Issues in UCI investigation into Froome’s use of asthma drug

Cycling’s governing body was clear: Chris Froome returned an “adverse” finding — failing a drugs test. The five-time Tour de France champion insists it “was not a positive test.” But the UCI wants to know why a urine sample provided by Froome at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug, salbutamol, that was twice the level permitted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Given cycling’s long struggle to eradicate doping, Froome realizes the challenge he has clearing his name. “Obviously the sport is coming from a place with a very dark background,” the Team Sky front-man said in an interview aired by British broadcasters on Wednesday. “I have tried to do everything throughout my career to try and show the sport has turned around.

“Certainly in my case now I certainly don’t feel there was any wrongdoing.” Froome’s use of asthma medication is no secret, and he has also been granted therapeutic use exemptions to treat chest infections that aggravated his condition.

A look at the issues around Froome’s use of salbutamol:


WADA permits salbutamol to be taken through inhalation only, in limited amounts. Through an inhaler, athletes with asthma can take up to 1,600 micrograms every 24 hours but cannot exceed 800 micrograms within 12 hours. The permitted concentration of salbutamol allowed in a urine sample cannot exceed 1,000 nanograms per milliliter. The sample given by Froome contained 2,000 nanograms per milliliter.

Classified as a beta-2 agonist and often sold as Ventolin, salbutamol helps to relieve the symptoms of asthma by expanding lung capacity.

“I know what those rules are, I know what those limits are and I have never been over those limits,” Froome said. “I have got a very clear routine when I use my inhaler and how many times. I have given all that information to the UCI to help get to the bottom of it.”

Anti-doping rules governing the use of salbutamol have been gradually relaxed. Until 2010, athletes needed a doctor’s note to use it. Now, they do not. It is not classed in the same category as hard-core doping drugs and methods like blood-boosters and blood transfusions.

According to Swiss physiologist Raphael Faiss, a non-asthmatic who takes the equivalent of 800 micrograms would see their performance improved by around two percent. It can be used in a performance-enhancing capacity to increase endurance, especially if taken intravenously or in tablet form which is banned by WADA.


According to Faiss, intense effort, fatigue and dehydration can affect urine concentrations of salbutamol in doping tests. Everyone excretes and metabolizes salbutamol in different ways.

“Some individuals may have a greater metabolism and excretion rate that may cause the salbutamol concentration to be increased,” said Dr John Dickinson, an expert in respiratory problems in athletes, based in Britain’s University of Kent. “The World Anti-Doping Agency are aware of this and they will ask any athlete with adverse levels to provide evidence to explain why.”


Froome has not been suspended, but now he has to explain why his sample contained excessive amounts of salbutamol when the other 20 samples he provided at the Spanish Vuelta did not.

“I am not going to admit through a Grand Tour that, ‘Yes. I am suffering with something,’ because the next day my rivals will come out absolutely swinging,” Froome said.

Froome’s backup “B” sample has confirmed the results of the initial test, according to the UCI, cycling’s governing body.

“There are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of salbutamol,” said Dave Brailsford, team principal at Sky. “We’re committed to establishing the facts and understanding exactly what happened on this occasion.

“I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for salbutamol. Of course, we will do whatever we can to help address these questions.”


Italian cyclist Diego Ulissi was banned for nine months in 2015 after a urine sample showed 1900 nanograms per milliliter of salbutamol, almost double the permitted amount. He said he took Ventolin at the 2014 Giro d’Italia because he had bronchospasms.

Norwegian cross-country skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby lost his 2015 overall World Cup and Tour de Ski titles. While the medication is normally applied by a handheld metric dose inhaler, Johnsrud Sundby used a nebulizer and exceeded the allowed maximum dose of salbutamol. An International Ski Federation doping panel ruled that Johnsrud Sundby didn’t breach anti-doping rules. But WADA was successful in appealing in 2016 that a doping infringement had been committed, after showing Johnsrud Sundby had not obtained an exemption to use a higher dose.

Kazakhstan ice hockey player Ilya Solaryov was banned for two years in 2013. Solaryov claimed that he used salbutamol to treat breathing problems, but he was found to be trying to enhance his sports performance.


Baby’s heart placed back inside her chest in rare surgeries

British officials say a baby born with an extremely rare condition has survived three surgeries to place her heart inside her chest. Glenfield Hospital in Leicester said Wednesday that baby Vanellope Hope was born in late November with her heart growing on the outside of her body. The unusual condition is called

ectopia cordis



Dr. Nick Moore said the baby is in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. He says “she has a long way to go but so far at least she now has a chance at a future.” Most babies born with this condition do not survive although there have been some cases in which surgery has been successful. Infection poses a severe risk to babies with this condition.


Save Earth from aliens & NASA will pay you $187,000


Save Earth from aliens & NASA will pay you $187,000
US space agency NASA has a job opening for a ‘planetary protection officer’, who will be responsible for protecting Earth against aliens – and every other planet from humans.

And if natural-born guardians of the galaxy aren’t motivated enough by simply fulfilling their calling, the position also carries a substantial salary of between $124,406 and $187,000.


The job listing says the permanent position may require “frequent travel” and is “concerned with the avoidance of organic constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.”

The position’s tenure is for three years, with the chance of extending to five. It stems from the international Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which pledged to pursue studies of outer space and explore other planets while avoiding “their harmful contamination” and any “adverse changes in the environment of Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter.”

According to the job spec, the planetary protection officer will be required to uphold NASA’s policies of mitigating the risk of spaceflight missions contaminating other planets, and in turn, protect Earth and its biosphere from extraterrestrial organisms.

Humans Draw Energy From Each Other the Same Way Plants Do. 

Recently, scientists discovered that plants could absorb energy from other plants in a groundbreaking study. Due to this, the entire scientific world could be turned upside down, because of the fact that it would provide evidence that humans could absorb energy from one another in a similar manner.

The research team was lead by Dr. Olaf Kruse, and for the first time ever, they were able to prove that the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii can not only engage in photosynthesis, but that is can also draw an alternative form of energy. This energy would come from various other plants located around the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The study was then published in the Nature Communications journal online.

In order for us to grow, we need necessary energies such as calories from food, minerals from water, oxygen, and sunlight drawn from our surroundings. Conversely, plants need sunlight, food, and water as well, along with carbon dioxide.

 In order to conduct his study, Kruse and his team of researchers planted the tiny green alga species and then observed it during a period when it was unable to receive its typical sources of energy. Due to their shortage, they began pulling energies from single-cell plants located around them. They were able to accomplish this by creating enzymes which digested the cellulose from the other plants in order to grow.

“This is the first time that such a behavior has been confirmed in a vegetable organism’, says Professor Kruse. ‘That algae can digest cellulose contradicts every previous textbook. To a certain extent, what we are seeing is plants eating plants.”

Continuing, he compared the behavior to human beings. “This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions.”

While speaking in regards to how this discovery would affect scientific studies on humans and how they could possibly feed off of one another, Badar-Lee explained,

“When energy studies become more advanced in the coming years, we will eventually see this translated to human beings as well. The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger.”

Furthermore, according to her, she believes that it would be the perfect time to now begin to explore the field of bioenergy.

“Human can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That’s why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people,” she concluded.

So how do we walk away from such information? Well, we must shield ourselves from potential energy drains by doing the following:

1. Start Grounding

When you feel completely drained, take a walk outside barefoot, or simply sit on the ground. The earth has a way of balancing our energies, which should help when we have become drained from others.

2. Cleanse Yourself

Take a bath in sea salt, or use a sage stick to cleanse yourself when you are feeling negative. While it may sound like nonsense, there are many who have been doing this for ages and continue to tout just how effective it can be.

3. Steer Clear of Negativity

It goes without saying that certain people, places, and things are loaded with negative energies that bring you down. If at all possible steer clear of such energies. If you can’t, try to unwind by grounding or cleansing afterward.

Science has come a long way over the years, and it appears that as science progresses, scientists are becoming more and more open to the possibilities regarding energy. While many naturalists have been saying these things for years, we now (thankfully) have science on our side. So, stay positive, stay grounded, and stay aware, as always.

Depression doubles risk of early death in heart patients

Heart disease patients are twice as likely to suffer an early death if they suffer depression, warns a study. Researchers tracked more than 24,000 patients for 10 years and found that post-coronary artery disease depression was the single biggest predictor of death. Lead author Dr Heidi May said that no matter how long or how short it was, patients were found to have twice the risk of dying compared to those who did not have a follow-up diagnosis of depression. May stated that depression was …

To detect subsequent depression, the researchers used standardised diagnostic coding system. The patients with depression were placed into subcategories based on how long after their heart disease diagnosis the depression was identified. In all, 15 percent, or 2,646 patients, were diagnosed with depression at some point during follow-up. Of those, most of them (37 percent) were diagnosed with depression for more than five years after their first heart event, but the two diagnosis were linked….

Source: European Heart Journal

Depression Could Change The Wiring Inside Your Brain, New Study Shows

Scientists have identified a link between depression and the structure of white matter in the brain, those areas responsible for connecting up grey matter and making sure our emotions and thoughts are properly processed.

The study could be valuable in suggesting new ways to treat and manage depression, if we can work out how these white matter changes affect mood and anxiety.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK looked at data from 3,461 adults taken from the UK Biobank database, and say the large sample size adds some useful extra weight to the findings, considering results from previous studies on brain matter and depression have been inconsistent.

“This study uses data from the largest single sample published to date and shows that people with depression have changes in the white matter wiring of their brain,” says one of the team, Heather Whalley.

A technique called diffusion tensor imaging was used to map areas of white matter in the brain – this is based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and gives scientists a way of modelling the fibres in the brain in better detail than ever before.

brain dep 2Detailed brain scans revealed links between white matter and depression. Credit: Scientific Reports

Scans revealed that the white matter integrity – the quality of the white matter – was reduced in people who reported symptoms of depression, while in those with no symptoms the white matter integrity appeared to be normal.

That difference might be the result of patterns of brain activity brought on by depression, say the researchers, though it’s too early to say that’s exactly what’s happening.

Eventually, the study could open up new ways of predicting the risk of depression or understanding more about how white matter integrity helps to protect against it.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million people worldwide have difficulty with depression, across all ages. It’s actually now recognised as the leading cause of disability worldwide, to get a sense of just how big a problem it is now known to be.

Scientists are now making progress in figuring out more about the relationship between depression and the wiring of the brain. One innovative treatment in development uses magnetic pulses to alter the circuits of the brain and the way they interact.

Meanwhile specific areas of the brain have also been linked to problems with depression – a study published last year found that feelings of loss and low self-esteem were tied to the functioning of the orbitofrontal cortex, which handles sensory integration, expectation, and decision-making.

While we can’t draw any definitive conclusions out of the new research, it’s another step forward in terms of understanding depression’s impact on the brain and finding ways to put a stop to it.

“There is an urgent need to provide treatment for depression and an improved understanding of its mechanisms will give us a better chance of developing new and more effective methods of treatment,” says Whalley.

For The First Time, a US Company Is Implanting Microchips in Its Employees

We’re always hearing how robots are going to take our jobs, but there might be a way of preventing that grim future from happening: by becoming workplace cyborgs first.

A company in Wisconsin has become the first in the US to roll out microchip implants for all its employees, and says it’s expecting over 50 of its staff members to be voluntarily ‘chipped’ next week.

The initiative, which is entirely optional for employees at snack stall supplier Three Square Market (32M), will implant radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in staff members’ hands in between their thumb and forefinger.

Once tagged with the implant, which is about the size of a grain of rice, 32M says its employees will be able to perform a range of common office tasks with an effortless wave of their hand.

“We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals,” says 32M CEO, Todd Westby.

The chips make use of near-field communication (NFC), and are similar to ones already in use in things like contactless credit cards, mobile payment systems, and animal tag implants.

The same kind of human implants made headlines when they were extended to employees at Swedish company Epicenter earlier in the year, but this is the first time they’ve been offered in the US across an organisation as large as 32M, which has 85 employees.

According to Westby, when staff were informed of the program, they reacted with a mixture of reluctance and excitement, but ultimately more than half elected to take part.

The costs of the implant amount to US$300 per chip – which the company says it will pay on the employees’ behalf – and the rollout could well be a sign of things to come, meaning employees would no longer need to carry around keys, ID cards, or smartphones to operate or authenticate with other systems.

As for security concerns and whether people ought to be worried about their employer tracking their movements, Westby says the chips don’t include a GPS component and are secure against hacking.

“There’s really nothing to hack in it because it is encrypted just like credit cards are,” he told ABC News.

“The chances of hacking into it are almost non-existent because it’s not connected to the internet. The only way for somebody to get connectivity to it is to basically chop off your hand.”

As if to prove the safety of the technology, the CEO says his wife and children will also receive the implants next week, coinciding with a “chip party” being held at the company’s headquarters in River Falls, Wisconsin.

If employees later change their minds, they’ll be able to have the implant removed – but that might not be enough to alleviate Big Brother-style privacy concerns held in some quarters.

While the chips might not track workers’ location by GPS, they nonetheless could give employers a huge amount of data about what employees do and when – like how often they take breaks or use the bathroom, what kind of snacks they buy, and so on.

On its own, that information might seem fairly harmless, but it’s possible that handing over even that level of information to your employer could one day pose problems – not to mention how the privacy issues could swell as the technology evolves.

“Many things start off with the best of intentions but sometimes intentions turn,” chairman and founder of data protection firm CyberScout Adam Levin told ABC News.

“We’ve survived thousands of years as a species without being microchipped, is there any particular need to do it now? … Everyone has a decision to make; that is, how much privacy and security are they willing to trade for convenience?”

For their part, the leaders of the companies kickstarting this workplace transition don’t seem to see what all the fuss is about.

“People ask me, ‘Are you chipped?’ and I say, ‘Yes, why not?'” Epicenter CEO Fredric Kaijser told Associated Press back in April.

“And they all get excited about privacy issues and what that means and so forth. And for me it’s just a matter of I like to try new things and just see it as more of an enabler and what that would bring into the future.”

In the meantime, 32M’s inaugural chip party is being held next Tuesday.

Clear your schedule, would-be cyborgs.

Physicians need to be prepared to talk antibiotics

Physicians need to be prepared to talk antibiotics


Patient pressure to receive antibiotic prescriptions remains a challenge for providers who are trying to combat antibiotic resistance by curbing prescriptions for viral infections, according to an article published Jan. 8 in Medical Economics.

The author of the article, Beth Thomas Hertz, notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases recently issued a policy statement, “Principles of Judicious Antibiotic Prescribing for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Pediatrics,” which provides a framework for clinical decision-making regarding antibiotic use. She says that the report stresses the importance of using defined clinical criteria for diagnosing acute otitis media, acute bacterial sinusitis, and pharyngitis caused by group A Streptococcus, and cautions against the use of antibiotics for indications such as .

Hertz further notes that experts say conversations with patients or their parents regarding not prescribing antibiotics do not have to be contentious. When communicating, be specific about the dangers of  and try to confirm specific virus diagnoses in-office. Additionally, experts say, a firm diagnosis of bacterial infection, such as strep, makes the decision about the appropriate use of antibiotics clear.

“Make them feel heard and cared about,” suggests Molly Cooke, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians, according to the Medical Economics article. “Replace what they thought they were going to get with other suggestions.”

James Randi created the “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.” No one ever claimed the prize

James Randi began his career as an illusionist, escapologist, and a stage magician. He achieved a level of popularity under his stage name “The Amazing Randi”. In 1956, he remained in a sealed metal coffin that had been submerged in a swimming pool, for 104 minutes.

With this, he broke Harry Houdini’s record of 93 minutes and won universal acclaim in the world of stage magic. Unlike many stage magicians of the time, Randi never claimed to possess any supernatural powers. He insisted that stage magic is nothing but a highly elaborate and well-trained illusion and that all who claim otherwise are either liars or delusional.

James Randi. Photo Credit

In the late 1960s, Randi hosted his own radio show on the New York radio station WOR. As a part of the show, he invited guests who defended paranormal claims and started offering a $1000 prize and later, a $10,000 prize, to anyone who could prove their paranormal abilities beyond any doubt. Randi entered the international spotlight in 1972 when he publicly challenged the paranormal claims of the absurdly popular Uri Geller. Geller sued Randi for the sum $15,000,000 but the lawsuit was subsequently terminated. Geller continued to appear across the world and is still one of the most influential alleged psychics.

Randi’s skepticism led to the founding of the “Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.” Renowned scientists and thinkers such as Paul Kurtz, Isaac Asimov, and Carl Sagan joined Randi in this cause.

Their goal was to thoroughly investigate paranormal claims across the world and debunk false ones. As it turns out, most of the reported claims never needed extensive investigations, as they were immediately recognized as hoaxes.

Geller bending a spoon in a mall in Switzerland, 2005. Photo Credit
Geller bending a spoon in a mall in Switzerland, 2005. 

In 1996, one of Randi’s friends, the Internet pioneer Rick Adams, donated a million dollars to the prize Randi was offering to the person who manages to prove their paranormal abilities, and the award was officially renamed the “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.”The James Randi Educational Foundation created a set of strict rules under which applicants were to be examined, to deter potential money seekers.

 A number of people were examined, but nobody ever managed to prove possession of paranormal abilities beyond any doubt. On April 1st, 2008, Randi claimed to have given the prize to the magician Seth Raphael after extensive testing at the MIT Media Lab, but it was later revealed that Randi only pulled an elaborate April Fools prank.
James Randi in 2011. Photo Credit
James Randi in 2011.

The challenge was open for many years, but it was officially terminated in 2015 when Randi announced that he was officially retiring.

Here is another story from us: Norbert Pearlroth was the sole researcher for “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” who never missed a deadline in 52 years and was wrong only once

The money was transferred into other interests of Randi’s foundation, but a special committee still exists to investigate claims of paranormal powers.

Waking Up Between 3 to 5 a.m. Might Mean You’re Experiencing A Spiritual Awakening

Waking Up Between 3 to 5 a.m. Might Mean You’re Experiencing A Spiritual Awakening