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Independent Experts: reliable?

07 Dec 2010

I certainly do not consider myself a "scientist", nor have I ever considered myself as one in the past. 
Having worked in the field years ago though, I do happen to know quite well the way of thinking and modus operandi of people within the "Scientific Community", their merits, but also their "vices" and "tricks" with regard to presenting and evaluating data (even when it comes down to "tracing a line"). 
I know how to interpret their writing, as well as discern "between the lines" content. 

During my trial in 2002, the Experts nominated by public prosecutor Spinosa, Professors Mario Plebani (Laboratory Expert), Mario Cazzola (Hematology Expert) and Santo Davide Ferrara (Forensic Toxicology Expert), decided to use the following article by Fraser et Al. as reference in evaluating the hematological parameters of my 25 athletes from 1989 until 1998: Biologic variation of common hematologic laboratory quantities in the ELDERLY. (Am J Clin Pathol 1989;92:465-470) 
Not only the subjects were non-athletes, but all of them were more than 70 years old! 

Here are the main differences between the two populations in question:

Such was the choice of the Experts, although there were already other more pertinent studies out in the literature, such as the one by Costongs et Al.: Short-term and long-term intraindividual variations and critical differences of haematological laboratory parameters. (J Clin Chem Clin Biochem 1985;25:69-76) 

The Fraser study considered a critical difference in Hct equal to +/- 10% in comparison to the average values of each individual, while the Costongs one referenced a critical difference of +/- 15% (see article on dated Oct. 17th 2007). 
In other words, the study by Fraser was better suited to the demonstration of their theory that my athletes showed non-physiological oscillations and had to be under treatment with Epo. 

Since all the variations in the average value of Hct of each single athlete were within the +/- 10% anyway, the Experts then decided to consider some arbitrary "basal values" by tracing a line as they pleased... 

Finally, these are the values of my athletes between 1989 and 1998: 

Number of athletes: 25 
Number of samples: 305 
Hb (average): 15.1 (+/- 1.05) 
Hct (average): 45.1 (+/- 3.27) 

Eventually, 5 long years after the indictment, even the Judge had to admit that the hematological profiles of the athletes could fall within a normal variability of parameters.

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