Yesterday evening, Spartan Race put out a press release about an informational session at the Reebok World Championships with the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Association) as the first step towards drug testing for the race series. The initial press release had many shaking their heads as to what this all means and how it will immediately affect the athletes at the event next weekend. This morning we spoke with Spartan Race's Director of Sport – Joe Di Stefano to find out more about this announcement.
Initial USADA and Spartan Race Press Release:
Beginning at the 2016 Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Spartan Race is pleased to announce the creation of a joint educational initiative operating in conjunction with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that will help provide athletes with a baseline understanding of anti-doping regulations and best practices. For many athletes, this will be their first chance to learn how anti-doping helps protect the health and wellness of athletes, as well as the integrity of sport, while also ensuring that athletes are able to compete clean and win.
Prior to the start of competition, USADA will deliver a 30-minute educational presentation at 3:00 p.m. on September 30, which will cover topics like the World Anti-Doping Code, performance-enhancing substances, the risks associated with dietary supplements, and the sample collection process. Athletes will then be able to interact, ask questions, and learn more about anti-doping throughout the weekend by visiting with USADA’s representatives. Friendly experts will also direct athletes to USADA’s various anti-doping resources, such as the Athlete Pocket Guide and Wallet Card.
“By introducing athletes to USADA and anti-doping, Spartan is fully supporting the concept that clean competition is crucial to growing a sustainable and globally recognized sport,” said Spartan Race COO Jeffrey Connor. “This step also illustrates Spartan Race’s continued commitment to the preservation of a level playing field.”
After reading this, we reached out to Di Stefano to find out more about the news. Di Stefano told us this is the first phase in the process to bring USADA drug testing to Spartan Race events. At the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships, the USADA will be holding the above mentioned informational session on Friday before the race. This is the first introduction for many to the testing protocols that will be implemented during the 2017 season. Di Stefano told us,
“This is just an informational meeting to introduce the testing protocols for the athletes. Typically, when implementing new protocols, it takes about three months from the initial educational sessions to full implementation.”
DiStefano continued to tell us that this is part of a two-step plan to bring anti-doping testing to the race series. Spartan Race has partnered with the USADA as the first phase to bring drug testing to all domestic races. The second stage will be expanding out to the international races.
Regarding testing protocols, the USADA offers both urine and blood sample testing. USADA uses WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) accredited laboratories in their testing of a sample. As well, USADA is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), and USADA’s sample collection process is fully compliant with the Code and International Standard for Testing & Investigations. Athletes can find the full WADA code here. That means Spartan Race using the USADA for testing will be to the same standards as events like the OCR World Championships which has used WADA for its drug testing since 2014.
USADA will also be on site all weekend at the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships with a booth in the festival area and representatives to talk to athletes and continue the education of how the drug testing will be implemented in the sport and what it means for any medications they might be currently taking. Joe Di Stefano encouraged all athletes who have questions to come to the educational meeting on Friday afternoon or visit the tent over the weekend. This is a major step forward for the Spartan Race brand as they help continue to push the advancement of the sport of obstacle racing and make it better for all the athletes.