Kara and Adam Goucher Talk NOP and Clean Sport

Last Monday September 30th, USADA announced a 4-year ban for Albert Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown for doping violations associated with their work within the Nike Oregon Project.

In this interview with Chris McClung, Kara and Adam Goucher tell the story of their 6-year journey to support USADA's case. Kara is a co-host for the Clean Sport Collective podcast, and Adam shared his perspective on the fight for clean sport in episode #9. Both former Olympians, they know what it is like to compete at the highest levels in track and field while also being robbed of achievement by drug cheats.

In 2011, everything changed for them when they realized their coach and training group were participating in suspicious activity. Neither could have suspected the extreme challenges that would come from simply telling the truth.

In this discussion with Kara and Adam, we talk about all of those challenges and the implications of this decision on the fight for clean sport, including:

- Their initial reactions to the Salazar and Brown decisions

- Their perspectives on the reactions of others including Nike

- When they first saw suspicious activity within the Nike Oregon Project and why they decided to come forward

- What life is like as a whistleblower and what it was like to testify in this case, including the stress and impact on their own family

- Their reactions to those who would question Kara's own intentions or integrity or accuse her of cheating herself

- What she would like to see happen with the Nike Oregon Project and its athletes

- What consumers can do to support the fight for clean sport in the wake of these decisions

- What this means for their future and the future of clean sport

This is a powerful interview about a very difficult journey for Adam and Kara. As an organization that is passionate about clean sport, we are proud to have them on our team and especially proud that their commitment to telling the truth led to this victory for clean sport.


Details of each decision from USADA:

https://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/Salazar-AAA-Decision-1.pdf
https://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/Jeffrey-Brown-FINAL-AA-Award.pdf

Other recent interviews with Kara on these decisions:

NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/06/sports/salazar-doping-nike-oregon-project.html

BBC: https://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/49951671

Women's Running: https://www.womensrunning.com/2019/10/news/goucher-on-alberto-salazar-doping-violations_103148

https://cleansport.libsyn.com/

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Brands Have the Power to Clean Up Sport – Vote With Your Dollars

By: Shanna Burnette

Brands play a critical role in the fight for clean sport. As much authority we give our governing bodies and anti-doping agencies, the power for clean sport reform comes from the cooperation of all organizations and individuals involved. Social movements throughout history never have come from the top down, but from the grassroots movement of the people uniting together for positive change. We all can make a small difference because when many of us come together for change, no matter how big or how small, collectively it makes a big difference.

Brands have a significant impact on influencing culture and sport. When this is focused in the right direction, business is a remarkable force for good. And, when brands spend marketing dollars on athletes, we want to know and trust that those dollars are going to clean athletes who inspire greatness in us all by their honesty, transparency and hard work through fair play.

Traditionally, the marketing expense of a brand tied to athletes often relies on sponsoring the “best” athlete - the one with the most potential to continually stand on the podium The more often an athlete gets attention, the more exposure the brand gets. It quickly can become a grey area of how that athlete gets to be the best and stay the best. There increasingly becomes more pressure for the athlete to perform and win consistently or face the harsh reality of becoming non-existent to the brand. Contracts can be lowered if performances drop or an athlete can be used less in marketing campaigns until one day we barely hear of that athlete anymore or that athlete becomes non-existent. Yes, we can all say that we want to see the athlete the most at the highlight of his or her career. However, an athlete’s worth goes far beyond the performance.

As consumers do we truly care more about how much a brand is “winning”, or the values and ethics that the company holds? Does the company use their athlete-marketing budget to invest in the human or the performance? There is great power in the consumer’s purchasing dollar, and where we want to invest our hard working money matters. We want to represent the brands that are doing great things in their respective fields, giving back, supporting and celebrating athletes who will only compete honestly and fairly. We are living in an amazing time where information is plentiful, great people are building meaningful brands and people matter more than performances. The athletes I hold in the highest esteem aren’t necessarily the ones who are winning all the time, but the ones who work hard day in and day out, are dedicated to their profession, and act with the utmost integrity and respect on and off the playing field. As a fan, an amateur athlete and an agent, I want to invest in those athletes and the companies who surround them.

As to many of your requests, below is the list of brands that have signed the clean sport pledge. Of course, this does not mean that any brand that isn’t listed here isn’t dedicated to clean sport, and this isn’t a closed membership. At any time, a brand can sign the pledge and join the Clean Sport Collective membership. If there is a brand that you love, and you don’t see them listed below, encourage them to sign the pledge and become a clean sport member. The cost is $0, and the biggest call to action for brands is to NOT sponsor any athlete who has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Below is the brand pledge that Clean Sport Collective Brand members have committed to and signed. Together, let’s celebrate the brands and athletes doing it the right way.

Brand Pledge:

We pledge to support clean sport by sponsoring athletes who are committed to training, racing and living clean, and not sponsoring athletes who have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Working with individuals or teams who choose to not play by the rules steals from hard working athletes that chose to do the right thing and challenges the health and integrity of sport. We understand and appreciate our corporate responsibility and through our influence we will create positive change through promoting clean athletes and teams. We pledge to support clean athletes who are leaders of clean sport. We pledge to support clean athletes by investing in who they are and what they represent. We pledge to create positive change by supporting athletes who are committed to clean sport. 

Shoe + Apparel Brands:

Altra

Brooks

Coeur Sports

Oiselle

Rabbit

Run Goat Run

Running Skirts

Salomon USA

Saucony

Stiletto Running

The North Face

Tracksmith

Accessory Brands:

Addaday

Finish Line USA

Naked Sports Innovations

Roll Recovery

Victory Sports Design

Nutrition + Hydration Brands:

Crown Sports Nutrition

GU Energy Labs

Energy and Endurance Biotech

Klean Athlete Nutritional Supplements

Nuun

Picky Bars

Sound Probiotics

SOS Hydration

The Feed

Run Gum

Unived

Spring

Sufferfest Beer Company

Service Brands:

AthleteBiz

Cleverpace

FASTZach

InsideTracker

Hearsay

ModCraft

NTSQ Sports

Run the Edge

Media:

Freeplay Magazine

I Run 4 Ultra

Running Health LLC

TrailManners

Obstacle Racing Media

The Outdoor Society

Local:

Heart and Sole

Juice Philly

Real Athlete Diets – RAD

 

Shanna Burnette is the co-founder of Clean Sport Collective. She has her B.A. in pre-law from the University of Colorado where she ran track and cross-country on an athletic scholarship. She has her M.B.A. from University of Portland with a dual emphasis in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is the co-founder of ModCraft, and the agent for Kara Goucher. You can follow her on twitter @shannaburnette

 

Real Talk with Alysia Montano

With this week's episode, we follow one badass female track field athlete with another. Chris and Kara interview mom and 800m specialist Alysia Montaño (@alysiamontano) in a wide-ranging and emotional interview.

Alysia is a 6-time US Champion in the 800 and also owns 3 Bronze medals from 3 different World Championships. Unfortunately, 2 of those medals came via "medal upgrade" after drug cheat Mariya Savinova was convicted of doping violations. Alysia is finally due to receive those medals in a medal ceremony coming up next week at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

In the interview, Alysia discusses the numerous challenges she has faced in track and field in spite of her success, including a contract pay reduction after only 1 year as a pro, competing against and being "robbed" by drug cheats, having her pay suspended during and after pregnancy, and the 6 and 9-year wait to finally receive the medals she earned in 2011 and 2013. 

Alysia talks about how the IAAF and the other powers-that-be in this sport have let her down and the trauma that it has caused her financially and emotionally. She also provides her perspective on what needs to change to protect clean athletes as well as female athletes who decide to start a family (#dreammaternity).

Alysia is real, honest, and brave in sharing her truth. Her story provides powerful perspective on why we need to elevate her voice for the sake of protecting current and future athletes from the challenges she has faced.

https://cleansport.libsyn.com/

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Allyson Felix, the Most Decorated Track Athlete of All-time Joins the CSC Podcast

Allyson Felix (@allysonfelix) should need no introduction. She is the most decorated track athlete of all-time, male or female, with 26 global championship medals. As a sprinter who focuses on the 200m, 400m, and relay events, she has won 18 gold medals including gold medals at 3 different Olympic Games (2008, 2012, 2016). She has won the Jesse Owens Award given to the top USATF athlete each year a record 5 times. Off the track, Allyson is active in advocating for women and youth sports and serves on the Right to Play Board of Directors.

https://cleansport.libsyn.com/

In this episode, we begin with a quick introduction on her background in sport and then dive into two topics on which Allyson's voice is so important: Maternity Rights and Clean Sport.

She discusses how being a mom has motivated her to speak out on topics such as these. She provides her thoughts on what more can be done to protect female athletes during and after their pregnancies. In addition, we talk about the current culture within sprinting regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs and what more can be done to create a level playing field. She also gives her perspective on the Christian Coleman case and why missing a drug test is such a big deal, including a story about her one and only missed test while taking an exam at USC.
At the end, we discuss Allyson's new sponsorship deal with Athleta and what she is doing to try to make another Olympic team in Toyko 2020.
We want to thank Allyson for her strong and clear perspectives on these two very important topics and for her willingness to use her voice. We need more athletes like Allyson who are willing to speak out.
Check out this link for Allyson's op-ed in the NY times on maternity rights and her contract dispute with Nike, her former sponsor:

Allyson Felix CSC Image.jpg

Clean Sport Advocate and Olympian Adam Goucher

In this episode Kara Goucher and Chris McClung interview Adam Goucher. Adam (aka Mr. Kara Goucher) is a 4-time NCAA champion in cross country and track and field plus an Olympian in the 5K, and he has the highest US male finish in the World Cross Country Championships (6th) since 1986.

Adam brings a unique and crystal-clear perspective on clean sport as an athlete that competed in the time period before a drug test for EPO was introduced. Adam tells a story about kicking a suspected dirty athlete off the track at the University of Colorado and talks about his role in supporting Kara in her move to leave Nike. It is particularly powerful to hear Adam and Kara interact during this interview as they reflect on difficult times shared together in the sport.


adam 2.jpg

Adam also recently told the story of the heartbreaking treatment of Kara by Nike during her pregnancy and after the birth of their son Colt. Though this blog came out after the interview with Adam was recorded, it shows further perspective on Adam's role in supporting Kara as well as trying to fight for what is right for all athletes and especially female athletes in sport. Here is a link to the blog:

https://retreat.karagoucher.com/its-time-for-me-to-use-my-voice/

Adam now runs the business Run the Edge with his friend Tim Catalano. Learn more about Run the Edge and their Run the Year challenge at www.runtheedge.com

Check out this awesome episode - https://cleansport.libsyn.com/

Catching up with Queen of Crossfit, Annie Thorisdottier

In this episode, we interview Annie Thorisdottir of Iceland (@anniethorisdottir) about what drives her to be the best CrossFit athlete in the world. Annie has finished on the podium 5 times in the last decade at the CrossFit Games with 2 first-place, 2 second-place, and 1 third place finish.

This year she finished a disappointing 12th after a change in format to the Games. We talk to her about how she will bounce back from that, plus dig into her training regiment and her diet before discussing her perspective on drug testing and clean sport culture within CrossFit.

Annie has a strong perspective on doping in sport, asking the question: "How could you stand on a podium knowing that you cheated?" She also calls for additional drug testing in order to maintain the integrity of the sport she loves.

Annie's energy and passion is infectious, and if you weren't a fan of her before, then you will be now!

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The Collective Voice Amplified

USADA Travis and CSC team_.jpg

Clean Sport Collective Community,

It has been quite sometime since you have heard from us. Despite our lack of work for the cause over the last year, it has been fantastic to see the continued strong voices from all of you celebrating clean sport and fighting for sport in the absence of performance enhancing drugs.

Since launching in November of 2016 we have not been successful in accomplishing everything we set out to create for the future of clean sport. However, like the athletes we all are, we have learned from our failures and excited to get back on the starting line. With the re-launch of the Clean Sport Collective our external efforts now become focused in the areas where we saw success together; the awareness fostered through the community and the sharing of the collective clean sport voice.

With that we are thrilled to introduce the Clean Sport Collective Podcast. Our goal is to offer you a unique perspective to the clean sport conversation through the most powerful voices in this impactful community across athletes, brands, events and governing bodies representing a variety of sports disciplines.

This high quality production would not be possible without Chris McClung, a co-owner of Austin’s Rogue Running and host of the Rogue Running Podcast. Chris will be the lead host of the Clean Sport Collective Podcast alongside fellow changes agents Kara Goucher and Shanna Burnette.  Coming out of the gates we will be delivering three episodes in the first week, link to guest and to listen below, and from there we are scheduled to publish a new show every two weeks.

We truly look forward to doing our part to re-engage the clean sport community and give you an insider’s ear into the conversations that will shape the tone and mobilize the movement pursuing athletics in the absence of performance enhancing drugs. We are all in this together so please send us a note with your interview recommendations and any feedback, questions.

Yours in Clean Sport,

Shanna Burnette

#cleansportco 

The first 3 episodes are up and ready.

In episode #1, we interview Travis Tygart, the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). USADA is the national anti-doping organization (NADO) in the United States for Olympic and Paralympic sport. The organization is charged with managing the anti-doping program, including in-competition and out-of competition testing, results management processes, drug reference resources, and athlete education for all United States Olympic Committee (USOC) recognized sport national governing bodies, their athletes, and events. 

In episode #2 of the Clean Sport Collective podcast, we introduce you to the 3 co-hosts of the show, Kara Goucher, Shanna Burnette, and Chris McClung, and give you more background on the Clean Sport Collective. We talk about the reasons and objectives behind the organization and then discuss insights into Kara and Shanna's experience at the recent Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC) conference in London. 

With episode #3, Chris McClung and Shanna Burnette interview one of the founding members and current board members of the Clean Sport Collective - Kevin Rutherford, CEO of Nuun Hydration. 

 

Here are the direct links:

a. To the main podcast "feed" where all of the episodes will be posted directly: cleansport.libsyn.com

b. To episode #1: http://cleansport.libsyn.com/episode-1-travis-tygart-ceo-of-usada

c. To episode #2: http://cleansport.libsyn.com/episode-2-kara-goucher-and-shanna-burnette

d. To episode #3: http://cleansport.libsyn.com/episode-3-kevin-rutherford-ceo-of-nuun-hydration

 

Travis Tygart Interview Image.jpg

Who's Behind the Scenes?

By: Erin Strout

I was plodding along a long dirt road popular with the running set on Sunday in Flagstaff, Arizona. Coming up behind me on A1 Mountain was a herd of about 20 world and national-class athletes, also out on their weekly long run ritual. Like any Sunday morning in this town, you don’t have to look far or long to find dozens of talented people working hard toward lofty, Olympic-sized goals.

Part of the charm of being a recreational runner living in a world-renowned, high altitude oasis is that you share training ground, coffee joints, grocery stores, movie nights, and backyard barbeques with many of the best distance runners in on earth. I’ve been here long enough to observe two Olympic cycles through multiple lenses—as a neighbor, friend, and a journalist. It’s afforded me the time and exposure to see how the various combinations of resources, work ethic, raw talent, psychology, integrity, and values can conspire to catapult an individual to the highest levels of success in road running and track and field. Or not.

It’s these scenes from home that momentarily flash through my mind when I’m in Rio or Boston or New York or Eugene, watching these runners pour out those thousands of hours of preparation into a solitary race that could be defining moment of their careers. A part of me recalls the highs and lows, the turning points and dark days I witnessed when few others were observing. Their triumphs and heartbreaks often come with an extra layer of context and, in some cases, empathy.

What I always wish for them—and for all athletes who compete professionally—is, of course, a level playing field. The purity of the sport is what draws us in, makes us fans, and allows us to fully appreciate and respect the medals, records, and championships. But the truth is, at this point, nobody is exempt from suspicion. Every race is viewed through varying degrees of doubt.

As all the key players acknowledge, doping is a complex issue with layers upon layers of challenges to address. What provokes one athlete to use performance-enhancing drugs is not what pushes the next one to a decision cheat. The motives of an American runner are vastly different than those driving a Kenyan or a Jamaican. While basic testing systems and procedures need improvement and consistency in many nations, governing bodies also need to address the doctors, coaches, and agents capitalizing on athletes in third-world countries who are desperate to pull themselves and their families out of poverty.

It’s easy to see a convicted doper as merely a fraud and a thief—and, to be sure, many of them are just that. But for some the decision to take performance-enhancing drugs isn’t a choice between succeeding at running or falling back on law school if it doesn’t work out. It’s a choice between earning prize money or watching a child suffer diarrheal disease because the family doesn’t have clean water or access to medical care. Unscrupulous people behind the scenes, capitalizing on that desperation, provide the drugs, resources, and finances that are a pathway to life-changing success. They’re a part of the problem—and they shouldn’t be let off the hook, in East Africa or anywhere else.

The coaches, medical professionals, therapists, training partners, sponsors, and agents whom athletes choose to surround themselves with are career defining. Associations say more about a performance than they ever have before. No medal is won or record set without scrutiny of a runner’s support team. In some corners of the world the choices are more plentiful and easier to make than in others—it’s time for everybody involved in the highest levels of the sport to be held accountable for the roles they play in performance.

Initiatives like the Clean Sport Collective can become great resources not only to find like-minded professionals and athletes, but also by providing a space for conversation and insight into the circumstances surrounding the doping problem around the world. Understanding how an athlete arrived at the decision to cheat—and who, if anybody, was involved in that choice—could lead to a stronger foundation on which to base policies and consequences.

Back here in Flagstaff, as I’m left in the dust by those Olympians and national champions, I’m given this special perspective on the lifestyles of the fast and (sometimes) famous. While I never know the entire story or even see the whole picture, I see enough to have a good understanding of what it takes to reach those lofty goals and who is there to provide the necessary support. Nobody does it on his or her own—not here, not anywhere. Clean sport is indeed a collective effort.

Erin Strout    is a contributing editor at Runner’s World and former senior editor at Running Times. Since 2013, she has covered the top levels of the sport, from the Boston Marathon to the Rio Olympics, for the Runner’s World Newswire. As a freelance writer and editor with 20 years of journalism experience, Erin has also contributed to leading health and fitness publications and is a former staff reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education, where she covered philanthropy and also wrote in-depth pieces concerning NCAA sports and campus health. An avid runner, Erin lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter: @erinstrout.

Erin Strout is a contributing editor at Runner’s World and former senior editor at Running Times. Since 2013, she has covered the top levels of the sport, from the Boston Marathon to the Rio Olympics, for the Runner’s World Newswire. As a freelance writer and editor with 20 years of journalism experience, Erin has also contributed to leading health and fitness publications and is a former staff reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education, where she covered philanthropy and also wrote in-depth pieces concerning NCAA sports and campus health. An avid runner, Erin lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter: @erinstrout.

Clean Sport

By Chris Chavez

Watching people run in circles or on the roads for an extended period of time is certainly not the most conventionally enjoyable activity, but it has brought me plenty of excitement over the years and I’m lucky to do it as part of my job. The wonder of a fast times and the artistry of great tactical races have left me without words and yet in recent months years, it’s hard to not let doubt creep in, when you hear the latest story of someone who has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the sport.

I’ve learned that it’s good to appreciate performances in the moment but subconsciously keep in mind that some day the news could come that what you thought was figuratively unreal, was literally unreal instead, having been aided by PEDs. (Kids these days, including my 23-year-old self, call it ‘staying woke’) Yet, if you approach every race with a skeptic’s mindset, there’s no way to enjoy the sport.

It’s out there and people within the inner circle of the sport know. Millions of dollars have been poured into cracking down on the cheats and yet they always seem to remain at least one step ahead in not getting caught.

The call for a clean sport is one also a call for more transparency in the current anti-doping and re-testing systems at work. One of the most recent anti-doping stories to surface is the call from European Athletics to re-write the track and field record books, essentially wiping any record set before 2005, on the basis that testing has improved tremendously since. It’s much different from when the International Olympic Committee called to crack down on the collective responsibility and individual justice that was a problem with the Russian doping scandal. How far back do you go when this is the case? Why not focus on the current doping problem of track and field? It’s cliche but the past is the past and those records and marks can serve as lessons that we can learn from.

Spend the time, money and focus on providing independent and reliable anti-doping programs, listening and communicating with athletes and remaining open about the process. While it’s nice to stay on top of the news cycle and it feels good to break a story, athletes like Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan shouldn’t be hearing about potential medal upgrades for the first time from me or discovering the news on Twitter.

If we can learn anything from other Olympic sports and their efforts to move past doping, it’s that it doesn’t happen in one day, or from a one stroke solution like wiping record books clean. It takes time and a collective effort to let the athletes, coaches, agents and supporters of clean sport to reach a consensus on what is and isn’t okay in sport, and make that abundantly clear and actively enforced. The larger the anti-doping camp, the less room there is in the sport for those who cheat.

 

Chris Chavez is a writer for Sports Illustrated and  SI.com  covering track and field, marathons and the Olympics. Chavez graduated from Marquette University in 2015. He previously wrote about running for  ESPN.com  and  Flotrack.org .     Chavez started covering track and field at the age of 18 when he held up a camera in front of athletes at the 2012 Adidas Grand Prix and started asking Oscar Pistorius questions about preparation for the 2012 Olympics. A few years later, Chavez would be sitting down one-on-one with the likes of Usain Bolt and many other of the world's top athletes.      For all updates on Chavez's running, sports commentary, and social life be sure to give  @ChrisChavezSI a follow on  twitter. 

Chris Chavez is a writer for Sports Illustrated and SI.com covering track and field, marathons and the Olympics. Chavez graduated from Marquette University in 2015. He previously wrote about running for ESPN.com and Flotrack.org.

 

Chavez started covering track and field at the age of 18 when he held up a camera in front of athletes at the 2012 Adidas Grand Prix and started asking Oscar Pistorius questions about preparation for the 2012 Olympics. A few years later, Chavez would be sitting down one-on-one with the likes of Usain Bolt and many other of the world's top athletes. 

 

For all updates on Chavez's running, sports commentary, and social life be sure to give @ChrisChavezSI a follow on twitter. 

Brands Have the Power to Clean Up Sport – Vote With Your Dollars

By: Shanna Burnette

Brands play a critical role in the fight for clean sport. As much authority we give our governing bodies and anti-doping agencies, the power for clean sport reform comes from the cooperation of all organizations and individuals involved. Social movements throughout history never have come from the top down, but from the grassroots movement of the people uniting together for positive change. We all can make a small difference because when many of us come together for change, no matter how big or how small, collectively it makes a big difference.

Brands have a significant impact on influencing culture and sport. When this is focused in the right direction, business is a remarkable force for good. And, when brands spend marketing dollars on athletes, we want to know and trust that those dollars are going to clean athletes who inspire greatness in us all by their honesty, transparency and hard work through fair play.

Traditionally, the marketing expense of a brand tied to athletes often relies on sponsoring the “best” athlete - the one with the most potential to continually stand on the podium The more often an athlete gets attention, the more exposure the brand gets. It quickly can become a grey area of how that athlete gets to be the best and stay the best. There increasingly becomes more pressure for the athlete to perform and win consistently or face the harsh reality of becoming non-existent to the brand. Contracts can be lowered if performances drop or an athlete can be used less in marketing campaigns until one day we barely hear of that athlete anymore or that athlete becomes non-existent. Yes, we can all say that we want to see the athlete the most at the highlight of his or her career. However, an athlete’s worth goes far beyond the performance.

As consumers do we truly care more about how much a brand is “winning”, or the values and ethics that the company holds? Does the company use their athlete-marketing budget to invest in the human or the performance? There is great power in the consumer’s purchasing dollar, and where we want to invest our hard working money matters. We want to represent the brands that are doing great things in their respective fields, giving back, supporting and celebrating athletes who will only compete honestly and fairly. We are living in an amazing time where information is plentiful, great people are building meaningful brands and people matter more than performances. The athletes I hold in the highest esteem aren’t necessarily the ones who are winning all the time, but the ones who work hard day in and day out, are dedicated to their profession, and act with the utmost integrity and respect on and off the playing field. As a fan, an amateur athlete and an agent, I want to invest in those athletes and the companies who surround them.

As to many of your requests, below is the list of brands that have signed the clean sport pledge. Of course, this does not mean that any brand that isn’t listed here isn’t dedicated to clean sport, and this isn’t a closed membership. At any time, a brand can sign the pledge and join the Clean Sport Collective membership. If there is a brand that you love, and you don’t see them listed below, encourage them to sign the pledge and become a clean sport member. The cost is $0, and the biggest call to action for brands is to NOT sponsor any athlete who has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Below is the brand pledge that Clean Sport Collective Brand members have committed to and signed. Together, let’s celebrate the brands and athletes doing it the right way.

Brand Pledge:

We pledge to support clean sport by sponsoring athletes who are committed to training, racing and living clean, and not sponsoring athletes who have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Working with individuals or teams who choose to not play by the rules steals from hard working athletes that chose to do the right thing and challenges the health and integrity of sport. We understand and appreciate our corporate responsibility and through our influence we will create positive change through promoting clean athletes and teams. We pledge to support clean athletes who are leaders of clean sport. We pledge to support clean athletes by investing in who they are and what they represent. We pledge to create positive change by supporting athletes who are committed to clean sport. 

Shoe + Apparel Brands:

Altra

Brooks

Coeur Sports

Oiselle

Rabbit

Run Goat Run

Running Skirts

Salomon USA

Saucony

Stiletto Running

The North Face

Tracksmith

Accessory Brands:

Addaday

Finish Line USA

Naked Sports Innovations

Roll Recovery

Victory Sports Design

Nutrition + Hydration Brands:

Crown Sports Nutrition

GU Energy Labs

Energy and Endurance Biotech

Klean Athlete Nutritional Supplements

Nuun

Picky Bars

Sound Probiotics

SOS Hydration

The Feed

Run Gum

Unived

Sufferfest Beer Company

Service Brands:

AthleteBiz

Cleverpace

FASTZach

InsideTracker

Hearsay

ModCraft

NTSQ Sports

Run the Edge

Media:

Freeplay Magazine

I Run 4 Ultra

Running Health LLC

TrailManners

Obstacle Racing Media

The Outdoor Society

Local:

Heart and Sole

Juice Philly

Real Athlete Diets – RAD

 

Shanna Burnette is the co-founder of Clean Sport Collective. She has her B.A. in pre-law from the University of Colorado where she ran track and cross-country on an athletic scholarship. She has her M.B.A. from University of Portland with a dual emphasis in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is the co-founder of ModCraft, and the agent for Kara Goucher. You can follow her on twitter @shannaburnette

 

Anti-Doping

By: Ross Tucker

My career in sports science is divided into pre- and post-“enlightenment” periods on the doping issues facing elite sport.  That’s not to say I was ignorant of doping – one of my earliest memories of sport was watching the television news in South Africa when Ben Johnson was caught for doping after his Olympic 100m triumph in 1988.  I was in high school for the Festina scandal in cycling’s Tour de France, and when I studied my undergraduate degree, I encountered numerous sporadic cases.

The “enlightenment” I speak of was not an epiphany, then.  It was a gradual process, a realization of the fact that like the iceberg analogy so overused in business, what you’re seeing above the surface represents only a fraction of what actually exists.  Perhaps as I studied exercise physiology as a specific field, and became ever more immersed in the limits of human performance during my PhD research, the dots were joined in a way that brought out the realities, of that time, that doping was pervasive, and so effective that winners were usually synonymous with dopers.

By the time I finished my PhD, there was little doubt in my mind that the sport was straining at the boundary of credibility, though unfortunately, not enough people seemed to care for it to really impact the all important “product”.

In the beginning, there were poor tools

In the first part of this awareness, the problem with anti-doping was different to what it is today, and this is an important concept.  From the early 1990s, up to around 2006, the main issue facing those on the side of clean sport was the power of their tools.  Anti-doping had been set up as a “catch-and-release” system, until you caught one that had the banned substance in the urine, and then you would pursue the case and seek a ban. 

It was smoking gun stuff, in the sense that the presence of a banned substance in the urine or blood sample provided by an athlete was conclusive evidence that the athlete had doped, and the ban would be issued.   Anti-doping needed the smoking gun.

One small problem – there was no test for EPO, there was no test for many of the steroids being used, or for growth hormone, or for blood transfusions.  The culprits were ‘invisible’ to the testers. Even those that were visible were detectable only if they were in high enough amounts, because the tests weren’t sensitive enough to detect them in really low concentrations. We had a tool problem.  Like a shed built by a carpenter without a hammer, anti-doping was flimsy and unsubstantial.

What this created was a system easy to bypass.  EPO could be used with concern only for the athlete’s haematocrit, because the stop-gap at the time was to say that any athlete whose hematocrit was too high (the point of using EPO is to raise the red blood cell count) had to rest for a period.  Other hormones were impossible to police, even indirectly.

So in that generation, the old adage that testers were two steps behind the cheaters was largely true.  The effective drugs were easy to use.  A solution had to be sought.

A better, smarter hammer

That solution fell to science, because in order to improve the tools, an advance in science was required.  New tests, for previously undetectable substances, and improved tests, for substances previously detectable only in large amounts, had to be developed.

And sure enough, that happened.  A urine test for EPO came along, and the sensitivity of various tests improved, which made the margin of error for an athlete increasingly smaller.  That’s not to say this solved the problem – the THG scandal that caught Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, among others, showcased how a designer steroid would still be undetectable, and had it not been for a coaching rivalry provoking an anonymous delivery of that drug to authorities, it may still have been unknown.

Similarly, test sensitivity still falls below a required standard, which is why the retesting that we see six to eight years after big events nabs athletes and forces the clumsy reallocation of medals.  That situation can always improve, but progress is never bad.

And then, in 2006, the biological passport concept was introduced.

In the biological passport, an athlete is tested at multiple points in time, and certain blood parameters are measured.  They included young or immature red blood cells (called reticulocytes), haematocrit and haemoglobin, all indicators of the “health status” of a person’s blood.  The premise here was that any doping, whether it was EPO to boost red blood cells, or the removal of blood for later re-infusion, must change those blood parameters in the short term. 

For instance, when you remove blood, the body is clever enough to know this, and it increases the production of new blood cells. So for a short time, the reticulocyte count will rise, but the haemoglobin will be low, because of that blood loss. The opposite would happen with the reinfusion.

So, by testing the athlete at multiple points, and taking advantage of the fact that our blood values don’t bounce up and down like the stock market on a volatile Friday of trading, scientists were able to come up with a model that would squeeze doping right down, if applied correctly.

Was it perfect?  No, the sensitivity remains an issue, because these physiological outcomes are complex.  They can be affected by multiple factors, and so the ranges that are “allowed” before a passport result is deemed “suspicious” are necessarily wide.  That means that micro-dosing remains viable for athletes, who can use small enough doses to get some benefit, but not so large that they trip up the “alarm” set by these boundaries for what is deemed “normal variation”.

However, it was a step in the right direction, a tool that looked for the effects of a drug, rather than the drug.  Progress. That gap from tester to cheater was narrowed, maybe to within touching distance.

But that’s where the story turns for the worse. 

The will, the way, and the problem with anti-doping today

It is often said that where there is a will, there is a way.  The development of more sensitive tests, and new tests, had given anti-doping tools with which to fight the good fight.  They were, with limitations, a better “way”.

The problem this has revealed, sadly, is the lack of will.  Perhaps that lack of will is a new phenomenon, a product of the growth in commercial value of the sport – who wants to tarnish the golden eggs laid by those athletes?

Or perhaps that will was never there, but it was never required to show itself because the tools didn’t push it into a corner that demanded that the authorities, those people sitting a level above the scientists, take any action.

In any event, the common theme running through doping scandals in the last decade has been a lack of will, rather than a lack of a ‘way’.  And that, frustratingly, is a greater problem to overcome.

It was responsible for the massive cover-ups in Russia.  It was responsible for WADA and sporting body’s initial inaction to the information provided by whistleblowers. It was responsible the laxity of testing in labs around the world, which makes certain countries doping havens because they are inaccessible to international testers and lack the resources to conduct their own testing. 

Some of this comes from a genuine lack of resources, and that’s something I’m sympathetic towards.  But that lack amplifies, rather than diminishes, the implications of situations we have seen too often, where authorities are alerted to doping, but do little, until a persistent journalist digs and digs to discover a thread that they can pull on in order to expose an anti-doping failure.

I cannot forget how between the IAAF and WADA, there was synchronized and repeated outrage against one doping allegation after another, made because of investigative work by the media, against Russia, only for it to later be confirmed that hundreds of emails had already been sent to them about it. 

When authorities talk of “shock” and even go so far as to declare reports of cover-ups as a “declaration of war”, the outside world cannot but wonder whether those tasked with policing the sport have the integrity to do so, or whether they are engaged in a complex “House of cards” game of PR and spin?

When authorities know, and fail to act within their own mandate, that suggests a failed system brought on by a lack of will.  This was highlighted most recently by the revelation that retesting of Beijing samples revealed “numerous” cases of athletes with clenbuterol in their urine (this is an example of how the tools improved – that urine had the clenbuterol in 2008, it just could not be detected then).

The IOC, and then WADA, did not pursue a single one of these, because the levels were too low, which they said was indicative of food contamination, not doping. And certainly that may be true, but clenbuterol is what is called a non-threshold drug – any clenbuterol, no matter how tiny in amount, should trigger an adverse finding and subsequent investigation.  Also, low levels don’t have to mean contamination – they could mean small doses of drugs, or a long time between use and testing. 

So the IOC and WADA, however you view it, failed to act in accordance with good science, and their own procedures, instead making an arbitrary decision based on risk of contamination in China and low levels.

It is the latest in a series of events that undermine anti-doping, and hence explain why elite sport is struggling for credibility.  It’s not solely the fault of science, not anymore.  It’s a failure of management, strategy, and ultimately, will.

Changing the incentive balance

 So what is the solution?  A lack of a “way” is solvable with better tools, and that’s happening, and needs to continue happening.  It needs to be supported by better legal backing, and more effective sanctions when dopers are caught.  False positives undermine it, as do grey cases where science cannot provide answers that meet an acceptable legal standard, so they must be dealt with.  As a result, progress on the “way” will come from the same steps, in the same direction, as were taken to develop the passport and more sensitive tests.

I honestly believe that many, if not most, of the people actually using the tools within anti-doping are sincere and committed to eradicating doping.  I know many, and I believe them to be good people using the tools they have as well as their resources allow.  But the consistent thread in the sport’s biggest scandals points to something above them, at both the national and international level.

That something is “will”, and it is much more difficult to create.  It requires a revision of the entire system.  Why is will lacking? At the risk of oversimplifying, it is absent because pursuing and sanctioning dopers is at odds with selling the sport for commercial gain.  It’s a negative message, it “spits in the soup”, to borrow a phrase from cycling, referring to people who spoke out about doping.

Until the incentives of those responsible for anti-doping are changed, I do not see how the will to enforce anti-doping can be created.  When authorities are tasked with simultaneously promoting the sport and catching its cheats, the balance will always tilt to one side.  In this world, a whistleblower will always be viewed as a threat who cannot possibly be welcomed.  Retests that threaten the positive veneer of historic events cannot be fully acknowledged (“Quick, blame the meat!”) or indeed done.  Until such whistleblowers can be welcomed as an opportunity, and until authorities win back lost trust, progress will remain stalled.

So anti-doping has to be taken away from sports, and potentially, even WADA’s structure must be changed.  It has been called a “PR arm” of the IOC, perhaps a little harshly, but there is something counterproductive in the too-close relationship they have, as well as the funding structure.

Athletes, ultimately, may hold the key.  If you step back, and look at the sports system, they are the ones most incentivized to stand up for clean sport.  Yes, I realize they’re also the ones most incentivized to dope to win, but this becomes a volume balance.  Athletes who wish to be clean have the purest incentives in the sport to press an anti-doping agenda.  They also have the most to lose when doping is prevalent (compare this to the regulatory bodies, who have most to lose when doping is revealed).

Therefore, whatever structure is created, it is athletes who must be given the most important, loudest voice in it.  If the commercial interests can be aligned to this voice, it would help enormously. If sponsors and media pulled in the same direction, then even the commercial drivers for cover-ups might start to erode. It is those three – athletes, supportive sponsors, and media invested in the truth, that may save sport from a doping black hole.

I would argue for the creation of a body whose incentive is to catch cheats, athlete-led and supported by independent scientists. A contract that allocates a portion of TV rights money to anti-doping should be entered into, with no option to change for the foreseeable future, so that money can never become a tool for leverage, bargaining or outright bribery.  The police cannot be made vulnerable to a bribe or pressure from the criminals.

Whether that happens, unfortunately, is down to existing organizations, who would have to change themselves.  That of course, brings us to the need for a “will”, and puts us into a perpetual cycle. Breaking that is going to be the next phase of the enlightenment.

 

Ross Tucker is an exercise physiologist and is currently the Head Scientist at World Rugby, ambassador and scientific advisor to Virgin Active and adidas.  In the past, he has consulted with a number of teams in high performance sport, including SA Sevens (including the 2009/2010 World Series winning team), SA Kayaking, SA Triathlon, USA triathlon and the UK Olympic Committee. His current research interests include the physiology of East African runners, high performance culture, talent identification and management, the limits of human performance, and performance and wellness in companies. He recently started up a company, Vivendi Wellness Pty Ltd, which audits and innovates corporate wellness and performance strategies. In 2013, he was named by Mail and Guardian in their list of Top 200 Influential Young South Africans, and by the Minister of Sport as one of the 100 Influential people in South African Sport.

 

Who Has to Fight the Law?

By: Toni Reavis

**This post originally appeared on Toni Reavis' blog on January 11, 2017. We felt that it was too powerful not to share. Enjoy.

While the clock tells no lies, neither does it ask any questions. Instead it merely records our passing in cold indifference. And so in athletics’ ongoing fight to rid itself of the scourge of fraudulent performance the question arises, where does the responsibility for actually giving a damn lie? And, is drug testing in and of itself enough to achieve the goal?

I ask because based on the evidence of continued PED use, and the institutional corruption that allowed and benefited from it, one might conclude that the intended deterrence has not been achieved, and that some other stick or carrot may be required.

That thought was brought to mind yesterday while watching Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions appear at his confirmation hearing before Congress as Attorney General designate.  During one exchange Senator Sessions said the following in response to whether fraudulent speech is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution:

“Fraudulent speech, if it amounts to an attempt to obtain a thing of value for the person making the fraudulent speech, is absolutely fraud, and can be prosecuted.”

In the case of performance-enhancing drug use the intent is specifically ‘to obtain a thing of value’, i.e. race prize money. Therefore, when a WADA doping control officer goes over the doping control official record at time of testing, a negative declaration by the tested athlete becomes, in fact, a form of speech, and therefore should be considered a prosecutable offense if subsequent testing produces a positive finding of drug use. The same ask-and-answer should be required of appropriate coaches, managers, and federation officials, as each category has been found complicit in past PED distribution. No accusations, mind you, simply covering bases.

Some argue for the outright legalization of PED use, arguing that the current ban has fallen short of solving the problem while imposing an undue cost on events, athletes, and federations alike. But what if the penalties are, in fact, incorrectly imposed?  What are the constraints on making PED use a criminal rather than sporting offense?  If the sums of money involved would constitute a felony if simply stolen, why is PED use just considered cheating, and not fraud?

First of all, cheating is simply the wrong word.  Cheating is peaking over at Mike Sinner’s desk to get answers on a 5th grade math test.  But it isn’t fraud in the same sense as taking thousands of dollars out of somebody else’s pocket under false or deceptive pretenses.

(ADDED:  Cheating is the act of deception, while fraud is the act carried out for the purpose of unlawful gain. In that sense, it might have been considered simply cheating in the old amateur days when there was no financial gain involved in racing. But once prize money was offered, the offense was elevated to fraud.)

So is the problem jurisdictional? How did U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch overcome that constraint in 2015 when her office ordered a dawn raid on a hotel in Switzerland, and subsequently brought indictments against nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives? (BTW, what’s become of those indictments?  Things have gone silent for several months, and the insects have scattered).

But what would constrain athletics from such a plan of action?  Or, as one cynical insider suggested, “the interest in running isn’t big enough.  Nobody cares.  FIFA had big money involved in sponsorships and awarding the World Cup.  Running’s money isn’t at that level.”

Without going beyond the current protocols, which have proven wholly inadequate in addressing the problem, how serious is the sport in freeing itself from what is clearly an existential threat?

We can see how much damage has been done by the endless years of drug positives and institutional greed in something as simple as the hot-stove talk about Ethiopian star Kenenisa Bekele‘s coming appearance at the January 20th Dubai Marathon. While some of us still discuss the pros and cons of his possible performance in purely sporting terms, GEEKING ON KENENISA’S NUMBERS, there are others who dismiss whatever the outcome may be due to the cynical assumption that anything too good can’t possibly be on the level, and “drug-testing in Ethiopia is all but non-existent.”

When people don’t believe in the integrity of the performance, even before the performance is produced, what is there left to lose?

 

Toni Reavis is a U.S. based broadcaster / writer who has been a pioneer in the field of running broadcasting and event media presentation since the first running boom of the 1970s.  Back then Toni produced and hosted his seminal radio show Runner’s Digest, the first such regularly scheduled show in the nation devoted to the sport of running.  Since then Toni has traveled the world over providing live television and radio commentary at events including the Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles Marathons. He has also covered international marathons and shorter distance events, Diamond League track & field, World Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games.  In 2003 Runner’s World Magazine called him “The most insightful – any funny – talking head in running.”

Reducing Demand - The roots that lead to the need to win at any cost start early.

By Jonathan Beverly

When it comes to stopping the use of illegal drugs on the street, we focus on multiple avenues of reducing supply and demand, not only on punishment of the offenders. When it comes to stopping performance enhancing drugs in sport, it makes sense to consider all sources of the demand.

Where does the demand for performance enhancing drugs come from? I believe at its source is a culture that values celebrity above all else, even character. A culture where 2nd is the first loser and rewards are disproportionately heaped on the top few. In the context of this culture, I believe the first pushers toward being a drug cheat are parents and kids’ sport coaches.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that parents and coaches give their kids EPO or steroids. But what I see is a culture that praises and rewards results over effort and talent over progress. I see kids who, from their earliest sport experiences, learn that what is most important is how they place, how they compare: Can they be better than their classmates? Can they beat the town rivals? Can they make it to state? Can they win a scholarship?

If they aren’t good enough to have external success, they’ll either drop out or get relegated to the second-tier where doing your best is politely applauded. In an interesting turn of events, those who don’t have initial success but improve are more likely to continue on in the sport later in life, I discovered while working on a book about lifetime competitors. And they have little danger in ever being tempted by performance-enhancing drugs.

The danger in this culture isn’t for those who have to struggle, it begins as soon as a young runner shows some promise. From the first time they win an event in a junior high meet, or worse, set a record, they began to be told that they are a good runner. Note, they aren’t told that they run well; they are not applauded for what they do, but who they are. They are told they have talent, a gift.

As psychologist Carol Dweck explains in her insightful book, Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, this praise puts them in danger of developing a fixed mindset that sees success as a product only of inherent talent, not something that comes from effort and growth. As such, winning becomes not only a goal but an expectation. Failure does not provide incentive to work harder but calls into question whether or not they are as talented as they thought. People who believe in talent think that those who lose are losers—so they have to win, at any cost.

Linked to this affirmation of talent is the pressure of the future. From that first junior high race, coaches start counting state championships and parents start tabulating the runner’s future scholarships. Legendary educator Haim Ginott called this type of talk “futurizing,” and warned against it. “Futurizing breeds stress and fear,” Ginott wrote in Between Parent and Teenager. Not only does the runner have to win to prove to him or herself that she is special, but now has to live up to an idealized potential.

The addition of money pours gasoline on this fire. The potential of a college scholarships and, dare-we-hope, a professional career in the sport, enhances the need to win, even if it pushes a child to the point that they no longer enjoy the sport they were born to do. Once in college, or beyond, runners now have economic pressure to win added to the emotional identity pressures of having to prove their talent and live up to expectations.

At the professional level, a tiny few get fame and fortune, while it has been estimated that many of those ranked in the top 10 in their event in the U.S. make less than $15K annually. In a typical marathon prize structure, second place gets roughly half what the winner takes home; 7th or 8th might win enough to pay for travel expenses and a celebratory dinner. The Abbott World Marathon Majors awards $500,000 every year to the series winner, and nothing to anyone else. Can you imagine this kind of division of rewards in your workplace or a structure that would produce a greater incentive to push the limits of what is fair or legal?

In a context where success is measured economically and so few survive, it is necessary to tread shady waters to compete, and doing so, without stepping too far, makes you smart. In what world, however, does pushing right to the edge of legal makes you a hero, while stepping across the edge makes you morally bankrupt, a cheat? A world that has lost the plot, that has forgotten why athletics are worthwhile for humans to participate in and why athletes inspire.

Take the current push for a sub-2 hour marathon. If the runners in Nike’s Breaking2 project do run under 2 hours, it will inspire only if they have to struggle in training and the race, if the human spirit overcomes adversity and they transcend their previous limits—not because they had special shoes, perfectly controlled conditions and every possible aid. The promise of sport is that each of us could get to the top if we work hard enough. That is an illusion, as most of us don’t have the genetic starting point, but we do have the promise that we could improve from our starting point to a similarly higher level. Adding the need to have all of these external resources to truly succeed removes even that hope, and makes us spectators. We might as well watch car racing.

I love to watch runners like Eliud Kipchoge who do this thing we do better than anyone, but I appreciate him more knowing that he honed that skill growing up in Kenya running 10 miles a day for transportation, rather than if he had been groomed to be a champion in a petri dish from youth. On a much smaller level, I’m more inspired by the girl who improves her 5K time by four minutes over the course of four years in cross-country than the one who shows up and, without summer training, can place in front of her on the team. Or the boy who works his way from 31st at state his freshman year to winning it his senior year, than one who finishes in the teens his first year and does only enough to stay there for four years.

This is where, I believe, we can start to counteract this cultural perversion of the sport. Let’s celebrate effort and growth as much as we do talent and external success. To celebrate success without context leads easily to a world where any means to get that success is acceptable.

This doesn’t mean giving up on excellence, quite the contrary. As a coach, or parent, I can encourage the girl who shows up and can already run fast to set higher goals and to work to achieve them, not simply applaud her for being born faster then her peers. I can also distinguish between effort on any given day—which is good, but limited—and effort applied over time that leads to growth. I can work to not show disappointment at hard-fought losses but excitement at what they can teach and inspire, and can give honest appreciation, not pity applause, for every athlete’s personal march toward excellence.

I know this sounds out of touch with the world as it is. As parents and coaches we want our kids to have success—real success as honored and rewarded by the harsh world where the slower antelope gets eaten even if it tried really hard and got faster than it was last week. I too want real success and rewards for my kids. But if they get to the top, to a world where success has huge rewards and failure means anonymity and economic loss, I want them to know that their success has meaning only in the context of the path it took to get there, and going against their conscience isn’t worth the price for that success. I want them to be the kind of athlete that takes the Clean Sport pledge without hesitation.

In the movie Cool Runnings, Irv, the coach played by John Candy, said, “A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without one, you'll never be enough with one.” I want my kids to be enough, with or without one. And I’d rather they be enough without a gold medal, or a state championship, or even a dual meet victory, than to have external success without gaining integrity. I believe that integrity starts in kindergarten, and starts with the example set by parents and coaches as we set the tone for what it important and why sport is valuable.

Jonathan Beverly is the former editor-in-chief of Running Times. He is the author of the books, "Your Best Stride” and "Run Strong, Stay Hungry: 9 Keys to staying in the race from runners who've gone the distance” both to come out in 2017. A competitive runner since 1977, he coached adult runners with the New York Road Runners in the 1990s and has coached junior high and high school cross country and track for the past decade. 

 

The Goal of Anti-doping Is Not to Eradicate Doping

By Joe Lindsey

What does it mean to “win” the fight against doping?

Is it to improve the testing to the point where it can catch every cheater? To completely eradicate the flow of legitimate medicines repurposed for doping use, and to totally shut down the use of all other substances – like Trenbolone, or designer steroids like BALCO’s THG – which have no accepted human use but which still attract cheaters? To create a culture where no athlete would even think to seek an unfair advantage from drugs?

It might sound depressing, but a total victory is, I think, impossible. Human nature is to seek an edge. We see cheaters in every walk of life, after all; to assume sports is different somehow is naïve. And when it comes to stopping the flow of drugs or perfecting testing – either the tests themselves or the way they’re used – while both would be impressive achievements, the scientific and logistical obstacles simply put them out of reach.

So if it’s human nature to find advantages – legal or no – and we acknowledge that some cheaters may always be able to evade detection, is anti-doping hopeless? Far from it. The job of anti-doping is only partly to catch and punish dopers who break the rules. That is a task, not a goal, and it serves the larger purpose: to make it possible for athletes in all sports to compete, and win, clean.

Why does that matter? Why do we even care? A persistent argument holds that the fight against doping is misguided and a waste of resources; instead, simply change the rules to allow doping, and regulate it. There are several problems with that argument, starting with the fact that there is no way to allow unrestricted doping. A drug such as Trenbolone, for example, is a livestock steroid; it’s not approved for any human medical use in any country. But it was a key ingredient in a doping cocktail (called The Duchess) used in the Russian institutional doping ring. To try to allow athletes access to it while preventing other human use (for which athletes? Pro? Non-pro but elite? Collegiate? Scholastic?) is an instant regulatory mess that proves one thing only: you can’t allow unrestricted doping, only restricted, regulated doping. That’s not materially different than what exists now, where some drugs are allowed and others are not; there will always be some substance or method on the other side of the line.

Crucially, not all athletes want to dope; few start out in sport seeking to cheat to win – it’s the necessity of it that corrupts them into accepting it, and their acceptance then perpetuates the cycle. Ethics are the basis of rules, and sport is, at its most simple element, a game that is played according to rules. The fundamental basis of the rules for any sport is the ethics of fair play. Allowing doping literally turns the idea of sport upside down; it turns ethics from a floor into a ceiling.

Finally, sport is entertainment, to be sure. But not only that; it’s a distillation of human qualities like determination and perseverance, the very heart of the human stories that captivate us. If we open sports to doping, we lose the human spirit that makes them transcendent. “Clean” simply has to be possible.

There are a lot of ideas floating around right now about the “how” of accomplishing that – essentially, that anti-doping has to be truly independent (first and foremost financially). That’s a subject that deserves its own column. But first, we have to understand why it’s so vital.

In professional cycling in the 1990s, doping was endemic – perhaps more than any other professional sport in the history of sports. It had not always been so. But the advent in the late 1980s of extremely effective oxygen vector drugs like EPO, and the utter lack of any doping test for them, or even an anti-doping organization that would administer a test if one existed, proved a devastating combination. The best estimates I know, which come from riders in the era, hold that by the late 1990s, at least three-quarters of all professional cyclists were doping with EPO. At races like the Tour de France, the percentage leapt to the mid 90s. Clean athletes like Festina’s Christophe Bassons were so rare they were almost singular exceptions.

And yet, almost every pro cyclist from that era regrets that he had to dope to compete, let alone have a chance to win. The Festina scandal at the 1998 Tour de France was the event that literally birthed WADA and the modern anti-doping movement. WADA has had its setbacks and failures. I’d even go so far as to say that, if it is not reformed, modern anti-doping is doomed by its structure to fail, with the Russian conspiracy as a harbinger of what’s to come. But for a time, WADA and its partner organizations have achieved, in the sport of cycling, something remarkable: the end of the simple necessity of doping.

Riders today still dope, to be sure. But it is not now necessary to do so just to be a pro. What anti-doping achieved was a partial, tenuous, but essential victory: in arguably the most dope-soaked sport in the Olympic movement, a space was carved out where it was possible for a rider to compete, and even win, while clean. Finally, there was no need for regret. The cultural change has been remarkable: riders can now both speak out in favor of clean racing without fear, and condemn colleagues who test positive. Both were anathema in the 90s and 2000s.

But this is a delicate and fragile victory. It requires constant vigilance to defend, and relies almost entirely on athletes’ trust that the anti-doping community is both effective and ethical. But defending, and expanding that zone, has to be the primary goal for anti-doping.

I would love for the end game for USADA and WADA and all the other anti-doping organizations to be for their mission statements to read, in part, “In 20 years, we want to put ourselves out of business.” But the reality is that we will always need regulators – in sport as in all walks of life. As long as we do, the definition of success has to be both relevant and achievable. Not to stop all cheaters. Not to eradicate doping. But to create a space where clean athletes are protected and valued and feel that hard work and talent and luck will be enough. If we can do that, we don’t have to stop every doper. The cheaters will exist, but they’ll be the anomaly, the outlier. Sports culture will prize not just great competition, but great, clean, competition. And anti-doping will be a success.

Joe Lindsey is a journalist who covers sports topics (primarily cycling), health and fitness, science and environmental topics. He has been freelancing professionally since 1998 and has been published in a number of national magazines including Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, Bicycling, Outside, Men's Journal, 5280 and more. 

 

The Athletes Voice: A Force for Change

By Travis. T. Tygart

Every sports fan has a favorite Olympic moment. Or maybe more than one. Unforgettable actions seared in our memory.

In the last year alone, we watched as Lilly King took a stand at the Aquatics Center in Rio, and as Jenny Simpson won bronze and used her moment in the sun to advocate for clean sport. We listened while Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott, at the height of the Russian doping scandal, had the courage to speak the truth to power when few others would.

As the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, these kinds of moments are more than just memories, they are the organization’s North Star – our guiding light.

But at the very core of USADA’s efforts lies a simple and fundamental truth: No matter how many times we defend clean athletes’ rights, we will never be the most influential voice in the room. Our impact, our message… it will never be as persuasive as the voice of the athletes we seek to empower.

That power and that responsibility, to demand change, is an athlete’s natural right. They are ones who leave everything on the playing field, and have the most to lose when someone tries to cheat them out of their moment – out of their livelihood.  

At the end of the day, it’s the athletes, not the “suits,” who billions of people around the world tune in to watch. It’s the athletes who leave us holding our breath.

Without them, there is no sport.

And without them, there is no true and lasting change.

History Repeats Itself

In the last half-century alone, global sport has witnessed the disturbing rise of two powerful state-supported doping programs. Decades ago, inside a walled-off East Germany, countless athletes were knowingly, and in some cases, unknowingly, doped in an attempt to win medals. Athletes’ health and wellness was disregarded, while clean competitors from around the world were robbed.

Yet, as time passed, the headlines soon faded and the Olympic movement carried on, growing into a financial juggernaut. For the public, the East German doping scandal became a punchline, a distant memory, or worse yet… something forgotten entirely.

However, for a small few, it proved to be a wakeup call, and in the decades following, anti-doping practices grew quietly stronger. The UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport was established, as was the World Anti-Doping Agency – steps that helped put in to place a harmonized, globally accepted Code outlining anti-doping best practices. The situation improved further as national anti-doping agencies began to take shape: The science got better, precedents were established, individuals were held accountable, and the value of an independent model – free from the influence of sport – became increasingly apparent.  

But it wasn’t enough. Out of the ruins of the disgraced East German doping system rose an advanced state-supported doping program in Russia with unprecedented means of cheating. And despite the progress of the anti-doping system as a whole, its inability to detect and penalize Russia’s doping regime exposed holes in the system.

In fact, it took a courageous and dedicated group of whistleblowers, journalists, investigators, and independent anti-doping experts to eventually bring the Russian scandal to light. When the truth finally came out, over 1,000 Russian athletes were implicated in a doping program that was proven to have been orchestrated and supported by officials within the state. The breadth of the program was shockingly pervasive, spread across more than 30 sports from at least 2011 to 2015. Two Olympics Games were tainted by the scandal, and at the Summer Games in Rio in 2016, scores of athletes competed despite not having been subject to credible anti-doping programs.

Of the 82 medals Team Russia took home from London 2012, at least 15 of those medal winners were later found to have used PEDs. Two years later, at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia’s methods of cheating went from abhorrent, to something out of a spy novel. By now you’ve probably heard the stories: Samples passed through walls, government intelligence officers, male DNA in female samples, and E-mails to the Russian Ministry of Sport looking for guidance on which doped athletes to protect, and which to sacrifice.

At the end of the day, despite mountains of evidence and vocal opposition from independent anti-doping groups – ourselves included – the IOC chose not to enforce meaningful sanctions against this institutionalized doping.

And let’s be clear, if you find yourself asking why any of this matters, talk to middle-distance runner Alysia Montano, who finished fifth in 2012 behind two athletes who were later found to have doped. Spend a few minutes with skeleton’s Katie Uhlaender, who missed out on a bronze in Sochi by .04 seconds to an athlete later tied to Russia’s state-supported doping regime. Ask Beckie Scott about her gold medal celebration, which occurred two years after her third-place finish in Salt Lake City. Take the time to call shot-putter Adam Nelson, who received his gold medal in a food court at the Atlanta airport, almost a decade after finishing second in Athens.

They’ll all tell you the same thing. When podium moments are stolen, they can never be returned. Not really.  

A Path Forward

We stand today at a defining moment in sport. But that moment is fading quickly, and it’s time we ask ourselves an important question: Since the depths of Russia’s state-supported doping system were brought to light, what has been done to prevent this from happening again?

I’ve said on numerous occasions that if the powers-that-be really wanted to hold people accountable and put clean athletes first, they could. I believe that. In fact, if they really wanted to, I believe they could do it today.

That’s what is so frustrating for us at USADA and for the athletes we serve. The solutions are not difficult. Finding political will, however, has proved to be. If tomorrow the International Olympic Committee made the decision to properly finance efforts to keep performance-enhancing drugs out of sport, and to remove themselves and other sports organizations from critical anti-doping functions -- the anti-doping landscape would be exponentially stronger. Sport involvement in these critical anti-doping functions is a glaring conflict of interest, and we know from experience that it’s too much to expect any organization to effectively promote and police itself. The fox can no longer be allowed to guard the hen house.

If we want reform, we must demand it, and over the past few months, national anti-doping organizations from around the world, with the support of athletes, have put forth a series of proposals designed to reform and strengthen the global anti-doping model.

The proposals are simple, yet effective:

  • Remove the fundamental conflict of interest that exists when anti-doping decisions are controlled by sport organizations.
  • Strengthen WADA through improved independence, transparency, and increased investment.
  • Increase WADA’s ability to investigate, and impose sanctions, so that countries which engage in state-supported doping are held accountable.
  • Exclude Russian sports organizations from all international competitions – with a uniform process for athletes to compete as neutrals until substantive progress in reform efforts are made; as well as enforce the removal of all major international competitions from Russia.
  • Provide the opportunity for athletes who have been robbed by doping to have a formal medal ceremony conducted at the Olympic Games or World Championship following the approval of medal reallocation.
  • Increase support for whistleblowers around the world.

In support of these reforms, nearly 100 track and field athletes signed a petition embracing the proposals.

In their letter of support, the athletes wrote: “It is not only our sport but the entire Olympic Movement that has been severely impacted by systematic doping violations by individuals, international federations, and government officials. The Olympic Movement is at a pivotal point where it can either decide to protect rights, the athletes, and the integrity of sport, or it can continue to disregard these glaring doping violations in the interest of financial incentives for a few.”

There is tremendous power in the athletes’ voice.

A Growing Chorus

Faced with administrative inaction after the release of the most recent McLaren Report documenting the scope of the Russian doping scheme across all sports, skeleton and bobsled athletes from a number of nations recently demanded a fair playing field by refusing to compete if the bobsled and skeleton World Championships were held in Russia in 2017 as scheduled.

Their voices were heard and their fortitude paid off - the event was moved.

Following the decision, U.S. women's bobsled pilot and clean sport advocate Elana Meyers Taylor publicly announced, "That's a monumental decision by the IBSF and the right move to protect clean athletes and to tell the world that state-sponsored doping is unacceptable. I am ecstatic about the decision."

Pressure from athletes also pushed the International Skating Union to move a speed skating event from Russia in March and drove Russia to remove itself as host of an International Biathlon Union World Cup meeting in Tyumen the same month.

More recently, at least 100 cross-country skiers united from eight nations to issue an open letter insisting their rights to clean sport be protected and demanding a stronger stance against doping by both the IOC and the International Ski Federation.

Winning the Fight

To every athlete in every nation: this is your moment. The stakes are high, courage is required, but your right to clean sport is at stake. The professional well-being of the next generation of clean athletes hangs in the balance. And the truth is, if we don't push, if we don’t win, we will likely find ourselves back in this same position, years from now, staring another state-supported doping system in the face…

Wondering why we didn’t do more when we had the chance.

 

Why Clean Sport Matters Beyond the Playing Field

By Brad Stulberg

Doping is dangerous. It’s dangerous for the athletes who dope, who increase their risk of illness and death. It’s dangerous for the athletes who choose not to dope, who struggle to compete with cheaters and as a result miss out on podium finishes that pay for their rent and health insurance.  And it’s dangerous for those who aspire to be athletes, who may come to believe that they need to dope in order to make it to the next level.

We know all of that. It’s been said a million times and for good reason.  It’s true.

But the dangers of doping transcend sport. Laypeople have always looked to elite athletes for cutting-edge performance insights.  The best in the world are always one step ahead of the game—why not see what they are doing and emulate them?  So we buy the shoes elite athletes wear; drink the beverages they drink; model our sleeping-habits after theirs; and design our routines like they do. And now, we dope.

Increasingly, we’ve seen cases of weekend warriors use synthetic testosterone to win their age group at local triathlons and road races;  students illicitly using of Adderall to land on the right side of the bell-curve during exams on college campuses; and lawyers, consultants, and bankers abusing cocaine and similar stimulants to get promoted and earn bonuses in the corporate workplace.  This kind of doping—the doping that occurs outside of elite sport—is every bit as dangerous as the doping that occurs within it.  There are no team doctors or chemists to supervise.  Not to mention, “life-doping” has the potential to affect not hundreds or thousands but millions of people.

This can’t be the example that sport sets.  The stakes are simply too high.  We’re at a moment when robots are increasingly replacing human labor, the “quantified self” is thriving, and everything under the sun is being tracked and measured so we can “optimize” ourselves.  Sometimes I wonder if the robots are coming or if we’re becoming the robots.  If there was ever a time for mass-market doping to become even more widespread, for an “anything goes” mechanistic mindset to take hold, this is it.

Sport needs not to add fuel to this trend but to buck it; to serve as a strong counter-balancing force.  To be a final frontier that reminds people what humans—not super-humans—are capable of.  

In 1974, speculating about the future of society, the late George Leonard wrote that as the speed of technological innovation increases, more than ever, “we’ll need mythic beings to provide us models of behavior.” For Leonard, the ethical and persevering athlete—what he called “The Ultimate Athlete”—was the perfect fit. But Leonard also wrote that such a mythic figure would only arise if we worked for “reform and change of emphasis in certain attititudes” within sport.  Over 40 years later, his prescient message is one that we’d be wise to heed. 

Brad Stulberg writes about health and the science of human performance. He is a columnist at Outside Magazine and New York Magazine, and a coauthor of the forthcoming book, PEAK PERFORMANCE. Follow Brad on Twitter @Bstulberg and subscribe to his newsletter

 

Clean Up Sport

By Brian Metzler

Competitive Olympic sports are not necessary broken, but it’s clear there is plenty to be fixed.

If the integrity of competition is not beyond reproach, then the sports and events become hollow and without the ability to truly thrive. Just one doping athlete in a competition can begin to deconstruct what the sport and its athletes with integrity stand for, and once that erosion has begun—and there are plenty of examples that prove that it has—it wears down the entire sport and minimizes the successes across the board. Getting out of that kind of hole isn’t easy. The path to clean sport requires a three-point system of checks and balances that includes every aspect of the sport.

The first piece is an active community of committed athletes, coaches, brands, organizations and supporters who believe in the necessity of clean, fair competition so much that they’re willing to stake their reputations on it. Clean Sport Collective, and the individuals and organizations that have joined on, is one very important aspect of the grassroots movement to keep these sports on the right track. The individual and communal efforts include everything from the very important notion of embracing the positive examples of clean athletes who are training and racing with integrity to serving as watchdogs or whistleblowers to help expose those who are not. If all brands connected to the sports were involved in the movement, it would help eliminate the financial support and corporate marketing of dirty athletes. Because everybody loses—fans, athletes, coaches, the brands and the financial success of the sport—when dirty athletes are put into the limelight as iconic individuals that should be celebrated.

The second piece is a much more diligent independent anti-doping oversight system spearheaded by the likes of WADA (globally), USADA (in the U.S.) and a similar beyond-reproach organization in every country that competes in sport. While WADA and USADA have made great strides for the good of the sports over the past decade, they need to be even more empowered by global governing bodies (IAAF, IOC, UCI, FINA, etc) to work freely and independently without political, bureaucratic or sponsorship interference. And the sports need to invest more into the system to ensure national anti-doping infrastructure to ensure that a national organization isn’t corrupted and part of a state-funded cheating operation. (See Russia and RUSADA as Exhibit A.) Also, those global sport organizations need to ensure that all national governing bodies (and all athletes) are subject to the same consistent and transparent testing protocols with no exceptions. If a particular country cannot meet the rigorous drug-testing standards to the letter of the law every month, its athletes should not be allowed to compete in international competitions or global championships.

Lastly, sports must absolutely invoke lifetime bans to drug cheats. But because of exceptions, inconsistent testing systems and sometimes sponsor influences, the existing system that offers two-year bands and second chances is no good.  Handing down a lifetime ban would require adhering to the due process of justice administered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and not a sport’s global governing body. Such a process that would include specific and very rigid guidelines of what substances are banned, when TUEs apply, how the testing protocol is administered and what the protocol would be for a positive test. Certainly, all athletes should be innocent until proven guilty and no athlete should be unjustly banned. The science, resources and incentives of cheating and deep and sophisticated—perhaps way ahead of the anti-doping process—so only the very real threat of being permanently eliminated from a sport (and, of course, the possibility to achieve success and financial rewards even after a first-time offense) can significant progress be made to reducing the prevalence of doping in sport.

I have said before that allowing dope cheats to remain in the sport is analogous to keeping a piece of moldy fruit in a bowl on your kitchen counter. Not only does the spoiled fruit look bad and reflect poorly on the entire bowl of fruit, it also tends to ruin the other pieces in the bowl. In sport, when dopers receive second chances, it leads others to either become disenfranchised or to pursue cheating on their own.

Let’s face it, there will always be athletes who try to cheat. But the incentive to do so will be considerably reduced if the imminent threat of lifetime expulsion, elimination of sponsorships and punitive financial penalties are known punishment. I’m not talking about jail time, I’m just saying get rid of the cheaters permanently and embrace the athletes who are doing it right.

Brian Metzler is the editor in chief of Competitor magazine. He was formerly a senior editor for Running Times magazine and was the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine and Adventure Sports magazine. 

 

The Collective Voice

By Kara Goucher

November 2nd was an amazing day for those supporting Clean Sport.  The Clean Sport Collective launched, and it was exciting scrolling through my social feeds and seeing literally thousands of people who had taken their charter pledge.  The pledge is available to be taken at anytime, and the Clean Sport Collective is a welcoming organization, they want everyone who supports clean sport to have a voice and a community.

While awareness was the first step, soon the next phase will begin in 2017. Fundraising for clean sport will support each of its 4 positive lanes of change.  The 4 lanes are awareness, testing, industry advocacy, and restoration.  As we look into the new year, the founders of Clean Sport Collective will be raising funds in order to donate money for more drug tests to be carried out in competitions, educating the youth about the dangers of drug use, and giving scholarships to those who have gone down the wrong path and want to change their lives. The goal of the Clean Sport Co is to be a helper in moving sport away from doping controversies and help share stories of change and clean athletes.

Clean Sport Co is open to anyone who wants to be a part of it. It is open to any ideas and suggestions on how to further promote clean sport in a positive way.  I was fortunate to sit in on board meeting a few weeks ago, and I was thrilled to see and hear the next steps they want to accomplish and the action they hope to take.  

As an athlete who has dedicated my life to a sport that has had and continues to have plenty of doping scandals, I can’t describe how hopeful this makes me feel.  Amateurs, fans, and brands can come together to create positive change.  Instead of talking about it, let’s do something about it; let’s create power together.  Take the pledge today and stay tuned for ways to support the Clean Sport Co to truly make a difference.  We are all in this together, and together we can make change.

Here’s to a clean 2017 and beyond! Let’s shake it up.

Standing with you,

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher is a professional runner, proud mother and loving wife. She graduated from the University of Colorado with three Division I NCAA championships in cross-country, the 3000m and 5000m. She is a two-time Olympian, an American record holder, World Championships bronze medalist, and one of the most accomplished female distance runners of all time. In addition to her professional resume, Kara is a proud partner to Oiselle, Skechers, Nuun, Zensah and Addaday. You can visit her website, karagoucher.com, or follow her on social media @karagoucher where she regularly interacts with her readers. 

 

Why Clean Sport

By Steve Magness

I was 18 years old, living out a scene that I could only have dreamed of a few months earlier. The day after running the Pre classic I was going on a run with some of the best athletes in the world; Olympians, NCAA champions, record holders. Men I had only seen on TV, read about in Runner’s World. They were heroes to a young running-obsessed high school kid.

I’d heard of doping before. I was well aware of the rumors and allegations surrounding professional baseball and as a track-nut knew about the bygone era of East German doping and the Ben Johnson fiasco. But this was the first time I’d come face to face with allegations and it was unsettling. Here were a few of top the runners in the world and they were throwing around knowledgeable statements on the hidden underbelly of the sport. A sport which I assumed was relatively pure.

Move ahead another year or two and I’m in graduate school training with the fastest American miler ever. We had a special guest lecturer, Verner Møller for one of my graduate school courses. Dr. Møller had found himself smack in the middle of the Tour de France doping controversy, having written the book The Doping Devil, which detailed the history of drug use in sport. He was a rational but jaded individual who was fond of telling us that no one could make it to the very top without drugs. I would spend class time arguing with Dr. Møller, using my training partner Alan Webb, as an example. He would listen, but then politely scoff back, probably thinking “This poor naïve kid” in his head.

What doping does is it destroys dreams. It kills what makes sport so unique; the idea that hard-work matters. That we all have a set limit and with enough training we can explore where those limits lie.

As we age, we lose youths innocence. We become jaded. Scoffing at the naïve youth with their foolish dreams as Dr. Møller did with me. We start making comments like “everyone is suspect” or “They are all doping, so what’s the point.”

Whenever I feel my jadedness towards sport creeping up, I’m reminded of the innocence of the high school runners I used to coach or look at the wide eyed freshman who step foot on our college campus. They have dreams and goals; aspirations of glory shepherded by hard work and dedication. They truly believe that if they work hard, with a bit of luck and talent, they too might reach the level of the runners they read about.

What isn’t dancing in their heads is the thought that one day, to reach that level, I’m going to have to make a choice to take drugs or not. We’re all faced with difficult choices in life. We all come to a point where we come face to face the upper reaches of our talent. We can see our limitations on the horizon as we gradually approach them.

It used to be that you kept banging your head against the wall, maybe changed something in training or doubled down on your commitment. But now, whenever we come close to that limit, drugs, or grey-area substances, become the easy solution. It’s a sad time to be an athlete.

When I consider the choices that athletes are forced to make, I often ponder what makes someone choose to go over to the “dark side.” It’s not that everyone who makes a wrong choice is “evil.” Instead, it’s the people they surround themselves with and where they derive their motivation from that all often decides the direction that athlete goes. We all start out innocent, attempting to improve with hard work, but these internal and external forces are often the determining factor in whether we cross the line.

If they are surrounded by Ego-driven individuals who are obsessed with succeeding regardless of the cost; or coaches who see athletes as pawns and not people; or doctors who cross lines for financial reasons, then it’s no wonder an athlete falls into the drug culture. If they have been taught that winning is all that matters or that they are defined by what they do in the sport, then going down the wrong path is more likely.

The lessons we teach for why we compete in the sport matter. The morals and ethics that coaches, trainers, peers, doctors, agents, and even sports marketing executives, display often determine whether an athlete chooses the shady side of the sport or stays on the right side of the line. It’s for this reason that the Clean Sport Movement is needed. We need to change the norm, change what is acceptable from all of these groups. We need to set a new standard.

Overall, when I consider the drug issue in sport, I go back to why I coach, why I am involved in a sport with little financial reward and a myriad of problems?

It’s about developing people, not athletes, not runners, people.  Drugs, and the shortcut they provide, do not do that.

Steve Magness has served as a professional coach for the last decade, having coached numerous athletes to top 15 at the World Championships and Olympic Games. He is the co-author of the forthcoming book, Peak Performance, and his first book, The Science of Running, was published in 2014. He currently coaches at the University of Houston. In addition, he is author of the popular blog, The Science of Running, and The Peak Performance Newsletter. He serves as an adjunct professor of Strength and Conditioning at St. Mary's University. In his own running, Magness ran a 4:01 mile in High School. He can be found on twitter @stevemagness

Why is Clean Sport Important?

By Mario Fraioli

Citius. Altius. Fortius. Faster. Higher. Stronger. This has been the motto of the Olympic Games since 1924. These words, according to Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, “represent a programme of moral beauty. The aesthetics of sport are intangible."

Personally, this is what I’ve always loved about sport, whether it’s a running race, a basketball game or some other type of contest. There’s a purity to competition—the first runner across the line wins the race, the team with the highest score at the end of the game takes the title—that is easy to understand and appreciate, regardless of your own ability, background or interests. Beauty lies at the intersection of skill and strategy, and that’s a huge part of what makes sport so special to watch.

Unfortunately, this moral beauty, this purity of competition—from the Olympic level all the way down to the true amateur ranks—has been compromised for quite some time now. It’s no secret that cheating, specifically doping, is rampant across nearly every sport, at all levels, costing clean athletes medals or money (and sometimes both), casting all athletes–even the ones who are playing by the rules–in a negative light, while simultaneously losing the faith of other athletes, coaches, fans, sponsors and media alike because no one has any idea who to trust or what to believe anymore. 

This is why the Clean Sport movement is so important. A culture of transparency needs to replace one that has been poisoned by secrecy. Trust and belief need to be restored. Cheaters needs to be abashed, not encouraged. By creating awareness around the issues at hand and uniting in support of the ideals that Pierre de Coubertin outlined almost a century ago, change can happen. It needs to happen, otherwise sport risks entering a future where its aesthetics will become tarnished beyond recognition. As athletes, coaches, fans, sponsors and journalists, we have a responsibility to speak up and take action in order to restore and uphold the values of hard work, fair play and integrity that sport is grounded in, and will ultimately survive on.

Mario Fraioli has coached runners to personal bests, Boston Marathon qualifying times, national championship wins, Olympic Trials appearances, international podiums, world championship teams, national records, and even the Olympic Games. He is the creator of the morning shakeout email newsletter, author of The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training and former senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, Mario has raced competitively from the mile to ultramarathon distances. He is an ardent supporter of the Clean Sport movement.