Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's the deal with drug testing?

Mark gets drug tested every few months. Some nice man comes to the house and knocks on the door (he is allowed to come at anytime). He says, "I'm here for a drug test," we clear off the coffee table for paper work and Mark does his business. The nice man leaves and then about a week later we receive a confirmation of a negative test in the mail.

Q: How does the nice man know that Mark is home?
A: Mark has to fill out forms that explains his "whereabouts." He has to be totally clear about what city he is in and when. He can even update this form online on his way to the airport because he forgot before he left (this is usually how it ends up going).

Q: What if you're not home when the nice man stops by?
A: Each athlete provides a window of time that he or she commits to being in a certain place. For example, if you know that you always have practice at 3pm, it may be easier to just say that you are available from 3-5 at the pool and the nice man will go there instead of your home.

Q: Don't they also drug test at competitions?
A: Yep... these are called, "in competition" tests. "In competition" and "Out of competition" banned lists are a little bit different. If you are tested at a competition, the nice man or woman notifies you after you race and then doesn't leave your side until the test has been taken. If you still have to receive an award or warm-down, the nice man or woman stands next to you and waits, then takes you to the bathroom. I wasn't going to say anything, but our dear friend Eric has been known to take so stinkin' long to take a drug test (i.e. I guess he just doesn't have to go) that we have missed dinner reservations.

Q: Isn't it embarrassing?
A: Not really. In college we would get drug tested, too. But then, the nice man (for Mark) or the nice woman (for me) would actually go into the bathroom with you. I think this is when all modesty went out the window.

Q: What if you don't have to go to the bathroom?
A: The nice man waits (and waits... and waits). When I was an athlete, one dip in the hot tub always sped up the process.

Q: Has Mark ever tested positive?
A: Nope. Though there was a "missed" test once and a "weird" test once. The missed test is ok. I think you are allowed a missed test, but if you have more than one missed test than it is a positive test (I'll check on those facts and get back to you if this is an incorrect interpretation--Mark, my expert, isn't around to answer my question at the moment). When Mark had a "weird" test they retested and the second test was fine. The "weird" test wasn't a positive test... just a little funky.

You are also given the chance to list all prescription or other substances that you have consumed previous to the drug test. This doesn't dismiss positive drug tests, but it is a transparency thing.

Q: How do you know which substances are banned? Do you have to memorize a list?
A: There is an amazing reference website that you can use to determine if a substance is banned, so, no, you don't have to memorize anything. On this website, you type in the prescription or supplement name or ingredients and the website spits out whether or not it is banned. It is up to you, however, to check this website. Mark checks it for everything--even over-the-counter drugs. A lot of things that you may not expect are banned (like Nyquil), so it is imperative to check the website any and every time you decide to put something into your body.

Q: Does Mark take supplements?
A: Yep. He takes supplements made by a company called Amerisciences. He's been taking them since 2008.

Q: Is he ever worried about cross-contamination?
A: Not really.

Not a super exciting topic, but in the midst of this, I figured I'd answer a few questions.

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