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From Kelly/Utah:: Tyler, It is time to quit playing the game that so many professional athletes have been and are still playing - taking steriods or blood doping and getting caught and then denying that they did anything wrong. If the phantom twin defense was your best defense, then you didn't have a chance. Just admit it and move on and we'll still be behind you!

Tyler: Thanks for taking the time to voice your opinion on my website. Just to set the record straight, the authors of the homologous blood test methodology listed a handful of instances where the test could register a false positive. One of them was chimerism which stems in some case from the vanishing twin phenomenon. It sounds like a wacky prospect on the surface, but it's a real enough phenomenon that the scientists who invented the test listed it as a cause for concern.

Never, ever once, during my defense did I claim to have a vanishing twin. However, we did point out that since the authors of the test methodology never did a false positive study that they could not conclusively rule test results indicating mixed populations were actually mixed populations. It's a standard practice in the scientific community for researchers to determine the false positive rate for every test. Every test fails to a certain degree. However, in this case, the authors of the test did not have the time, materials or funding to conduct a false positive study. So, they were never able to determine the rate at which the test does actually fail.

What we do know is that 10-15 other athletes have generated false positive test results while the HBT test was in use in 2004. They believe it was either faulty equipment or poor performing materials used to run the test that generated those results, and never charged the athletes.

Somehow the media ran with the story that my defense was based on chimerism and vanishing twin - however, this is simply not the case. My defense was based on the fact that my test results were conflicting lab to lab and test to test, we uncovered documents from the labs who ran my tests stating they did not believe the test was being implemented properly and that there were concerns about time, funding and materials and finally, the expert testimony of the world's most credible scientists who stated the test was incomplete and the results were false positives. One of my witnesses even defected from the initial scientific team to state the test was inadequate and the results were meaningless.

I'm sorry you feel frustration toward my case and situation, however, you should also know that I will never admit to doing something I didn't do. Not today, not ever. But I appreciate your letting me respond, and hope I've been informative

From Justin/North Carolina:So Tyler, what do you have to say about when the UCI informed you of "abnormal results" before the new test was completely validated, and your HR-OFF score was 123.8 on April 24, and five days later it had jumped to 132.9 (only a tenth of a point off the limit) but you had a reticulocyte count of .22%... which basically means there is no way your reticulocyte made those new red blood cells in 5 days...
I haven't heard you respond to any of this... so will you?

Tyler: Justin, Your point is a good one- why wasn't this addressed in the final verdict? We were as shocked by that as you. The truth about the spring HCT reading and the off scores is as follows:
1. My team and I were tested by the UCI on 4/24/04 and all had normal HCT readings

2. Four days later the whole team was tested again at another race and everyone registered inaccurately high numbers. The team knew the numbers were off because they were 4-5 points higher than their own numbers taken that morning. It is important that you know that the teams test simultaneously just for this reason. Myself and two other teammates who were at the previous race showed 4-4.5 gains. While this may sound like foul play on the surface, the other indicator that proved the readings were off was that while all three of us showed huge gains in HCT, our RCT counts went up. If HCT goes up from foul play, RCT counts go down. So the numbers simply didn't make sense.

3. The team complained and the UCI stood by the HCT numbers stating that the team numbers were run on a different brand of machine than they used and shouldn't be trusted. They agreed to disagree.

4. My HCT readings were never a concern at any other time of the year - except for a handful of occasions when the team complained again about UCI readings that were too LOW. One example - at the start of the Tour de France the UCI said I had a HCT of 38. The team knew I was a 43.

5. On three occasions the UCI registered low RCT counts for me which are the counts of baby red blood cells. The problem with the readings was that they were so low they were not indicative of foul play but instead indicative of serious illness (i.e. cancer) which we know I didn't have at the time. One of our experts who testified on my behalf, who has blood doped athletes, astronauts and regular people for his research, said of the 10,324 times he's done this, he's only ever seen RCT counts as low as when he knew the sample was mishandled. Add to this, that I do have some health issues that keep my RCT lower than normal (about half) which I disclosed to the UCI and they acknowledged during testimony.

6. If the HCT or RCT scores are inaccurate, the off scores are meaningless.

7. A lot was made of these numbers even though they were mostly registered outside the time period of the doping allegation (June 1), so we asked the CAS panel to compel the calibration data from the machines used for the Spring tests in question to set the record straight once and for all. What we found was that the HCT machine used on 4/29 had a high bias consistently throughout the 2004 season and was never corrected. The RCT machine showed a low bias that was remedied later in the year. When you take my blood and run it through a machine with a low bias, that's how you get the numbers that indicate I was near death. Different machines are used at different races so this explains why my data would come and go from the normal range in that short period of time. It's worth noting that at the Tour de France - my objective for the year - all my HCT, RCT and off scores were normal once the race got under way.

8. The fact that I did not "fail" the off scores in light of all these technical issues speaks volumes for the fact that I was NOT cheating.

9. We do believe that all this inaccurate data lead to me being target tested for the HBT test. The UCI's actions validate this, because they provided my Health Test B samples to the Swiss lab validating the HBT for experimental use. What's important to note about this, is that no athletes'B sample should be used for research purposes without their written consent per the WADA code. Second, the results of those tests are not to be used against the athlete in adjudication because they can't be verified (by another B sample). But in my case they used my B samples without my permission, ran them through a machine they were just learning how to use and later found was faulty and had to be replaced because it was generating false positive results. In addition to that, blood samples should be tested within 24-48 hours of the draw to be accurate using this method. My first B sample was tested one month after the fact and my second B sample was tested 2 months after the fact.

10. For obvious reasons - technical difficulties, lack of experience and condition of the samples, when you compare all my test data side by side it doesn't match. What's even more concerning is my Athens and Vuelta data doesn't match either. And this was supposed to be the time period when they knew what they were doing.

11. My case is plagued by a calamity of errors you could not make up if you tried. We presented all these findings to the court, but they discounted them for reasons we cannot fathom

From Dave, Connecticut: Why did you use a "disappearing twin at birth" as ypour explanation of the other blood in your body? And when that didn't work why did you resort to conspiracy theories from opposing teams?

Tyler: I never claimed to have a vanishing twin. This is a point misreported by the media. The authors of the test cited this phenomenon as a potential cause of false positives. My defense did argue that since no false positive studies were conducted to rule out this cause among a number of others, that they couldn't be discounted. The point was that the research was incomplete.

As for the conspiracy theory noted by USADA in their press release, quite frankly that was a statement by USADA that we do not understand. All we do know is there is a guy sitting in a Swiss jail right now serving out a sentence for bribing the Phonak team. He knew both Santi and I would be called positive weeks before they were and warned a third rider was going to be charged if his demands weren't met. The authorities were brought in and the individual, Christian Vincenz was arrested for extortion, fleeing from police and nearly running over an officer trying to get away. We don't know of any affiliation he has with any team or anyone in cycling and have no idea why USADA would call him a "fan of another team". What's concerning is that someone knew two athletes would test positive before the samples were drawn. That is of concern and should not be overlooked.

From Matthew/North Carolina: Don't you fear that as soon as you return you will be found guilty of blood doping again? From what I've gathered they were having unusual readings from your samples even before the Olympics. So aren't you concerned that whatever it is that caused the odd readings will still cause them and you will once again be accused of doping?

Tyler: Great question about future tests. When I had my first hearing and expected to return to racing in April of 05, this was my first question as well. The truth is we have never pin pointed the exact reason why my tests turned out the way they did although we are fairly sure what went wrong. There is a remote chance something about me physically caused the results. I do suffer from a number of medical conditions - the most concerning of which are hormonal that may or may not be at the root of all this.

The better explanation however, is lab error. The methodology they use to conduct the HBTT is called flow cytometry. It's a very finicky method and is primarily used for white cell analysis not red. In this instance, the labs are using a methodology in an unorthodox way, testing protein cells (antigens) that little is known about, and using reagents (antibodies) to conduct this test outside of their intended use.

The reagents used in this test were designed for agglutination testing, not flow cytometry. Even the authors of the methodology noted in their published papers that more work needed to be done to validate these reagents and in an ideal world -- better materials would be preferred. When they ran my test, they didn't even have reagents that were AS GOOD as those used in the published methodology. And the published methodology recommended finding better reagents, so this was very concerning. Especially since the reagents were never validated for flow cytometry to begin with.

The labs who ran my test did some proficiency testing in the weeks prior. They found that some of the reagents they used that were manufactured by certain suppliers created test results that appeared to be mixed populations when they knew they were working with single population blood. What we know is that in August and Septemeber of 2004 the labs were having difficulty securing enough reagents to run the test. There were absolutely not enough to run validation testing AND the actual test so they just decided to run the actual test. This was actually a large part of USADA's defense for why they didn't do validation testing - they said there was not enough antibody available that could be validated and used for testing. This is because antibody is released from manufacturers by batch and vary in quality batch to batch. So, in theory every batch needs to be validated before it's used for testing. USADA said there was not enough time or money or materials available to do this. What we assume now, is that over the last 18 months, the labs have secured the best antibody available to run this test. The test is being performed in 5 labs in Europe and was reinstated for the Turino Games. (It was on hold while my case was pending). We assume they have corrected things because my case was very expensive to adjudicate and the labs don't want to have to keep facing people like me fighting the charges against them.

My own medical experts from MIT, Harvard Medical School, Puget Sound Blood Center, Georgetown U, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute, etc., were never able to duplicate my test results or explain them. Part of this is due to the fact that if you do not have access to the batch of reagents used for your test - you cannot exactly duplicate the test.

We also tested my blood for chimerism and ruled that out as a cause. My samples were DNA tested by USADA and a chimerism expert I hired from Austria.

So, upon my return to competition, as difficult as it is for me to do - I have to have faith that they've corrected the problems with this method and I will not test positive. Some conventional thinkers say that if I did test positive again - that it would be a nightmare for everyone involved. First, they would have to allege I was certifiable to chance testing positive at this point in my life - and second they'd have to combat that doping actually caused the 1st and 2nd results. A 2nd result would almost certainly prove there was a problem with the test. So it would be a risk for them.

I'm not really sure why this test exists in the first place. In all my years in sport, I've never heard of anyone doing this. People die in hospitals every day from well matched transfusions. Certainly we would have heard of an athlete having complications by now if this was really going on. And, it's worth noting that a single unit of transfused blood would only provide performance enhancing benefits for 3-5 days. But - on the flip side, you could potentially test positive for up to 4 months (the detection period of a single unit homologous transfusion). Who could rationalize risking their life, health or stroke to race fast for a few days? Why would anyone do this?

That's what I know. It's hard to trust this system at this point in my career but it's what I have to do. Thanks for writing in. Best wishes.

Jeff/Schenectady, NY: Hey Tyler. I'm really looking forward to seeing you in the peloton again. One question: is there any apprehension on your part about a repeat of this scenario once you return to racing? I've been wondering that as I've been following your case.

Tyler: Thanks for your question. I appreciate the opportunity to respond. The answer is that I am absolutely already involved with trying to make changes. I have long understood the power of speaking up. Not as a complainer - but when things matter. Take for instance the issue I raised when back to back crashes happened in Tour de France finishes in 2003 and 2004. Both impacted my race - and some would say my career. I spoke up about the safety issue and recommended the peloton time be taken at the 3KM mark. They do that now - and the GC guys can get out the way of the sprinters. It's safer for everyone. This is a good example of taking a stand and making positive change come about.

I feel the same way about the antidoping system. Maybe you haven't heard of all these names: Kicker Vencil, Zach Lund and Amber Niben. These are all just a few athletes who have served doping bans who didn't cheat. They are not just cyclists they are athletes of every discipline. The system in place today says anyone who tests positive - even at trace amounts that have nothing to do with performance enhancement, should be punished to the full extent of the WADA code - 2 years. This is a lifetime for someone who ate a bad supplement or fell prey to a bad test.

In addition, I've learned that the antidoping tests are not fully validated before they are rolled out. Significant problems popped up with the testosterone, nandrolone, EPO and homologous blood transfusion tests to name a few because they were not researched extensively enough. All were revised and altered after they were put into use - and after innocent athletes were charged. Take the Nandrolone test for instance - by today's revised positivity criteria a number of athletes who were charged in the early stages of the test's roll out - would test negative today.This is not acceptable practice within the scientific community and it shouldn't be happening in sport.

Athlete samples are also being used for research purposes without their knowledge or permission. You could not get away with doing this to prisoners. It's a violation of privacy and personal rights.

So what am I doing about all this? I'm telling people like you who want to know. I'm working with a PR firm to try and get the story out about all the athletes like me who have been convicted of doing something they didn't do. I'm encouraging folks to write to Senator McCain - the chair of the committee that finances USADA and WADA. Did you know USADA funds tests and adjudicates positive cases? This is clear conflict of interest. How can they defend their test and run a fair and unbiased judicial process for the athlete? I'm lobbying the USOC to take away USADA's research grants. They need to be in one camp or the other but not both.

I have a number of projects in the works. The main goal at this point is to educate people about this process and its flaws and get folks angry. Clearly I would have been a more powerful force in this effort had I won my case. But it was not surprising to many, the flaws we raised about the test, my results, the people and labs involved with my case were ignored. Athletes deserve better. But they need to be educated on the reality of the situation first. Before my case I never doubted a guy was positive if he tested positive. When they told me I was positive I threw out my arm and said run the test again - you've made a mistake. I didn't doubt the test - I figured there was some other human error at play. I just didn't know how poorly this system was being run back then.

But now I know better. And I feel a responsibility to try and make changes. I did not experience this nightmare for no reason. So to answer your question - I'm hard at work and probably always will be for the rest of my career and my life. I care a lot about athletes and the athletic movement. And of course I want sport to be clean. But there isn't any reason why integrity shouldn't be demanded on both sides of that front.

Hope this answers your question. If not, feel free to write again

Adrian/New Jersey:Tyler, many of us can't wait to see what you can do when you return in September. However, as you know all too well, a cycling team is like a close knit family. A family of 25 or so riders who need to be on the same page, all the time.

Over the past year and a half, pro riders have taken sides as to whether they think you're guilty or not. Regardless of whether their opinions are based in fact or just conjecture, opinions have been formed.

With that as a background, how do you think it will be to ride with a pro team in September, when there could very well be a number of riders on the team who believe you are a doper. That does not lend itself to a strong team where everyone needs to pull together.

How do you anticipate you and the team director will handle any potential chemistry problems within your eventual new team?

Tyler: Thanks for your recent post and question. You are right, teams are pretty close knit. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, I do have a fair number of friends in the pro ranks, especially over in Europe. These guys know who I am, what I'm made of and that this charge is outside the realm of my character. Unfortunately, the anti doping system has failed me to the point where I am forced to explain the label of "doper" for the rest of my life. All I can do is explain the facts to people and let them decide. When I do connect with folks and explain my case, the conflicting and unstable data used to prosecute me, the number of lies the prosecution was caught telling trying to convict me and what it has been like to try and prove a negative - folks generally wind up with a different perspective. I think the riders know that when I return to the sport, I will be fighting for reform of this system among others. I have spoken to a number of teams, directors and riders and I'm fairly certain they are aware of truth and what I have faced throughout my ordeal. I will not be the first suspended cyclist to return to racing. I've seen other guys do it - Dave Millar is about to do it. And once these guys get going it's about the racing. Not about the past. The difference for me is that I will try to make something good come of my past experience. And I hope the other riders will see that. Thanks for writing in