The Sixth Yak and Doping Issues

I’m still in Florida and training hard. The weather through February wasn’t so great, but March has been incredible, almost no rain or wind so far. I’ve been doing some speed work trying to get my wheels back, and as always working on technique and efficiency. We had the sixth annual Yak For a Stack competition last week, in which participants dress up in costumes and race a type of short relay. There are prizes for everyone for both speed and excellence of costume. The Yak has grown to include almost 400 participants and is organized and run by Ian Mortimer and Ryan Cuthbert, with a little help from Mrs. Oldershaw and the Rohmans(the surrogate family of the national team here in Fla.) among others. My personal favorite costume was the Danish Vikings, who built a long boat that held about 12 people…pretty awesome.

Apart from the Yak, not too much has been going on. There has been some talk in the athlete community about the CCES’ (Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport) requirements for our disclosing our whereabouts in proper format. During my first years on the team we had to fill out our whereabouts forms and mail them in every three months to give the dope testers an idea of where we would be so they could test us. A failure to comply essentially equals a failed test and can lead to suspension, which can be a career ender for some. The CCES is a great organization that have done a lot to help Canada remain one of the cleaner countries in amateur sport. The volunteer testers are always professional and respectful. The current problem has arisen due to the new software and new criteria for our whereabouts. The software in question is called ADAMS and is basically a calendar we populate with our daily residences, a specific one hour time slot between 6am and 10pm where we will be home for sure, our training and competition locations and the time we will be in each place, each day. This has to be done for everyday of the year. It is basically impossible for me to be 100% accurate especially through the fall, my off-season. Here’s how it can work: If I were to mark, two months in advance, that I was supposed to be at home one day from 2pm to 4pm, but my friend needed help moving so I wasn’t there, I could face suspension if the testers showed up. It’s a bit crazy but necessary i think, so the question is how do you do it? Is it right that we can be penalized for simply being unaccounted for one random day of the year? Despite that I think that’s a very tall order, it wouldn’t be as bad if the software wasn’t terrible. I’m relatively good with most basic computer programmes, but ADAMS is not user friendly. It’s difficulty lies in the way we have to enter information and the ease, or lack of, with which we can change it.

In place of ADAMS some athletes, Simon Whitfield among them, have proposed a GPS tracking system of some kind. Honestly, at first mention I thought it was genius: NO MORE ADAMS. After a day or two of reflection I began to balk at the idea of someone having my every move, for years, in a computer database somewhere. Big Brother anyone….clichéd, but to the point. It’s not a question of hiding anything, it simply a question of some right to privacy. If the price to compete and represent Canada was totally surrendering my right to privacy, I would have to think twice. The most frightening solution was GPS’ in our cell phones. For those who don’t know Canada’s national team athletes receive a phone and plan from bell during the duration of our time on the team. It has been suggested that that phone should simply be one with a built in GPS, which are becoming more common. To me that sounds far more insidious than a regular GPS tracker. Maybe what we need is a nice GPS locator with a fitted anklet to keep us from losing it. The irony of “welcome to the national team, here’s your locater” wouldn’t be lost on many.

I can accept the fact that we need to be found and tested. I think maintaining drug free sport is key, but there has to be a more efficient and less invasive way. Maybe better software and a calendar that doesn’t need to populated for three months in advance, maybe two weeks to two months. Or, if we wanted to go the GPS route, maybe only having to turn it on for two hours a day when at a training, or at home. Something better needs to be done, because I can’t possibly fill out my forms properly for the year, and I doubt most people can. The risk is great if we’re at fault.

There you have it. Not all the facts and far from unbiased, a great post. I would love to hear what anyone has to say on the topic.

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