Cirque de Landis: Can anyone speak French?

By Mark Zalewski in Malibu, California Following the first day's swing from enthusiastic and...

By Mark Zalewski in Malibu, California

Following the first day's swing from enthusiastic and dramatic opening statements to the more mellow (but equally dramatic) testimony by two expert witnesses, the second day began with the conclusion of cross-examination of one of the expert witnesses, Dr. J. Thomas Brenna, by Landis' counsel Maurice Suh.

Again, the examination centered around the measurement of uncertainty with the Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) test for synthetic testosterone. Dr. Brenna was asked about the differences in the IRMS data returns between the manual, or quality control step, and the auto analysis by the machine.

Q: Should [the difference] take into account measurement of uncertainty?
A: [Dr. Brenna] I think it should take it into account.

Q: Do you see any values being the same?
A: No.

Q: If you saw this process done resulting in this total variance, in your own lab, would you have been concerned?
A: Yes.

The final parts of the examination of Dr. Brenna focused on the re-testing of the samples done at LNDD. The re-running of the samples produced a log sheet - which Mr. Suh commented that USADA had worked to prevent the Landis team from accessing. This log sheet indicated a re-rerunning of the test within ten minutes of the first analysis. The data from the first analysis was not saved, but overwritten by the second analysis, and multiple times on the same day.

The USADA side rebutted Mr. Suh's questions about the differences in the auto versus the manual steps of the test. As well, in regards to the overwritten log files, the USADA counsel asked if there was an opportunity to review the logs given to the Landis team. "[Dr. Davis, Landis' expert present at the testing] was given an opportunity to re-analyse the data on the system but there was confusion as to why he would want to," said Dr. Brenna. "The next day he came back and said he did not need to."

Lost in translation

The biggest drama of the day involved the French interpreter, Pierre Debboudt, of the National Court Reporters. Mr. Debboudt made noticeable errors with specifics of the testimony from the actual LNDD tester of the samples, Cynthia Mongongu. Mr. Suh finally objected at the point when the translator misinterpreted the quantification of "a day-and-a-half" to be "an hour-and-a-half." Mr. Debboudt was dismissed from his duties and the hearing was adjourned for 45 minutes while a replacement for Mr. Debboudt could be located.

More than an hour later the replacement, Martitia Palmer of the Judicial Council of California, resumed the translation duties. However, she was distressed by the fact that she was not able to familiarize herself with the specifics of the case and the terminology of the procedures. Nonetheless, the hearing pressed on. When the answer in question came up again, and Ms. Palmer correctly interpreted it, applause from the press room ensued.

To read Cyclingnews' full coverage from day two, click here.

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