On the Shelby Houlihan doping ban, it would be interesting to see details & the strength of what was deliberated at CAS (and by whom) from the AIU side. Houlihan suggests in her statement that “anti-doping experts agree with me”. Clearly, that’s not entirely true. One of many Qs
Also, find other doping cases with the same contaminated food/supplement explanation and check the reactions. The suspicious side-eye, a knowing “hmmm, I bet”. Now many of the same people are saying “hang on, are we sure testing is OK, it seems unfair, I believe Shelby & Jerry”.
I will say, however, late-career improvements are suspect every time (and if you list the half dozen reasons, just remember them when it’s a Kenyan or Russian, ok?). Also, other athletes with this excuse often get reduced sanctions (or none!). A 4-year ban suggests confidence
This is not quite as bad as when Team Sky’s Doc Freeman said he didn’t know testosterone was performance-enhancing, but it does stretch belief that an experienced coach had never heard of nandrolone. Also, *you’re never too old to learn about the greatest risk your athletes face.

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More from @Scienceofsport

15 Jun
A summary of the CAS decision is now available: tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user… It doesn't tell us anything that couldn't already be deduced - we know that they ruled that Houlihan failed to establish the source of the nandrolone. That's why she got 4 years. The details are key & absent
It’s been a day full “I choose to believe” statements. I can’t believe how many people’s reaction is “the system must be screwed up, she’d never dope”, having heard literally only one side of the story. It still strikes me as remarkable how specific her statement is, and the...
…”proof” she has claimed was presented to CAS in her defence includes a polygraph, a receipt, phone location records, hair samples, and STILL CAS has ruled that she failed to reach a “balance of probability”. Surely you should be asking “What am I missing from the OTHER side”?
Read 4 tweets
14 Apr
The focus is on evidence, not emotion. And it’s about being as systematic as possible, relying on data, freed from “side of the field” bias, which means:
- Identifying problems
- Understanding the cause
- Seeking solutions from experts
- Ongoing evaluation
The biggest challenges are:
- How do you know if it worked?
- How do you know if it caused a set of unintended consequences that are undesired?
Trying to understand those in a complex, dynamic environment is challenging. Too many “simple” solutions offered without thought of “B"
Classic example now is the desire to limit substitution numbers. It’s easy to understand the theory for why you’d want this. It’s less obvious to consider that it *might* make things worse, or replace one issue with another, depending on what creates injury risk (fatigue vs size)
Read 8 tweets
12 Apr
Male advantage due to testosterone? The first crucial question in the debate, followed by a remarkably bad or dishonest assessment of the evidence to totally rewrite the physiology of male vs female performance. Here’s the clip, then a handful of tweets to correct the falsehoods
Veronica Ivy describes a testosterone-performance link as a “nonsense argument”, but she has to first deceptively reframe the issue to do this, & sidestep physiological reality. Note the question - Male VS Female difference, so it’s male compared to female. Not “within” M or F
Her response is that endogenous T has “zero impact on athletic performance”. Then she tries to explain this as a revolutionary breakthrough in knowledge. It’s nothing of the sort. What she does is to take evidence WITHIN male and WITHIN female, & pretend its relevant BETWEEN them
Read 16 tweets
19 Mar
Here’s another example of an extremely poor reading of a concept related to testosterone and male sports advantages. Here a scientist takes the admittedly poor research by World Athletics to conclude that T is not driving most (or all) the male advantage. This is wrong because...
...the necessary comparison here, the crux of the issue, is not whether some females WITHIN the female category have advantages, but the male vs female advantage. As such, trying to find a relationship between T & performance WITHIN men or women is pointless and irrelevant to...
....the discussion. The question is whether the T difference BETWEEN men and women (and specifically, the androgenization driven by T) explains performance differences BETWEEN men and women. And it does. Aside from this, whoever makes this error should be ashamed of their lack of
Read 10 tweets
19 Feb
Of all the arguments in this controversial area, this is the one I find most difficult to address, because the person has such a different view about what creates value in sport that we may as well be discussing a totally different subject. Worth discussing the concepts briefly:
Let’s discuss one sporting example, from the Osaka vs Williams match yesterday. I watched that, knowing that both those players had opportunities that many others, perhaps with similar potential, did not have. I often watch sports like tennis, cycling, rowing etc, and wonder how
…many others, given the same opportunities, would be capable of better performances than I’m watching? That’s not to say people are given success on a platter, but it’s undeniably true that sporting success = innate ability or potential realised through training PLUS opportunity
Read 16 tweets
5 Feb
You’ll look long and hard, and still fail, to find a debunking of something as poor and weak as this one. Simply saying the opposite thing preceded by FACT (in caps) doesn’t qualify as a debunking of anything. Except maybe intelligent insight.
Very brief responses to each. The first one is sloganeering and non-scientific. For the sporting argument, it relies on a common but flawed overlap argument because of "a range of physical characteristics” in women, which is obvious, but irrelevant
“They overlap because of a wide range” is irrelevant. Comparison should be typical M vs typical F, or elite vs elite, performance-matched vs performance-matched. Not a manipulated comparison between extremely good F and relatively mediocre M, to conclude “They’re the same”!
Read 12 tweets

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