Posted: 12/08/2015 at 17:10
I think they need to be careful in naming individuals, because all this is based on probabilities rather than hard and fast pass/fail tests.
To say that someone's data is 'abnormal' you need to know what 'normal' is, and that won't be a simple value, it will be a bell-curve distributed around some average value and a small number of people will naturally fall in the extremes of that range without any doping. Variations in a persons numbers over time will occur naturally to a greater or lesser extent. What this type of analysis relies on is that the further from average you are, and/or the greater the variation in the numbers, the less likely it is that it all occurred naturally.
As an simplistic example, if a test result is given as a "1 in a 1000 chance of occurring naturally" and I perform 1000 tests I could expect to find 1 of those results occuring naturally. If I actually find 10 "1 in a 1000" results then I be pretty sure there is doping going on, but I can't say for sure who are the 9 dopers and who is the natural outlier.
I'm less interested in individuals for that reason, more interested in questions like:
- were the IAAF aware the overall data was dodgy as hell compared to expected profiles?
- if you look at individual countries or even groups of athletes sharing same coach, are there clear patterns of greater abnormality in one population versus another? Again - not sufficient to convict an individual of doping, but sufficient to shine a spotlight, conduct other more specific tests and investigations etc.
Yes, the whole test/sanction protocol revolves around probabilites.
The issue of how aware they were and what proportion had been properly followed up seems to be one of the hot issues between Ashenden and the IAAF - see his breaking open letter to Coe:
"After we had responded to each and every one of the IAAFs initial serious reservations concerning the analyses we undertook, the single remaining strand of criticism centred on the assertion that we had no knowledge whatsoever of the actions taken by the IAAF in following these suspicious profiles. For the sake of completeness, I will address that assertion too.
First, although the Sunday Times cross matched athletes with competition results and any history of sanctions, they shared this information with us after we had submitted our opinions but before we were interviewed for the publications. Consequently, we did know which athletes had been sanctioned by the IAAF. Moreover, relying on the information provided in advance by the IAAF to Sunday Times, we were also familiar with the number of ABP cases (final, under appeal, and pending).
Second, the WADA ABP Operating Guidelines indicate how targeted blood tests on suspicious athletes should be scheduled. Indeed, I participated in the development of those strategies. Consequently, by interrogating the frequency of blood tests following a suspicious blood result, I was able to form an opinion on the robustness of the IAAFs follow up programme.