Coach Tip Tuesday: Know the Anti-Doping Regulations
Wishing you all a very happy Coach Tip Tuesday!
Today’s Coach Tip Tuesday is a very important thing that many age-group athletes don’t consider. This week, I’m telling you to make absolutely sure that you understand the anti-doping rules that govern your sport.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is the agency that is in charge of handling the anti-doping program here in the United States (both in and out of competition). This agency has established rules on what substances athletes are allowed to take into the bodies and what they are not.
It is each athlete’s responsibility to ensure that they are not putting something into their bodies that is in violation of these rules. The penalties for violations are severe, as they should be. Preserving clean and fair sport is the best way to protect the integrity of all sports, regardless of which sport it is. Many people think that these regulations and policies only apply to elite-level or professional athletes. That is FALSE. These regulations and policies apply to ALL athletes who participate in a given sport.
At Team MPI, we take this incredibly seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy for it. Any athlete we coach has to sign a contract that says that they will not violate USADA regulations (or the regulations of the Anti-Doping Agency that governs the location that they are racing in, such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)).
I bring all of this up because this week, one of the athletes I work with sent me a pre-race communication that was sent out to all participants of a race. In this e-mail, the race endorsed and promoted a service that is illegal per USADA regulations. (I’m not publicly identifying the event or the service at this time, as I am currently attempting to resolve this directly with the race and am optimistic that they will change their endorsement of a banned practice.)
Though I will not publicly identify the exact practice at this time, the premise behind this is sound: don’t trust everything that is advertised to you. Just because it is endorsed by a race or available at an expo doesn’t mean it’s automatically legal (although, in my humble opinion, it should mean that (but I digress)).
When one thinks of “doping,” many people immediately think of illegal drugs or prescription medications. In reality, the anti-doping world is far more inclusive than that. SO many things are governed by anti-doping regulations - everything from supplements, to vitamins, to medications (over-the-counter and prescription), to drugs, to needle use, to receiving intravenous infusions, to clinical trials, and more.
Athletes with a legitimate medical need for certain substances that are banned in or out of competition need to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to be allowed to participate legally in races. For instance, athletes who have Type 1 diabetes need to apply for a TUE due to their medical need to take insulin to manage their diabetes.
The world is always changing, and new products are constantly coming on the market that promise to help folks recover faster, feel better, etc. One current “hot” example of this is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is permitted according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but all other cannabinoids are still prohibited in-competition. Prohibited cannabinoid components, such as THC, may still be present in CBD products, so it’s important to know exactly what is being ingested or used on the body. This is just one example (so many potential ones!!) of something that is legal but may actually still cause an issue for an athlete.
In summary, be sure you know the rules and take the care to research everything you are putting into and on your body. Doing so not only benefits you, but your sport overall. And we all want an ethical, fair, safe environment to train and race in. :)
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.