Yesterday, September 25, 2019, IRONMAN released a story (Article HERE) announcing the four year ban of four athletes who tested positive for doping. All age group athletes. Why?
Why does anyone use performance enhancing drugs? To win, do better, go faster of course, or maybe pressured by sponsors or teammates. Who knows. Pros or age groupers it’s against the rules, not moral or ethical and clearly not welcome in sports. At least with pros the ulterior motive of money and keeping sponsor contracts resonates. But age groupers? There is no prize money to age groupers in Kona–maybe some small sums in bike races. So what’s the deal?
Clearly egos, ultra competitive people and narcissists are driven so intensely by winning and maybe those things alone drive people with no money motivation to dope. But is there more?
Age groupers who win, who have social media skills, who are engaging, who know how to review products, who want to proclaim competency to perhaps coach might find some irrational, misplaced justification of doping to win at all cost. But really?
Is social media driving this? Is Strava and KOM’s and QOM’s and kudos’ driving some ego machine it’s worth doping? Or maybe the motivation is what comes with winning; social media followers, subscribers and dialog that captures the attention of advertisers and product managers trying to get free advertising by giving away a lot free products to influencers. Is that the game?
Look what’s happened to sponsorships of pro endurance athletes, particularly triathletes. The pie is getting pretty small. Why would a company pay a mediocre pro who isn’t so great at social media when they can give some free swag to a pop star like age grouper who is on the podium all the time and gladly willing to try to sell product?
More and more age groupers are failing drug tests. The blame of bad CBD quality control or extra poppy seeded bread is ridiculous. They know what they are doing.
Is the rise of drug use in the amateur ranks correlating with the rise of social media impact on the make up of marketing strategies?
It doesn’t excuse the unethical behavior but maybe it explains it? Or is it simply the cultural shifts due to social media, hyper connectivity and ultimately greater loneliness causing amateurs to win at all cost so they feel better about themselves? Who knows. I would love someone to tell us why they did it.
At the IRONMAN World Championships coming up in a couple of weeks, don’t be surprised if you get asked to give a sample at packet pickup.
From Runners World Western States Endurance Run Will Have Drug Testing at 2017 Race – Runner’s World
Athletes who are lining up for the 2017 Western States Endurance Run, the country’s prestigious 100-mile race that starts on June 24, in Squaw Valley, California, better brush up on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned substance list. Officials announced Wednesday that they will be drug testing at the Placer High School finish line for the first time this year.
The Western States board of directors has been working on creating a policy and approved a protocol that the organization is comfortable executing and can afford, said John Medinger, board president, during a phone interview with Runner’s World .
“It’s been kicking around for a while,” he said. “The activity of people in the sport and the number of sponsored athletes has gone up. There’s been more and more discussion, concern, and chatter among the athletes wanting to make sure that they’re competing on a level playing field.”
U.S. ultra and trail running has been grappling with a shifting environment for several years. The once laid-back, no frills culture has given way to one in which more corporate brands are offering sponsorship opportunities for top talent, thereby attracting faster athletes, some of whom come with road or track racing pedigrees. With the potential for financial gain also comes the temptation to cheat…
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.
From Marathon Investigation
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 Runner Disqualified After Claiming 2nd Place in Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon
The initial 2nd place finisher of the Ft. Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon was disqualified Sunday night. She cut the course.
10K – 44:22
13.1 – 1:21:46
These results would equate to a 7:09 minute/mile pace for the 1st 10k and a 5:25 minute/mile pace for remaining 11.08 kilometers.
After the race, she denied having cut the course. She approached other runners and race officials to defend her time. She was on the podium to accept the 2nd place award.
Shortly after the race she posted this to her Strava account.
One member commented on the lack of data. This entry was posted manually and was not linked to any GPS data.
Later that afternoon, she made another Strava entry. This one shows that she did indeed travel the entire course.
She had this labeled as a run, and the total time almost matches her original time for the 1/2 marathon. The cadence data is more consistent with what you would expect on a bike ride, not a run. Also, through the Flyby screen, I was able to confirm that she actually covered this course in the afternoon – long after the race was complete. Read the full article…
RELATED – Age Group Triathletes doping – From Slowtwitch
Ironman AG Champ Gets 4yr Doping Ban
The IRONMAN® Anti-Doping Program announced that American age-group athlete Holly Balogh tested positive for a prohibited substance and has accepted a four-year suspension. Ms. Balogh’s positive sample was collected at the 2016 IRONMAN® North American Championship Texas, which took place on May 14, 2016. Her 4-year suspension commenced, according to Ironman’s release, on July 11, 2016.
Balogh’s sample tested positive for the presence of an exogenous testosterone and/or its metabolites, according to Ironman, which was confirmed by Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) analysis. Ironman noted that Ms. Balogh did not apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Basketball… “Flat, Challenging” times in Tri … and Lance Armstrong:
“I went from the stars to the ground, seemingly overnight”
The Monday morning start of Day 2 at TBI began early, with a group workout at the local Dallas YMCA, put on by ACTIVE. Following an old-school basketball lay-up drill, Arch led participants through four, 7-minute “Tabata” sets and had us all sweating and dreading sitting on sore glutes later in the day, but smiling goofy endorphin-induced grins. (Only the first three sets were physical – the fourth set was a mental “Triku” writing exercise… we may – or may not – hear more about those submissions later in the conference.)
By 8:00 a.m. the breakfast crowd was ushered into the presentation hall for a few opening remarks by TBI President Richard Adler. Citing registration data, Adler pointed out 41% of this year’s TBE attendees are race producers, followed by those in the technology field, and manufacturers with 15% each. And then a large “other” category, that includes coaches, tri clubs, city representatives, advertising/marketing entities, sponsors… a good cross-section of the industry.
This year’s conference theme is “profitability and success in triathlon,” and Adler referenced data presented by Gary Roethenbaugh yesterday and reiterating the current “flat” triathlon climate makes for “challenging times.” However. The entire purpose of this conference is to collaborate and share ideas; TBI is, at its core, a “sounding board and connector of resources.”
And then a hush fell over the room as Lance Armstrong was ushered down the center aisle, red carpet style, haloed by a bright spotlight, led by Slowtwitch publisher Dan Empfield. As they walked Empfield referred to Armstrong as his “very good friend,” and Armstrong made reference to Empfield being his “first sponsor” (Empfield was Lance Armstrong’s first bike sponsor, with Quintana Roo, the bike brand Empfield founded).
Empfield opened the session with an air of caution and assertive direction, launching immediately into Armstrong’s The Forward Podcast, and skipping any preamble about the cycling world or doping or other obvious precursors. Admitting he is “very jealous” of Armstrong’s podcasts because “they are so good,” Empfield asked about:
Toughest interviews (“Seal was very emotional and dark; he and I did the dance and it came off…“)
Favorite interview to date (Michael Morton – wrongfully convicted for killing his wife: “He is my favorite by far, so far. He went to prison for 26 years for a crime he didn’t commit. And then DNA evidence proved his innocence and he was exonerated. His views on the people who put him away – what he wanted to do to them – for 15 years he had a plan for every one of them. Shoot & bury. Burn. Drown… And then he found God. . . The guy is amazing. Really cool guy.“
As Armstrong mentioned Sean Penn (whom he hangs out with in Aspen), biographer Hunter Thompson, Johnny Depp, Bo Jackson, Brett Favre (a “good friend”), Malcolm Gladwell (If he does a tri, “Who’s going to make the swim cap to go over that ‘fro of his?”) … Empfield points out, “These guys are all friends – you just call them up.” And later in the interview, regarding Armstrong’s residence in Aspen, “there’s a posse, and you’re in it.” Empfield continues, “You can hang with these people and talk with these people in a way a CNN interviewer couldn’t… I mean, a presidential historian and rock stars…”
Armstrong revealed his techniques for landing an interview with someone he finds compelling: “I grab coffee in the morning and read the newspaper. I see who’s in town… send a DM to a mutual acquaintance and get a cell phone number…” He goes on to point out how public most personal information is, saying, “You can find out about anybody’s life – start with Wikipedia, and then go to YouTube… There’s still some secrets out there, but very few.”
He also acknowledges the timing of his Forward podcast, saying, “I couldn’t have done this kind of platform five years ago. . . I went from the stars to the ground seemingly overnight, and all of my platforms went away. That was a humbling experience. The podcast is my first platform, my first offensive move, the first place I’ve gone back to to give people a place to go. . . I’m blown away at the success it’s had.”
When asked about the “corporatization” of sport, making big business out of triathlon or other endurance sports, he was clear, saying whether it’s Ironman or New York Road Runners or the Boston Marathon, “we still have millions willing to pay to play.” But. ASO/Tour de France is “much more evil” than Wanda Sports. “The business model of pro cycling is 100 years old and not sustainable. There is turmoil there. They want to control as much as they can and cast a shadow over all the other events. The Tour is too big – but they are the only one, and the only thing people care about.”
“I wish there were more players and riders who had a bigger voice in pro cycling.”
Armstrong’s latest venture, WEDU Sport, was touched on but not well defined. According to the trademark application, WEDU will incorporate monitoring & tracking (“Computer software and computer application software related to tracking, monitoring, planning, compliance and motivation”), clothing, and “athletic competitions, triathlon events, athletic coaching services.”
When Empfield asked about the new brand, Armstrong provided an explanation for the name, saying, “WEDU is an answer to a question: Who does 100X100’s in the pool or runs Rim2Rim? Who wants to do that? Who would be crazy enough to do that? The answer is WEDU. That is the brand. There is space for more events in the endurance world. Also, monitoring and tracking – GPS, Strava, wearables – allowing athletes to train better, smarter, and injury free.”
Later in the interview he added on the subject of WEDU: “We’ll provide events, content, and training. Similar to Endurance Nation – we’ll sell plans. And WEDU may be an app.”
And what about that subject of doping? Empfield raised the subject, and Armstrong elaborated, saying first, “It will never change.” He said there will always be cheaters Whether traditional doping, or course cutting, or mechanical doping with engines. He did an obstacle course race, and when he missed an obstacle he had to do 180 burpees. “I did all 180 burpees,” he said. “But how many people really do them? It’s the honor system. If they have to do 30 burpees, how many do 30? No one. They do 22.”
What about just letting letting drug testing go – just “chilling” – and letting athletes do what they will do? “Just chilling is not an option,” Armstrong insists. “I don’t have a lot of credibility on this.” (crowd chuckles) “You laugh, but it’s true. Should we test athletes? I’m probably not the guy to ask. But if it’s my kids, I say test them.”
And, on the future of triathlon: “Who knows? Who would have thought there would be the Tough Mudder and events like that? We just don’t know… You never know what the next event is. What will provide relevance and motivation? For Type A motivated people, what are you going to give them in ten years?”
He speaks about the return of his Aspen mountain bike race in 2017 (the 2016 event ended up being “a party at my house” since he missed the permitting deadline), his preference for century rides over Gran Fondo’s, because they are untimed and easier to permit, and “alternative” events in general. He then adds, solemnly, “I want all of the ships to rise.”
Also: Jimmy Buffett & Margaritaville. “When you stay there, he is making money off of you from the minute you wake up until you go to bed. From music to blenders to everything… I really respect what he’s done with his brand.”
Finally: Empfield circles back to the Forward podcast. He notes that listeners are asked to rate the show, one star to five. “There are no 2s, 3s or 4s. Only 1s and 5s. Is this a metaphor for how people view you?” Armstrong responds, “I was an asshole for a very long time. I understand that.”
As Armstrong left the room (for 1.5 hrs of post-appearance interviews in the outer hallway), the TBI sessions continued with discussions covering the Future of Triathlon (“Triathlon has plateaued. But it’s stable. Flat is the new ‘up’.” – Chuck Menke); Sponsorships; Diversity in Triathlon moderated by Sara Gross (“Diversity brings innovation, and that’s what triathlon needs now”); and the USAT State of the Union address by Rob Urbach (which began with, “Do you remember the first time you made love?”). Late afternoon sessions allowed participants to choose between topics including Working with Municipalities, Retailer Relationships, Understanding Millennials, and Triathlon Teams.
The Ron Smith Reception and Awards Celebration filled the evening, with winners announced in multiple categories. Be sure to check out 303Triathlon’s twitter feed for all the details on the day’s presentations and events.