Saying that a paper has “fatal and disqualifying errors,” CrossFit is demanding the retraction of a recently published article that claimed those participating in CrossFit “are more likely to be injured and to seek medical treatment compared with participants in traditional weightlifting.”
Adeel Safdar was once a rising star in the field of kinesiology. After completing his doctorate degree at McMaster University in Canada, working with one of the titans of his field, Safdar took a postdoc at Harvard, then accepted a newly created chair position at another university in Ontario.
That all came crashing down last year, when Safdar went on trial in Canada, accused of horrifically abusing his wife. Over the course of the trial, allegations arose about his research, prompting two journals to flag papers he co-authored with his former mentor, Mark Tarnopolsky.
Researchers in Norway have retracted a second high-profile exercise paper — again after running afoul of an ethical approval committee.
As part of the 2016 study, the researchers gave athletes asthma medication to measure its effect on signals from the nervous system to the lungs; although the drug appeared to have no detectable effect on the nervous system signals, 45 minutes after getting the drug, athletes (including those without asthma) showed an average slight increase in one measure of lung function.
Annette Birkeland, of The Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees (FEK), told us:
A journal has retracted a 2014 paper because of an authorship dispute that became the subject of litigation.
Last year, the Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh requested the paper be retracted to resolve the dispute. The Journal of Applied Biomaterials & Functional Materials retracted the paper in October.
According to the retraction notice, the principal investigator of a clinical trial on which some of the study is based was not included as a co-author, and claimed he had not “validated the accuracy of the data.”
The notice does not mention a lawsuit, but a letter from the authors’ research institution does.
Another front has opened up in the legal battle between the CrossFit exercise brand and a competitor, spurred by a now-retracted paper about the risk of injury from the workout program. Soon, a judge will decide whether CrossFit is entitled to learn the names of the study’s peer reviewers.
CrossFit has tried and failed to identify them before. If they’re successful now, it could help establish a new way to legally breach reviewer confidentiality; two outside lawyers we consulted said they’d never before seen a court order a journal to reveal an article’s peer reviewers.
On Jan. 18, Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the Superior Court of the State of California in San Diego is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether or not the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) should be compelled to unmask the reviewers for “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition.”
The article was published in 2013 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR), the official research publication of the NSCA, and was retracted last year. It’s referred to as the “Devor article” in the court documents, after last author Steven Devor, a former professor at The Ohio State University (OSU).
A “discovery referee” assigned to the defamation case recentlyordered NSCA to provide CrossFit with the reviewers’ names, but NSCA is challenging those rulings, saying that they have the same right to protect their sources as journalists do.
A journal devoted to wrestling science — we’re not sure if it’s the only one — has given the old reverse frankensteiner to a 2016 article whose authors stole much of their text from a conference presentation one of them had reviewed for the meeting.
The article, “The Role of Goal Setting, Collectivism, and Task Orientation on Iranian Wrestling Teams Performance,” appeared in International Journal of Wrestling Science, a Taylor & Francis title. Its two authors were Hossein Abdolmaleki and Seyyed Bahador Zakizadeh, of the Islamic Azad University in Karaj, Iran.
The researcher whose brazen theft of a manuscript he had reviewed prompted a “Dear plagiarist” letter from the aggrieved author once the deceit was discovered has lost a second paper for plagiarism.
International Scholarly Research Notices, a Hindawi publication, has retracted a 2012 study by Carmine Finelli and colleagues, citing widespread misuse of text from two previously published articles. The removal was prompted by the curiosity of a scientist in England who, on reading about Finelli’s first retraction, made the logical assumption: once a plagiarist, often a plagiarist.
After issuing a retraction notice May 30 for a biomedical engineering paper, the journal has since pulled the notice, citing “a potential problem.”
After doing some digging, we’ve learned more about the “potential problem.”
Apparently, the retraction was requested by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. NTU has been investigating the first author for months, after it received an allegation about an unrelated manuscript. As a result, NTU terminated first author Hamidreza Namazi‘s contract as a research fellow earlier this year.
As part of the investigation, NTU began to look at Namazi’s other papers, and discovered several with potential problems — including this one, which NTU believes did not receive proper ethical approvals. So it contacted the journal to raise its concerns.
Namazi, however, told us that he and his colleague obtained approval from another organization, but didn’t make that clear in the paper — so the journal has retracted its retraction notice while it investigates Namazi’s claim.
The fallout continues for a study conducted at a local CrossFit gym by researchers at The Ohio State University. First it was corrected, now it’s been retracted, and it continues to be the basis of litigation against both the authors and the publisher.
Editors at the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research have decided to pull the 2013 study after learning that the research protocol had not been approved by Ohio State’s institutional review board (IRB).
Over the past few years, the study has spawned several lawsuits, including a defamation suit brought by gym owner Mitch Potterf against Ohio State that landed him a six-figure settlement, as well as an ongoing suit by Potterf against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA, which publishes the journal). The CrossFit brand has also sued the NSCA. [See update at end of post for more on that case.]