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Larissa Lazutina (and the Russian controversy)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Alright, now what the heck is up with this? She was disqualified for a high red blood cell count, which is NOT difinitive proof of an illegal substance.

Here is a quote from a site I found <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>An increase in red blood cell mass is known as polycythemia. Normal physiological increases in the RBC count occur at high altitudes or after strenuous physical training. At high altitudes, less atmospheric weight pushes air into the lungs, causing a decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen and hypoxia. With strenuous physical training, increased muscle mass demands more oxygen. The drugs gentamicin and methyldopa have been associated with increasing the number of red blood cells. Smokers also have a higher number of red blood cells than non-smokers.
Source: http://www.rnceus.com/cbc/cbcrbc.html

And another link: http://medhlp.netusa.net/glossary/new/gls_3632.htm

It is absurd to think the Russian was disqualified because her red blood cell count was higher than the limit, it MAY be a sign of blood doping but again, IS NOT definite proof of blood doping, and without final results from a urine test it cannot be determined if the athlete really did take drugs.

Here is a link detailing the accustions: http://www.msnbc.com/news/713035.asp?0cb=-31463410 Apparently they can't even decide what the limit is for the FIS, one says 15 one says 16, if it is 16 the Russian would be under it.

I find it very absurd she was disqualified without a positive urine test, I think the Russian complaint is totally legit after looking at the facts. The Russians also claim the blood testers took too much blood from one of their biathlon athletes before his race, and his performance was diminished because he had a lower blood level.

Edit - Also, the type of drug that artificially enhances the red blood cell count can thicken the blood and severely increases the chance of cardiac arrest - Lazutina is one of the most successful x-country skiers in world, I doubt she would expose herself to that kinda risk.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 22, 2002 08:44 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Mike B ]</font>
post #2 of 18
Did the Ukrainians withdraw in protest, or do you think they were running scared? i ahven't heard anything on that.
post #3 of 18
I obviously do not have all the details but...
Why did the Russians test her in the morning prior to the race? Although I do not know for sure, you would think doping guidelines would take into account the physiological swings plus a buffer. The urine test results will be in today. The Russians admissions of testing prior to the race show they were toeing the line and probably boosting their athletes to the legal allowed level. This is performance enhancing any way you look at it!
post #4 of 18
I was hoping that in this Olympics rigged judging and related protests had taken center stage from the customary drug and doping scandals of Olympics past, but I guess that's too much to expect.
Philosophically, I suppoe that, given the various Olympic highs, the lows are a part of the Games, too.
post #5 of 18
I haven't checked the facts, however, I heard that the Russian was 4 times the allowed RBC. Is this true? If so, this is obvious, they cheated, if not, it should be closer examined.

At higher altitudes, yes, our RBC goes up, but don't these athletes usually train in similar conditions? Also, doesn't the FIS usually make sure the illegal amount is still above what a 'honest' athlete would have?

I'm not sure, but to me, it sounds like they were cheating.
post #6 of 18
Here's one reason why drug testing won't prove or disprove blood doping in the case of EPO doping...

In the past, bike racers tried to increase the number of red blood cells by removing their own blood, storing it, and transfusing it back just before a race. Nowadays, this gory process of "blood doping" has been replaced by genetic engineering. Athletes simply inject EPO, which causes the body to make the cells.

Since EPO is a naturally occurring hormone, testing for it would detect anyone, not very helpful for identifying doped athletes. Unable to measure EPO itself, the mandarins of international cycling at Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rely on a surrogate test that measures the density of cells in the blood. Blood, as you'll recall, is composed of cells -- mainly red, but also white -- and serum and other liquids that help the cells flow. A study from the 1980s, before synthetic EPO, showed that bike racers' blood averaged a cellular content of 43 percent, so the UCI decreed that anybody with a level above 50 percent would be disqualified for taking EPO.

information on blood doping.

IMO, I think she was quilty of not conforming to a reasonable RBC level. XC athletes are well know for their propensity to artificially enhance their performance. Therefore, she's outta there!!

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
post #7 of 18
These undetectable drugs allow for greater recovery after allowing greater training efforts and racing efforts, as well as the advantage of the artificially enhanced endurance. The tests and allowable levels are in place to protect the sport from cheats as well as the athletes from themselves.

In the early 90's when EPO first emerged on the cycling scene it was not well understood. A few young and promising Dutch cyclists died in their sleep due to the thickened blood and their super low resting heart rates. The blood was too thick to be pumped and their hearts simply stopped.

Euro pro cycling teams routinely test their own athletes and if they find the hematocrit level to be too high they can take steps to "water" down the blood so the athlete will pass the hematocrit test.

Who knows what sophisticated nordic teams are up to because there is hardly any doping control in sport outside of cycling.

Amgen, which is right up the street from me, makes these drugs to help people who actually need them. They save lives. They have a new drug out (I can't recall the name) that is supposed to be 10 times as potent as EPO and undetectable. It is believed to already be in the professional cycling peleton. People have pointed to the amazingly fast speeds of last year's Vuelta a Espana as an indication it is being used.

Earlier this year or last year a slew of Finns were supsended from nordic racing due to high hematocrit levels.

Was this woman a top skier due to her own natural abilities combined with training ala Lance Armstrong, or was she enhanced, in the vein of Marco Pantani? After years of this darkening the pro cycling scene I tend to think a lot of these people will do whatever they can to achieve results, even if it shortens their life span.

But there never is definitive proof of drug use. Excep mabe if a steroid shows up in a test. But then the athlete can claim it was not labeled in their allergy medicine, their asthma medicine (an amazingly high number of pro cyclist are registered asthma sufferers..yeah, right.), their over the counter whey protein recovery drink, etc.

These drugs have cast so much doubt, such a dark shadow over any racing result for myself and others who like to believe our heroes are great athletes rather than mobile pharmecutical experiments.
post #8 of 18
PinHed, that's the way they put out of business Pantani few years ago.
I don't know if he was guilty, but
even if he was innocent, he never recovered from the scandal (psycologically).
So if Pantani was guilty, and has been
disqualified, then everyone else caught in the same situation deserves the same fate.
Alta, I think xc skiers train at lower altitudes here in Europe (in Italy most of the xc rings I know of are at 1200-1400 mt a.s.l or even lower.
post #9 of 18
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by M@tteo:
Alta, I think xc skiers train at lower altitudes here in Europe (in Italy most of the xc rings I know of are at 1200-1400 mt a.s.l or even lower.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Then shouldn't the European racers have a lower Red Blood Cell count? If one racer was higher in the count than a racer who trained at a similar site, wouldn't that suggest doping? I understand that everybody's bodies are different, but...
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I was watching the Olympics, apparently there are 2 U.S. bobsledders that have tested positive for nandralone in the last half-year or so (and 1 that is competing in these Olympics, he only got a 90 day susp.).

There are plenty of high-altitude locations to train at in Russia and the Ukraine, also the area where the athlete lives has an effect on red blood cell count. I find it hard to believe that with all the medals Lazutina has won, and all the testing she has no doubt gone through, and passed, that she would take drugs at this point.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 22, 2002 05:48 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Mike B ]</font>
post #11 of 18
Alta. that's seems to be what the FIS thinks too.
post #12 of 18
TEST THEM ALL ! Both at sea level, and when they first come to altitude.

Ture she may have had too many red blood cells, but why were they picking on her ? So test all the athletes upon arrival, before or immedately after their competition. In that way is is fair to everyone.

Most tests will become minimally invasive, and very quick to evaluate, so it can be done by the time 2006 arrives.
post #13 of 18
I am suprised at the small number of positive drug tests. Just shows that the drug taking is still far more sophisticated than the drug testing.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
TheRockSkier - part of the reason for the small amount of positive results is the fact that they don't test everyone. Also, the media is partly responsible for emphazing the positive Russian tests as U.S. bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic tested positive for nandralone, yet hardly anything was made of it.
post #15 of 18
I can't belive they just don't do blanket testing before and after every event, backed up with random tests during the games, and why not even for the weeks/monthe preceding. There were 2000 athletes right? So at least 4000 tests should be done during the game. Sure it might be a logistical challenge, but a drop in the ocean compared to the US$2 bn cost of hosting the games.

If the IOC and all the various sports federations are serious about catching drug cheats this is the only way to proceed.

And yes, I agree the coverage given to the Russians v Americans is lop-sided....but hardly surprising.
post #16 of 18
Apparently, this new drug wasn't as new as the dopers thought, since 3 athletes got nailed for it. The "law" of the IOC didn't quite have time to ban it, but as a substances intended to enhance endurance and performance it was properly labeled illegal.

Oddly enough, taking a gold away from Spain gave it to Russia; I wonder if they'll complain about that while protesting Larissa Lazutina's disqualification?

post #17 of 18
Apparently this drug has been available since October. The machinations of IOC bureaucracy move pretty slowly obviously.
post #18 of 18
This drug NESP (darbopetin alfa) has been available since July last year. It has been certified in the US since September. The drug is used for treatment of those with chronic kidney failure. The problem has been the development of a test for this drug. It was thought that a test method was still three to four months away. However, the researchers had been working overtime over the last months to find a reliable method to test for the drug and catch those who cheat. It is my opinion that in this instance, the IOC anti doping commission deserve a lot of credit for their work.
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