Cyclists Do Use Testosterone
Floyd Landis will find out his fate on Saturday when results from his "b" sample test are revealed. According to all of the drug experts, nobody believes his b sample will show anything different than his A sample. And, it doesn't look good for Floyd if the New York Times report is accurate in that his Carbon Isotope Test was positive for synthetic testosterone, not just the naturally produced testosterone in Floyd's body.
But, one theory in support of Floyd that I've heard over the past few weeks is that, "testosterone is NOT a drug that cyclists and other endurance athletes use because it's a muscle-building and power generating drug used by body builders and track sprinters." Untrue!
While it has never been documented to have beneficial effects for endurance athletes, cyclists have been using testosterone for some time--not as a substance to give them more power or endurance on the day of competition, rather as a recovery agent to help broken down muscles and bodies get back into shape quickly. And, the synthetic versions are known to leave the body and typically not be traceable after a few hours (which works for Tour de France cyclists who pedal for 5 or 6 hours during a Stage).
The procedure goes something like this: first of all, cheating cyclists are usually on a drug administering "program", meaning that they just don't take one or two doses at any given time. Instead, the calendar is marked and over the course of months or years, the drug is given in doses over a period of time. For testosterone, after a strenous day on the bike, cyclists will place a "patch" -- similar to the nicotine patches --- on their testicles for about 6 hours, and let the body consume an amount of testosterone it needs to help recover (again, no evidence has been shown that it really works). Now, if the cyclist raises his testosterone with the patch, but doesn't do anything to also raise his epitestosterone levels...guess what? His testosterone to epitestosterone ratio is going to come in high...really high. Floyd's T/E ratio came in at an astonishing 11/1 (over 4/1 is considered proof of drug use).
Now, the other scenario to consider is, let's say that a particular cyclist has been on a testosterone and epitestosterone program for some time, and then becomes frightened that his luck has run out and doesn't want to continue the program. Well, the body that has been "supplemented" with testosterone and epitestosterone is now cut off from a drug that it has become used to getting --- just think what happens to the body with any drug when it's cut off...withdrawal. In this case, testicles start to shrink and the testosterone and epitestosterone levels can do some wild things--including get really LOW.
One of the reasons for the disqualification of many popular cyclists before this year's Tour de France was for suspected testosterone patch use. Need more proof that cyclists do, in fact, use testosterone? How about American cyclist Matt DeCanio, who in 2005 accepted a 2-year ban from riding after admitting to using testosterone and endurance-enhancing erythropoitein (EPO). Or, in February of this year, Switzerland's Sascha Urweider, ironically one of Landis's Phonak teammates, was suspended from Phonak for failing a urine test that detected testosterone.
In a few more days, we'll all have a better picture of whether Floyd did or did not use. But, it's safe to say today that cyclists DEFINITELY are using testosterone.