in middle school.

4. In the wsj version, Joe Lindsey even paints the final retic value from DM on the wrong friggin' line. :confused:

No comment, not sure if that was directed at me

5. You confessed above not being a hematologist - so why are you getting so uppity about a very obvious analysis?

An "obvious analysis" is your opinion. You have not analyzed the data by any statistical method. Plotting a "connect the dots" graph and claiming a "trend" is not an "analysis".

I reject crappy graphs and analyses where authors try and tweak the presentation of the data.

Have you looked at the paper on the BioPassport? You can generate a scatter plot of HgB versus %retics. The "clean" rider clusters nicely, the "doped" rider has one value out of whack. The "false postive" rider has 2 data points slightly out of his cluster, but he was presented as an example of how a threshold must be carefully calibrated.

Now, the formula they use for Off score {Hb x 10 - (60 x sqrt(%ret))}, must weight Hb and %ret appropriately to set the threshold.
 
Sep 2, 2012
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Dear Wiggo said:
That graph stutters and mumbles. As you'd expect when compressing 3 dimensions of data into 2 dimensions. :confused:

This graph:



has 2 lines:
RED = CV
BLUE = DM

Plasma expansion happens within 3 days of 90minutes / day intense exercise. Over a season of 6 hours/day training and racing, you expect a steady decline of Hgb.

Red line trend shows this.

Static or inclined Hgb trends are not normal. Blue line (sans trend line) show this.
Great graph. I imagine these datasets are cyclical, going from one season to the next and what you're showing is a snippet of this cycle in isolation. Can you explain what DM would do between July and Oct for his Hgb to fall? Why is this period missing?
 
Sep 2, 2012
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Willy_Voet said:
I cannot say anything about John. That is the same case for DM's data. It is scattered about and the last 2 data points just happen to go up. No trend.
But you only have 4 data points?

Besides if your life depended on you making a right call, you'd say he's improving.

(higher lows, higher highs)
 
Dear Wiggo said:
Hct <= 50% did the same thing and costs a whole lot less It never pretended to indicate cleanliness - but it sure stopped riders from dying of spontaneous blood clotting.

I'm actually really annoyed Ryder crashed out of the Tour, because if he hadn't, I honestly believe we would have seen something beautiful (ever watched Alien Resurrection?).

You are prepared to give the athlete the benefit of the doubt, and that is good. It balances my cynicism.

Personally, this is the big picture as I see it, and it includes the rider, their history, and their team manager:

In 2012, JV says Brad was clean at the 2009 TdF.
I ask, and it turns out Brailsford's head coach at Sky (Rod Ellingworth) coached Brailsford's track prodigy, Brad, in 2009.
JV implies he spent very little, if any time with Brad in 2009.
JV had no idea Brad was going to stomp all over the Tour - in fact noone did - especially not Sky's head coach, who trained Brad for the race, and subsequently quintupled Brad's price (2M salary + 2M transfer fee) for 2010.
In both Giro and TdF, there's a mysterious 3rd week bump.

In 2012, JV says Ryder won the Giro clean in 2012.
I ask, and it turns out JV was not at the Giro - he did not even know what time Ryder's final TT started.
Ryder's first coach used to finger *** lactate test him in the forest when Ryder first started being coached - whether there were people watching / walking past or not.
4 months post Giro, JV releases Ryder's blood values - to Captain Bag.
I ask, and JV says noone else was interested in them.
Captain Bag has minor reservations, but gives them a pass in his inimitable style.
JV says everyone tested high for first test at Giro - he spoke to other team doctors.
I ask and he says team owners aren't really interested in that nitty gritty detail.
I ask will he release a domestique's blood values to corroborate the claim. *crickets*
Captain Bag ignores final day's anomaly (static Hgb / Hct, 27% increase in retics), and is now dismissing it (me) with





Keep in mind - I never said it was doping (red flag is what I said #magic), then asked him to explain how it was possible.
Ryder's 3rd week has a mysterious bump in it - an increase in Hgb after holding onto the leader's jersey for 3 days in a row.
And it's September when the Giro values are released, but the July Tour value(s) are missing. Coincidence?



I don't remember all the details of everything that's been said by JV or Brad or things I've read about Ryder. But there's a picture constructed - rightly or wrongly - and these blood values only provide a small part of that picture.

I don't think the peloton is anywhere near clean. I don't care if they're going slower. Festina did happen. The Tour of Redemption did happen. It was all a fabrication.

People doped to win then. They do it to win now. At the 2008 Tour of California, JV said, "The best PR for us right now is to do well in the race."
Certainly the numbers point to something. My opinion is they point to relatively "easy" days in the giro. On the 16th, 17th, and 18th of May, we had a sprint, breakaway, and sprint for the win. "Relativly", easy days. If were looking to see how RH could have increased his rcts in 2 days, maybe we could look at the speed of the stages (~39.km/hr for both, the 17th being harder). 157 and 121 km respectively. Can a rider like RH recover (according to his blood) under these circumstances? I don't know the science. Maybe

So we can ask other questions. How can his retics increase? In the middle of the GT, RH's blood wants new cells. He gets them. We can all agree something happened for him to produce new retics. I would say that the stress of racing thus far caused the stimulus, and the 'easy' days gave opportunity for the body's reaction: build blood. As far as hbg and hct, the day's weren't that hard, relativly, imho. Maybe he had a shot of EPO, requiring more retics, on the 18th.

I don't think the logistics of this possibility work out, as most of his increase came after the 17th day stage (and before the APB blood test).



I think the peloton is still dirty, as do you. I want to see the domestique's blood too; they can "get away" with more. but, if there is this much room for debate for a rider, I think it is worth moving on to another.

EDIT: and Bradly, I'd like to see his 2012 as much as you. Sky should be confident in their riders... And Ryder's Tour, the more the better.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Willy_Voet said:
Your points are bolded, I have moved them around to combine my answers.

1. I am not looking at 1 data point, I am looking at the overall trend, from start of dataset (offseason = lowest Hgb) to end of dataset (mid-GT = highest Hgb).

DM's data goes up and down. The last 2 data points go up. That is not a trend. You have no trend line.
Yes, trend lines. And correlation coefficients. I did stats at 3rd year uni, I know what you are talking about. R^2, nice and safe.

Notice I did not say trend line, I said trend.

Willy_Voet said:
2. If you are a statistician or similar, why use such a craptastic graph type, clumping 3 rider's values one on top of the other, seriously? Are you deliberately trying to obfuscate?

It's called an "overlay" and I didn't label the axes. That was the only crappy part. If you have never seen two (or more) sets of data overlaid on a single graph (they were color coded, one rider per color), then I'm not sure what to say. Actually, you posted one yourself, the CV and DM data.
But my data was 2 dimensional - not 3 dimensional compressed into 2 like yours. And timing of data is critical in this analysis. Maybe you can tell me why? Your tone of superiority at graph experience is noted, although you're tending towards the Krebs Cycle, "I am a PhD how dare you question me" line of reasoning. I'll acknowledge I used "craptastic" but I believe it fits, as I will reiterate - timing of the values is critical. You graph pruned that info from the dataset entirely.

Willy_Voet said:
However, there is a difference between connecting data points and drawing conclusions about a trend.
Now we're back at trend. What happened to trend line? I think you mean line of best fit, and it requires you to "explain", mathematically, the pattern of values seen. The higher the correlation coefficient, the more likely you are describing the data.

I am talking about a trend - namely, a general direction in which something is developing or changing.


Willy_Voet said:
Let's try this:



(time is in seconds, I forgot to include units)

There are 2 trends here:

I) Mary is getting slower.
II) Mark was improving, but plateaued.

I cannot say anything about John.
You cannot say anything mathematically about John, with any sort of confidence, where as I can. He's getting slower. The trend line or line of best fit does not correlate well, no, but if I was coaching him, I'd be looking at his training and trying to work out why he is getting slower. This is the difference between someone in the lab all day and someone out in the real world, and I acknowledge this is entirely insulting, dismissive and maybe even arrogant.

ETA: one of us is reading the graph wrong.
Month 1, Mary does 100m in 15 seconds
Month 4, Mary does 100m in 10 seconds.
Mary is definitely getting quicker...

Change the vertical axis to weight (kg) above lean race weight, and tell me he's not getting fatter, just because the coefficient is only 0.38.

My main concern with your example, and I am happy to discuss another one should you wish to fine-tune the analogy and can be bothered continuing this is this:

John is entirely in control of how fast he runs at each moment. His speed is dependent on a lot of variables but you are measuring John conciously controlling his body.

Hgb, on the other hand, is incredibly difficult to modify for a human being naturally, given the WADA protocols in place for its collection (at least 2 hours post-exericse, seated for 10 minutes, training and altitude load and sickness taken into consideration).

There are also many studies where Hgb variation over time for elite athletes has been studied and published, and they set up expected trends and variations, etc.

Willy_Voet said:
That is the same case for DM's data. It is scattered about and the last 2 data points just happen to go up. No trend.
And I will repeat. You could draw a line of best fit and not see anything. But it's a physiological process, that is known to follow a specific pattern, and in this instance, it is not. Did you look up plasma expansion yet?

Willy_Voet said:
5. You confessed above not being a hematologist - so why are you getting so uppity about a very obvious analysis?

An "obvious analysis" is your opinion. You have not analyzed the data by any statistical method. Plotting a "connect the dots" graph and claiming a "trend" is not an "analysis".
That is correct. Given there are 8 data points, it would seem remiss to do so - degrees of freedom is way down.

You see a limited data set and say this is inconclusive.
I see a limited data set and add one more data point you can't graph on this chart: David Millar is known as the most vocal anti-doping advocate in the professional cycling peloton, is part owner of "Team Clean", Garmin, and won a stage in this year's Tour. The Tour he claims was won by "Mr Clean" Bradley Wiggins.

So why doesn't Millar release all his blood values, and remove the chance for hacks like me to poke and prod them without any statistical certainty?

Willy_Voet said:
I reject crappy graphs and analyses where authors try and tweak the presentation of the data.
I do the same - which is why I rejected your graph previously. Timing is more important than Hgb and Retic correlations, given you can deliberately mess with both.

Willy_Voet said:
Have you looked at the paper on the BioPassport? You can generate a scatter plot of HgB versus %retics. The "clean" rider clusters nicely, the "doped" rider has one value out of whack. The "false postive" rider has 2 data points slightly out of his cluster, but he was presented as an example of how a threshold must be carefully calibrated.

Now, the formula they use for Off score {Hb x 10 - (60 x sqrt(%ret))}, must weight Hb and %ret appropriately to set the threshold.
Yes I have - and I have a post to discuss how lax the ABP is. But I digress. Your cluster graph is yet again missing the most vital pieces of information - timing.

This says to me off-score is useless:
 
Mar 13, 2009
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cant the values only be interpreted by triangulating what the performance is on the road, and the miraculous coincidence, that the values coincide, with the peak athletic form, over 12 months, 24 months, how long you wish to take when you isolate performance, v physiological parameters.

We as students of the sport, cannot disregard performances on the road.

It defies belief, to take single numbers of hemoglobin, or hematocrit, in isolation, and just throw collective clinic hands up in the air, and dispute form and performance has any relevance.

The fact that form coincides over the same period, or week, in an entire year, with the physiological parameters, plays into a strong case that this is not a random occurrence.

If someone can map this extraordinary confluence of form and bioparameters with a natural technique, they have discovered the elixir
 
blackcat said:
cant the values only be interpreted by triangulating what the performance is on the road, and the miraculous coincidence, that the values coincide, with the peak athletic form, over 12 months, 24 months, how long you wish to take when you isolate performance, v physiological parameters.

We as students of the sport, cannot disregard performances on the road.

It defies belief, to take single numbers of hemoglobin, or hematocrit, in isolation, and just throw collective clinic hands up in the air, and dispute form and performance has any relevance.

The fact that form coincides over the same period, or week, in an entire year, with the physiological parameters, plays into a strong case that this is not a random occurrence.

If someone can map this extraordinary confluence of form and bioparameters with a natural technique, they have discovered the elixir
Without Rodriguez, Scarpioni, or De Gent's values (and others), that is impossible to do. "More data is needed" is something I find myself reading and thinking a lot recently.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Don Quixote said:
Perhaps DM is more susceptible to seasonal Hgb fluctuation.
Do you mean summer, winter, autumn, spring season? Or riding season - I ask sincerely.

Because if he's human, there's a lot of studies for humans and there's lots of studies for elite athletes for Hgb and how it responds to whatever it is elite athletes do.

And there's 4 years or more of ABP data to do both population and individual variations.
 
Sep 2, 2012
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Dear Wiggo said:
Do you mean summer, winter, autumn, spring season? Or riding season - I ask sincerely.

Because if he's human, there's a lot of studies for humans and there's lots of studies for elite athletes for Hgb and how it responds to whatever it is elite athletes do.

And there's 4 years or more of ABP data to do both population and individual variations.
I don't think you can study the two in isolation.

I think it's documented that the summer months are associated with higher Hgb levels.
 
Willy_Voet said:
I am not a hematologist, but I'm in a position to make a judgement about data like this. If you want my credentials, PM me.

Anything captianbag1 says about Millar's TdF score is meaningless. You can't draw any conclusions about a single point in one "group" by making a comparison to another group of 7 or 8 data points..

He had two data points from the Giro. They happen to connect going up. That means nothing if you look at internal testing which jumps around a bit. (connect 7 and 8 and you have something suspicious, connect 8 with 9 or 10 and it looks "normal").

Plotting points with connected lines is misleading. Connecting 2 points and drawing a conclusion is crappy science.

Here is a scatterplot of the 3 riders' blood values. Guess who is the least suspicious?

Nice work, and agreed. Statistical analysis is the most important thing here, provided you understand the basics as to why the variables move.

Wouldn't the green be least suspicious, i.e. positive linear relationship between Hb and Retics? Although isn't time series more important, looking at fluctuations? Got myself confused now!
 
Aug 18, 2009
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Ferminal said:
Nice work, and agreed. Statistical analysis is the most important thing here, provided you understand the basics as to why the variables move.

Wouldn't the green be least suspicious, i.e. positive linear relationship between Hb and Retics? Although isn't time series more important, looking at fluctuations? Got myself confused now!
I think the blue is least suspicious because the data are clustered relatively close together and retics go down with high hgb.
 
Aug 13, 2012
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Since some folks dont believe WADA testing why not ask a scientist/expert to examine the values. I have lots of math and stats courses and a science background but there's no way I'd try! If there's one thing I've learned is leave specialized topics to the specialists.

Btw, where did he site on the UCI suspicion scale in 2010? Wasn't he a 1 and didn't he finish 6th the tdf that year? It would seem top 10 is doable without suspect blood values.

1. Contador. Suspicion 5
1. Schleck. Suspicion 3.
2. Menchov. Suspicion 9
3. Sanchez. Suspicion 4
4. Van den broeck. Suspicion 8
5. Gesink. Suspicion 1
6. Hesjedel. Suspicion 1
 

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