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August 29, 2011

Competing Clean: All About Drug Testing

Drug testing?

Most archers don't notice the athlete testing that takes place at major national and international competitions.

World ranking events and world championships conduct "drug and alcohol" testing.  The USAA also conducts testing at selected national events.  In all cases the goal is to conduct fair, clean and ultimately, meaningful competition.

USA Archery (USAA) executes alcohol testing in conjunction with the US Olympic Committee (USOC) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).  World Archery Federation (WA) and World Archery Americas (WAA) testing is in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The testing is to detect use of banned substances that have the potential of unfairly improving performance.  For USA Archery, a list of substances to be avoided can be found on www.usada.org  Internationally information can be found at www.wada-ama.org.  All archers should become familiar with information on the websites.  Note that archers may apply for a "therapeutic use exemption" when a prescribed medication is on the list of banned substances.  TUEs are evaluated by physicians who can sometimes suggest alternative medications to help the archer to compete clean.

Most athletes introduction to "drug testing" takes place at a tournaments, where category placement or randomly selected athletes are chosen for testing.  Those selected are required to execute the testing or be subject to likely disqualification for multiple seasons.

The actual testing process varies.

Typically, upon selection and after the archer has finished competition, a "doping control officer" and/or chaperone notifies the archer of their selection for testing.  After notification, archers typically makes arrangements to have their equipment secured, may take part in the awards ceremony and may take care of other obligations within reason before being tested.  The chaperone stays with the archer and monitors what the archers eats and drinks until they reach the interview stage of the process.  Doping control stations maybe on site or a short drive away.

The testing location can range from an interview in a tent or car, to a dedicated set of rooms.  Testing consists of an interview, sampling of breath and a urine sample.  The urine sample can be takes in a clinic toilet, restroom or a port a let, all under the supervision of the doping control officer or medical professional.  (Volunteer chaperones are not involved with the confidential portions of the process.) For archery, breath and urine are the typical tests.  Blood is rarely if ever drawn for testing.  The testing of the sample typically takes several weeks.

Tip:  The doping control station process can be lengthy.  Plan your travel to account for delays of all kinds.

High ranking archers become part of the USADA testing pool and are required to provide information regarding location on an ongoing basis.  Unannounced tests are then conducted at whatever location the archer might be at the time.

Archery enjoys a reputation as a very clean sport thanks to its rigorous testing program!

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