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Geneviève Jeanson Settles with USADA
By Staff
Date: 11/29/2006
Geneviève Jeanson Settles with USADA

Geneviève Jeanson Settles with USADA
"I’ve learned the hard way the meaning of the proverb – ‘a bad agreement is better than a good lawsuit’. If I go into arbitration, win or lose, I shudder at the mere thought of the possible appeals. USADA’s offer allows me to get on with my life."

Expert’s report concludes that Jeanson produces “false positives”
Canadian cyclist and U.S. resident Geneviève Jeanson has announced that she has accepted an offer to settle from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) related to a urine sample taken July 25, 2005, which tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO).

After initially seeking a life suspension, USADA offered Ms. Jeanson a reduction of her ineligibility period to two years beginning July 25, 2005 and ending next July 25.

The agreement stipulates that neither party is changing its respective position. It says explicitly that the agreement does not constitute an admission to the use of EPO by Ms. Jeanson. The purpose of the agreement is “to take into account all of the circumstances of the matter and to avoid the mutual burden of going forward with the AAA/CAS hearing.” The full text of the agreement may be found at

Tour de Toona: Genevieve Jeanson, photo c.  mwObrien

“After careful consideration, I’ve decided to accept USADA’s offer,” explained Ms. Jeanson. “The proposed agreement satisfies my two main concerns:
• First of all, it is clearly indicated that the agreement does not mean that I admit to having used EPO, which is a crucial point for me.
• Second, I will finally be finished with this dispute, which has been taking far too much space in my life, draining all my energy for many months. I’ve learned the hard way the meaning of the proverb – ‘a bad agreement is better than a good lawsuit’. If I go into arbitration, win or lose, I shudder at the mere thought of the possible appeals. USADA’s offer allows me to get on with my life.”

“I have never in my entire career taken EPO, or any other banned substance,” repeated Ms. Jeanson. “After the USADA informed me that I had tested positive in July 2005, I did some research to figure out how this could have happened. I secured the help of a reputable professor and researcher at Ghent University in Belgium, Dr. Joris Delanghe. I am very grateful that he graciously offered to investigate my case.”

False-positive samples
Dr. Delanghe’s work has already shown that some athletes produce urine samples that generate false positives to EPO when the samples are collected after strenuous exercise – as was the case with Ms. Jeanson’s urine sample on July 25, 2005. She provided the urine sample just after completing the very challenging prologue to the International Tour de Toona at an average speed of more than 40 km/h.

Dr. Delanghe’s research has already exonerated Belgian triathlete Rutger Beke by demonstrating that he produced false positives.

Dr. Delanghe analyzed the circumstances around the collection and analysis of the sample on July 25, 2005. He also took urine samples from Ms. Jeanson after strenuous exercise and subjected them to the appropriate tests.

Dr. Delanghe produced an expert report, which was submitted to the USADA in the course of the preparation for the AAA/CAS hearing.

Dr. Delanghe came to the four following conclusions:
• The pre-analysis quality of the sample collected on July 25, 2005 was not sufficient to obtain a reliable analysis result.
• In the case of severe exercised-induced proteinuria (like in Jeanson’s case), there is a serious concern about the validity of the EPO test.
• The negative results of a sample taken three days later [note: by the World Anti-Doping Agency] question the positivity of the July 25 sample.
• A detailed analysis of the pherogram suggests the presence of EPO-like proteins in Ms. Jeanson’s urine.

The report further states, “Genevieve Jeanson produces specific urinary proteins which are cross reacting with monoclonal antibody AE7A5 as used in the epo test by UCLA.”

The summary can be found at

“I know that I’ll never be able to convince everyone of my innocence,” Ms. Jeanson said. “Innocence cannot be proven. But Dr. Delanghe’s work has shed light on the probable causes of the incident on July 25. I want to thank him for his interest in my case, as I would like to thank everyone who helped and supported me during this difficult period of my life.”

Jeanson in a lone breakaway on 2002 Gila Monster stage during the The Tour of the Gila on her way to a solo victory in the leaders jersey. Photo c.

When asked about whether she will return to competition, Ms. Jeanson replied, “I’m 25 and I still have a lot of good years ahead of me. But accepting the USADA’s offer was a difficult decision. Other decisions will wait.”

Excerpt  from Dr. Dr. Delanghe critical study:
The summary can be found at

Basic facts:
Ms. Genevieve Jeanson tested positive for recombinant erythropoeitin in both an A and a B urine sample which was prelevated on July 25th 2005. However, the athlete denied epo abuse. An independent investigation was therefore initiated to check the possibility that in the particular case of Ms Jeanson the results of the positive epo test could be explained by false positivity

Post-exercise proteinuria is an important caveat for the epo test
As early as March 2003, Dr. G. Peltre and professor W. Thormann predicted these kinds of analytical problems with the epo test. This was mentioned in their official WADA report (which was removed from the WADA website when we started our investigations). On page 11 of their report (copy enclosed), one can read some prophetic statements regarding the effect of strenuous physical exercise on the epo test.

Specific investigations on cross-reactivity
The adopted epo test is based on a combination of isoelectric focusing and double immunoblotting, and distinguishes between endogenous and recombinant human Epo. It was demonstrated that this test can occasionally lead to the false-positive detection of rhEpo (epoetin-B) in postexercise, protein-rich urine, probably because the adopted monoclonal anti-Epo antibodies are not monospecific (Beullens et al Blood 2006).

The lack of specificity of the anti-Epo antibody (clone AE7A5) lies at the heart of the false-positive detection of rhEpo. This issue has also been raised by Khan et al, and is not unexpected since this antibody is sold for research use only. We note that Lasne is the first WADA-supported investigator admitting to the nonspecificity of this antibody (Blood 2006). It is very surprising that this cross-reactivity has not been noted in the thousands of Epo tests that have been performed so far. The diagnostic use of an antibody that is not monospecific and the evident use of ad-hoc interpretation criteria by the WADA-accredited laboratories are worrisome and difficult to reconcile with the claim that the rhEpo test is infallible.

A thorough literature review on effect of pre-analytical variables on epo testing was started. To our surprise, very few peer-reviewed articles were found in Pubmed (the world’ s largest medical database containing over 11,000,000 records). Only one relevant publication can be retrieved (Robinson et al. Clin Lab 2003;49: 57 - 62).

Remarkably, the only WADA approved epo test is not mentioned in this paper. It can be concluded that the present knowledge on pre-analytical errors for the actual epo-test is very limited indeed.

In the present case, there are numerous reasons to doubt the interpretation of the test result as positive for rHuEPO. The sampling following a strenuous effort has created a pronounced proteinuria which exceeds the in-built capacity of the epo test to neutralise this kinds of effects. It should be noted that the double blotting technique used in the epo test does not protect against the cross-reactivity type of error.

The very poor conditions of transportation of the urine sample (containing a abnormally high amount of protein) have facilitated destruction of the brittle epo glycoprotein structures and have promoted bacterial growth. Despite its poor pre- analytical quality, the specimen was still analysed. The atypical patterns observed in sample 491880 support the presence of cross-reacting proteins. This is not surprising in view of the conditions of sampling and the storage.

The prelevation of a second sample (No 493301) shortly after the first one yields an entirely different pattern than the one observed for sample 491880. This unprecedented unique situation allows to confirm our previous findings: one would have expected a kind of “B” sample but just the opposite is observed. The striking difference between the two test results apparently seems to be a violation of our current knowledge about the erythropoietin pharmacokinetics. Since no evidence exists for an abnormal handling of erythropoetin by Ms Jeanson, the only scientifically possible explanation is again the presence of cross-reacting substances in sample # 491880.

The body of evidence from the literature is growing that this kind of sample cannot be interpreted with certainty.

Similar cases have recently been found in Belgium (n = 1) and in Spain (n = 2). All cases hitherto showed strong resemblances: the urine specimen was obtained following a streneous physical exercise in endurance athletes which are particularly prone to exercise-induced proteinuria. In all investigated cases, conditions of sample transportation were poor (unprotected against the heat) and a false positive test result was obtained for epo.

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