These blogs are my personal, idiosyncratic observations about aging, training, and sports competition.
To access previous blogs, click "Read Other Blogs" at the bottom of this page.
Paddling in Torino -- World Masters Games 2013
Winning - May 11, 2012
Can Too Much Exercise Be Bad for Your Heart - March 11, 2011
The 60 Minute Crawl - January 30, 2011
Playing Tennis Again - October 6, 2010
Why Compete? (2) - June 15, 2010
LOST - May 24, 2010
Happy Birthday to Me - May 18, 2010
Why Compete?(1) - April 30, 2010
Val Barnwell - April 14, 2010
Spring Training Day - April 4, 2010
Becoming Bionic - March 24, 2010
The Divided Kingdom - February 4, 2010
October 24, 2012
Drug testing for Masters Athletes is not on the horizon; it's here. Right now three of the National Governing Bodies of sports -- USA Cycling, USA Track & Field, and USA Triathlon -- subscribe to the drug-testing protocol of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency ("USADA") in their license agreements. What does this mean?
First, it means that anyone who joins one of these organizations agrees to be tested by the USADA. Of course not all competitors in any race will be tested. But certainly top finishers, in all age groups, at national and international competitions can expect to be tested (i.e. providing urine or blood upon request).
Second, it means that if the athlete tests positive for a banned substance, the consequences may be severe. Here are the terms included in USA Cycling's statement on anti-doping:
"...a rider who cheats can be suspended for up to four years
for a first violation and a second serious violation of
anti-doping rules can lead to a lifetime suspension."
Not surprisingly, USA Cycling is particularly assertive about its anti-doping policy. Basically, any athlete, -- amateur or professional, junior or masters, in competition or out of competition -- may be subject to testing.
What are banned substances? A list of prohibited substances, as well as contact information for a USADA expert who can answer questions about banned substances, can be found on the USADA website (see below). The USADA policy allows for certain exceptions under its Therapeutic Use Exemption ("TEU"). However, obtaining a TEU is said to be somewhat onerous.
The reasons for an anti-doping policy are obvious. Every competition should provide athletes with a fair and level field. The use of performance-enhancing drugs by some competitors skews this ideal. Drug use by athletes, professional or amateur, cheapens the sport and all its participants.
As these anti-doping policies and procedures are implemented, there are likely to be some innocent victims: athletes who take medications unaware that these medications are, or contain, banned substances. The NGBs of sports subscribing to the USADA protocol have an obligation to make their policies prominent and clear. The fine print buried in the license agreement is not adequate. This issue should be highlighted and discussed so that no athlete can claim ignorance.
Of the 27 sports for Masters Athletes that I cover, three subscribe to the USADA protocol at this time:
て｢ Track and Field
Two other sports require drug testing, although the USADA protocol is not mentioned in their technical rules:
At this time, other major Masters Sports, such as swimming, tennis, and skiing encourage clean competition, but do not required the testing of athletes. However, concern about performance-enhancing drugs is not going away. Unfortunately, as the number of Masters Athletes grows (driven by demographics, if nothing else), instances of cheating are likely to increase. Drug-testing is here to stay and will probably become more pervasive for amateur athletes in the coming years. Stay informed!
Here are a few references, if you want more information:
て｢ For the website of the USADA, click here
て｢ For an article on testing in track and field, click here
て｢ "Extreme Measures" by Ian Dille; Outside Magazine; September 2012 pp. 100
て｢ "Performance: Boost or Bust" by Pete Magill; Running Times Magazine, February/March 2012