The UCI experts continue to ignore generally accepted forensic standards for the evaluation of scientific evidence

The UCI experts continue to ignore generally accepted forensic standards for the evaluation of scientific evidence

It is well known in forensic science that any claim by the prosecution about the likelihood of the truth of a hypothesis lacks a sound logical foundation. The consistent treatment of anti-doping as a forensic science may be a first major step towards a much needed revision of the rather marginal role for the defense. For more details, see K. Faber and M. Sjerps, “Anti-doping researchers should conform to certain statistical standards from forensic science”, Science and Justice, 49 (2009) 214-215.

Let’s forget about the abstract logical problem for a moment. The UCI experts claim that doping is ‘highly likely’. Should that be convincing? Not at all! That verbal statistical statement translates to a numerical certainty in the range 95-99%, which has never been good enough in a doping case. The IOC decided many years ago that the certainty should be at least 99.99% (‘practically proven’). Why? With ~250,000 conventional tests per year, that could lead to an innocent athlete being convicted every two weeks – with any real defense essentially being ruled out. That was believed to be an acceptable risk of competing.

I just wonder: why didn’t the UCI experts do their homework on two essential issues? The UCI experts are invited to provide a rigorous calculation to support their verbal statistical claim (‘highly likely’), which should not even be convincing! I’m absolutely confident that it’s a mere guess, their personal belief that this rider is guilty. Clearly, such beliefs should never enter an expert opinion.

Klaas Faber

Independent anti-doping expert and former forensic scientist