Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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.

----
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.

34 comments:

cycletart 8/12/2014 9:39 PM  

Colin wins the Internet today.

Anonymous 8/12/2014 9:52 PM  

Area man writes feels cheated, writes 2 separate blogs about it. Internet reacts

Colin R 8/12/2014 9:57 PM  

Comments section: u mad?
Area man: I mad.

Anonymous 8/12/2014 10:03 PM  

area man unable to troll successfully on internet blog

mike 8/12/2014 10:07 PM  

DONT DATA ME, BRO

gewilli 8/12/2014 10:12 PM  

hmmm... data vs anecdote...

what wins?

hmmm

high five and a hug and i get to be big and tall and grumpy to anyone hating on resultsboy

Lauren 8/12/2014 10:15 PM  

"The only way this is real is if Anthony Clark races 24 hour races as Sam Anderson. Then I would believe it." - The Mantis

Ben 8/12/2014 10:20 PM  

Lauren wins. Sikkkkkhours dontcutthecourse afw0fqfw3faf

cycletart 8/12/2014 10:27 PM  

Shit, Colin, fix this damn blog. I want to favorite all of these comments.

Barry Croker 8/13/2014 7:28 AM  

Dear Internet,

Please research the following comment and report back:

"Yes, someone saw him cheat. This year. We should probably just get that out there."

Thank you,
Barry

Colin R 8/13/2014 7:35 AM  

Barry:

The problem with anonymous comments is you just say anything, it doesn't have to be true, and there's no way to contact you for more info.

Like that guy who used Embro instead of preparation H. I'm only 99% confident that's a true story.

Anonymous 8/13/2014 8:10 AM  

Barry, Colin,

I mean, those two don't even come in the same container, totally suspect.

Christopher Plummer 8/13/2014 8:12 AM  

I have a true embro story, last year at Gloucester embro got on my top tube and I grab my top tube during races and I don't wear gloves and then I took a whizz after the race and got embro right in the 'ol pee machine and that was a rough day. But I did it all in my big ring.

Colin A+ effort

ryand 8/13/2014 8:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ryand 8/13/2014 8:37 AM  

Embro in the pee hole?

#feelsgoodman

Anonymous 8/13/2014 8:59 AM  

Oh for Christ's sake man, let it be! I just spoke with a 24 hour official and they don't seem to think much of it. The amount of time you have wasted on this vicious attack on another rider's reputation is pathetic. Go back to crunching numbers and bother someone else. Colin, you are, in every sense of the phrase, a sore loser and a poor sport. Why don't you man the fuck up and challenge same to an actual race and settle this once and for all?

Anonymous 8/13/2014 9:17 AM  

Colin was not 2nd in the fastest day lap competition, he has nothing to gain by Sam forfeiting that prize. It's really too bad that Colin won that night lap prize, it's much too easy for some idiot to brush this off as being a sore loser. I think Anonymous' sense of the phrase might differ than others.

Colin actually races mountain bikes pretty often, Sam would simply have to show up at a decently sized race. But that would neither prove Colin's Manliness (standing on some womanly legs?) nor any of the events that occurred at 24HOGG.

Colin R 8/13/2014 9:21 AM  

Challenging Sam to a race doesn't solve anything. Sam is fast. Possibly faster than me.

What he isn't, is 3:40 faster than me on a 40 minute lap. Or a minute faster than Justin Lindine on the first lap of a double (2010). Or the fourth fastest lap of the whole race on a double lap at night (2011)

Christin 8/13/2014 9:27 AM  

Lack of reading comprehension hurts my brain.

"Colin, you are, in every sense of the phrase, a sore loser and a poor sport. Why don't you man the fuck up and challenge sam to an actual race and settle this once and for all?"

Colin, why are you challenging cheaters? Cheating is okay! Defending the sport you love is lame. You're such a sore loser. Even though you won the race. This entire post isn't because you hate cheaters and is because you're upset at... ? and racing Sam will solve Sam's cheating by... ?

I get lost even trying to parody Anon comments.

Erin 8/13/2014 9:28 AM  

the "don't you have something better to do" comments are really tickling me.

Colin, maybe ferreting cheaters out of lap times can actually be an additional service through BikeReg. I'd love to see more of it personally.

Anonymous 8/13/2014 9:46 AM  

For those not 100% sure about my embrocation application issues, I assure you that I don't lie. I will also tell you that I am the guy who hit himself in the haha place with soap in a sock after cheating on a math test in 7th grade. I know it is anecdotal; however, that is my evidence. Take it or leave it.

And I offer you a character witness. My wife says, "Believe him. He is an idiot."

I rest my case.

Ryan 8/13/2014 10:18 AM  

This is my subscribe comment.

Anonymous 8/13/2014 10:26 AM  

I just spoke with a a 48 hour official and they said this was a huge deal. 48 hours is more than 24 hours so we can clearly see who has authority here.

A 8/13/2014 10:26 AM  

Dude like I said you are seriously Butt hurt. I know some saddle time can do some damage but do you even use shammy butter?

davechiu 8/13/2014 10:55 AM  

Butthurt has nothing to do with it, you clearly don't know just how much Colin's butt can take.

Michele 8/13/2014 11:35 AM  

I'm very interested in learning more about the relevance of chamois butter to this discussion.

Bemery 8/13/2014 12:21 PM  

This entire case seems to rely on the assumption that being faster at night is completely abnormal for anyone. I can't buy that. Can you prove that his deviance from the apparent trend is significant? I'm a stat major so feel free to get technical.

Colin R 8/13/2014 12:35 PM  

Bremery, the case can be distilled to 3 pieces of evidence.

In 2010, he rode faster at night than he did in the afternoon, and faster in the morning than he did at night. Most notably, on the first lap of a double lap, he completed a lap over a minute faster in the morning than Justin Lindine's single lap at the same time, who is a professional cyclist and has been top 10 at MTB Nationals.

Meanwhile no other racer in the race could touch Justin Lindine's single lap times at any point.

In 2011, he recorded the 4th fastest and 10th fastest laps of the entire even on back-to-back laps of a double he rode at 2am, going faster than his own single lap times from the afternoon and several minutes faster than anyone else's (single) night laps.

In 2014, he turned in 3 scorching laps after a very pedestrian first lap, beating some very talented New England racers by over 3 minutes, a feat that has otherwise only been accomplished by pros at this event.

As you can see the case against him is weakest in 2014 (hence me scoffing at people who called bullshit at the event) but when taken in concert with 2010 and 2011 it clearly points to cheating.

P. Curley 8/13/2014 1:42 PM  

OMFG Ha Ha he cut the course soooo funny you guys. #Hastag #Genius #wickedsmart

Colin R 8/13/2014 1:47 PM  

Actually I forgot the last piece of evidence, which makes the 2014 case pretty clear as well.

In 2014 he started a lap 4 seconds ahead of Sheldon Miller. Got caught and passed, but then got back to the finish tent over 4 minutes ahead of Sheldon.

MikeH 8/13/2014 2:30 PM  

Nice work Colin!

B SHITLER 8/13/2014 3:01 PM  

Ah man- good stuff. Other than Kip Litton himself, this same exact thing is happening with a "guinness world record holder" who has been accused of cheating the Badwater course, and faking her marathons. Reminds me a lot of this blog. Great drama. Enthralling. Also- You mad bro?

http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=5882052&page=28

Ben 8/13/2014 3:07 PM  

I've read every comment and I simply don't understand how no one else has figured this out. His name is Anderson, he's now gotten in trouble on the internet, he seemingly moves through time and space at will.

Clearly, this guy is Neo. You didn't prove he's a cheater, you proved we live in the Matrix.

Colin R 8/13/2014 3:13 PM  

Aaaaand I think that's exactly the right note to end on here.

Thanks everyone for reading and contributing. If any exonerating evidence ever surfaces, I'd be more than welcome to hear it. My email is colin.reuter@gmail.com.

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