Cheating at 24 Hour Races, Part 2

Well, THAT was an interesting day on the internet.

I got a few questions that I'd like to address.

Why did you link to Robert Anderson's USAC profile?
1) Sam Anderson goes by Robert Anderson on USA Cycling.  When Sam Anderson registered on BikeReg, he used the license number that matches this USAC profile ("Robert Anderson").    Furthermore, in 2009, a 20 year old named "Robert Anderson" raced Great Glen in the solo category riding for "Red Jersey Rockets" (the shop he worked at).  They're very definitely the same guy -- sorry for not outlining how I made that connection.  At no point have any of his defenders disputed that the USAC results I linked to are his.

Why didn't you ask him directly?
2) Sam did get in touch with me via FB soon after it went up, and made some spirited attempts at misdirection while ignoring most of my questions.  While he did give some racing history background, at no point did he provide anything that indicated elite ability, nor did he provide any explanation for his lap times other than "I never shifted out of my big ring."

I don't think a bunch of numbers jumping around really prove that much.
3) I probably assumed too many people reading this had 24-hour team racing experience, so I felt like the facts stood for themselves more than they did.  Posting a 3-minute negative split on your 6th lap, as the first lap of a double, when you've been racing for 21 hours (what Sam did in 2010), is utterly implausible.  It's beyond belief.  It's like the 24 hour version of climbing Mt Washington at 7 w/kg.  The number alone proves the cheating.

In 2011, his fastest lap was done at night, and it was the fourth-fastest lap of the entire race.  This is another one of those things that JUST. DOESN'T. HAPPEN.

If I can get the lap data from grannygear, I can show you how rare this is.  We'll see.

Why didn't you just go to the promoter with this information?
4) Another side benefit to making it at a public accusation instead of a private one is that it led to even more damning evidence hitting my inbox.  A helpful commenter noticed that one of Sam's suspicious laps (40:08, starting in the dark) started a mere 4 seconds ahead of Sheldon Miller's lap.  Sheldon was the owner of the 2nd and 3rd fastest laps of the whole race -- but he lost over four minutes to Sam on this particular run. I thought it was likely that Sheldon would remember someone starting four seconds ahead of him and riding away.
Sam and Sheldon headed out at 5:12 as the sun was coming up.
I emailed Sheldon to see if he had any recollection of this, and got a pretty detailed response:

"No one passed me in the entirety of the race except when I repaired a rear flat on lap 3. Nor did anyone ride away from me at any point during the race (that I saw). I must allow, I'm not at my peak at 5am on minimal sleep - but that was the first lap I felt human again. I rode hard out of the tent, caught someone - maybe even two people? Don't exactly recall. I do clearly recall however that one person I passed at that time was on my ass for much of the first climb; remarkably so in fact. It was the only close racing of the event I experienced, aside from a couple of minutes w/Ross later in the day.

So I started pushing, pretty hard. Person tailed me, never coming around, and remained around into the Strava Polka dot climb, until the first steep/cobble-y part, followed by the uphill more technical section, just prior to the 2 mile point. Right about at that steep/cobble-y part, that's when this person started to lose my wheel. By the Strava polka dot finish marker, this person was probably 20-30s behind me. I pushed hard over the top, and then did not see the racer after the downhill at all - no one was even close frankly, and we were still using headlights then, so could see where people were more easily than later in the day.

I assumed my pursuer cracked spectacularly, and was stoked, I gotta admit. I have this lap on Strava, for whatever that's worth. It was one of those laps that feels fast, but frankly wasn't, but with the return of the sun, I was definitely feeling more like myself. That lap stood out, definitely.

I didn't ask who it was, I didn't talk to them (don't show fear of how cracked you are), and just pedaled. Don't know who it was, could only see 1300 lumens in my eyes." 
Unfortunately, I don't have the full lap time database (yet), so it's POSSIBLE that someone else started just ahead of Sheldon, and was able to tail him for much of the first climb before eventually getting dropped.   However, we know Sam started 4 seconds ahead, and Sheldon says  "Nor did anyone ride away from me at any point during the race (that I saw)."  The race starts in an open field, and everyone has a 1000+ lumen headlight attached to their head.  A racer four seconds ahead of you is almost impossible to miss, so if he rode away (opening up a 4:40 gap!), Sheldon would almost certainly have noticed.  And he didn't.

So the most likely explanation is that he cheated, drafting Sheldon as long as he could after getting passed, to the point where Sheldon distinctly remembered it and raised the pace to get rid of him.  Eventually he got dropped, and then later cut the course to get back to the tent 4:40 ahead of Sheldon.

If this doesn't push it past "reasonable doubt," I don't know what to say.
Update:  the data proves it had to be Sam Anderson in Sheldon's story, see below.

What's Great Glen think about all this?
5) I got a call from the folks at Great Glen this afternoon and gave them all the info I had, which is more than what I've posted here.  I didn't want to drag lots of other people into it, so I've avoided posting a fair amount of information that's been sent to me that could basically be summarized as "character references and anecdotes."  So they know everything I know, and will handle it as they see fit.


Update to the update:
An enterprising data elf who is not me, but has my email address, went through the data from Great Glen to see what riders left the tent directly ahead of Sheldon Miller at 5:12 AM.
The two riders who Sheldon remembers passing immediately were Sam Anderson and Ken Willey.  And since he passed them and dropped them, neither should have finished ahead of him.  But one of them did.  So if you think Sam Anderson's not a cheater, you also think Sheldon Miller is a liar.

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If you're here because you enjoy stories about data analysis uncovering cheating, you should read the Kip Litton story if you aren't familiar.
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