Paul Scott a tipping point in doping investigation
It may seem ironic that one of the men at the top of the US Anti-Doping Agency's affidavit list in its doping case against Lance Armstrong is Paul Scott. Looking back to the 2007 USADA arbitration in its case against Floyd Landis, Scott was then Landis's scientific expert and therefore an opponent of the agency. He argued vigorously that the testosterone positive was riddled with errors, a view he still maintains today.
Yet Scott proved to be one of the pivotal figures in the USADA case against Armstrong, acting as a trusted friend who had a connection in the agency that Landis could count on to follow up on the matter.
"[Floyd] was looking for someone to tell this stuff to, and because I was also a friend of Dan Eichner, who was the director of the ASADA [Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority], but at the time was a science director at USADA, I told him I'd be glad to reach out for him," Scott told Cyclingnews, downplaying his role in the case.
"None of the information is first hand knowledge from me. I related information that Floyd gave me, because for understandable reasons, he was not personally comfortable going to USADA."
[NOTE: Paul Scott, now of Scott Analytics in Pasadena, California, formerly employed by the UCLA laboratory and later partner of the Agency for Cycling Ethics is not the same person as Paul D. Scott of San Francisco, who is one of Landis's attorneys - ed.]
Scott met with Eichner on April 12, 2010 before then sitting down with Landis and USADA CEO Travis Tygart in order for Landis to personally relay the same information which led to the two-year long investigation.
On both Landis's and Armstrong's doping cases, Scott maintains the objectivity of a scientist and speaks in the well considered manner of one with a law degree, although his practice of acting as an expert witness for accused athletes once cost him a budding business.
In 2006, when Landis tested positive, Scott and his partner Dr. Paul Strauss were working to revolutionize the sport by founding the Agency for Cycling Ethics - a company used by teams such as Slipstream, BMC and HighRoad to perform independent testing on their riders.
But Scott's choice to act on behalf of a rider accused of doping seemed to clash in the minds of his partners.
"My stance is, if someone requests help, they want me to analyse the data and give them an opinion, I will look at it and give it to them without regard to who they are," Scott said.
His partners disagreed, because acting on both sides of the issue became "politically complicated". The UCI felt he should only act on the behalf of governing bodies, but he said, "I don't think that's appropriate. It was that philosophical distinction that caused me to leave ACE and start my own company."
Now running Scott Analytics, he provides the same type of service for several domestic teams, including Team Type 1. He has continued to act as a witness for athletes.
"I don't enforce, I only inform. I'm not someone who's charged with determining the innocence or guilt of anyone. It's just a matter of looking at the data and reporting on what that data says."
Even when it comes to Armstrong, after the mountain of evidence USADA has presented, Scott maintains the charges are still technically allegations because they have yet to be examined by an independent panel.
"I don't have any reason to disbelieve all the evidence. It is just, as of now, because of Lance's choice to not defend the allegations in some sort of hearing, they have not had their day. I presume at some point they will. My understanding is that Johan Bruyneel is still contesting it," Scott said. "I suspect at some point we'll see this evidence presented to a hearing body, and at some point they'll stop being merely allegations."
Is cycling clean now?
Having spent eight years crunching data and even more time inside the anti-doping circles as a former representative for the UCLA anti-doping laboratory to WADA, Scott is in a unique position to tackle the question that every cycling fan wants to have answered: is the sport clean now?
"The answer is I don't think what we have is anything where you'd have team-sponsored machine running doping.
"I think one would be naive to assume there is still not significant use of performance enhancing drugs in the peloton. I don't think that's unique to cycling."
But Scott thinks that the goal of completely eliminating doping is unrealistic.
"I think the goal is to make sure that the probability of being discovered, should you choose to engage in this sort of activity, is higher, and I think that the goal is to make it as difficult as possible to conduct a doping program."
He points to criminalization of doping in France and Italy, as well as programs such as his own and that of his former boss Dr. Don Catlin as factors that have made it more difficult to dope, but says the doping problem is something that needs to be focused on for the long term.
"The long-term effect is this: as doping becomes more and more difficult, you will see a decrease, and I think you already have. I think that's evidenced by people who are outstanding cyclists - I don't think anyone can suggest that Contador or Wiggins or anyone is less strong, or at least not dramatically so, than Armstrong - then you see them doing the same climbs and doing them slower. That is your evidence that the nature of doping has changed."
Scott says the risks of being caught doping, while higher than previously, are still "relatively low". "But I think for many teams, and in general, the culture has changed, and specifically with regard to several teams, including the one that won this year, the culture has been actively anti-doping."
But, he says, "It would be naive to think there will be a switch turned off. Hopefully we'll see a continued decrease in the significance and prevalence of it, in the long run, hopefully it will look like doping in many other sports.
"When you think about it, it's cheating much in the same way that many other things that go on are cheating. It just seems to have a greater moral outrage about this particular type of cheating. Cheating is prevalent in all sport, and when we catch it, we penalize it.
"One of the frustrating things about doping, and part of the reason it brings a greater moral stamp, is because it's so easy to get away with. Other ways of cheating are less easy or less significant in terms of their result.
"Why would you expect athletes to be role models that represent paragons of virtue that are somehow different from most other people in other professions?
"I don't think you will see [doping] go away, but to me at least, that is not the goal - that is unrealistic. The goal is that it is minimized and that you don't see the acceptance, where everyone feels that it is OK, it's just part of the game that's played ... that is clearly either changed or changing.
"Once you have that, you'll have cheating going on, but it will be less prevalent and it won't be what dominates the environment."
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