Local Drug Testing
A stir at local running races was created with last month’s Phast Times News mention of a group planning a possible boycott. The group would like to see drug testing become a normal part of racing as running on certified courses. “I feel that if athletes go unchecked, unchallenged, it will become an epidemic in no time,” said one of the anonymous runners arguing for drug testing. “I have two kids beginning cross country and I feel compelled to fight for an equal starting line for them as well as us.” The organizers spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals and public ridicule.
One of the races targeted is the CCCD’s Half Marathon, November 5. In response, board member GARY WRIGHT, Race Manager and CCCD VP wrote, “Dallas isn’t testing…yet. Since the big events in the area aren’t testing, I hesitate recommending that we lead the area in doing so. It seems to me that if someone is so fanatical that they take drugs, they would go where the big money is, but I may be naive. With the disappointing news of recent months, especially of [Floyd] Landis and [Marion] Jones, this might be inevitable. Certainly, it would be wise to revisit the subject if the large events in the area start testing.” ROGER FOSTER, another CCCD board member wrote, “First, I believe USATF (USA Track and Field) has the right to drug test for championship races. Sponsors, where large purses are involved, may require it. Secondly, until our prize money gets to be attractive to world-class dopers, I recommend we not make a practice of it. There is expense involved, also.”
“I think what CCCD fails to address,” the anonymous runner responded with, “is the money being offered versus attracting fast runners. It was obvious that occurred last year. In 2004 I ran 1:21+ and finished 28th; last year, a minute faster and 48th place. Hmmm maybe the 20 place difference was 18 more Kenyans in 2005. Any wonder why they $howed up?”
An email conversation began among the Luke’s running team who were asked to drug test. DUNCAN CRAIG, who heads the team, never responded to the initial question.
BARRETT HOPPER, who was recently named as the USATF Long Distance Committee Chair responded to the possibility of drug testing at local races: “Currently in the state of Texas, only the Texas Relays has drug testing. USATF does quite a bit of out competition testing.”
CARLY CAULFIELD, Operations Director, Chevron Houston Marathon had this to say. “We have not had drug testing at our event for some time, at least six years, maybe more. We are hosting the USATF Men’s and Women’s Half Marathon Championship this year and USATF may decide to perform drug testing at our event. But that is up to USATF and not our race organizers.
MARCUS GRUNEWALD, the Race Director for the Wellstone Dallas White Rock Marathon to be held December 10, says the request for drug testing has caught the organization a little late, but would consider it next year. He also mentioned that cost might be a factor.
As a footnote, JEFF ROTH was drug tested when he finished 2nd at the Dallas marathon in 1986 when it was organized by STEVE SHOPOFF. But continued testing was not kept as part of the race in the years that followed.
The USATF web site (usatf.org) reads, “If you are ranked among the top 50 in the World or one of the top 15 performers in your respective event domestically, you are subject to out-of-competition drug testing. It is important for athletes to know that out-of-competition drug testing can occur any time and any place; at work, home, the track, the gym, in class, etc.
In-competition drug testing occurs on-site at all USA National Championships, Olympic Trials, World Championship trials, and other USATF- or IAAF-sanctioned events.”
Hopper continued. “The drug testing program with USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency, usantidoping.org) is very expensive. We do not plan on having drug testing in the [2007 Dallas] series at this point. USATF passed a resolution at last year’s annual convention to request random drug testing for foreign athletes who win road races on US soil.”
The USADA gives the purpose of keeping sport drug-free as being “dedicated to preserving the well being of Olympic sport, the integrity of competition, and ensuring the health of athletes.”
In other aerobic sports, USA Cycling (usacycling.org) goes by the USADA rules of testing at pro events. FINA (Federal Internationale de Natational Amateur, fina.org), the world’s governing swim organization, is very tight on their policies. Basically, they have the right to test anyone at any time, in or out of competition, especially those who win a swim event. USMS (US Master’s Swimming, usms.org) media person, Nancy Ridout, wrote, “United States Masters Swimming does not test for drugs. Because of our population that includes significant numbers of athletes over 50 who take various kinds of medications, it is not feasible.” And, finally, on a lighter note, although USA Triathlon (usat.org) doesn’t drug test amateurs or age groupers (the only group they do test is the professional division), USAT is trying to answer allegations of a female competing in the four-state region (TX, AR, LA, OK) who is rumored to have been a man. In the 1980’s, when Renee Richards (who used to be Mr. Richards) applied for a professional triathlon license, the organization ruled that a person will be ranked in the division of their DNA.