I have some questions about drug testing. You hear a lot about frequent testing of guys like Lance and Cavendish. Are domestic pros tested constantly as well? Have you ever missed a test, or had any fears that your test would be positive? What’s the procedure like?
Domestic pros are tested, but not as often as the bigger names. At NRC races, UCI races, and national championships, they usually test the winner and one or two random riders in the field. I’ve been tested at races several times, and I’ve twice received the dreaded e-mail from USADA informing me that they’ll need to know my whereabouts every hour for the next year for out-of-competition testing. When I was in that testing pool, there were long periods where I wouldn’t be tested at all, and others where I was tested so frequently that I’d have trouble urinating if someone in a white lab coat wasn’t watching.
I did miss a test once, sort of. If you live in an apartment, you’re supposed to include instructions with your whereabouts sheet on how to enter the building. The tester saw the buzzer and the keypad (both of which were broken) and never actually tried the door, which would have opened easily. When I woke up to six missed calls between 6 and 7 a.m., I panicked, but you don’t get in trouble until you’ve missed three tests within 12 months, and it never happened again. After a bunch of e-mails, they took it off my record.
I was never too worried about a test going positive, but every time the guy leaves, you can’t help but think about every roadside taco, piece of steak, or chimera twin you might have consumed. As a founder of the clean tattoo club, if I ever dope or test positive, there’s a pact that the other members of the club will show up at my house and remove my tattoo with a cheese grater, so there’s more to lose than my reputation. So far, so good.
The dope-testing procedure is strict and official. Everything is packed and sealed in foam and shrink-wrap, and you open it yourself, so you don’t worry about tampering or contamination. You sign some forms, inspect the equipment, and match codes on the bottles to codes on the sheet and the package to prevent a mix-up. Then you go to the bathroom, where some stranger watches you pee into a cup, and it’s not like you put your back to him. He has to watch it come out of you, and he stares. I don’t know where they find these people. Once you’ve filled the cup, you pour it into the two sample bottles, seal it all up into a jar that locks so it that can’t be reopened, finish filling out the forms, and then beg your roommates* to stop laughing at you.
* Only fair since the doorbell probably woke them up at 6 a.m.
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Ask a Pro answers every question you’ve always wanted to ask about pro cycling. Recently retired pro cyclist Phil Gaimon gathers the absolute gems from his monthly Q&A feature column in VeloNews magazine into Ask a Pro and adds a dose of fresh commentary and even more acerbic and sharp-eyed insights.
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