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Old 03-27-2014, 06:22 AM   #1
Russell Berger
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CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

In spring of last year, the NSCA published a study (WFS) conducted by Ohio State University researchers that took place at one of our CrossFit affiliates. The study claimed a 16% “overuse or injury" rate among participants. Further investigation (WFS) lead me to the conclusion that this data was not only misleading, but was literally fabricated.

Google reveals that the study is currently cited or linked to by at least 18,000 web pages and blogs, and the study's lead author has been interviewed in a number of major publications reminding readers that CrossFit is inherently dangerous. By my count, he has changed his story regarding the origin of his data three times.

Yesterday, Ohio Fit Club LLC (the CrossFit affiliate) filed this lawsuit (WFS) in Franklin county Ohio against ACSM fellow and exercise science professor Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of fraud, misrepresentation, false light invasion of privacy, and defamation. The defendants should be served within a week, and then they will have 28 days to file an answer. I will post updates and details here.
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:47 AM   #2
Mike Doehla
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

I had a potential member ask me about it yesterday. It gets exhausting defending what we do to people that have no idea what it is we really do.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:02 AM   #3
Ben H Young
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

My first thought, before Crossfit or anybody responded to this study was "How do you define injury?" If people just stop coming, it doesn't necessarily mean they're injured, even though they say so. When somebody complains of pain here or there is it an injury, or is it an excuse? Soreness doesn't necessarily mean injury as well. It would be difficult to diagnose an injury unless people were getting MRI's and X-ray's done to verify. Many people including myself have bad mechanics and mobility. I have tight ankles, and I knew this before I ever started Crossfit. So, when my ankles start getting sore because of a pre-existing condition it isn't a Crossfit problem, it's a personal problem.

IMO, the participants would have to have a workup from a physical therapist just to know what was pre-existing. Even at that point you can't force people to keep coming. Let's face it. If people want to quit coming they're just going to make an excuse like...I'm injured. Who is going to say, "I'm just too lazy for Crossfit." Just because the participants might have had some pain after starting Crossfit doesn't mean Crossfit caused it...it just pointed it out. So, how do you conduct a study to assess Crossfit's rate of injury? You don't. It would be too difficult to even define injury, or that Crossfit caused it. It could be a pre-existing condition or it could be caused by being a desk jockey Mon - Fri. All Crossfit owner's can do is make sure people know the risks, how to mitigate them, medicine ball squats aren't included in the routine.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:10 AM   #4
Snir Golan
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

that interview was quite painful to read. so many zig zags and flip flopping that its very hard to take the anything he says seriously.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:14 AM   #5
Russell Berger
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben H Young View Post
My first thought, before Crossfit or anybody responded to this study was "How do you define injury?" If people just stop coming, it doesn't necessarily mean they're injured, even though they say so. When somebody complains of pain here or there is it an injury, or is it an excuse? Soreness doesn't necessarily mean injury as well. It would be difficult to diagnose an injury unless people were getting MRI's and X-ray's done to verify. Many people including myself have bad mechanics and mobility. I have tight ankles, and I knew this before I ever started Crossfit. So, when my ankles start getting sore because of a pre-existing condition it isn't a Crossfit problem, it's a personal problem.

IMO, the participants would have to have a workup from a physical therapist just to know what was pre-existing. Even at that point you can't force people to keep coming. Let's face it. If people want to quit coming they're just going to make an excuse like...I'm injured. Who is going to say, "I'm just too lazy for Crossfit." Just because the participants might have had some pain after starting Crossfit doesn't mean Crossfit caused it...it just pointed it out. So, how do you conduct a study to assess Crossfit's rate of injury? You don't. It would be too difficult to even define injury, or that Crossfit caused it. It could be a pre-existing condition or it could be caused by being a desk jockey Mon - Fri. All Crossfit owner's can do is make sure people know the risks, how to mitigate them, medicine ball squats aren't included in the routine.
Ben,
I agree with some of your points, but the Devor study is actually guilty of something worse than failing to define basic terms. Of the participants who failed to show up to re-test, the study claims that

“Out of the original 54 participants, a total of 43 (23 males, 20 females) fully completed the training program and returned for follow up testing. Of the 11 subjects who dropped out of the training program, two cited time concerns with the remaining nine subjects (16% of total recruited subjects) citing overuse or injury for failing to complete the program and finish follow up testing.”

Unfortunately, not a single person out of the 11 was contacted by anyone from OSU, and none of them were injured. This means that the only explanation for these specifics in the data is fabrication on the part of the authors.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:22 AM   #6
Ben H Young
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

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Originally Posted by Russell Berger View Post
Ben,
I agree with some of your points, but the Devor study is actually guilty of something worse than failing to define basic terms. Of the participants who failed to show up to re-test, the study claims that

“Out of the original 54 participants, a total of 43 (23 males, 20 females) fully completed the training program and returned for follow up testing. Of the 11 subjects who dropped out of the training program, two cited time concerns with the remaining nine subjects (16% of total recruited subjects) citing overuse or injury for failing to complete the program and finish follow up testing.”

Unfortunately, not a single person out of the 11 was contacted by anyone from OSU, and none of them were injured. This means that the only explanation for these specifics in the data is fabrication on the part of the authors.
The whole thing seamed fabricated from the get go, intent on discrediting Crossfit.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:22 AM   #7
Snir Golan
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

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Originally Posted by Russell Berger View Post
Ben,
I agree with some of your points, but the Devor study is actually guilty of something worse than failing to define basic terms. Of the participants who failed to show up to re-test, the study claims that

“Out of the original 54 participants, a total of 43 (23 males, 20 females) fully completed the training program and returned for follow up testing. Of the 11 subjects who dropped out of the training program, two cited time concerns with the remaining nine subjects (16% of total recruited subjects) citing overuse or injury for failing to complete the program and finish follow up testing.”

Unfortunately, not a single person out of the 11 was contacted by anyone from OSU, and none of them were injured. This means that the only explanation for these specifics in the data is fabrication on the part of the authors.

I agree that this is the real issue. If all they did was not define injury properly than i would just say that the study is flawed. however, if data was fabricated than the study is not only invalid, there is a clear case of fraud here. If the test subject is not identifiable, how can they be reached by anyone other than the test coordinator? there are just too many things that don't add up here and the fact that the person who was leading the study can't actually provide a single plausible explanation and keeps trying to go back to the "oh but we are actually pro CrossFit" does not bode well at all.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:01 AM   #8
Mauricio Leal
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

It would have been fairly simple for them to state that X number of participants did not return to test out without speculating as to why.

But instead it seems we have the classic data being interpreted to fit the preconceived hypothesis, with a compliment sandwich to obfuscate.
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:19 PM   #9
Nalin Prabhu
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

Statistics can tell whatever story the statistician wants to tell.
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:59 PM   #10
Dale F. Saran
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Re: CrossFit affiliate lawsuit against Steven Devor, Michael Smith, and NSCA

Nalin - I'll respectfully disagree. If a sample of N is handled honestly, then no, a statistician can't "make" it say what he wants it to. If 0 people in a given study are injured, then you can't say (hypothetically) 16% were injured. That's not a statistics problem, that's a "lying" problem. I've seen statistics repeatedly used and abused by government, and in court in many contexts, so I agree with what you're saying, but outside of a specific case, that's just a bromide. In this case, one has to wonder if there wasn't already a tale waiting to be told and when the numbers didn't quite work out, Dr. Devor just decided to claim people who didn't return were injured. My own speculation is that he just "believes" this - he absolutely thinks it's true. Look at his comments, both in his interview with Russell and other publications. He repeatedly claims that "anything" done with intensity will produce more injuries - he says this as if it's an accepted fact, with zero proof for it. Reminds of Holmes' speech about our "can't helps." Devor simply "can't help" but believe this, and so he repeats it as fact, even in the face of clear proof he doesn't have the data to support the conclusion.
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