And if I recover
Three weeks to go until the Niagara Falls half and eight weeks until Fukuoka marathon. Once again I’m really happy with my preparation so far. I originally envisioned a conservative build-up from injury however, I’ve managed to surpass expectations. I’ve just completed one of my highest volume weeks, at 240km (148 miles), with two solid workouts and a long-run. I’ll have more big weeks but not quite this high.
My training group is about to get thinner, and not in a Jenny Craig kind of way. Mason just raced Run for the Toad 50km where he led until 35km and hit the wall but still managed to finish 4th overall, one spot behind veteran 50k’er and weekend training partner Cleve Thorson. Gillis and Sunseri will be entering their tapers now that they’re inside two weeks of STWM. For the next two weeks we’ll still meet for runs, I’ll just be going longer.
The CBC contacted me a few weeks ago about a story they were doing on Ben Johnson, 25 years after his Seoul positive test.
Watch at 7:43 for my tweet:
That, and reading Tyler Hamilton’s book, got me thinking about what people might want to ask an elite Canadian distance runner about drugs in sport. Here are some rambling thoughts…
In case you’re wondering, I’ve never been offered performing enhancing drugs (PEDs). I’ve never known for sure if someone specific was on drugs although over the years I’ve had suspicions about many runners because of outlying performances and association with known drug cheats. Sergio Sanchez is a great example of an athlete with suspicious results who many thought was doping a few years ago. He recently got busted last month.
In 2006 I went to a meet in Rovereto, Italy and I was assigned a hotel room with a Ukranian pole vaulter. This dude just sat on his bed all day in his underwear and watched MTV in English but didn’t seem to speak any English. After the competition I went into the bathroom and saw a needle in the garbage can. I was freaking out in my head but casually walked out into the room, inconspicuously grabbed my camera, went back in and took a picture. At the time I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it was some sort of legal injection, it helped me sleep better. Who knows what it was…
I had done some runs with Martin Fagan (busted for EPO in 2011) over the years and talked with him many times at races. I never suspected him of doping because he had awesome results in university so it didn’t surprise me to see him running well years later. It was a blow to me because I generally think North American distance runners are clean (I know he’s from Ireland but he had been in the States a long time).
When I think about countries that have more positive tests than the norm (Russia, Turkey, India, Morocco) it seems as though the reward of money outweighs the risk of being caught, banned and shamed. I don’t think the same risk/reward evaluation rings true with North American distance runners because most of them could make better money with their university degrees and there would be public backlash. Some people are just greedy or desperately seeking recognition I guess. Others might be influenced by a shady coach or manager.
You rarely, if ever, see Japanese runners test positive. And I know they take drug testing seriously from my experience racing there. In their culture cheating is very dishonourable. In other cultures former drug cheats are now coaches, even in Canada!
There is this guy, Alene Reta, who holds the Around the Bay 30km record. He had already served a drug ban before he set the record. After his ban he continued to do some unbelievable performances over short periods of time (at races which don’t drug test). Such as win a 10km race the day before ATB 30km! I would absolutely love to break that ATB record just to wipe his name off the top (and of course it’s my hometown race). I raced that guy in a half marathon back in 2010 and I probably ran more aggressive in the beginning of the race because I wanted to beat him so bad. I ended up catching him, battling him and beating him. It gave me extra satisfaction.
The worst thing I could do is think someone is unbeatable because they are on drugs. The best thing I can do is beat them.
Whenever a runner gets busted for PEDs I usually have two conflicting emotions. It makes me sad and frustrated that there are cheats out there but at the same time I’m happy that they are getting busted. Unless of course I suspected that the athlete was doping, then I’m just happy all around.
I believe drug testing is catching up with athletes. When I was in Kenya this year there was more talk about testing Kenyan athletes. Although it still seemed to be a joke because they had a few days to show up to certain testing facilities. Addresses in Kenya aren’t like here so it’s harder to track people down. There have been more positive drug tests from Kenyans in the last couple of years. When you think of the relative money they can win it’s not too surprising.
OK, enough ranting.