Saturday, July 24, 2010

Too late? Elite runners face random drug tests at Bix

By Don Doxsie

At least some of the elite athletes competing in Saturday's Quad-City Times Bix 7 will find something new waiting for them in the finishing area.
For the first time in more than a decade, athletes will be tested for illegal substances after the race as part of USA Track & Field's sanctioning of the event as the national championship for 7 miles.
"USA Track & Field randomly selects races to do this at each year and they told us a long time ago that they were going to do it at Bix this year," Bix 7 race director Ed Froehlich said.
The Bix 7 did drug-testing in the early 1990s when the race was sanctioned by The Athletics Congress, the forerunner of the USATF.
Froehlich appointed assistant race director Michelle Juehring to be the site coordinator and the liaison between the Bix and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Juehring attended the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington D.C. in April to see how officials handle the post-race drug testing, and she will head an eight-person crew that will supervise the testing. Also included on the crew is her husband, Dave, who is well-acquainted with international competitions. He formerly was a team leader for the U.S. Olympic bobsled team.
Juehring said USATF forbids her from saying exactly how many runners will be tested. She said it will be spelled out in advance that runners finishing in certain places will be required to supply a urine sample.
"The drug testing shop will notify them that their position has been chosen for testing," Juehring said. "They then will have a certain time frame in which to produce a sample, which could be difficult to do because of dehydration. We will have sealed beverages that we will provide to athletes postrace.
"The drug testing chaperon will be responsible for keeping the athlete in their sight until they have given a sample."
Athletes who fail the test are subject to disqualification and loss of prize money if it is their first offense, according to the USATF. A second positive test for use of stimulants results in a two-year suspension and a third brings a lifetime ban from the sport.
The penalties are more severe for testing positive for anabolic steroids. The first offense brings a two-year suspension and a second results in a lifetime ban.