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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Floyd Landis and JFK

Floyd Landis took the calculated risk of taking medication to treat a thyroid condition and a degenerating hip and then trying to compete in the Tour de France.
Landis had been taking two medications during the race -- injections of cortisone to deal with a chronic hip injury and a thyroid hormone used to treat a condition known as Hashimoto's disease, with which he was diagnosed two years ago.

Kay said it appears unlikely that either medication could have caused the result.

Landis had a waiver to take cortisone; the thyroid medication did not require a waiver because it is not considered a performance-enhancing substance.
He got caught with having an elevated level of testosterone (or a suppressed level of epitestosterone). Cortisone, like testosterone, happens to fall under the class of biological substances known as hormonal steroids. Landis took the cortisone to treat his chronic hip injury, most likely to suppress the inflammation from arthritis he may have acquired. And he took some unnamed other hormone to treat the Hashimoto's disease, which indicates an underactive thyroid -- caused by an autoimmune disorder whereby the body attacks the thyroid glands. Since autoimmune disorders such as these (arthritis and Hashimoto's) often get treated by steroids which act to suppress the body's overactive immune system, I don't find it surprising that they would find elevated levels of steroids in Landis' system.1 It would also not surprise me that drug interactions could also lead to elevated or suppressed levels of naturally occurring hormone levels. But it does surprise me that every one else reporting the story hasn't really broached the subject. (If they did, they would also find out that many of these medicinal steroids do not increase muscle mass and act counter-productively for athletic performance.)

If nothing else, Landis took a calculated risk and lost. Realizing ahead of time that the meds he had taken might interfere with the drug test protocol, he could have just walked away and never tried. Instead, he gave it a shot and someone ultimately decided that he broke the rules -- whether Landis did this intentionally or unintentionally, we may never know.

Like I have said before, breaking the rules may start to make sense from my own unhinged views of energy conservation. Better living through chemistry has long become an American past-time. After all, John F. Kennedy took cortisone for a chronic autoimmune disorder years before his death:
She also asserted that doctors had told her that were it not for cortisone, Kennedy would be dead.
Think about it: with Kennedy dead, Nixon would likely have become president, and with his sweaty, itchy trigger finger, all out nuclear war would have occurred over Cuba. Thank goodness we didn't have a professional sports organization disqualifying John Kennedy from his presidency.

As it turns out, Landis doesn't get his medal, but on the bright side, we have avoided nuclear armageddon and Floyd avoids having to live with the unsightly appearance of goiters.


1Same goes for Lance Armstrong, who likely took loads of auto-immune suppressive steroids when fighting his cancer. Drug abuse allegations dogged Armstrong later, yet I could at least hypothesize long term changes in his body chemistry resulting from his successful treatment.

2 Comments:

Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a huge Landis fan, I'm shattered by the drug testing results. I like to think my bullshit detector is nonpareil, and Landis didn't register a tittle on it. But I do respect the science behind the testing - it's very sophisticated. What's one to think?

"John F. Kennedy took cortisone for a chronic autoimmune disorder years before his death:
She also asserted that doctors had told her that were it not for cortisone, Kennedy would be dead.
Think about it: with Kennedy dead, Nixon would likely have become president, and with his sweaty, itchy trigger finger, all out nuclear war would have occurred over Cuba. Thank goodness we didn't have a professional sports organization disqualifying John Kennedy from his presidency."

OK, I was also a huge Kennedy fan (and still am), but some would argue that Kennedy wouldn't have had a bad back if he wasn't humping bimbo's
day and night.

Occam's razor suggests that the bad back could have more simply been prevented by a restrained 'lifestyle'. Attributing the reduced probability of war with the Soviets (Cuba) to the use of steroids is a bit of a stretch. It seems your admiration of Floyd Landis has influenced your judgement.

8:18 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

JFK had something called Addison's disease. Like Hashimoto's, it is also an auto-immune disease and it causes lots of bad side effects. Whether JFK took the cortisone for a bad back or Addison's is kind of irrelevant. The underlying cause were the auto-immune side-effects eating away at his body.

7:11 AM  

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