Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Piss Test.....

So while I was at Elite Nationals, I received the distinct honor of being one of the randomly selected individuals for anti-doping control. I'd never been tested before, so I was curious about the process, and since I doubt many of my readers (do I have readers?) have been tested either, I thought I'd share. Immediately after my time trial, one of the USADA chaperons found me, and escorted me to the testing center. Her job was to make sure that I didn't run off to the team van to get that vial of someone else's urine right before the test. Unfortunately, we forgot the cooler of urine back at our A-frame chalet (dang!), and besides, the fake penis we have doesn't match my skin tone at all [note: this is a joke. Hagens-Berman has neither a cooler of urine nor a fake penis. At least not one used to dodge drug tests]. The testing center consisted of a trailer where the samples were processed, several extra-large handicapped port-o-pottys where the samples were "collected", and a tent that served for a waiting room for people who were still trying to "generate" a sample. My chaperon delivered me to the registration station, where I signed a form, got my picture taken, and was assigned a collection supervisor. I turned down the offer to have a personal representative (someone I choose who makes sure there is no foul play on the part of testers) accompany me throughout the process.

Thanks to my pre-race ritual of chugging coffee until my hands shake, I had to pee well before I even started racing; I almost scoffed when Derick, my collection supervisor, told me I could sit and wait in the tent until I was ready. "Oh, I think I'm ready now," I said. The elite women, world champion Kristen Armstrong included, who had all finished racing nearly an hour earlier (and had been pounding Gatorade in the tent ever since), glared at me jealously. Then Derick and I went inside one of the port-o-pottys. He watched me fill the collection cup to the line, making sure that there were no fake penises involved. Then he led me back to the desk to verify the time of collection, which was exactly one minute after my time of arrival at the testing station. "That was quick," said the guy at the desk. Obviously this incurred more glares from the women in the tent. Then I was guided, cup'o'urine in hand, to the trailer.

From there, I bid Derick a fond fairwell, and was introduced to Carol, a pleasantly plump, bespeckled woman in her 50's. We sat down at a table together. On that table were stacked roughly 15 testing kits, which looked like tiny styrofoam coolers the size of a box of kleenex. Carol told me I could choose whichever testing kit I wanted, not unlike a magician inviting me to "pick a card, any card." I cautiously reached for a testing kit. "Now make sure that there is nothing abnormal about the testing kit," she said, "and please verify that the seal on the kit is still unbroken." At this point I became extremely skeptical. Magicians, those creepy bastards, are not to be trusted, and Carol was starting to bear an uncanny resemblance to a magician. I continued to follow her instructions, but kept a close eye. We tested my urine's specific gravity and PH, both of which were within acceptable levels, despite (or perhaps thanks to) the dizzying amount of vitamins and coffee I consume. I opened the kit, and removed two bottles, an A-sample and a B-sample. Then Carol had me fill them both with urine, tighten their tamper-resistant caps, seal them in plastic bags, and return them back in the testing kit. Then she asked me a few questions regarding what medications and supplements I'd taken within the three day prior to the test.

All in all, I spent nearly twenty minutes inside the trailer with Carol. By the time they finally released me, the novelty of being tested had worn off. I was pretty grumpy: I was still in my sopping-wet skinsuit (and by this point pretty cold); I didn't get the chance to cool down, so my legs felt awful; and my stomach, which is used to receiving food within moments of finishing a hard effort, was angrily protesting the delay by cramping. I'm glad that USADA was at the event, and getting tested was a good experience, but next time, I'll be sure to grab some clothes and some food before I head to the testing station. Oh, and don't worry--there will be a next time.

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