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Spot the difference: UCI re-writing history?

Here’s the text of the press release from the UCI on 30 September 2010 concerning Alberto Contador’s bad news.

Press release – Adverse analytical finding for Alberto Contador
30.09.2010

The UCI confirmed today that Spanish rider Alberto Contador returned an adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol following the analysis of urine sample taken during an in competition test on 21st July 2010 on the second rest day of the Tour de France. This result was reported by the WADA accredited laboratory in Cologne to UCI and WADA simultaneously.

The concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms (or 0,000 000 000 05 grams per ml) which is 400 time less than what the antidoping laboratories accredited by WADA must be able to detect.

In view of this very small concentration and in consultation with WADA, the UCI immediately had the proper results management proceedings conducted including the analysis of B sample that confirmed the first result. The rider, who had already put an end to his cycling season before the result was known, was nevertheless formally and provisionally suspended as is prescribed by the World Anti-Doping Code.

This case required further scientific investigation before any conclusion could be drawn. The UCI continues working with the scientific support of WADA to analyse all the elements that are relevant to the case. This further investigation may take some more time.

In order to protect the integrity of the proceedings and in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI will refrain from making any further comments until the management of this adverse analytical finding has been completed.

UCI Press Services

And here’s the press release on the website at 22:45 CET:

Press release – Adverse analytical finding for Alberto Contador
30.09.2010

The UCI confirmed today that Spanish rider Alberto Contador returned an adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol following the analysis of urine sample taken during an in competition test on 21st July 2010 on the second rest day of the Tour de France.

This result was reported by the WADA accredited laboratory in Cologne to UCI and WADA simultaneously.

The concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms (or 0,000 000 000 05 grams per ml).

In view of this very small concentration and in consultation with WADA, the UCI immediately had the proper results management proceedings conducted including the analysis of B sample that confirmed the first result. The rider, who had already put an end to his cycling season before the result was known, was nevertheless formally and provisionally suspended as is prescribed by the World Anti-Doping Code.

This case required further scientific investigation before any conclusion could be drawn.

The UCI continues working with the scientific support of WADA to analyse all the elements that are relevant to the case. This further investigation may take some more time.

In order to protect the integrity of the proceedings and in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI will refrain from making any further comments until the management of this adverse analytical finding has been completed.

UCI Press Services

Can you spot the difference? Compare the second paragraph in each version.

What’s happened is that the reference to the 400 times detection level has been dropped on the quiet. As Bicycling’s Joe Lindsey has pointed out, the accurate figure is actually 40 times. In other words the original UCI press release contained a significant error that’s been broadcast around the world. Has the UCI sought to correct this? No, it appears someone just edited the press release on their website on the sly. There’s no mention of the document being updated, it’s still labelled 30 September.

I’m finding this a bit sneaky. If you get a number wrong, admit it. Be honest. After all this has been widely talked about, it’s not a little error, for example getting the distance of a race wrong in the results press release. It’s very material to the public debate. Don’t go back and pretend you never said 400 times.

The UCI should think about a statement clarifying the error and they might also want to reassure the media that they aren’t in the habit of sneakily fixing their mistakes when no one’s looking. The UCI doesn’t have a great history when it comes to post-dated documents and doping.

Thanks to an anonymous commentator for alerting me to the this point.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 2 October 2010, 9:57 pm

    wow, that's pretty sneaky. let me get it right, we've all been using that 400 number and now it's wrong?

  • TheInnerRing Saturday, 2 October 2010, 10:00 pm

    Anonymous, yes I'm led to believe the correct number is approximately 40 times.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 2 October 2010, 10:54 pm

    Well done, that is a very good point. I really like your blog it is a must read.

  • TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog Saturday, 2 October 2010, 11:11 pm

    Great find, well done! I'd call that defrauding the public, myself.

    1/40th the mandatory detection level = 2.5%. Sounds like a lot to me for a substance that's never supposed to show up at all.

    My real question is, why is UCI minimizing this!??

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