Here’s a Fun Story and An Idea 

After Kona I got this weird little bump on the side of my neck. But with so many cuts and sunburn and bruises after such a rough race, I didn’t think about it until a month or so passed and I was like, ‘Hmm, that probably shouldn’t be there still.’ I went to the doctor a week ago and she thought it might be some kind of infection from Kona (just add to the list of fantastic talismans from that race) and gave me a cream to try before the next step, shudder, dermatology.

Fine, great. Then, today I was talking to Steve, who’s at the US National XC Ski Champs (‘natch), and he made a joke about how some guy probably didn’t make the results list because he was on drugs. And I thought, all of a sudden, oh shit, it never even occurred to me to check that the prescription didn’t have any banned ingredients. I almost never go to a non-sports injury doctor; I don’t take anything besides those Whole Foods wellness pills and lots of beer; I’m not used to this idea that I’m a professional athlete and my doctor might unknowingly give me some thing I can’t take.

I immediately went and looked at the ingredients on the tube and felt pretty totally OK about my basic over-the-counter ointment. But, still, I started Googling and I swear there’s a list somewhere someone showed me once that I should have been able to search easily. But it wasn’t easy. Eventually, I confirmed it’s a completely innocuous ointment with nothing banned in it. Hell, it hasn’t even cleared up the stupid weird bump, so that’s also great. But it occurred to me there was never a Day 1 Orientation about this stuff, like at a regular job.

When I was in Kona someone was also telling me a story about some sketchy 45-year-old guy she knew who took testosterone for his “low T,” and she asked me, “Doesn’t he need like an exemption with USAT?”

Yes, definitely. If it’s actually medically necessary, though it also just sounds shady as fuck.

How would you even file that?

Oh, I have no idea.

I mean I could probably figure out the TUE process for a pro, but for a 45-year-old age grouper? Is USAT even equipped to handle that? They don’t have the capacity to deal with TUEs for all age-groupers. Can you imagine calling up USAT and saying, “Hi, I’m a random 40-something triathlete with low testosterone and I wanted to file a doctor’s note?” Though maybe actually that’s how it works. I DON’T KNOW.

So, here’s my idea: What if you actually had a “welcome to the job” orientation? You taught professional athletes the basics, like on your first day at a regular job? Here’s the paperwork; here’s how to fill out a timesheet; here’s what your regular duties will be. And then they’d know this stuff. They do an orientation like this in the NFL; it made a big difference in stopping football players from losing all their money. But to the best of my knowledge no one does that for the individual sports. There’s all these attempted athlete unions and groups. But this is something simple they could actually do, in a concrete way. An orientation workshop: Here’s where you can find the list you need of banned substances. Here’s how to sign up for races. Here’s what sponsors expect. It’d be better than just trying to figure it all out as you go through word-of-mouth and friends.

And, anyway, you make people sit through the sexual harassment seminar on their first day partially so they don’t sexually harass people, but also also so when they do they can’t claim they didn’t know that counted as harassment. Think about the difference that could make in anti-doping efforts.

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