Thursday, April 13, 2017
One of my biggest fears with my own case, was that it helped solidify any skeptics beliefs that "even the nice triathletes are doing it". Don't get me wrong, I think that you can be a nice person and dope, however, I don't really think that you can be a good, strong person and dope without years of cultural brainwashing (similar to what we've seen in cycling). At some point, your moral compass has to switch direction, whatever the reason may be. What are the motives? What makes people finally say, "I can justify that this is 'ok' for me?"
My inner dialogue and conflict steers me towards analyzing two professional sports: Athletics (mostly long-distance running as it relates to triathlon) and cycling. Both of these sports are being torn apart by doping at the highest levels. In early April, it was announced that 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist, Jemima Sumgong, had produced a positive out-of-competition sample for EPO. Reading past the headline story, it is easy to find the deep-rooted problems with doping in Kenyan athletics. A culture has been created where athletes, managers, agents, and doctors may see doping as the norm rather than the exception. For these athletes, winning a title could mean the difference between sending money for food home to Africa, or being sent home yourself. Out-of-competition testing has been historically spotty and shoddy in Kenya, only now being bolstered by the World Marathon Majors targeted testing, looking to protect it's titles, prize purses, and credibility. Last weekend, I watched the Paris marathon be dominated by Kenyans and I was decidedly disenchanted. Because even if the athletes are clean, we just don't believe anymore. And more than that, we feel for the clean athletes who are constantly placing 4th through 10th at these events and feeling like they just don't quite measure up, and silently knowing why.
Cycling... I don't need to explain the history of doping problems here, but recently, I've been avidly 'watching' the British cycling/SKY saga unfold. What I can see is a bunch of smoke screening, avoidance, and lack of accountability and evidence surrounding an issue (doping) that was supposedly solved in cycling years ago. Cycling is supposed to be clean now, right?
Here's my problem and what I'm grappling with on a personal level. Despite the deep-seated doping problems in sports that make up triathlon (running, cycling, and swimming with its own set of issues)...why do I personally believe the the vast majority of the world's top long-distance triathletes are clean? Am I some kind of idiot? Sure, you may think so, but I don't. This is not some kind of psychological omerta game, this is really what I believe. But why?
The way I can best lay it out is to say that when I look at the top performances and records at the Ironman World Championships and 70.3 World Champs, I believe that by and large, they are clean.
I originally had some # guestimates in here, but that's not fair because we don't really know. What I do think, is that Jan & Sebi don't look each other in the eye and think, "he's doping". That's a cultural difference in triathlon.
At the end of the day, the top professionals in long-distance triathlon do not inherently believe that "everyone is doing it". I have no idea what happened in triathlon in the 90's and the days before proper drug testing, including the test for EPO, but I do know professional triathlon now in 2017. And I believe in it now. I intimately know both men and women regularly in the top 10 in Kona and 70.3 World's and they are most certainly not doping. They also do not inherently believe that their competitors are doping. I could be wrong, but I think if you ask the top men and the top women, and the consistent performers, they'd say the same thing. Maybe not that "no one is doping" or maybe not even my estimates of cleanliness, but I bet they'd say that they'd like to believe the sport is mostly clean and that keeps them out there fighting daily. I don't really think anyone in marathon running would say that right now. I'd say that what is saving long-distance triathlon by-and-large is that the top performers truly believe that it is mostly a level playing field. That the competition is "real" and true and they, and only they, know that because they were able to achieve that high level and those accolades completely clean. And we're lucky for that. Ask any clean elite runner right now what they want most and it is probably, "to believe again".
In professional cycling history, I know that many "nice" guys with seemingly good morals ended up doping. And the demographics of cyclists and triathletes are not very different, so shouldn't we expect the same in triathlon? The difference to me, is that the cyclists truly believed that everyone was doing it. In order to be at the top, you had to do it. And instead of cheating, you were merely leveling the playing field. That, combined with systematic team organizations with doctors and lots of money, I believe, gets different results than we see in professional triathlon, where most athletes are on their own with a very small (if any) support team.
I'm sure there are people reading this that think it's a bunch of bulls&*t and that I am incredibly naive to believe, but my argument is that this very belief is what is keeping the sport, at the top level, somewhat clean. The top athletes think, "If I accomplished that world title clean, these guys can too."
Why am I writing all this? Shouldn't I just shut up now and walk away? I don't know. But I do know that I've always had a passion for sticking up for what I believe in, even when it may not popular or "easy" for me. So, I'll keep doing it as long as I can.
That's it for my thoughts today... Next time, count me in for a "lighter" update on our recent travels, this baby growing inside me, and the sunny side of life in general.
*Disclaimer: this post represents my opinion. An opinion, by definition, is not categorically right or wrong. If you disagree with me, that's ok! Write your own piece about it- and voice your own opinion- you are absolutely entitled, but please respectfully also allow me to voice mine.
*I'm not touching on amateur triathlon here because I just don't know. I also feel like the sickening culture of "everyone is doing it" is starting to infiltrate some of the "middle-aged" age groups. Things like testosterone and HGH are being prescribed by doctors and "justified" by the athletes. More and more athletes do this and then you start to believe that you're the only one who is not doing it, and eventually for some people, that changes them.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
When I met Triathlon, that changed for me. In the late-2000's age of blogging and internet expansion, I 'got to know' the heroes of the sport as well as those just hitting the trenches like me. Over the years, I got to meet many of them in person and learned more about their stories along the way.
I realized that the inspiration I have found in these women was never simply because I saw them win a race. These women inspired me for reasons that went far beyond grabbing a finish tape.
This International Women's Day, I want to recognize some of the women who have inspired me for specific, yet unexpected reasons. I read a fantastic article this morning about the 12 "great" women of our sport.
"Celebrating Triathlon's Powerful Women" from TriathlonWord.com
As I read along, I realized that many of these women are great to me for reasons that go far beyond their race resumes. I will always remember......
.....That time when I was just starting, that Michellie Jones stopped me mid pull-set in the pool and showed me exactly what I was doing wrong. Turns out you need to actually point the paddle down towards the bottom of the pool and push backwards, not just swish it aimlessly around. I still think of MJ's tip in every pull session I do.
|Michellie is now also guiding Olympic Paratriathletes|
......That day when Gwen Jorgensen offered, without being asked, to take a picture with my daughter Wynne and her 2016 Olympic Triathlon Gold Medal.
|Photo: Tommy Zaferes|
...or that time in 2015, when I watched Mirinda Carfrae toe the line of Ironman Melbourne only about 75% fit as she always saves her 110% fitness for Kona in October (she didn't publicize this, but we knew :) . She lined up professionally, gave it her all, on that day, and walked away with 7th place. She would have placed higher, but she spent the last kilometers helping her lifelong friend & competitor Annabel Luxford complete her first Ironman. Rinny stood back and cheered Annabel on to finish ahead of her.
|Rinny & Alicia|
....and all of the countless times that one of the most undefeated triathletes of all time, Chrissie Wellington, has always made her voice heard. Chrissie takes a stand on what she believes in, despite any controversy she may cause. She has stood less than 100 meters from the finish line of an Ironman for minutes, waiting to cross that line to ensure her deserving female competitors got paid that day (remember the crazy 8% rule?). She speaks up on women's equality in triathlon, despite disdain from the organization that benefited from her amazing athletic feats.
|quote from the 220 Triathlon article linked above re: 8% rule|
..and then there is every. single. day. when I see Belinda Granger, 13-time Iron-distance champion, working harder off the course for the future of pros, especially women, to leave the sport a better place than she found it. She truly wants the sport to be better for the women in the game now and our daughters of the future. (Ok, Belinda wasn't in the article above, but she probably will be one day!)
...finally, even the "little things", like how following her retirement, Emma Snowsill ( 2008 Olympic Triathlon Gold Medalist) became a self-proclaimed "rent-a-runner" in her local Noosa, Australia community, helping up-and-comers in ITU and Ironman complete their tough track sessions and long runs, just for the love of the game.
|Photo: Frank Wechsel|
I have similar stories to share about Kathleen McCartney, Linsey Corbin, Meredith Kessler, and countless others..... But I'll leave you to create these stories and memories for yourself. This International Women's Day, I'm truly inspired by all of these sporting greats who have made triathlon more than just a sport. Thank you all!
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Part 1: Personal stuff. Skip to part 2 if you want to read my recommendations for athletes.
I've still woken up in tears every morning since the announcement, but the tears now are different. Tears from reading emails (several hundred in support, one "i can't support or condemn you" just this morning in my inbox, and zero from the negative camp.) It seems email is too direct for the keyboard warriors, even with an invitation. A recurring theme in the emails I received was that people did not want me to quit the sport because of this. So I will explain: My reasons for 'retirement' were twofold- 1) I will be 38 with 2 kids and hopefully a new job by the time my sanction is up. Not impossible, but let's say not ideal for pro competition. and 2) I believed I would not be welcomed back into the sport by the general pro community. I never did this sport to prove anything or spite anyone, so feeling unwelcome on a start line was not a position I planned on putting myself in. However, I can say that with the responses I have received, I would no longer feel uncomfortable. And I thank you for that. For now, though, I am happy to be welcomed to the sidelines and to cheer on Luke and the many I have made connections with.
I did not in any way expect the level of support that I have received both inside and outside the triathlon community. I was sad to see that the news reached my childhood friends and former colleagues, but I knew that was likely going to happen with choosing a blog post over a press release that would only make it into the triathlon media. I've always used this page as a platform, so I thought that was the best way to be me, even if it invited more scrutiny from the cynics (the more you put out there, the more they can use against you). I think a lot of the support I had from within triathlon and my peers was also due to the fact that the WTC released a second anti-doping sanction on the same day as mine. Lauren Barnett, a fellow female pro, was handed a six-month ban for ostarine, the same substance. Through testing, they found ostarine in her salt pills- not only Lauren and her lab, but the WTC tested the brand in a WADA-accredited lab and found the ostarine. I learned about her case along with everyone else and was shocked. Turns out we used different salt pills. Lauren's ostarine was actually found in TWO lots (different batches/#s) of salt pills - which means they were probably not produced at the same time. Which begs the question (to me)- Is this a raw ingredient problem? Is one of the six ingredients (e.g. sodium citrate) used in her salt pills tainted and sourced from a supplier where other salt pill or electrolyte drink manufacturers source their sodium citrate? I don't know enough about the sourcing or raw material process to know...but it has opened up some more thinking on my end. If anyone has insight to this, please email me. A little bit about the start to finish supplement process in this article: "Safe Dietary Supplements?"
Despite all the support I've gotten, I've seen some negativity, as to be expected in my case. The public has been lied to so many times in doping cases, that it would be naive to think that my "story" alone was proof of my innocence in the eyes of those who have been duped before. What I want to say is this: Despite what the critics read between the lines, there is no "woe is me" here. I tried to present the facts and take my emotionality out of it. Did I mention my past drug testing history? YES. The critics see this as explaining away my one positive test, the one that counted. I wrote about my history to let those who may not know, know what the drug testing in general might be like for a pro at my particular level (not top, not bottom). This was not my first test. I am someone who expects to be tested at races and outside of races- that was the 'fact' I was presenting. Let me be straight here: My past testing history doesn't matter in the scheme of if I 'could be' doping. Anyone CAN dope at any time, we know that right? What I was asking for, was for the people who wanted to think for themselves, to think, "IF I were a doper, and I WANTED to dope in the 3 weeks before my "A race" when Beth could have done it.... A) would I? would this be a smart decision for a generally 'intelligent' person? and B) Is ostarine the substance that I would choose instead of something we know would work, like EPO, in this massive massive risk?" I can't answer those questions for you, only for myself. And the ones who do not want to believe me will not take the time to really consider this.
So.. moving on..
I want to start talking about what we can do to make things better for all the athletes out there. First, I am 'talking' to pro athletes & top amateurs who may be tested. I will make later recommendations for all, but these first ones I think are the most time sensitive in that these people could be tested at any time. Basically, what follows is probably not that interesting unless you are interested in the sport and drug testing:
1. Take the process seriously. This is not a 'routine check' or a 'screening'. This is your career and reputation. Anything you take should be saved and lot numbers recorded. In my case, notification of my AAF took almost six weeks (5wks 5days). I noticed in Lauren's it took 2.5 weeks. n things like UFC fighting, it seems they get results in one or two days. I believe we deserve standardization on the notification process and should push for a timely manner, especially considering the nature of our sport, where it would be very difficult to do a full-distance triathlon without some type of supplement (electrolyte, gel) at the very least. I I hope that if someone else finds themselves in my position, that they have read this and chosen to save EVERYTHING until they received test notification.
2. Pay attention during the testing process and exercise any rights you have. Declare every single thing you have taken on your declaration form, including electrolyte drinks, gels, and any on-course supplements. I hadn't considered this in the past. Who cares if you "look silly". Do it.
3. I am not sure where this falls, as it is personal, but I would love to see athletes fight for our rights in access to information throughout the anti-doping process. The anti-doping organizations mostly get it right, but they are fallible. And this is our career. In my case, I requested to see the "A sample" lab packet immediately. The only thing I was given regarding my positive test was a "one-sheet" that said I had a positive for ostarine. NO levels of "how much" were disclosed, and NO further information. Behind the scenes, there was a 47 page documentation packet that included all this information. I requested to read this packet and was not given access to any further information beyond the one-pager that basically says "you tested positive for ostarine". I was told that I would be given the full documentation packets after the B sample was tested (I received A & B packet documentation on August 18th, 2016, more than 2 months later). Imagine my shock when in sifting through the packets, I found that during urine preparation, someone else's urine, had spat into mine. The lab technician wrote, "2300 didn't go through in vacuum first go after hydrolysis so had to push through. spat out during process so may have contaminated 'very little' in 2297 and 2294. "Well, guess my luck, I am sample 2297 (as you can see on the identification page in the link here to these excerpts from the documentation packet). This is not to insinuate that maybe the ostarine was from another sample, as apparently the B sample contained ostarine as well. However, I was not there for the opening of the B sample (you have the right to be there, or a representative). As I was in America, this was not feasible and I trusted the process. I requested a personal expert representative via my attorney, but was he unable to locate one.
I bring this up, because as tested athletes, is this the way you want your urine samples treated? Is this the level of information disclosure you would expect to receive in my situation? Personally, finding out about this "spillage" into my urine was disconcerting as I would have gotten myself on a plane and pushed even harder for an expert representative at my B sample opening. Of course they didn't put a tiny bit of ostarine into my B sample to match the A, right? right? I should have been there. Knowing what I know now, I'm devastated that I wasn't there.
4. People have asked me if you can trust the on-course nutrition. I just can't say. WTC events in North America currently use Gatorade Endurance, which is part of PepsiCo, . As a result, they are classified as food, rather than supplements and must adhere to strict U.S. FDA guidelines. I would trust this product. Unfortunately, this is not the case at WTC events around the world and many regional gels and drinks are used have different standards. I know I had concerns at IM Australia and tried to test the on-course drink but was not permitted. I have also been contacted by all three of the other tested athletes at IM Australia; Two did not drink any of the on-course electrolyte and one said, "yeah, maybe a swig here and there but I can't remember"- this was also a large man who may metabolize a contaminant different than my 50kg body at the time. This is not an accusation, merely a conversation I think is worth having. The only way to protect yourself as an athlete is to research the on-course nutrition ahead of time and come up with your own plan.
Ok, that's all for now! I am working on a new project and after dedicating the better part of the last 3 days to responses and discussion, I need to get back to work!
Friday, February 3, 2017
After 7 months of tireless investigation, I am devastated to report that six weeks following my race at Ironman Australia on May 1, 2016, I was notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) resulting from my in-competition drug test at the event for trace amounts of a substance called "ostarine". Ostarine, a WADA-banned substance, is a muscle-builder that is currently under investigation by the FDA after being found as a contaminant in multiple dietary supplements.
I have several ideas to help other athletes avoid the situation I found myself in and will detail those in a coming post. I will also be contacting both USADA and the WTC to discuss what we can both do to protect clean athletes and the integrity of the sport. I am determined to find some greater good from this.
Sincerely and wholeheartedly,
The link below will take you to the summary document the lab sent to us showing the low levels of ostarine (or a molecule that "looks like" ostarine) in 2 samples of salt pills, but not a third (again, I didn't have one large bottle, just various small sample packets to test so each pack or combination of packets could have been different). This was not enough evidence for the WTC to lower my sanction.
The words in this post are my own and should not be used for re-publication without my written consent.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
|McKenzie Pass 2016|
"I can't believe it's August already" - shit girls say
But really, I can't. I'd love to say it's been a great summer so far, but it's honestly been a tough one. Just as I was hopeful that things were starting to pick up again, I got another doozy. I'll "cut" to the chase (there is a pun there...wait for it.) I have a pretty large cyst that needs to be removed with a minor surgery. As it is in the 'saddle region'- no cycling for 4 to 6 weeks. Just under 10 weeks out from Kona, that's a deal-breaker for me, especially on top of all the other things I have going on right now. So, although I accepted a July qualification spot, I am returning that slot to another deserving woman.
Yes, this is a big disappointment for me, but I am trying to remind myself that I still have an amazing husband, daughter, family and friends and that life will go on.
In the meantime, I'm doing my best to make sure that Luke is ready for his big day on the big island in October (and 70.3 world champs in September). We are currently stationed up in Bend, OR for the month of August for training camp, and although I won't be riding with Luke, I plan to be chief run buddy, strength coach, and swim motivator (once I am allowed back in the water).
I did get to enjoy one lovely (though slightly uncomfortable) week on the bike here in Bend and ticked off all the old favorites including Mt. Bachelor and McKenzie Pass. I guess now there is more time for river floating with coolers of beer, right ;) ?
Friday, July 1, 2016
on the best time of my life. On May 12th, 2016, I married my best friend, Luke. I am so incredibly grateful to have found a partner who is kind, loving, loyal and the most amazing father to our daughter, Wynne. We had a very small wedding on the beach in Noosa, Australia and it was truly the perfect day. We didn't over-plan anything and just took the day as it came. It was relaxing and laid-back with good food & wine.
I originally returned to training, thinking I would race Ironman Switzerland in late July. However, things don't always go according to plan, and I am now taking a mind and body break. Sometimes life gets in the way and you need to adjust your sails. Hoping to get back on course soon and will keep you posted. Please hold.
Some extra time with Wynne and my family. We took a trip to Chicago for Wynne to get some cousin time and good old midwestern USA summer fun. Popsicles, sprinklers, hopscotch, and good times. It has been great to spend some quality time with my sister, brother, and niece and nephew.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Obviously, I am not going to swim with the leaders. But to come out of the water in :56-something solidly under 1 hour set me up less than 5 minutes from Gina Crawford who led the race out of the water (it is quite a fast swim due to salt water, good conditions, & wetsuits, but still a legit one length-wise).
|And we're off|
Gear Note: Swim
I'm quite certain it was no coincidence that I had my fastest-ever Ironman swim in my new ROKA Maverick X. It seriously feels like you are not even wearing a wetsuit but you know you must be as you glide along effortlessly (ok, for me wriggling around there is always some effort, but much less in this suit!) Also, I chose ROKA light amber F2 goggles- they have worked perfectly for all my races so far which start in low light and they have a great field of sight.
|Testing out my new Maverick X the day before the race|
|Saying hi to Luke on Matthew Flinder's hill|
|Werk (photo: Witsup)|
|International symbol for, "GIMME WATER!!!!!!!" Photo: Witsup|
Gear Note: Bike
The setup I went with for this race was exactly what I would choose if I did it again: SCOTT Plasma 5, Enve 7.8 carbon clincher wheel set with 25mm Continental GP 4000 tires, SRAM red eTap components, Quarq powermeter, Endura QDC aero tri suit, ISM PN. 1.1 saddle, Speedplay pedals, SCOTT aero helmet & SCOTT Tri pro shoes & Ceramic Speed Ultrafast Optimised chain.
I would say that this is a course where having SRAM eTap electronic gearing made a significant difference. Due to the nature of the terrain (lots of short, swoopy rollercoaster-type hills), being able to shift seamlessly on the base bar as well as in the aero bars made a significant difference. ETap has been a game-changer for me.
A HUGE Thank you to Trilogy Cycles for taking care of me in Australia. Trilogy, like Nytro back in Cali, is a SCOTT dealer and Keith and his crew are incredibly helpful. I always love it when the owner is a triathlete himself- you know he "gets it!"
|It was wet. My "not amused" face. Photo: Witsup|
|Champagne shower with Bremer, Photo: Witsup|
|Clifton 2s FTW! Photo: Witsup|
|photo: Delly Carr|
|Best cheer squad|
Thank you again to everyone for your support, most particularly, my amazing sponsors.
Friday, April 29, 2016
|Koala crossing in Queensland|
|Candy the elephant in Phuket, Thailand|
|Lava fields in the Oregon high desert|
|getting engaged on the Great Barrier Reef|
|sunrise in Melbourne, Australia|
|Cycling the canyons in Utah|
|exploring the woods in New Hampshire|
|paddling with Dad|
|ticket to ride|
|bubbles at the Tour de France|
|on island time in the Bahamas|
|twinning in Hawaii|