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February 2006
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Olympic Drug Testing

I knew that they were thorough and strict regarding the Olympics, but this actually surprised me.

In order to maintain my status as an eligible athlete, I am required to tell USADA where I am 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To help streamline this process, we are given quarterly updates to complete, intended for us to outline the next three months of our lives. We are instructed to put down when and where we will be living, training, working and traveling so that USADA can find us at any given moment. Although this seems relatively simple for most people, it is quite difficult for an athlete whose training and competition schedule is constantly in flux. For every wedding, family emergency, last-minute trip or unplanned change, we must submit a Change of Location form so we can be tracked at all times ÷ making athletes feel as though they are under constant surveillance.
The regular tracing of our whereabouts was implemented so that USADA can randomly drug test athletes, with frequent knocks at the door at 6 a.m. or surprise tests at 7 p.m. If a Doping Control Officer arrives to perform a test and the athlete cannot be reached within the allocated time, they are charged with a missed test. After three missed tests, an athlete becomes suspended for one year, and worse, has their reputation tarnished indefinitely.
When a Doping Control officer makes contact with you, you have two hours to meet them in person, at which point they must remain by your side until you give them a successful urine sample. This process can take all day, for even though as elite athletes we are trained to perform under pressure, bladder pressure is a different story. Even the showiest of athletes get stage fright when there is someone standing 2 feet away watching you ÷ completely exposed ÷ urinate into a cup.

I understand the concerns about having the sport tarnished by performance-enhancing drugs (although why athletes are tested for marijuana baffles me, since pot is hardly a sport-enhancing drug). On the other hand, I know that I would never want to live a life that completely gave up your privacy in that way.

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