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Clean Sport campaign - Line Thams



Clean Sport campaign

In Denmark, we have an anti doping campaign going on, where a depeche is relay’ing around the country between athletes. When you have the depeche, you have the opportunity to create awareness on clean sport. I was fortunate to have the depeche in September so I took the opportunity to do a clean sport campaign in Danish. I’ve got some requests on translating it to English so here are all six posts, in one blog ..

I got the depeche from Andreas Petz. Andreas has been in triathlon during a generation (he started very young ;), and has been a swim buddy of mine, even before I knew what triathlon was all about. He has been a role model for many; and I’ve never been in doubt that “as a triathlete you say no to dope”.

Theme 1: Whereabouts

Since 2015, I’ve been obligated to complete “whereabouts”. But what does it mean, how does it work and what of a difference can it make towards anti doping?

In principle, whereabouts mean that I have a common electronical calender with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and ADD (Anti Doping Danmark), where I write an address of where they can find my during one hour every day. In the given hour I am available for unannounced doping tests. I have to choose an hour between 5am and 11pm. It can be at home, at a swim session, or whereever I am out socializing – but I prefer to do it at home where it is less disturbing. Honestly, I rarely think: “Awesome to see you, it’s not at all disturbing that I have to pee in a cup on commando right now, here Saturday evening.” 😉 BUT, on the other hand, it has never bothered me that WADA do “out of competition” tests (at all!) so I’m happy to do my duty!

The point with whereabouts and “out of competition testing”, is that athletes can be quite sure to be tested at competition if you do well – so athletes that want to dope, would do it outside competitions – but with the whereabouts, you never know when you will be obligated to pee. Because some drugs have short half-life time the whereabout system is not bulletproof, but it does increase the chances of catching the bad guys. Moreover it is a reminder to us athletes, to be carefull every day on what we out into our mouths.

My calender is in ADAMS (Anti Doping Administration & Management System). Often I will choose an early or late time slot (6-7am or 21-22pm). At that time, I am normally home and awake, and I don’t risk that they wake me up in the middle of the day during my nap 😉 The downside of the evening slot is that it may end up affecting my sleep. If I am dehydrated after a long training day and have nothing to pee of, I will have to bottom up quite some bottles before I can give the doping tester 90ml urine, and we can split. As a result, I’ll go from “not being able to pee” to “I’m having a 80-year old bladder and wake up 4 times the following night”. I have to be tested by a woman, as they have to observe our pee’ing skills. But in Denmark with only a few women testers, I often end up having the same tester coming by. It is starting to be quite cozy when she comes by as we know each other a little by now – even though there are still the awkward moments; in principle, the only thing we have in common is this doping test, and the only thing she cannot talk about is all that concerns (anti) doping and testing… I did my Bachelor assignment at Aarhus University in cooperation with a science project with WADA where we studied EPO use. So very naturally, I care about the tests validity and physiological effects after drug abuse, but I’ve consistently noticed that we’d better to talk about other stuff. Thank God for the weather 😉
I am in the “blood pass” test group in Denmark; we are around 90 athletes, I reckon. The blood pass is interesting in sports where the central system is a considerable limited factor for performance; for example cycling, triathlon, and long distance running. I will always start out by having the blod test, so I’ve got 10 minutes to tell my bladder that it needs to “deliver” any time soon 😉 In total, the blood and urine testing takes 20-30 minutes – but my slowest record is 90 minutes. That’s an uphill struggle!

If I shot the door when the tester come, it counts as a positive test (= doping penalty), and if I’m not at where I’ve written as my whereabout, I will get a warning. 3 warnings count as a positive test. I’ve got no warnings – or no positive tests for that sake, but you would have known 😉

Theme no 2: The doping test

So, how does the doping test go on? Well, often you are picked out at the finish line of a race and you’ll get a “body guard” that follows you with EVERY step until the test is completed. You will be asked to sign that you’ve been selected for a doping test and if you decline to sign, it will count as a positive test (= doping penalty).

It is rarely piece of cake to pee right after a race; you are often dehydrated and the adrenaline is pumping which won’t help on your need to pee. Sometimes it will take hours before there is a winning cup filled with urine. When you are ready to pee, you will choose a cup and sealed glasses – all is very sterile and with enormous amounts of tape. You will pee in the plastic cup in front of the doping tester, so time to not be shy 😉 You have to deliver 90 ml – not too diluted or too concentrated – otherwise you will have to continue peeing until you’ve got jackpot. You’ll then distribute your pee into two glasses; A- and B-sample – and then seal it. Afterwards you will fill out a formular with personal information, coach, doctor, supplements taken within the last week, and more. You will be asked if the sample may be used in science, and I recommend to sign YES (especially if you’re doped). 😉 The test will be send to a lab and after 3 weeks or so, they will have the result. No news is good news, and you’re tested clean.

Theme 3: Anti Doping App

Remember that you as an age group athlete also can be the lucky winner of a doping test after your next race, so the next themes focuses on what you can do to stay clean.

Open your phone and download Anti Doping Danmarks app: “ADD” – or similar international apps (I don’t use them, but 100% me clean sport, is a suggestion). They are good to have by hand if you get sick, crashes or by other reason gets a long prescription from your doctor on different supplements of for example pain killers. How would you know if the Anti Doping Agency also thinks it is a great (legal) treatment? The app is a great help!


Theme 4: Clean supplements

As athlete it is our own responsibility to stay clean. In principle, we have the responsibility to be sure that all we put into ours mouths are legal. There have been several positive doping tests that have been appealed with the argument that the illegal drug has been a tracer in a legal supplement (vitamin pill, iron pill, salt stick or so). Let’s say that illegal pills and legal pills have been produced in the same machine; that may cause a problem. It is a difficult grey zone and almost heart-breaking if innocent athletes get caught be taking something they thought were okay – and had they known they would get a doping penalty for a vitamin pill, they would probably have eaten an extra celeriac instead. But at the same time, it is a sad tendency if the excuse is being misused.

I am not afraid to take an iron pill, but I am aware of where I buy them, and I try to buy an extra glass of the pills that I leave unopen. Supplements are also energy- and protein powder. A big reason for me to work with PurePower.dk > Sports Nutrition is that I know they have 100% clean products of high quality. I’ve seen their fabric with my own eyes and in the Danish “health system” they have an elite smiley – for a reason! I trust that I can bottom up my protein shakes. Just a reminder that if you buy your protein powder from LeanMeanMeatExtremeBulkingPowder, it sounds a bit too good to be true – and quite likely it also IS to good to be true 😉

Theme 5: Aware of drugs given to animals

Do you remember Alberto Contador’s beef-story in 2012? He was tested positive for the drug clenbuterol and explained that he had gotten the substance from a beef he has eaten. The explanation wasn’t accepted and he ended up with a 2-year doping penalty. Regardless of it was a true explanation or not, it wasn’t an impossible thought. Clenbuterol is actually used by farmers in some contries to their animals, and then you can actually get trapped. Team Denmark advised us when traveling around the world in the 2016 Olympic Qualification period that we didn’t eat beef in China and South American contries where the issue is suggested to be bigger. We didn’t see that all fellow triathletes took same precautions – and maybe it was just a silly idea from our side – but at least, we didn’t loose anything by doing it. We just ate more eggs and some chicken.. In the end, I’m pretty sure that WADA won’t accept the excuse: “But all the other athletes also ate the beef, so I’m super innocent”. 😉

Relay’ing the Clean Sport Depeche on

I realy’ed (that’s a word btw) the clean sport depeche on to Jesper Sømmergaard, an age group athlete. In general, anti doping campaigns are often focused on professionals cheating – very relevant as there are actually carriers at stake. To me as a new pro, watching every penny, I would like to know if my competitors are cheating. Then, I’ll find another job. But at the same time, I find it relevant that age groupers and juniors also are being tested and become a part of anti doping campaigns, so our sport in general can stay (/ be / get) clean.

It is conjectured that doping is a bigger issue amongst age groupers. “But why? There are no money in it for them.”, would be an obvious question to ask. I think, in the end, the motivation for cheating is not about money. It’s more about prestige and driven by the ego. There are prestige in Facebook status’ “I qualified for Kona” or “I am the world champion” (in our age group!).

No one is legit to cheat so please, at the run session with your club mates next week, please look each other in the eyes and give a fist bomb on that you run clean. Who likes to be dirty anyway 😉

Over and out, and thanks for following 🙂


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