It’s one of the most taboo topics surrounding CrossFit, but one that won’t go away. As the sport continues to experience exponential growth worldwide, with increased viewers, sponsorships and prizes up for grabs, questions continue to arise over whether the playing field is really even.
For the newcomers to CrossFit, or the uninitiated who may come across the Games on TV, the exceptional physique and performance on display by both male and female athletes often leads to a healthy dose of skepticism over whether those competiting are indeed “all-natural”. We’ve all heard it from one non-CrossFitting friend or another, but those same questions have started creeping into boxes across the country (and internationally), fueled further whenever notable athletes breach the subject. In a sub 3-minute interview with CrossFit last December, Dan Bailey admitted that he didn’t believe that all the male competitors in the 2013 Games were “clean”. Bailey went on to state that CrossFit’s drug testing “could and should be improved…because the incentive is there and nobody’s perfect, and people will dive into that at some point.” With the sport and competition growing in prominence, isn’t it time that the tests for performance enhancing drugs grow along with it?
CrossFit HQ thinks so.
Drug testing during the CrossFit Games is not a new feature. Athletes and teams competing at the Regionals and the Games have been tested since 2008, and last year CrossFit employed Drug Free Sport (same organization that tests the NBA and NCAA) to test CrossFit athletes in World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratories. However, athletes were only tested at the Regionals and Games (where only “top competitors” were chosen for screening).
In 2014, this will no longer be the case, as was outlined on the CrossFit Games page:
“In 2014, CrossFit will expand out-of-competition (unannounced) drug testing. This means that any registered CrossFit competitor can be tested at any time during the year for any reason.” -games.crossfit.com
In 2014, as in previous years, all tests will be conducted by WADA staff in accredited facilities.
This announcement was greeted warmly by many top Games athletes, including Jason Khalipa and Scott Panchik, who tweeted their approval:
So far, the new testing rules have been well received by the CrossFit community who are eager to see the sport and competition validated, and truly see the best of the best compete at the Games. However, there are still some questions over certain aspects of the policy-namely centered on what substances are allowed for out of competition use, but must be stopped before competition. In 2012 and 2013, two teams were disqualified from Regionals as a competitor on each team had been taking a prescribed medical supplement that contained a banned substance. However, with the new rules, athletes will not be able to take such medically prescribed supplements unless forgoing it causes “a significant impairment to health”-what qualifies as a significant impairment is not made clear by CrossFit.
However, this policy should go a long way in silencing the critics who questioned the integrity of the sport and the loopholes of non-tests during the offseason in year’s past-not to mention weeding out competitors who were damaging the sport’s reputation from within. The new drug testing program, in combination with the other additions for this year’s format, should make 2014 one of the most successful years for qualifying yet.