Tuesday, September 3, 2013

MABRA Drug Testing: USAC and Rick Norton Reply

Last Friday I emailed USADA and USAC's RaceClean program.  The key question was what happened to the money MABRA designated for the program that was supposed to increase testing at local events and of local riders (like me).  I included, verbatim, the text of those letters in my previous post.

At 10:42pm on Friday, August 30th, I received the following from Frederike Blattspieler, USAC's local association director:


The Race Clean program has not yet concluded for 2013.  The signed contracts for the LAs [local associations, e.g., MABRA] were sent out in July, so the start time was delayed.  MABRA signed up for 2 days of testing, and will receive that.  Once we have all the data in, I can get back to you with more information.  The 2014 program will begin much earlier, and USADA will have the span of the entire year to complete the tests.

Please let me know if I have addressed your concerns.  I will be out of the office on Monday, for Labor day.  Feel free to send me an e-mail or you are welcome to give me a call         if you need more information. 

I plan on following up with Frederike later this week, but this provides several useful bits of information:

(1) I wasn't tested because the program was not yet launched.  Last week's Chris Thater was the first instance of RaceClean testing.
(2) If testing did occur this year (i.e., at Black Hills) it was not part of the RaceClean program.  In other words, USAC still plans to provide us with at least two tests.
(3) Testing for 2014 (presuming it costs another $6,000 and MABRA decides to pay it) will start much earlier.

A few other notes:
(4) In the follow-up conversations, I received some eyewitness accounts that testing did occur at Black Hills.  The subject of testing did not fit any known profile for dopers, at least judging by his or her results.

(5) One of MABRA's most respected riders, Rick Norton, had this to say about testing:

As usual, I'm late to the debate--I'm late to everything.  saw the reference to your season feeling "suspicious"--then going to inquire about some transparency in the testing protocol.  I suspect I hold a minority opinion here--bus as I'm in Bend [for Masters Nationals] and have some time before I race and return to super full time teaching as soon as I land back in Baltimore here goes:
A. Nice season.  Best I can tell maybe you've underperformed a bit in the past given what seems like pretty solid short effort ability and an always improving long effort ability. 
B. I kind of don't really care about who is doping.  I feel like breaking a rule which is tough to enforce yet highly frowned upon by the affected community is on the person breaking the rule.  I can't seem to get too worked up about something over which I have zero control.
C. Exceptions to B--U23 races and very high caliber national races.  Those guys are in a sink or swim situation and anything that increases the chances for some fairness seems well placed.  Personally, I really want to win a national championship (why I'm shelling out tons of money for a one time shot at a road race at elevation).  I'd like this event to be fair because it feels like there are higher stakes, but honestly all I really want while racing is to give everything I have when I'm in for a shot at a win.  If the dude(s) in front of me cheated--that's on him (them).
D. Lastly, I think testing should be simplified (maybe not at the Pro Tour level).  We all have access to a bazillion supplements (friends smarter than I have said that Optygen HP and beet juice are helpful) and in my opinion only a few things are real game changers (steroids/EPO/probably blood doping?) so maybe at the amateur level just test for the game changers (maybe that would be cheaper and easier to increase regularity of testing).  OK, back to wondering why I'm wasting my perfectly good working years trying to do well in one silly race many miles from home.

As usual, Rick has some sensible thoughts here: notably, a simplified testing protocol for amateurs and a sense of how testing should differ at different levels.

And, for a guy who has probably faced more dopers in competition than all the rest of us, he has a surprisingly calm attitude about it.

Like I said, I'll try to have a conversation with USAC this week and tell you what I find out, but for now, let's wish Rick success out in Oregon.

Rick at Stelvio earlier this year


rick norton said...

Kevin - thanks for the words and thoughts - great posts as usual. perhaps your consistent thought provoking writing should engender blogging ped testing (in fairness - so should Lindsay Bayer's writing - velonews is missing big not carrying her writing to go along with other good reads from Nate Wilson, Phil Gaimon and the like).

With some extra time before the daily crush of school life confines me to the obscurity I more rightly deserve - more thoughts...

-faced more dopers than others -

it seems impossible to know. the only recent positive of which i'm aware is Pete cannell and who knows if he was getting any benefit when i raced him? I do remember pete soundly beating me in a finish at crystal city then riding away from us at clarendon the next year. At clarendon he dropped the break and i had a moment to go all in for a solo bridge or hope for help in bringing him back (i knew how good he was - i'd seen it firsthand). I was uber mad at myself for not trying to bridge - that was my only chance to stick with someone better than i was. i had no way of knowing that peds could be a factor but i had every reason to believe that not chasing Pete would almost certainly result in a loss.

like you - i suspect i must be a good candidate for suspicion for drug testing. unfortunately at these few events where i know there is testing (nats) i have been first and second runner-up for the test - aarrrghhhh!
my off the cuff thinking (usually rotten ideas) is to wonder if we could gather samples ourselves and then get them to usada and pay them that way.
my idea is maybe crowd source a rider or two to test every few weeks/races- let's get cross and norton to pee in a cup this week -

get a somewhat impartial party to fridge those (or whatever you do to urine?) and send them to usada.

again i'd prefer testing this way to only test for the biggies (epo/roids/whatever the community agrees to) and i'd think teh penalty would have to be mabra enforced as the testing doesnt have the super tight guidelines of usada - maybe something like 1 yr no races in mabra.

im ok with peeing in a cup (sounds safer than - giving a sample) for fellow racers' peace of mind.

uggh - elevation - is it fair to have nats at 6500 ft?? what's wrong with just using Ruth's killer miller school course for all national champs??

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a chance to touch base with USAC/USADA. John Cutler