Drug-cheating runners come in all ages

The baby boomers aren’t babies anymore – far from it – and when it comes to running, their progression into masters and seniors competition seems to require the same diligence as what was once found in that generation’s prime years.

Such as: Drug cheaters.

Just because thousands of dollars and future endorsements aren’t involved doesn’t mean runners well into their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond don’t look for ways to get an illegal advantage.

USA Track and Field is well aware of this and for the past decade has continued to upgrade its testing program.

Occasionally, someone tests positive by accident – like a runner who’s taking prescription blood pressure medication.

But really, there shouldn’t be any more of these so-called “I didn’t know’’ moments because everything is spelled out on the USATF website.

Here are some of the USATF warnings and regulations (straight off the website) when competing at the state or national level, be it track, cross country or road races:

>Athletes who participate in National Championships and Team USA competitions are subject to drug testing performed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in accordance with the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing.

>BE ALERT – Knowing your rights and responsibilities may save you from making a mistake that could jeopardize your athletic career. The use of ALL dietary supplements is “at the athlete’s own risk of committing a doping violation.” Visit the Supplement 411 website for more information on dietary supplements.

>BE AWARE – Testing may take place at any time or after any round – preliminary, qualifying, or final – USADA typically selects place finishers and random athletes. Athletes must report immediately to the Doping Control Station after they are notified of being selected for testing and will be accompanied by a chaperone until they report to the station.

>BE CLEAN – Checking to see if the medication you take is allowed could be the difference between passing your test and serving a doping ban. All athletes are responsible for checking the status of any prescription medications at the Global DRO or a quick call to USADA’s Drug Reference Line™ (1-800-233-0393) and following-up with any necessary forms is all it takes to pass with flying colors.

>BE INFORMED – Watching USADA’s short testing video will familiarize you with the drug testing process. When making travel arrangements please allow enough time for drug testing at the end of your event. This will include providing a sample and processing paperwork.

The adjudication of anti-doping rule violations or refusals to test will be carried out by USADA. Athletes found to have committed a doping violation will be disciplined according to penalties specified by the World Anti-Doping Code and, if appropriate, applicable IAAF rules. Such penalties may result in a period of ineligibility as well as disqualification from the event.

To me, it makes no sense at any age to cheat because you are simply cheating yourself. Especially in masters and seniors competition, where the only thing on the line is probably a trophy or medal and one’s name on a results website.

Yet it still happens.

Even at races like the annual Mount Washington Race in New Hampshire, officials feel the need to test runners as they cross the finish line. Why would you jeopardize the chance to brag to everyone about your accomplishment when a drug test turns up dirty and gets you disqualified?

These days, it’s easy to find questionable supplements and the like online.

Then users express surprise when they get caught. It’s either: “Somebody must have put something in my water bottle’’ or “I didn’t know this cough medication was on the banned substance list.’’

If you want to be the best of the best, keep it clean. It’s the aure-fire way to maintain a clear conscience and, besides, there’s someone out there looking to make sure you do.


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Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series Honest Abe 4.6-Miler, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com/winterseries.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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