Summer 2009 edition of USADA’s Spirit of Sport

The Summer 2009 edition of the Spirit of Sport is now available. This issue of the Spirit of Sport features:

• Doping in Sports by USADA CEO Travis Tygart;
• Cycling: A Team Sport;
• and Destination Vancouver.

Click this link to access the newsletter.

USADA has broadened its Blood Collection Program

Recently received this email from USADA:

“September 3, 2009 – You may have already received educational information from USADA or your NGB, or even experienced first-hand, the blood collection process…here’s the scoop in case you have any additional questions.

USADA has broadened its Blood Collection Program, to ensure the most effective Testing Program for athletes in the Registered Testing Pool. All athletes in the USADA Registered Testing Pool, as well as others who may be selected for testing by USADA, are subject to blood testing as part of USADA’s Out-of-Competition Anti-Doping Program. In addition, any athlete competing at an event where Doping Control occurs is subject to blood testing if selected.

Blood collection can occur in both In-and Out-of-Competition settings. In both of these settings, the DCO will manage the Blood Collection Session and will work in conjunction with a qualified phlebotomist (also referred to as a Blood Collection Officer or “BCO”), who will perform the actual collection of the blood sample.

At the start of the testing session, a DCO or representative of USADA will notify you that you have been selected for testing and that a blood Sample is required. You may also be required to provide a urine Sample.

The DCO will ensure that the Doping Control Station is suitable for blood collections, which includes maintaining the privacy of the athlete and ensuring that the Station is clean.

You will be asked to be seated for a period of time prior to providing a blood Sample. You will need to remain in a seated position, uninterrupted, prior to the blood collection.

In most cases the amount of blood that will be drawn for Doping Control will be less than a tablespoon. As the human body has approximately 6 liters, or 379 tablespoons of blood, the amount of blood collected for Doping Control is minimal, and your performance should not be affected.

You will be asked a series of questions related to your recent training and the altitude of these locations. These questions are necessary in order to have the full background information needed to evaluate your blood test results.

The DCO or BCO will provide instruction and if you have any questions regarding the process, please ask the DCO or BCO…”

If You’re in the OOC Testing Pool and USADA Asks You to Update Them on Your Whereabouts…

So, first arrives via email a gentle reminder that the deadline to submit whereabouts info is approaching, and I’ve yet to submit mine… Despite Todd Wells’s complaining to the contrary (he gets paid enough that he should be able to handle this not-so-herculean task), at least in the USA it’s all pretty easy, friendly and professional; after awhile I’d even become Facebook friends with the Doping Control Officer (DCO) who collected my samples, so often did we interact professionally. Of course, it’s possible that if the DCO is jerk, the sample collection process could be tense and unpleasant (just as it would be if the athlete was a scheissekopf). But if you have a DCO who is “cool” at best, or professional at worst, and you’re not a stronzo, it actually is about as pleasant an exchange as could be expected. I remember one time while trying to hydrate enough to pee (using BEER of course, which the DCO refused when I politely offered him a bottle – I think it was a Chimay or some other Belgian trappist), we were listening to new music on Itunes and he was giving me music suggestions while my kidneys and bladder did their stuff.

[Note to USADA: DCO’s like the guy you send to collect my samples are the kind of people to continue to employ! Not, by comparison, someone like the Euro-tester who broke Kevin van Impe’s balls. The Quick Step rider was at a crematorium in Lochristi, Belgium when a drug tester showed up demanding the rider provide a sample, and warned that he would face a two-year suspension if he refused…] So then you gotta hustle over to the USADA website and log-in.

Lots of good, supplemental info. I’ll give USADA credit…they certainly play fair with athletes if there is no violation to adjudicate! No complaints about the website and the material available therein.

Then you’re into the inner sanctum. At least they tell you what you need to know in order to make the process go smoothly. SWEET! The system will pre-populate for me!

Now there is still a lot left to do, but I’m tired. But I’m trying to show all the fans out there that I personally am playing fair (even though I’m just training right now with no competitions scheduled), I’m not an hijo de puta, I’m trying to walk the straight and narrow, USADA is not the nefarious organization that Floyd Landis and co. have made it out to be, etc. I really wanna go to bed so I’m going to hold off on filing my Q3 info until later. If you want to see more of that process, let me know…I’m happy to share. The only hard part for me is remembering to update my whereabouts when my schedule changes…

I envision being out one night in say, Miami, and connecting with some beautiful Latina named Sandra and going back to her place, only to realize at some point later during the night, “Hijo de puta! I have to update my USADA whereabouts because if I don’t it’s guaranteed that tomorrow will be the day they show up at my house at 6AM to control me and I’ll be curled up in a bed here and not at the address that is listed on my form! Now how the frakk do I use the SMS-feature to update USADA? [The ‘mood’ is killed and several minutes pass as I plod through my BlackBerry trying to find the note I took for myself on the topic of remote updates via text, for just this occasion.] Finally, I figure it out, and then ask, in a manner that will always be awkward no matter when or how it is phrased, “Oye, mi amor, que es tu dirección? Necesito avisar a mis reguladores en USADA que si mañana vengan a las 6 de la mañana para pedir que hago peepee, ellos deben pasar por aca en vez de mi casa. No te preocupes! Soy ex-deportista infame y la gente tiene ganas de saber con quién ando! Ellos son como mi propia Papparazzi!”

Thanks for reading, folks. But before I go, please let me give a tip of the hat to Tanya L. for her love of Chimay, my cousin Robert for manning-up, defending his PD’s honor and finally trying a Chimay, D.S., for significant consulting services rendered on an upcoming cycling-related project, and Phil I., for keeping me entertained with stories from OZ.

But alas, before I go, there is a wag of the finger to a certain Charlie…it is easy to speak ill of someone when they are not present, but to do so repeatedly, in the presence of friends and acquaintances of he who you seek to malign, is disappointing and embarrassing – for you. Even the walls have ears (and sometimes , like Davide Rebellin learned much to his horror in 2001.). What do you get out of incessantly bad mouthing someone? I knew a guy who once was so desperate to win a race in Gotham that he offered this other guy a lot of money to sell him the win. The other guy, who had already been corrupted by the sport to some degree, incongruously still thought it unethical to buy and sell races, so he politely declined, yet never mocked the rider who ultimately finished a dejected third in front of his big money sponsor. And he certainly didn’t expose him publicly for being a fraud who would criminally seek to cause a race to finish in a way other than on its merits. While the guy who won was no saint, neither was the guy in third, and what was worse was that he didn’t seem to realize that he stood only to ruin his reputation for having violated this rule:

1Q2.General Misconduct. The following offenses may be punished by suspension or lesser penalties: (a) Acts of theft, fraud or grossly unsportsmanlike conduct in conjunction with a sporting event; (b) Entering competition under an assumed name; (c) Offering, conspiring, or attempting to cause any race to result otherwise than on its merits.”

I am required by USADA to submit the information discussed in the pages above because I violated significant rules, codes of ethics, tenets of socially accepted behavior and the codes of honor and morality under which I was raised and educated. I pay the price for my serious errors in judgment every day, but I do my best to hang-on and fight towards arriving at a time and a place in the future where the events of 2006-2007 will no longer exert such a negative influence on my waking hours. I saw a lot of stuff on the bike – not the kind of horror experienced by soldiers on the battlefield – but cycling’s own unique forms of corruption and destruction and betrayal and hate and violence and criminality and duplicity and pettiness and scorn. And yet it took place across the backdrop of some of the most beautiful places in the world, through fields of flowers in ” Pescia, Italy (click through on that link if you can), along the Caribbean, through the Alps, across the pampas of Argentina, here in Pittsburgh, apparently in New York City and even in Wyoming of all places. And I still love to ride my bike.

I’m sorry to those who I disappointed, I lament that I deprived your of diaries that some of you found to be entertaining for what I conveyed outside of the race; I’m sorry to those clean riders – wherever you were – who didn’t finish in the money…I’m contrite. I’m paying my dues more than you know. I’m happy to fill out USADA’s forms and share with them what I knew about former teammates and squads and riders from Chile to Cesenatico to China. I can’t control what people say behind my back, and I have little time these days to waste swatting away the juvenile insults that seem so popular with the the bike groupies.

Shannon Rowbury sounds off on doping

The title of this article should be “Shannon Rowbury Whines About USADA’s Not Giving Her a Free Pass to Use Supplements Containing Banned Substances.” Sheesh.

Rowbury whines:

“Rather than making a blanket statement that essentially leaves us (the athletes) to try to makes sense of the hundreds of products out there on our own or spend thousands to test our vitamins independently, why doesn’t USADA instead use it’s resources to find 1 or 2 safe companies for the athletes to use? All I ask is that USADA help me in my quest for clean records and a clean sport.”

But she seems to understand that USADA doesn’t certify nutritional products because of liability concerns and the fact that there are simply too many products on the market. She writes:

“USADA admits that it is hard to be sure about the quality, even of a multi-vitamin: Supplements do not appear in DRO™ because USADA is not able to provide a definitive answer as to the status of each product. This is due to a variety of reasons, but primarily to limitations in the regulation and ongoing quality control over dietary supplement labeling, purity and many of their ingredients…”

The reality is that it’s unfortunately “Buyer Beware” for those of us athletes who are in the OOC testing pool (I don’t even train full-time anymore but I still have to submit my whereabouts in the form of a guaranteed 1-hour availability for testing time window, just like Rowbury). USADA isn’t going to pick two out of 200 supplement manufacturers and certify them, because neither Travis Tygart nor his board are going to risk the legal liability or claims of commercial favoritism that would accompany such an action. As long as the government says that we can get the RDA of vitamins and minerals from eating food (regardless of whether or not people do), USADA won’t get into the business of certifying non-essential nutritional supplements that themselves aren’t regulated by the FDA.

But if Rowbury feels this strongly about the issue, perhaps she can develop the framework for a program whereby the supplement industry itself can fund the analysis of its products. Oh wait – what industry is going to intentionally invite increased government oversight just to satisfy a few whiny elite athletes who typically don’t even have enough money to pay retail price for their nutritional products?

On the Road, and USADA

On the road to Ohio as previously discussed. Forgot that I had to update my OOC-testing whereabouts for USADA in case I’m in-line to be tested this quarter. Was able to send a simple text with the specifics of my “change of plan,” for which USADA was even kind enough to send me a receipt:

Your information was received on 3/11/2009 and will be added to your file.

Your tracking number is: ME-090311-xxxxxx

Nick Price S*ck My Balls!

USADA 60 MInute Window

One of the new USADA Whereabouts Filing requirements for athletes (like me) who are members of the out of competition testing pool is the “60-minute time slot”. Athletes in the Registered Testing Pool must submit a 60-minute time slot for each day in the quarter between the times of 6 am-11pm. Yes, for every day for next quarter I’ve had to specify a 60-minute period during which USADA can always find me. I’d rather have an RFT or microchip implanted under the skin at the back of my neck than have to keep this 60min slot current.

Also of interest is the fact that, when locating an athlete for testing, the Doping Control Officer (DCO) will make a reasonable attempt based on the information given for each day. As of January 2009, DCOs will NOT make phone calls, in accordance with the International Standards of Testing.