Every now and again a triathlete is suspended for failing controlled substance test. More often than not, the announcement is made by the IRONMAN® Anti-Doping Program and sometimes from USAT. This week, it was announced that American professional athlete Lucas Pozzetta accepted a six-month suspension for an anti-doping rule violation after testing positive for a prohibited substance from a contaminated product.
It’s actually less than easy to find out what the contaminated product is, and since I’ve managed and worked with a number of professional triathletes, and am vehemently against athlete doping, I always do my best to keep up to date, especially when it comes to contaminated products. For various legal reasons(I guess?) the products are almost never discussed in the press release announcing the findings. That’s what happened in this case. No named product.
I went and checked the High Risk List and while there is no indication of a link between Pozzetta and MetaSalt, it’s worth noting that MetaSalt has been updated on the High Risk List (see attached entry). In this case, we had a bottle on the shelf in the pantry. Unfortunately since there is no batch number, or other unique qualifying detail, I can only implore you to discard this if you have it, I did.
Racing Clean is not just the purview of pro’s and age group winners, it is an important stance for all of us to take. It’s not sufficient to just demand more testing, that would come at an enormous cost. It’s estimated it costs some $300,000 to catch one cheat. I don’t want that bill added to my race entry price. Train clean, race pure.
Balogh said prohibited substance was for medical use, not sport.
Jackson amateur triathlete Holly Balogh tested positive for a prohibited substance last year and accepted a four-year suspension from Ironman, according to a press release sent out Feb. 21 by the Ironman Anti-Doping Program.
Balogh, 46, tested positive for an exogenous testosterone or its metabolites. She was tested May 14 following her first-place finish in the women’s 45-49 age group at the 2016 Ironman North American Championship Texas.
Balogh did not have a therapeutic use exemption for the testosterone and began serving her suspension July 11, 2016. The Jackson real estate associate said she didn’t apply for a therapeutic use exemption — which those in the sport abbreviate to TUE — because she said she didn’t know what a TUE was.
“I didn’t think that I was doping,” she said. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”
The press release said Balogh “was aware of the inherent risks associated with her conduct and proceeded to knowingly take the prohibited substance.”
Balogh called the statement “completely inaccurate.”
After she was tested Balogh immediately began surfing the internet to find out if there was anything in her body that could produce a positive test. When her research revealed that the testosterone was a banned substance, she then disqualified herself from the race.
“Even though I was taking a substance within my body’s normal hormonal range, that because it was a synthetic, it would not be allowed,” she said.
Balogh initially exercised her right to appeal the hefty penalty for a first-time offender, but withdrew the appeal.
“At the end of the day it was going to cost me in excess of $12,000 and expose significant details of my health history, which as an amateur athlete just didn’t make sense to me,” she said.
On Thursday, March 2, triathlon website 303 Triathlon published an article by Tim Heming stating that Holly Ballogh (née Hancock), a triathlete who had recently been giving a doping suspension by IRONMAN’s Anti-Doping Program, had turned to competing in ultramarathons under her maiden name of Holly Hancock and was entered to race this past Saturday’s Old Pueblo 50 Mile and had previously finished The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile – Utah in September 2016, also registered under her maiden name.
The text of the press release that explains her ban says it is a four-year ban starting on July 11, 2016, which precludes her from racing in “IRONMAN-affiliated competition or any events organized by any other WADA Code Signatory” during that time span.
By end-of-day Thursday, March 2, Holly Balogh (née Hancock) was no longer on the Old Pueblo entrants list. On Friday at 2 p.m., the race administration posted the following to their Facebook page, “I’ve been in touch with US Track and Field and USADA since Tuesday morning. I spoke to the person in question and she has been removed from the entrants list. All this can be verified by contacting Jeff Cook in the legal division at USADA, or you could have just checked the entrants list since Wednesday.” Thus, it seems conclusive that Holly Balogh (née Hancock) didn’t compete this weekend. (iRunFar attempted to contact the race administration on Friday, March 3, but has not received a response as of this publishing).
Given that her ban was announced on February 21, 2017, but that its start date preceded the TNF 50 Mile – Utah race day in September 2016, it looks like her results from that race should be removed as well. To be most precise, it actually looks like Holly Balogh (née Hancock) should not have been allowed to race TNF 50 Mile – Utah because she was already under a provisional suspension and because The North Face Endurance Challenge Series has an anti-doping policy that went into effect in August 2016 that disallows runners under current doping suspensions from participating in their events.
A US age-group triathlete banned for four years for doping is now competing in ultra marathons under her maiden name.
Holly Balogh, 46, a Kona qualifier and Ironman All World Athlete champion in 2014 and 2015, tested positive for exogenous testosterone after winning her age-group at Ironman Texas last summer.
The mum-of-two from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, trained under the highly reputable purplepatch Fitness, headed up by British coach Matt Dixon. It is believed a whistleblower alerted the drug enforcement agency USADA..
However, despite the ban, Balogh is now entered under her maiden name Hancock for the Old Pueblo ultra, a 50-mile race taking place this weekend in Sonoita, Arizona. The race is not thought to be governed by World Anti-Doping Association rules, and the organiser has not yet replied to requests for comment.
The use of any exogenous anabolic androgenic steroid is prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code and Balogh did not apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Balogh chose to disregard the education, advice and knowledge she had regarding anti-doping and instead competed in violation of the Ironman Anti-Doping Rules,” said Kate Mittelstadt, Director of the Ironman Anti-Doping Program. “We applaud the decisions of the athlete support personnel to step forward, first to report Ms. Balogh’s use with disregard to their advice, and also for the conviction to include anti-doping awareness in their coaching. They each recognised the importance of honoring their obligations under the anti-doping rules and cooperated with Ironman’s investigation.”
Balogh initially challenged the verdict, before later dropping her case. A source who did not want to be named said: “To cut a long story short, she’s a type A person who became more obsessive through triathlon.
“She was a mid-level triathlete with a dream to go to Kona and a strong work ethic, but something changed around 2013. She injured herself through overtraining, but raced too soon and re-fractured her leg. She found a doctor who told her there is a pharmaceutical cure to her problem, when the problem is a mental one: she just can’t rest.
“It sounds like this new coaching group either saw something in her performance or she told them what she was doing. I suspect the latter because she was not terribly shy about this claiming it was for ‘medical reasons’.”
Balogh, a real estate manager who trained up to 25 hours a week, said finishing the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2014 was “the coolest experience of my life. That gets me a little emotional when I think about.”
Her failed samples from Texas comprised her only drug test of 2016. For comparison, Tim O’Donnell, the professional Ironman, was the most tested triathlete by USADA (15 times), with professionals responsible for the lionshare of tests.
Matt Dixon, head coach of purplepatch, said, “purplepatch has a very clear policy on any use of PED, as well as what we would see as potential ‘abuse’ of TUE with the aim of gaining a performance advantage. We make it clear to each athlete, beginning with a set of commitments with our professional team, as well as information and education to all the amateurs who utilize our coaching services. … This global purplepatch policy applies to every athlete we help, and we find that establishing this policy ahead of time, and revisiting periodically, allows our primary focus to be channeled to our passion, namely, to help athletes improve and flourish.”
I asked Balogh via her new Twitter account whether she thought it was morally right to race in an ultra event while serving a doping suspension. I cited her tweet: ‘Interesting times right now, I will begin anew now, today, despite the insanity around me.’ Her response was to block me from following her or viewing her tweets.