Spartan Race – Surprise Drug Testing

At last month’s Spartan Super in Utah, athletes were told at the start of the race that the winners would be drug tested. For four years Spartan has put its racers on notice that they might be drug tested if they reached the podium, and one of the many check boxes racers of all skills have clicked on to get to the next screen included the promise to abide by the anti-doping rules that Spartan has adopted.

For 99% of the people who jump over fire to cross the finish line, doping controls never cross their minds. How many weekend warriors would bother with the time, expense and health risks that doping entails in order to get a medal and a banana? However, racers who are in it for the money sometimes take that risk.

A little background: Spartan announced its drug testing policy in 2014, but it did not get around to doing any actual testing until the 2017 World Championship in Tahoe after a few false startsThis hit the news at around the same time that OCR star Ryan Woods was disqualified from the OCRWC after testing positive for a banned substance he says he took by accident. 

The OCRWC family of races has tested frequently and consistently, and last month Spartan raised its drug testing profile by the surprise announcement in Utah. Even Lindsay Webster got a little worried at the start when she heard about drug testing at the start line. On a recent podcast she told ORM’s Matt B. Davis that she started second guessing all of her recent medication choices.

Since Lindsay really is the sincere, honest Canadian she appears to be (as well as a champion athlete), the drugs she was worried about? Advil and Tylenol. Which are both completely legal.

 

In an Instagram post, Ryan Woods talked about his reaction.

 

Great post, but we could have done without the visual, Woodsy.

And as comments showed, some people will always be angry about those who have been caught cheating.

Joe Di Stefano told ORM that the top three men, top three women as well as a random competitor  were tested by a third party, who collected the urine samples and shipped them off to a lab at UCLA. To the relief of everyone, none of the samples tested positive. By contrast, the same company’s work at a recent CrossFit championship turned up fourteen athletes using banned substances.

OCR athletes can feel smug that our sport is cleaner than CrossFit. However, CrossFit prize purses are an order of magnitude greater that OCR’s, and the question remains whether our athletes will continue to compete clean as the rewards for winning grow.  For now, it is reassuring that Spartan Race is keeping its promise of random testing, and it is also reassuring that the threat of testing was enough to put a little fear into athletes who should have nothing to worry about (Lindsay Webster) as well as those who have learned to be much more careful about what substances they put in their bodies.

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Christopher Stephens

Christopher is an attorney, a middle-of-the-pack triathlete, a marathoner, an open water swimmer, and a recovering Jeopardy contestant. A native New Yorker, he trains in the rugged wilderness of Central Park and can sometimes be found swimming in the Hudson. He also bakes pies. Delicious pies.
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Comments

  1. I would also point out that the recent Crossfit positive tests came as a result of blood testing. Crossfit appears to have enhanced their testing program and blood testing will catch many things missed by urine testing. No saying anything about these clean tests but lets makes sure we are comparing apples to apples.