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« Does Bad News Come in Threes? | Main | A Blast from the Past »

October 19, 2006

Comments

Iron Pol

I'm not sure how vital testing for performance enhancing drugs might be, but the cheating question is a good one.

Consider the precautions professional athletes must take to protect their drug free status. Documenting everything that goes into their bodies. Getting a doctor's note for any medications they might take, whether prescription or OTC. And triple checking any new medication against the list of proscribed substances. Not all prohibited items are as cut and dry as EPO.

I think the bigger question is this. Why would an age grouper cheat like that just to get to Kona? They won't likely be able to cheat the system there. If their only reason for participating is to get to Kona, they've already lost. Whether they get to race Hawaii or not, they can never win.

With so many people striving just to get into ANY Ironman, it amazes me the lengths to which people will go to disgrace themselves.

Andy Murtha

I do not think that age groupers should have to get tested at all. The majority of the age groupers are usually not there for competition purposes. Most of them are just there to get PR's and finish what the majority of triathletes consider their "Mount Everest." I think one thing you could do is just obtain all entrants times for their qualifing race, and if their Kona time differs greatly from their qualifying time (I do not know what time spread to put here, it is up for the organization to decide), then you could possibly have them take a drug test. If they fail, then they are banned from Kona for 1/2/3 years. If they do it a second time after they are allowed back, then they are banned forever.

I think mandatory testing would be too cost prohibitive, or at least make Kona (and possibly other races) unattainable from a cost standpoint for the average Joe (or Jane). Also, when and where would you have all these age groupers tested?

I think if you have a database of all qualifying times, and lets say that an age grouper beats his qualifying race time by lets say, 22 minutes, then I would pull him off to the side and have him tested after the race. Then follow my punishment recommendations above.

Jay

I agree w/IronPol and Andy; age-group testing is not the way to go. My opinion is the large group should not be punished for the actions of a few. There will always be people who try and some who successfully cheat their way to victory. Very sad, but true.

The part of this story that most interested me was Tim Don's excuse for missing 3 tests in 18 months..."forgetfulness and lack of understanding" of the online system used by British athletes to list their whereabouts for drug testing. That is laughable. One time maybe, three times is ridiculous. This is how he earns a living...he should be familiar with the system.

My career choice has made me overly suspicious. Missing drug tests leads me to believe you have something to hide. Now he has 3 months to rid his body of enhancements. I would require him to show up for a drug test within 24 hours or receive a year long suspension.

“I have never taken, or even considered taking, a performance-enhancing drug in my life, and I am absolutely devastated to receive a suspension for contravening anti-doping regulations.” Lip service. Actions speak louder than words.

Spandex King

I think it would just add a lot of cost for nothing. If your an agegrouper and cheat who are you really cheating. Just yourself. What a shame it is that endurance sports have gotten to this point. I doubt I will evern watch the Tour next year.

Ken

The "average Joe" argument doesn't hold up for me. With the exception of lottery spots, qualification is based on performance. I'd suggest that if you qualify for Kona and want the spot, you get tested. No test, no spot. Period.

When you look at the amount of training time and money on gear and coaching people will spend trying to qualify, it's only natural to assume that people will and are cheating to get in. It's a privilege to race at Kona, and should be treated as such.

Marc

Unfortunately it's the exclusiveness of M-dot races and particularly the Kona race (winning or losing the race has nothing to do with it) that will make cheating to win a spot more prevalent as time goes on, especially amongst age groupers. At big races, a random drug testing amongst AG'ers would add a deterant to one form of cheating. At least a smaller sample would keep costs down, and keep in mind that one of the main reasons we have drug testing is to protect the athletes from themselves and thier coaches. So I think a deterrent would be a good thing.

Clydeologist

Well, I'd have to "shave" about 3 hours off my iron distance PR to make it to Kona so this is a bit of a non-issue for me personally but there are two issues that I am concerned about.

1) As has been mentioned already, all the time and money that goes into training, it has to mean something. The idea that someone who has poured their heart into the sport and maintained their integrity has been beaten out by someone who lacks integrity is a sad notion.

2) As someone who feels a personal investment in maintaining a positive view of triathlon and triathletes I would welcome greater scrutiny at our highest level of competition and publicity. I agree with Ken that if you qualify for Kona you should not only have your checkbook ready but you should be prepared to be tested. Similarly, if you place in Kona you should also be willing to be tested. It may not have to be everyone but at least a heavy random sampling.

As for me, I'm fairly certain that nobody would care if I wore a giant EPO hydration pack and had a personal crew nailing me with testosterone laden darts throughout the race…I'd still be noodling along somewhere towards the middle of the pack.

Kevin L

Testing should be done for top 15 or 20 athletes... Could be random, but that should be up to the WTC or ITU. We don't want this sport to be tainted like the Tour or Pro cycling. Its started to be, but it should be fixed before it gets out of hand!

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