Sunday, July 24, 2011

A surprise visit by the drug tester

T his past Tuesday I received a surprise visit that elite athletes don't exactly look forward to. After a hard morning workout and lunch out with the ever energetic Quin, my 2-year old, we returned home to be greeted by the drug tester, a technician from a local lab. Most people are aware that elite athletes get tested for unauthorized or illegal performance enhancing drugs. But what many people don't realize is the folks who do the drug testing can show up at your home or training venue at any hour. It's random drug testing at its finest.

As an elite athlete, I have to provide the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency my whereabouts for out-of-competition testing, accounting for every hour of every day. If I am not where I said I would be and they come calling, I have an hour to get back and report, otherwise it counts as a missed test. Three missed tests would mean a two- year suspension. Believe me, I have forgotten to update my whereabouts more than once when I've taken a spur of the moment trip or gone to races. Those trips usually include some frantic emails. Luckily, they make it pretty easy to text or email if something comes up.

I admit, the first few times I had to do drug testing it was a bit embarrassing. But after 15 years of urinating in a cup in front of a stranger, it’s no longer a big deal. It's a necessary thing, I guess, to help keep the sport clean through enforcement and deterrent. I am not naive, though. I know there are people who know how to cheat the tests, but at least we're making an effort to keep it clean.

What's more bothersome is having to fill that cup when, in a manner of speaking, your tank is empty. Drug testers often catch me after a workout or race when I'm dehydrated.
After one particular race I had to drink a lot of water to produce the sample they wanted. Unfortunately, right after testing I had to head off to a wedding. That water I guzzled? Yeah, I had to duck out of the ceremony a couple of times in search of a restroom.

After races, I feel like I'm always the last one out of the drug testing room. In the 2000 Olympic Track and Field Trials I finished seventh in the 10,000 meters, which was the last event of the night, ending at 9:30. I didn't finish with the drug testing until 11:15 p.m. The stadium by then was closed, the buses were no longer running and there was no one around. My husband, Jon, and I had to hitch-hike back to the hotel. Good times.

Tuesday afternoon I called my coach, Bob Sevene, to tell him I had drug testing. He told me, “If you weren’t running well enough to be in the drug testing pool, we’d be in trouble.” True, but I had to cut the conversation short. You guessed it, I had to run off to the bathroom again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Blake (Jon, Quin, Sev)

    I just discovered your blog this morning. It's nice to read all you have been up to. Very best to all of you.