USA Triathlon has increased its investment in anti-doping efforts for age-group athletes as part of an initiative launched earlier this year with support from the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. The USA Triathlon Compete Clean campaign, implemented in collaboration with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), focuses on education, awareness and accountability for amateur triathletes competing in USA Triathlon sanctioned events.
As part of the program, USA Triathlon has expanded its testing at age-group races across the US, including but not limited to national championships and ITU World Championship qualifiers in several multisport disciplines.
“I am really thrilled with the progress we’ve made over the past year in expanding our anti-doping programs to an entirely new level for age-group athletes,” said Chuck Graziano, USA Triathlon Board Member, Certified Coach and head of USA Triathlon’s Anti-Doping Steering Committee.
“We are not only testing and deterring the intentional use of performance-enhancing substances, but also providing education and resources to our athletes on the ill effects of doping and what constitutes doping. Many athletes may not be aware that a prescription they’re taking might be banned – unless an exemption is granted – or that a supplement they’re taking might contain a banned substance. This important new program helps to protect the health of our athletes and ensure a level playing field.”
USA Triathlon supported the formation of an Anti-Doping Task Force to evaluate the organization’s clean sport programs and provide recommendations for future direction. The eight members included:
- Chuck Graziano, who served as the Task Force Chair;
- Chris Bowerbank, USA Triathlon former Level II Race Director and Regional Chair;
- Matthew Fedoruk, Chief Science Officer at the US Anti-Doping Agency;
- Andrew Getzin, USA Triathlon Head Team Physician;
- Courtney Kulick, USA Triathlon National Team Program Manager;
- Kate Mittelstadt, Director of the IRONMAN Anti-Doping Program;
- Steve Sutherland, Chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee; and
- Jon Whiteman, USA Cycling Risk Protection Manager.
Based on the recommendations of the Task Force, the Board of Directors approved US$100,000 in funding for USA Triathlon to ‘implement significant new programming in 2018’.
The Steering Committee, which is overseeing the timeline and implementation of that programming, retains many members of the initial Task Force — including Bowerbank, Fedoruk, Graziano, Kulick, Mittelstadt and Whiteman. Leslie Buchanan, Director of Anti-Doping at the International Triathlon Union (ITU), has also joined the effort.
“USA Triathlon is proud to have the support of the Board of Directors, as well as a diverse Steering Committee, in our efforts to protect clean athletes and prevent issues of doping in multisport,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “We look forward to driving awareness among our age-group community, while at the same time elevating the organization’s clean sport outreach as a whole.”
“We are very supportive of USA Triathlon’s efforts to promote clean sport across all levels of competition,” said Travis Tygart, USADA CEO. “In addition to its regular USADA-run anti-doping program, it is investing in anti-doping education for both elite and amateur triathletes. This not only helps ensure that athletes, coaches and others are prepared to compete clean, but also helps create a culture of clean sport.”
USA Triathlon has implemented the following as part of the Compete Clean campaign:
Hiring of full-time staff member dedicated to safe sport and anti-doping initiatives: Shelbi Meyer was hired in June and serves as a direct liaison to USADA, working closely with USADA’s education and testing departments to implement best practices and coordinate testing at USA Triathlon-sanctioned events.
Education and Awareness Resources: USA Triathlon has communicated with its members on anti-doping topics throughout the year via e-newsletter, the quarterly USA Triathlon Magazine, social media and a promotional video featuring IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Andy Potts and 2016 Paralympic gold medallist Allysa Seely.
USA Triathlon is also sharing printed educational materials and video content to address age-group athletes’ most common anti-doping questions and concerns, such as checking medications, obtaining a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) and making smart choices around supplements. Athletes at the elite and age-group levels have been involved in the campaign as ambassadors, wearing ‘Compete Clean’ shirts at events around the world including the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia, and the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
USADA education staff at national events: Representatives from USADA’s education department were on-site at the 2018 USA Triathlon Sprint and Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships in Cleveland; the Art & Science of Triathlon International Coaching Symposium in Tempe, Arizona; and the USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships in Miami.
At these events, USADA staff presented informational sessions to coaches and athletes, shared educational resources and answered questions at an expo booth. USA Triathlon will continue to coordinate with USADA for education and awareness at competitions and industry events through the 2019 season and beyond.
Increased testing for age-group athletes: USAT adds that age-group athletes are now tested with more frequency and in higher numbers at collegiate and national championship events, especially those that qualify top finishers for the ITU Age Group World Championships.
If an athlete has reason to believe a competitor is using performance-enhancing substances, he or she can submit a tip to USADA’s Play Clean Tip Center at usada.org/playclean with an option to remain anonymous.
Industry collaboration: The organization continues to work closely with USADA, other Olympic sport National Governing Bodies, IRONMAN and additional triathlon industry partners to share resources, best practices and experiences in promoting clean sport.
Beyond its outreach to age-group athletes, USA Triathlon is also offering detailed educational opportunities to coaches, race directors, USA Triathlon staff, medical personnel and support staff.