A Young Athlete Describes being Drug Tested

I thought it was time for something completely different.  A distraction from politics and the everyday…..

On the long car ride back from our fishing/northern vacation I interviewed one of our boys about his Canadian drug testing experience.  He is an athlete, who has hopes of one day soon joining our Canadian National Team in his chosen sport.  He trains with his National Team as part of a pool of athletes who have been identified as having that potential, but he still has some growing and training to do!

person holding barbell
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Athletes are beginning to head back to their training centres across Canada- gyms, sports fields and arenas are starting to open up with physical distancing measures in place.  This is difficult to justify because many of the Canadian Universities have cancelled team events for the near future.  For example:

U SPORTS, the national brand of university sports in Canada, announced Monday the cancellation of its six 2020 fall national championships and modifications to eligibility and scholarship regulations in response to the COVID-19 situation.

“U SPORTS has been working hard with the four conferences, our 56 member institutions and medical experts to examine the feasibility of delivering the fall national championships this season,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, U SPORTS Chief Sport Officer. “Taking into account the academic realities of university sport, we arrived at a point where a tough decision had to be made.”

…“Although the Canadian sport system is working together to create evidence-based return to training, practice and competition protocols, it is not currently feasible or safe due to the COVID-19 Pandemic for U SPORTS to be able to offer fall championships given the academic realities of student-sport,” said Dr. Taryn Taylor, U SPORTS Chief Medical Officer and representative on the Own the Podium Return to Sport Task Force. “We continue to work with public health officials across the country to examine possibilities for return to play for the winter 2021 term.”

This cancellation is having a ripple effect across Canada with other sporting organizations being affected.  We keep our fingers crossed that things will get started soon.  There is nothing like an athlete who can’t sit still waiting to get started…..

man in white t shirt and black pants in a running position
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When he first moved out to train at his University and National Training Centre, we were reassured about one thing – we had heard that all the athletes are subject to drug testing and have to sign a behavior contract.  He’s not a boy who has ever gotten into any trouble like that – but it’s just another thing for parents not to worry about.  We just want our kids to live a healthy lifestyle – so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Of course the drug testing program I’m referring to is one that prevents athletes from using performance enhancing drugs – but everything else as well!  I asked my son if he wanted to write a guest post for me – but he said he’d prefer it if I asked him some questions instead.  Here is the car-ride interview.  I cut and pasted in some links as well!

asphalt road in between trees
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How do you learn about drugs and sports?

First of all, I signed an agreement with my Provincial and National sporting organization to lead a healthy lifestyle and not take drugs.  I also have a doctor, a coach and a nutritionist who give me advice on diet and vitamins.  My program requires me to take a mandatory drug seminar that informs me of my rights and responsibility as an athlete regarding substances.  It includes punishment and reforms as well as about bad supplements that have fillers that are illegal. So I know what to avoid and what to be careful of – as well as what are the effects of drugs and what are the WADA rules.

WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY play true
WADA logo from website

 

WADA is the World Anti Doping Agency – https://www.wada-ama.org/en/who-we-are

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999 as an international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) – the document harmonizing anti-doping policies in all sports and all countries.” “Our Vision” – “A world where all athletes can compete in a doping-free sporting environment.”

I can also look up drugs on the Global DRO website, and I can ask my nutritionist.

Global DRO – https://globaldro.com/Home 

The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) provides athletes and support personnel with information about the prohibited status of specific medications based on the current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.  Global DRO does not contain information on, or that applies to, any dietary supplements.  Visitors can search the Global DRO for specific information on products sold in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Global DRO is brought to you through a partnership between Anti-Doping Switzerland (ADCH), the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA), Drug-Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ), and the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) are official Global DRO licensees.

What do you think about this program?

Good.  I’m happy to have all of this information.  It’s just something else to worry about.  I know to only take supplements and vitamins with an “Informed Choice” symbol, to only buy from our approved pharmacy.  This should mean it’s a clean supplement – but you still have to be wary.  Also when I’m sick and I get a prescription, I ask my doctor to make sure that the prescription medicine meets WADA requirements – and is not on the controlled list for my sport.  Then I check the Global DRO list again myself.

red and white medication pills
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I have to be careful of things like cold and allergy medicines – which can have efedrine – which can be a decongestant – but it’s also a stimulant – which can be performance enhancing, or diuretics which can be used for masking drugs.  I just don’t take anything at all for a cold or flu – only antibiotics if I need them.

Informed Choice  –    https://www.informed-choice.org/

When choosing nutritional products and supplements, how can you know if they have been contaminated with unsafe or banned substances, or if they have been manufactured to internationally-recognized standards? Look for the Informed Choice quality mark.  Through our retail monitoring and testing program, alongside our third-party oversight of manufacturing facilities and processes, we help reduce the risk of impurities and banned substances entering products. This not only ensures that the products you consume have been manufactured to recognized international standards, it also limits the likelihood of you taking unsafe and banned substances.”

Does anyone ever try to get you to take drugs?

No never.

What types of things do you take?

I just take a protein supplement and a multi-vitamin.  I just need to make sure I get enough nutrition, and I work out a lot – so I need to keep my weight up too.

Have you ever been drug tested?

Yes maam, but just once.  It’s randomized, though so it can happen any time.  The time I was tested was at a National Sporting event, and I had won the first of three medals.  After the first event – I won a bronze medal and I was celebrating. It was just the best moment ever! Within 15 minutes after the event I was asked to submit to a drug test, by a volunteer official.  It was awkward.  I had to go inside an RV, where I was given a bunch of forms to fill out to make sure I understood the rules and my rights.  They showed me the bathroom where I was supposed to give my urine sample, and a volunteer had to watch me.  It was too weird.  I knew there was no issue at all, but nobody ever followed up with me – If there had been an issue I would have been contacted.  There were four other people who were tested at the same time – me and one other medalist and some of the women athletes in a similar event.  I didn’t get tested again for my other medals, but they tested athletes a few more times during the event as far as I know.

I have to be available for testing at any time and I have to agree to a randomized test whenever.  The testers know where my residence is, so theoretically they could knock at my door at 2 in the morning, but it’s more likely that they might test a group of us at our sporting facility.

What do you think about athletes who take drugs?

I’m obviously not happy with people who take performance enhancing drugs – it ruins the whole competition and the fun of it.  Everybody should watch the movie Icarus – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6333060/ – it’s probably my favourite movie.  I didn’t know a lot about what was going on with doping before – I just heard rumours and speculation.  It’s just so shocking how deep this drug use goes within the Russian sporting institution and it’s shocking how long this has been going on.  It’s a really informative movie.

Do you think any Canadian athletes in your sport take drugs?

I hope not, and I don’t believe anybody does – but I guess it’s possible.

What kind of special rules do you worry about?

I worry about supplements and vitamins.  Sometimes companies use extra fillers in their products which can be banned substances.  It worries me that if they put something in their product and I didn’t know about it – but I would still be responsible about it according to WADA rules.  Some people worry about people putting something in their water bottle – I think that’s unlikely.  I just worry about supplement companies taking short cuts – so I have to do my research about the companies and their products.

black and yellow labeled container universal nutrition gh max
Photo by Nawaz Ali on Pexels.com

 

We are proud of how hard our son works in his sport, and he has more work to do.  We are glad that there is an anti-doping program and drug testing.  It would be wonderful if all of the world’s athletes were drug free.  In the meantime – won’t it be great when sports competitions get started again?  Stay tuned…..

 

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