Ed Coyle's paper about LA delta efficiency is a fraud.

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Aug 17, 2009
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Efficiency improvement

ACoogan the information you provide on efficiency is very interesting. I dont want to avoid express a view accusing anyone of doping. What I have read and tried myself is that higher cadences tend to be less efficient aerobically but that pro riders ride smaller gears to reduce muscular stress. Tests I have seen show an ideal range most pros tend to use in a TT is around 80-90 rpm although this is slightly less efficient than a mathematical ideal range predicted around 70-80.

Would LA changing cadence from around 80 to 110 to be very aerobically inefficient and require a much higher efficiency to achieve. Have you any information as to how this would be effective? Would he be using superior aerobic capacity or sustain higher percentage than other riders. Would his previous style be involve far too much muscular stress?

Is there any information to show a riders efficiency can improve without cycling? That is also something that cant seem to be explained as LA had a long period off the bike then came back seemingly more efficient than before. Has this ever happened before or any good explanation given that you know about?
 
A

Anonymous

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BanProCycling said:
What you've got to remember guys is cadence is important but psychology is more so for the modern tours. That was a far bigger factor in Armstrong's case, in my view, than simply upping his cadence.
BAWHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Pure genius!
 
Aug 13, 2009
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BanProCycling said:
Psychology is important. We know that young people's frontal lobes - the part of the brain that deals with decision making - doesn't fully mature until the early to mid 20s. That's why you're more likely to crash a car or take drugs, etc, when you're young. For an individual like Armstrong, who was quite immature and hot headed as a younger rider, this process would have been even more important. Put that together with the cancer experience and its quite reasonable to expect an effect on consistency in his performances.
You have really out done yourself with this post House. It is an instant classic that I think I must adapt as my signature.
 
Jul 25, 2009
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Digger said:
"Lance went up 18 percent and that's because he both improved his raw power ability by 8 percent because of muscle adaptations which we ascibe to just the pure result of hard training." "And then he lost body weight and the two combined equally to cause this 18 percent in power."
Where is the bit that says the weight loss was due to cancer? Do you deliberately misunderstand stuff?
 
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Anonymous

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BanProCycling said:
Psychology is important. We know that young people's frontal lobes - the part of the brain that deals with decision making - doesn't fully mature until the early to mid 20s. That's why you're more likely to crash a car or take drugs, etc, when you're young. For an individual like Armstrong, who was quite immature and hot headed as a younger rider, this process would have been even more important. Put that together with the cancer experience and its quite reasonable to expect an effect on consistency in his performances.
You have to dumb it up a bit if you want people to keep thinking you are a REAL Lance supporter. See, they would never talk about true "science" in a post. If you keep this up, your cover will be blown completely. I should have written this in an IM, but I forgot.
 
BanProCycling said:
Psychology is important. We know that young people's frontal lobes - the part of the brain that deals with decision making - doesn't fully mature until the early to mid 20s. That's why you're more likely to crash a car or take drugs, etc, when you're young. For an individual like Armstrong, who was quite immature and hot headed as a younger rider, this process would have been even more important. Put that together with the cancer experience and its quite reasonable to expect an effect on consistency in his performances.
As with any rider reaching maturity. Next....
 
Mar 18, 2009
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I may have BCP on my ignore list but I can see some of his posts: judging from Lance's most recent behaviour at the TdF and afterwards, it is obvious he has very little frontal cortical activity because he is still carrying on like a 12-year-old girl.
 
Jul 25, 2009
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cyclingmad said:
ACoogan the information you provide on efficiency is very interesting....What I have read and tried myself is that higher cadences tend to be less efficient aerobically but that pro riders ride smaller gears to reduce muscular stress.
I also read that higher cadence is less efficient but only at low power. Close to LT it's all pretty similar. I was wondering if high cadence would affect delta efficiency measurement. But that was pretty basic and out of date info. Does anyone with up to date info want to shed some light on this, or maybe just recommend some reading?
 
Jul 19, 2009
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acoggan said:
Except that Coyle made his measurements below the point at which the VO2-power relationship significantly deviates from linearity.
So what? The 1993 DE calculations in Coyle's paper are wrong. The results are meaningless irrespective of whether he included VO2 measures above LT or not. Additionally, as far as I am aware, when you publish in a peer-reviewed journal, part of the requirement is that you keep the raw data for a period of 5 yrs. The fact that Ed Coyle somehow mysteriously "lost" this data on none other than the highest profile cyclist in the world is astonishing to say the least. Wrong calculations, no calibration data, refusal to provide data for several yrs upon request, lost or thrown away data, reliance on self reported body weight. Seriously, who doesn't measure bodyweight before conducting VO2 measurements? It is simply poor science all round.

Boy, if only Gore spent half as much time writing papers as letters-to-the-editor...

But anyway, since you bring up the Jeukendrup/Martin/Gore paper: you do realize, don't you, that much of the motivation for that publication stemmed from the famously bad blood between Coyle and Jeukendrup/Martin?
Lets keep it clean please Dr Coggan. What bad blood is there between CJG and either Allessandro Lucia or Ed Coyle? CJGs publication record speaks for itself and it is somewhat disappointing that you would choose to make such an assertion. I know personally or have met in person all of the key players involved here and I disagree with your claim that the motivation behind the critique of either paper is personal. This controversy is about science (or lack thereof). But since you brought up the subject of publications, I find it revealing that Ed presented nothing new whatsoever in a keynote lecture at ACSM a few yrs ago. The entire presentation was based on research that was already published over 10yrs previous. Its a stark contrast to the enormous volume of research that Jeukendrup/Martin/Gore have completed working with elite endurance athletes over the same period.

I gather that you didn't read Dave Proctor's paper all that closely:
I've read the Proctor and Beck paper very closely thanks. I have also discussed the paper with Kenneth Beck in person. Furthermore, it is interesting that above you bring up CJG's publication record and here you accuse me of not understanding the problems with CPX/D systems, which is by proxy, an attack on CJGs understanding aswell since I am basing my opinions on his publications and knowledge of the yrs long struggle with Med Graphics to have these problems with their system rectified.

Have you not read the following...

Gore et al. CPX/D underestimates VO(2) in athletes compared with an automated Douglas bag system.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Aug;35(8):1341-7.

CONCLUSIONS: During submaximal exercise, the CPX/D yields VO(2) values that are approximately 11% lower than the criterion system, and the source of the discrepancy does not appear to be primarily related to volume measurement. A disturbing observation is that factory defaults for the lag time use different correction factors, which vary by 60 ms and this significantly alters VO(2) and VCO(2).



Beck KC, Gore CJ. Optimizing breath-by-breath VO2 measurements.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Mar;36(3):554-5.

Gore et al. (3) and our work (5) focused on the Medical Graphics CPX/D system. However, any BxB system will potentially be prone to the same errors and should routinely be validated in a similar way. Commercial vendors are encouraged to make this process easier by perhaps providing data analysis routines and step-by step instructions to help users optimize their own systems.

BxB gas exchange has become commonplace in many laboratories around the globe. Its appeal is in ease of use and the high time resolution of the measurements, but users should be aware that, of the three major techniques available for gas exchange assessment, it is technically the most difficult to implement and may be the most prone to technical failure.



Lucia et al., (2002) do not publish anything in their methods sections with respect to optimizing delay time adjustments in their commercial BxB systems. However, their data is consistent with the error that would be expected as outlined in the Proctor and Beck paper. Their amazingly high efficiency values reported elsewhere are consistent with the error that would be expected as outlined in the Gore paper. Lucia's (and Santalla's) measures could be genuinely free of error, but we don't know because they have not included any details to assure the reader that they aren't.


Ah, but here's the thing: no scientist truly worthy of the name really gives a d*** whether Armstrong's efficiency improved or not. What is intriuging is the fact that the efficiency of someone who trained a lot apparently increased over time...it is that observation that has spurred a number of additional studies, studies that probably would not have been conducted had the paper not been published. As such, publication of Coyle's paper has moved the field forward even if the observations themselves may be questioned.
What do you mean "apparently increased"? Are you in complete denial that the 1993 DE data is wrong? No scientist worth his name would publish incorrect data. No scientist worth his name would loose or throw out data on Lance Armstrong. No scientist worth his name would not publish methods to ascertain delay time adjustments with commercial BxB systems. Any scientist who IS worth his name cares about precision of measurement first and foremost. What good are 5wk long studies on untrained subjects? They have done absolutely nothing whatsoever to move the field forward!!

Even if there IS personal motivation for these letter's to the editors, it is a moot point because the fact remains the the criticisms are entirely justified on scientific merit alone. The field will only be moved forward when someone conducts the appropritate measures which are conclusively shown to be free of error. Until then, it seems to me that it could actually have been moved backwards.
 
I Watch Cycling In July said:
Where is the bit that says the weight loss was due to cancer? Do you deliberately misunderstand stuff?
Lol...Lance claims, and Coyle has used Lance's words, that he lost fifteen, twenty and even thrity pounds during his cancer treatment.
 
Jul 19, 2009
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Dr Coggan, another thought.... (can we agree to stick to published evidence for the moment?)....

the published evidence so far reporting improved efficiency over time in pro level cyclists comes from 2 sources:

1. Coyle 2005 and 2. Santalla 2009.

Completely disregarding all previous discussion about these papers, do you not find it somewhat alarming the difference in reported DE values? Ed reports DE in the range of 21.37 to 23.12% whereas Santalla reports mean values of 23.61 up to 26.97% and 3 of their subjects DE values are greater than 30% and 2 subjects had a change of greater than 30%. Could that even be physiologically possible? Surely there has to be artifact of some sort in there? For example, an increase in both LT power and PPO (not reported unfortunately) could potentially lead to an increase in Ve at these points, which in turn, may result in a greater underestimation of VO2 measured using the sensormedics BxB system (see Proctor and Beck). In the case of Ed Coyle's paper, 2min stages to measure a VO2 steady state?? Would you administer such short stage durations if you wanted to measure either gross or DE? We know that high intensity training alters VO2 uptake kinetics, so it would only take a difference in the amount of high intensity training to produce a difference in the VO2 measured in the last 30sec. Ed used a mixing chamber VO2 system which is subject to lag time error between the measurement of Ve and the mixed expiered gas fractions, so it is inappropriate to use a 30s sample only to measure VO2 in L/min. It would only take a couple of deep breaths near the end of the 30s sample period to overestimate VO2. What is Ed's criteria for a "leveling off of VO2" I wonder? 0.1 L/min? 0.2 L/min? 1.0 L/min? Its not reported, and cannot be verified because the raw data is unavailable.

I cannot find a date range but given the timing of the publications it is highly likely that Santalla's subject population has raced against LA. So how is it possible for LA to have dominated these cyclists whose VO2max values are as high or higher yet also have much higher efficiency values? So much for this defence in the court case (which btw is the underlying motivation for this thread in the first place). LA's reported LT is nothing out of the ordinary either, in fact it is surprisingly low at a number of points, even for pre season.

When you examine all of the data closely it is rather fishy indeed and does not make sense when we look at actual performances. I have been working with elite endurance athletes for 10yrs now and never have I seen such large variability in VO2max and LT (expressed as %VO2max) as Ed reports in table 2. In less than 12months, LA bodyweight goes down by 4kg and VO2max goes up by 0.54 L/min which is about 10%. The typical error of (good quality) VO2max measurement is around 0.15 L/min which means that a 0.54 L/min increase is huge. That simply does not occur in well trained athletes without doping. Interestingly, in one of the EPO studies that I was both a subject and assisted with data collection, the mean increase in VO2max of the EPO groups was 9%. The biggest increase in VO2max we have seen (at the AIS) with LHTL is maybe 5 or 6% and there is no lab anywhere else in the world that has done more VO2max testing on elite endurance athletes conducting LHTL. In fact, a lot of the time VO2max actually goes down with LHTL. I cannot understand how such a distinguished and knowledgable physiologist as yourself can possibly defend the suspicious data presented in these publications. The only conclusions that I can possibly think of are that either one or the other or both of these articles is incorrect, or LA was doping throughout the period of data collection.

for the record CJG was my Phd supervisor and I also worked in Dallas with Ben and Jim on one of my studies.

thank you for your replies and comments. this discussion has been thoroughly enjoyable but I must admit I need to get back to real work so please accept my apologies if I do not respond much further.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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acoggan said:
Ah, but here's the thing: no scientist truly worthy of the name really gives a d*** whether Armstrong's efficiency improved or not. What is intriuging is the fact that the efficiency of someone who trained a lot apparently increased over time...it is that observation that has spurred a number of additional studies, studies that probably would not have been conducted had the paper not been published. As such, publication of Coyle's paper has moved the field forward even if the observations themselves may be questioned.
OK, a disclaimer, I am a scientist in a very different field than exercise physiology. However, my point is that a paper with conclusions based on bad/fraudulent data moves a field forward in the wrong direction, because people waste time trying to prove/disprove something that was wrong in the first place.
 
Sep 5, 2009
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acoggan said:
When were the data in Coyle's paper collected? When were they first presented as an abstract? When were they published in JAP? When did the SCA trial occur?

If you pay attention to the timeline, Betsy, you will see that the facts don't support your claim.
The facts can be seen differently.

Coyles last data collection was 1999 for apparent random and non objective testing from 1992.

The data must have laid idle for six years until LA in 2005 allegedly required damage control due to the "LA Confidential" book to be published and the upcoming SCA tribunal hearing.

Due to the circumstances the alleged ("contrived?") purpose and outcome was tailored around the sets of data gathered at inconsistent dates. Coyle published and then went on a media promotion tour to ensure his paper was "out there" to influence.

Are there precedents for Coyle and other exercise physiologists to promote their findings through the media when there is no apparent financial gain for such work?

It has been discussed here in context about LA's larger than normal heart. I refer you to an interview of LA with Playboy magazinein the damage control year of 2005.

LA agrees with the interviewer that his heart is 30% larger than normal (normal? sedentary or elite athlete normal) but then adds:

"But you know what's interesting? There's a big artery that runs from the middle of your body to your lower half, down to your legs. I had some scans done, and the doctors couldn't believe it: My artery is three times the size of a normal person's."

I have never heard reference to this huge artery that must contribute to LA's athletic dominance either before or after this article.
 

the big ring

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Jul 28, 2009
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acoggan said:
BTW, I was reminded of the controversial Coyle paper earlier today when a link to this paper showed up in my facebook feed:

https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0032-1304640

Yet more evidence that despite the limitations of Coyle's paper, it appears he was right in concluding that efficiency improves with endurance exercise training, something that Ashenden apparently considers/considered impossible...
In experiment 2, a significant inverse within-subject correlation was found between changes in GE and V˙O2max in Group A over the first 6 weeks of training (r= − 0.78; P<0.01)
After only training for 6 weeks. :eek: Would the efficiency have remained for all time? Or would it have returned to its previous values, like everything else seems to? Was the efficiency measured continuously during the 6 weeks? Did it continue to increase throughout the 12th week?

What was the measured change in efficiency for the 6 weeks?





Thought experiment:

Given Lance's efficiency allegedly improved from 21.18 to 23.05, over the elapsed time of 7 years of elite level competition, we can estimate:

an increase of ((23.05 - 21.18)/7) x 6/52 = 0.03 percentage points for the 6 weeks.

Assuming the riders in the study started with 21% efficiency, their new efficiency would be 21.03% after 6 weeks.

Now, none of those cyclists are claiming to be "a phenomenon of both genetic natural selection and the extreme to which the human can adapt to endurance training performed for a decade or more in a person who is truly inspired", so 0.03 percentage points is probably optimistic, but let's go with that.

A change of 0.03 percentage points on 21% is (100 x 0.03/21) = a 0.14% change in gross efficiency

I wonder what the margin for error is when calculating gross efficiency...
 

the big ring

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Jul 28, 2009
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acoggan said:
Actually, at least a half-dozen longitudinal studies have now demonstrated comparable improvements in gross efficiency with endurance training. (You can also acutely improve gross efficiency by ingesting nitrate, but that's a different story...or maybe not. ;))
What I am wondering is this: how long does that nitrate-ingestion increase in efficiency last, before you have to eat a bunch more nitrates (beetroot or fertilizer for example)?

Or does efficiency accumulate like hmmmmmm I cannot think of anything that accumulates physiologically (other than fat) and then does not return to its original levels without continual input.

Anyone?
 
Oct 22, 2009
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Have not read the whole thread... so excuse the ignorance.

Nitrates are short acting vasodilators often used in the treatment of angina. I would imagine that the mechanism for "improved efficiency" is a reduction in arterial resistance. I would counter that a proper warm up will likely net you the same benefits through the natural vasodilatory response to exercise and increased body temps.

To comment further on GE, I need to know how it is definedm and I am too lazy (dont have time) to go back and look at the original papers.
 
Oct 22, 2009
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Dr. Coggan has replied in another thread that GE = energy out/energy in.

thank you.

I am willing to accept that GE may improve marginally with improved pedal mechanics. Less leg mass alone will improve efficiency just by a reduction in energy cost to lift the leg during the up stroke of the pedal cycle.

If we are talking marginal gains, then I'll buy it. Improved efficiency does not transform a rider from a good pro to "the worlds greatest cyclist", and I think that is how Coyle's paper was interpreted (which is perhaps unfair).

The biggest predictor of performance will still be one ability to move oxygen around the body. Carry more o2 in the blood through doping has been used. I wonder if there are drugs in cardiology used to improve LVEF that would improve cardiac output and thus performance. I was thinking of this when I saw Froome's HR data with an very low heart rate.
 

the big ring

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Jul 28, 2009
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momotaro said:
If we are talking marginal gains, then I'll buy it. Improved efficiency does not transform a rider from a good pro to "the worlds greatest cyclist", and I think that is how Coyle's paper was interpreted (which is perhaps unfair).
Coyle's paper was used in a court case as an attempt to prove Lance didn't need to dope to win the Tour multiple times in a row, that his improvement in efficiency explained it all away.

The data span a 7 year elapsed period, ending in 1999 after only 1 Tour win, yet the conclusions proceeds thusly:
We hypothesize that the improved muscular efficiency might
reflect alterations in muscle myosin type stimulated from years
of training intensely for 3–6 h on most days. It is remarkable
that at age 25 yr this individual developed advanced cancer,
requiring surgeries and chemotherapy, yet these events did not
appear to impede his physiological maturation and athletic
achievements. Clearly, this champion embodies a phenomenon
of both genetic natural selection and the extreme to which the
human can adapt to endurance training performed for a decade
or more
in a person who is truly inspired.
Mentioning the effects of 10 years or more of endurance training, in a study spanning 7 (1 of which he had cancer operations and treatment and recovery) elapsed years, published after the court case commenced, to support the performances of an athlete after the study had ended, for which none of the raw data is available for validation or recalculation.

Riiiiight.

I am not sure how you measure the level of someone being "inspired" or testing its veracity (truly inspired), but apparently that's important enough to put in the conclusion of a scientific study.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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momotaro said:
Have not read the whole thread... so excuse the ignorance.

Nitrates are short acting vasodilators often used in the treatment of angina. I would imagine that the mechanism for "improved efficiency" is a reduction in arterial resistance. I would counter that a proper warm up will likely net you the same benefits through the natural vasodilatory response to exercise and increased body temps.
Not organic nitrates, inorganic nitrate...and as I have to repeatedly point out to my cardiology colleagues, increases in muscle blood flow will not improve efficiency (yet dietary nitrate does).
 
Mar 18, 2009
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the big ring said:
published after the court case commenced
Get your facts straight: the paper was published before the lawsuit came to trial, and Coyle presented the data in abstract before it was even filed.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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momotaro said:
I am willing to accept that GE may improve marginally with improved pedal mechanics.
That isn't the likely mechanism, and a ~5% improvement in power due to efficiency increasing by ~1% in an absolute sense is nothing to be sneezed at.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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the big ring said:
What I am wondering is this: how long does that nitrate-ingestion increase in efficiency last, before you have to eat a bunch more nitrates (beetroot or fertilizer for example)?
The time-course of changes in plasma nitrate are such that it returns to pre-ingestion levels after ~24 h. As for how long any changes in efficiency might last, that has not been determined.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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acoggan said:
Get your facts straight: the paper was published before the lawsuit came to trial, and Coyle presented the data in abstract before it was even filed.
i stayed away from the thread, and to be frank, i don't see a good reason to bring back a 3 yo, well traveled and beaten path once again. but ed should have been prudent enough, in the face and age of the well known and document blood doping effects on so many parameters he alluded to, to put it mildly, he should have been less assertive or he should have proceeded with his conclusions AFTER he addressed the effects of doping on his conclusions.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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the big ring said:
After only training for 6 weeks. :eek: Would the efficiency have remained for all time? Or would it have returned to its previous values, like everything else seems to? Was the efficiency measured continuously during the 6 weeks? Did it continue to increase throughout the 12th week?
That would depend in part on whether the stimulus was maintained as well as the mechanisms involved, now wouldn't it?

For example, with short-term training there is a rapid increase in stroke volume that is primarily due to the increase in plasma volume, which is rapidly lost w/ detraining. OTOH, the improvements in left ventricular internal diameter resulting from long-term endurance training do not regress at all even after 12 wk of detraining.

the big ring said:
Thought experiment
= waste of time, since there is no support for the assumption that changes in gross efficiency are linear over time, especially over many years.

the big ring said:
I wonder what the margin for error is when calculating gross efficiency...
With care, gross efficiency can be determined with a CV of 1.5%:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21796054

What this means is that it is possible to detect (in a statistical sense) quite small changes (i.e., <1% in an absolute sense) even when studying only a dozen or so subjects.
 

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