The Strange Case of Dr Sottas and Mr Hyde
Why would anyone withhold Claudia Pechstein decisive exonerating evidence?

By KLAAS FABER, May 19, 2010

The above title of course refers to a novella written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson.

Excerpted from Wikipedia:

"The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next."

I cannot help wondering why the Lausanne-based anti-doping researcher Dr Sottas rated the single indirect evidence incriminating Claudia Pechstein in a manner that largely contradicts his own work on the biological passport.

In other words, what made Dr Sottas change to Mr Hyde upon receiving the data on February 12, 2009, i.e. less than a week after the ominous Hamar event??

Intermezzo

Marion Jones.jpg Not only athletes should be honest

It is easily verified using basic calculations that Claudia Pechstein would not have been prosecuted under the operating guidelines of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). As a matter of fact, the defense has specifically requested to use as "minimum standards" the methodology that could be seen as best practice. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that this document constitutes a "draft which has not been finalized yet and which will not be mandatory even when it is eventually adopted"; see point 118 of the arbitral award.

Much to Mrs Pechstein's chagrin, WADA approved these guidelines virtually unchanged one week after the CAS published its verdict (December 1, 2009). By the way, what amendments should one expect with guidelines being based on research that is often completed years before?

In an e-mail dated May 13, 2010, Dr Rabin, WADA's scientific director, responds rather indifferently to the current controversy:

"Mrs Pechstein's case was not reviewed under the Athlete Passport model as developed by WADA, but under the ISU longitudinal model. Not the same rules and not the same science in support."

Accurate summary indeed, but why not rely on best practice?

Besides, how can different sciences co-exist?

logo_WADA.gif Silent witness

Back to the key expert witness for the prosecution

Obviously, the question remains why Dr Sottas did not apply these guidelines himself automatically upon receipt of the data. After all, these guidelines are mainly based on his work.

There would not have been a doping case.

The confusion has become complete after Dr Sottas 'clarified' his position in an extensive interview: from the beginning he has supposedly expressed his doubts (published March 27, 2010).

A little housekeeping: one-two-three-four-five months after the trial. That doesn't make much sense.

I must insist that Dr Sottas should have assessed Mrs Pechstein's data with his widely documented computer program.

Interestingly, Dr Sottas, in an e-mail dated January 7, 2010, explains to Mrs Pechstein's lawyer that he actually did run those calculations:

"For your information, the Adaptive Model (and also its “little brother” the 3rd generation approach) returned several atypical results (for both RET% and OFF-score), abnormal at a level high enough that these outliers cannot reasonably be explained by multiple testing."

Why, then, refuse, in spite of repeated requests, to report any result? Why not, instead, make haste to save Mrs Pechstein?

Update October 28, 2010

Perhaps prompted by my criticism, Dr Sottas had the following statement published on September 29:

"it is not possible to analyse the blood data of Mrs Pechstein with the model I developed, simply because the collection, transport and analysis of the blood samples did not follow the corresponding WADA protocols."

Please note that it took Dr Sottas more than one-and-a-half-year to discover that the data 'simply' could not be assessed with his widely documented computer program. I am perplexed, and you??

Among others, I 'simply' commented as follows:

"If the data are good enough to convict a five-time Olympic gold medallist for blood doping, they are certainly good enough to be analysed using the ABP-software."

Who would not agree?

To this very date, Dr Sottas continues to switch place with Mr Hyde.

Further information

E-mail: nmf@chemometry.com

Pierre-Edouard Sottas.jpg
Dr Sottas ?