With Lance Armstrong’s recent foray into trail racing (because lets face it, if it was just trailrunning we would not be having this discussion), debate within the MUT (Mountain/Ultra/Trail) community around doping has escalated on the heels of Elisa Desco’s late inclusion into the North Face 50 race. What do we do with those who have been found using banned substances? Do we let them in after they have done their time or do we let them in as many of the events we participate in have no governing body?
I’m far from supporting bring in a governing body like USATF.
Eric Eagan’s recent blog does a good job of putting in place parameters (http://trails2brews.com/2015/12/14/who-exactly-is-welcome/). If we as a community want to be supportive to people, we should include them. However, for being a convicted doper, there should be a scarlet letter worn. So, I fully support allowing a cheater to participate if they do not get an official result and are not eligible for any awards. Where I would go farther is that the individual (in this case, Lance Armstrong) nor any of his/her sponsors could not use anything from the event (images, name) to promote themselves. In this manner, the convicted athlete can get that sense of competition they may need in life and the fellow competitors do not have to worry that they could lose out on something to a person of questionable competitive moral.
A second part of this raises the question, how do we police/test in our own community?
I would like to see networks of race directors get together to pull together resources to do testing. (Maybe races can partner with research/teaching hospitals to get services free or at a reduced cost.) Since the resources are limited, have the testing be rather random. Amongst the group of races, rotate which races test every year. But do not do it in a true rotation. Spin a wheel or pull names out of a hat. Some years have more races test. In other years, less. Do not announce which races are doing testing in that year or even at all. For those of us hoping to be the top of our sport, we should expect to be clean and competing against clean runners. We should not act surprised if we are asked for a sample.
At the end of the day, all of us have a love of running. It is as inclusive a sport as there is and that is a mantle the MUT community should hold up on a pedestal. But we also have a duty to preserve the integrity of racing while keeping true to the roots of inclusion.