Competing Clean

Here’s something you may not know: if you complete in any race sanctioned by a sports governing body, you may be subject to random drug testing. Of course, running into a drug tester at a local community race would be pretty unusual, but both pros and amateurs are subject to the same clean sport rules.

Globally, sport is regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency ( In the USA, sport is regulated by the US Anti-doping Agency ( Now, when we think of cheating via performance enhancing drugs, many of us automatically think of obvious culprits like steroids and amphetamines. What many don’t realize is that a wide variety of medications prescribed for completely legitimate medical reasons are also on the banned list. And if you compete with these drugs in your system, and you happen to be randomly selected for drug testing, you can receive a ban from competition, even if you’re just competing for fun. Yikes!

Out of curiosity, I typed in my prescribed medications into the USADA search engine and was SHOCKED to find that my diuretic was on the prohibited list. I was particularly surprised because it’s a drug that makes your body shed excess water and has some nasty side effects, including dizziness and fatigue. Not exactly performance enhancing! But further research revealed that this drug can be used to help mask the presence of other drugs that may improve performance.

So what to do? File for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Here’s what the USADA has to say about TUEs:

In some situations, an athlete may have an illnesses or condition that requires the use of medication listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List. USADA can grant a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in these situations in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency International Standard for TUEs. The TUE application process is thorough and designed to balance the need to provide athletes access to critical medication while protecting the rights of clean athletes to compete on a level playing field.

Filing for a TUE is a relatively easy process for you- you’ll complete a form and give it to your doctor’s office to provide supporting documentation. They have to do quite a bit of work and you’ll need to make sure they’ve completed everything correctly, but once that’s done you email or fax your application in and wait. I found the USADA to be very responsive, quick to reply, and helpful to deal with. It’s a small step you can take to make sure you’re playing within the rules- and protecting your right to tri!

Make sure you check your medications here:, and if needed, complete your TUE application by visiting

I also encourage everyone to take the Clean Sport Pledge through the Clean Sport Collective, a community of athletes, brands, events, clubs, and fans who pledge to support the pursuit of clean sport through abstaining from performance enhancing drugs. Visit for more info.


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