Doping in MUT Running: My Opinion

December 15, 2015 | By | 73 Replies More

Doping in MUT Running: My Opinion

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A recent stir of events in the MUT Running world has resulted in some rather heated “debates” on social media.

Websites like Competitor Running and  iRunFar  have posted some articles. So naturally being the social-media addict I am, I commented a lot online (was quoted in the Competitor article) and made my own personal posts on Facebook as well as Twitter.

However, I don’t want people to take my comments out of context as little snippets here and there posted in threads online can get out of hand quickly!

 

So the purpose of this blog is to share my opinion on doping in MUT Running and to hopefully provide a little more of where I am coming from in regards to this issue.

 

If you weren’t aware, Lance Armstrong has been quoted in the media as taking up an interest in MUT Running. Of course I already knew this from Strava.com as he still has the 6th fastest time on the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop Segment which he ran in 5:40..

Lance4Pass

The guy is in pretty good shape still!

 

This past weekend, Lance raced a 35km trail race in California called the “Woodside Ramble” and won overall. This has created a little stir.

 

Now let’s get some things clear before I really dive in:

 

  1. I’m not afraid of Lance as a competitor. He’s obviously in good shape and can run well, but he’s not going to win any really big-profile MUT Running Race anytime soon. I’m sure he’s not after any prize money or sponsorship awards either. I also don’t think he’s on EPO now. That would be a really dull move on his part as it can’t be healthy and after beating cancer that would be insane to push his luck again.

 

  1. I’ve been fairly outspoken about performance-enhancing-drugs (PEDs) in sport and since I depend on running as a major source of income there is a financial stake that I play in being absolutely as competitive as I can be in the sport. I don’t expect most runners to share this financial stake, but I think that this issue is ultimately not about money anyway (more on this later).

 

  1. The MUT Running community is known for being inclusive and welcoming. We’ve got diverse pasts and backgrounds. We’re human and we make mistakes. For those that may have had a slip of judgment in the past and abused a controlled substance or struggled with addiction (i.e. drugs like cocaine, LSD, alcohol etc.), but then sobered up and found running…I say this: more power to YOU! On the other hand, if an athlete has used a heavy hitting PED like EPO to gain a major edge in endurance athletics…I say this: Lifetime ban from all races. No second chances. It’s a strict zero tolerance policy. I don’t think some people realize how much of a drug like EPO boosts running performance. What Lance (or any big-time PED athlete) repeatedly did for years and years cannot be compared at all to what others may or may have not done in the past (with recreational drugs etc) in their prior transgressions.

 

So that 3rd point is really important because I sense that some people might (I think wrongly) compare certain mistakes in life to what Lance did and somehow relate by wanting to “give him a second chance.” I think his main second change in life was beating cancer. I’m glad he helped raise money for LiveStrong as well. I’ll give him that. But that’s about it!

 

From my point of view, an athlete like Lance repeatedly made a choice every time he injected that needle. He did it on a very large scale, continued to lie about it, and did it to be at the top of an endurance athletic game. Hundreds of times. And of course people then say: “Well all the cyclists in the Tour were doing it…so Lance had no choice.” To that I say: “Just because everyone else is (seemingly) doing something doesn’t mean it’s right.” From what I gather Lance also treated people rather poorly (and still does), but for the logic of this blog post that is beside the point.

 

I also think there is danger in getting too caught up in calling things like weed and caffeine PEDs (which they are of course, but on a much smaller scale), to be remotely on the same level as a heavy hitting substance like EPO. People also talk about how altitude tents should be banned and worry about pacers during races, but my concern lies mainly with trying to keep our sport clean from those that are really trying to gain the most of an edge. I believe a PED like EPO is one of the most powerful in endurance athletics and because of that, I believe that an athlete who is caught using something like that should have to serve a lifetime ban from endurance athletics racing.

 

In Lance’s case he’s really only banned from cycling, triathlon, and USATF/IAAF running events I believe. So this means that any private MUT Running Races (most races in the US) are something he can try to enter and compete in. But because these races are private and not under the umbrella of one of the aforementioned organizations, the Race Director can theoretically also apply their own policy towards convicted EPO users and barr them from entry (or take them out from the results).

 

Knowing how a professional athlete’s mind works though, there is seemingly always an intense desire to compete. You don’t run races for “fun” very often. You run to beat people, to find flow, and to compete as hard as humanly possible. Lance can still likely win many an Age-Group categories at many a MUT Running races. He undoubtedly will displace a clean, hard working athlete. Maybe he’ll take a lottery spot at a coveted race. Is that fair to clean athletes? Is it fair to the careers of athletes he systemically ruined?

 

Because of those reasons I don’t think he deserves the honor of appearing in results alongside the names of clean athletes. However, he surely can run and enjoy the sport we all love! The trails and roads are always free. There are always “low key” MUT Running events, group runs, FatAss fun runs and FKTs to chase (although one  may be tempted to flag him on Strava…if he gets a CR!). I know there are tons of people out there that will always embrace and support him. I personally believe Lance could and should find all his peace outside any formal racing scene. I don’t think at this point he deserves the media attention and athletic recognition of winning or placing anywhere in race results for any feats of athleticism. And I feel the same way for any athlete who has been busted for taking a heavy hitting PED like EPO. No second chances and a lifetime ban.

 

Another common thing that I’ve read from online comments surrounding this issue is that people seem to combine “forgiving Lance as a person” with “letting him race” as being the same thing. There is the “right to race” and “granting one forgiveness ” in general as a fellow member of society. I think those are very separate things. This is much, much more than just about Lance though (despite me using him perhaps unfairly as a scapegoat). I believe this is about setting a precedent and taking a stand. I’m not one to stay silent with my hands tied behind my back and “run away” from problems. I’m going to be blunt and outspoken in things I believe in, even if I’m in the minority.

 

But why am I so harsh? Again, I’ll note my own personal bias of being a pro MUT Runner. Race results, prize money, sponsorship, media exposure, national and world rankings…that is my main job! I probably take this stuff too seriously.

 

I’ll admit though, it’s a slippery slope. Therapeutic-Use-Exemptions or TUEs (these are notes from doctors in a case by case basis where health problems, genetics and other abnormal readings can be remedied and prescribed legally by doctors) for competing athletes have created a somewhat “gray area.” For more context on that and TUEs search “Nike Oregon Project Doping Allegations”. Again though, my take on PEDs is that there is a spectrum and that punishments and bans should address their power accordingly. Taking a bunch of caffeine pills and tripping a test is a bit different than injecting EPO.

 

The high costs and relatively low effectiveness of drug testing, as well as the lack of drug testing in MUT Running is also a huge barrier that we must address in the future. I’ve read comments from mid-packers convinced that drug-testing costs will raise race registration costs and that doped up competitive elites will take away too many lottery sports from popular races in the future. I don’t believe the cost of drug testing should have to be covered by those who aren’t competing for prize money. That would be silly! Furthermore, the dynamic of MUT Running and the culture is changing, but I don’t believe it will ever be flooded with masses of people like road half marathons and marathons are. Sure, there is growth and more competitive depth now, but is that really a bad thing? Also, the fact that someone like Lance could easily evade hundreds of tests with ease (and dope while riding in the Tour) just shows the effectiveness of tests. Every competitive athlete that shows up at a race that mentions testing assumes that if they do well they’ll be tested. Mirco-dosing to beat the tests before and after races has seemingly allowed many an athlete to slip under the “post-race drug testing” radar over the years. I believe bio passports can help, but ultimately I think awareness and discussion about the issue is the first step as it hopefully leads to creating positive change.

 

I truly believe that change must come from promoting a #cleansport culture. Fostering a culture against doping ultimately discourages future use of PEDs and those already juicing will not be able to take away spots from hard working, clean athletes. Other voices in the MUT Running community have posted their opinion and created change already: The RainShadow running RD has made a statement about not letting certain (convicted) runners enter their races, and news/race coverage websites like iRunFar have outlined a policy on how they will not promote known dopers with media coverage.

 

If the worlds of cycling, track and field, road marathons and organizations like IAAF have demonstrated anything already, it is that corruption and greed have led to PED usage in sport at all levels. However, I believe that promoting a zero-tolerance policy with lifetime bans for these powerful drugs, and an anti-doping culture (which may lead to private races deciding to ban convicted EPO -users from their races) I think is a big step in the right direction to preserving the integrity and pureness of MUT Running…a sport, a hobby, a profession, and a lifestyle that I love.

 

Please repost and share this on social media if you agree. #cleansport

Thanks for reading and I wish you the best!

Cheers,

Sage

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About the Author ()

2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, Mountain runner, Author of “Running For The Hansons,” trail runner, videos for Vo2max Productioins, LLC.

Comments (73)

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  1. Alicia Shay says:

    Spot on Sage. That you for being so passionate and vocal about something that is currently tarnishing the sport of running and discouraging those trying to compete at the top level. Please continue speaking up!

  2. Antonio Moreno says:

    Totally agree with your words and couldn’t have expressed it better myself. Let’s keep our sport clean for as long as we can.

  3. patrick voo says:

    really well thought-out and articulated sage – i think that you encapsulate the human side of the story very well while elaborating clearly why the integrity of the sport and the sport’s culture demands that intentional cheaters be excluded from fair competition.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Thanks Patrick! While I admit it is a tricky situation I also believe that staying silent with my hands tied behind my back and “running away” from such topics might be the worst mistake I could make. On a side note,people seem to combine “forgiving Lance as a person” with “letting him race” as being the same thing. There is the “right to race” and “granting one forgiveness ” in general as a fellow member of society. I think those are very separate things. Thanks for your continued support!

  4. Brett says:

    Thanks for having the guts to speak up when there are inherent risks in doing so for someone with a higher profile like yourself.

    If the risk of getting caught is ‘only’ a 2 year ban or a ban from only certain types of events, its not going to deter people as much as ‘the death penalty’ to use NCAA jargon.

    If someone wants to stay active, there are all kinds of fatass events, trails, do-it-yourself routes that folks can do by themselves or with friends, and not contribute to a circus atmosphere.

    Its just a shame that we all have to be put in this position to even have this discussion. But it is what it is. I wish some of the people whose lives were ruined would pipe in – their opinions would certainly add a lot of credibility and value to the discussion.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Thanks for your comment Brett! Benji Durden (3rd at Boston, 2:09 Marathoner) commented on my Facebook post and has been victimized by dopers during his competitive running career. He was pretty passionate about it. I appreciate your support!

      • Brett says:

        I realized after I hit submit that I wasn’t specific about referring to the people Lance Armstrong victimized…but as you point out with Benji its obviously not just limited to him. But I think the more those folks that Lance impacted speak up, the more the name recognition will help resonate the issue into the regular populations’ conscience.

      • SageCanaday says:

        Great point Brett!

  5. Binay Singh says:

    Sage- What a clean, precise and strong view. I totally agree with on this. People like you who depend on running for everything, matters a lot. People who run and train hard just to participate and complete a race will be really bummed too if his spot is taken by parson who is doping.
    Very articulate and gutsy. Kudos and I support #cleansport.

  6. Jim McGuckin says:

    Having been part of the conversation since you posted the article on Twitter, it’s nice to see all of your thoughts in one place. I agree with your stance on doping and honestly I could care less if Lance runs or not. The issue for me is the abuse of TUE’s and the fair that everyone who is taking them is doing so for an actual medical reason. There’s just to much gray area and if we don’t make absolute black and white lines they will forever be blurred. The system in its current state can not be fixed, it’s proven itself to be faulty over and over again. I think the only thing you can do is band any elite from using any drug including TUE’s if they want prize money or ranking. The only problem is as money in the sport grows you will see also a rise in doping. As you stated “you don’t run races for fun, you run to beat people.” I took some liberty in paraphrasing you but believe the context to be true. That and the money are why people dope and man/woman is so depraved they will do whatever it takes to Just Do It!!!

    • SageCanaday says:

      Thanks for your comment and support Jim! Yes, I felt like i could express my stance better in an entire blog post rather than just little Tweets and Facebook comments here and there. You raise up the big, important questions and i honestly don’t know enough about all the possible PEDs, their implications and what the current bans are even by the IAAF are (i.e. in terms of duration and severity). Right now my focus is on EPO though because I know it’s a powerful one and it’s one Desco and Lance (and many others in cycling for that matter) have used. And for sure the money/greed part is what brings the real heavy hitting and “big-time threat” PED users and PEDS. I think the future (at least form a pro athlete side) is to try to do what we can to discourage new, competitive MUT Runners from using EPO to gain an edge and compete for prize money/sponsorship etc. Thanks again for your support and I wish you all the best!

  7. Greg Carson says:

    Sage,

    I have been thrilled to step off the trail and watch the likes of you, Max King, Joel Grey and watch you guys (and the ladies too) as you lap me…especially that last tight single track leg at Cranmore in NH.

    I would not do the same for Armstrong, and as a pretty wide Clydesdale MUT runner he’d be behind my waddling butt for a while.

  8. Joaquin Valdez says:

    MUT Events have given my wife and I something to believe in and also something to enjoy together. I would be extremely sad if things started going the way of Cycling. Thank you Sage for having a keen eye on this topic and for sharing your heart felt words.

  9. Sean says:

    Well said and well thought out. Maybe I missed it but if a convicted doper participates in a race, are you arguing that not only should they not receive prize money or lottery chances, but that they shouldn’t be allowed to place? In other words, if he wins, he is given a ‘not eligible’ or some-such condition so that the winner is the first person who is eligible?

    • SageCanaday says:

      Age group awards mean a lot to some people. Lance can still outright win smaller races and for sure be a major threat to win age group awards. It’s not about the money (Lance has plenty)…it’s the fact that he can displace a super hard, clean athlete from getting the real place/position that they deserve. Maybe he can run in his own category or not appear in results…

  10. JosephChick says:

    Well written and thought out, Sage, thank you. I fully agree with you, and while I will never compete for a podium or prize money, I do worry about the sport in general – and the lottery spots was something I had not even considered (and I am currently 0-5 at getting into Western, so I feel that one personally). I am sharing this post to try to raise awareness, and am (not surprisingly) being somewhat blasted for posting my thoughts on TrailRunner’s FB page about Lance’s competing. Alas, I stand firm on this as well, and have also said that I wouldn’t let anyone known to have failed compete in the small races I RD here in Ashland. I admit this is very much not likely to be an issue, but I wanted to join/support James when I saw his posting about Rainshadow’s events, even if it was more of a support in voice that I will likely never have to act on (but I would!). Cheers to you, Sage. Thank you for this post.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hey Joseph really great to hear and thanks for sharing (and taking a stand!). Yeah, i believe this issue is much much bigger than just Lance. I believe it can define the future of the sport at all levels. Your support is much appreciated (and I got some pretty nasty comments as well on social media for my posts!).

  11. Vladimir Gusiatnikov says:

    Hi Sage, here’s a technical background comment: Most trail runs in the U.S. use USATF liability insurance, so are considered affiliated with USATF in this one and specific way. Allowing a sanctioned/banned athlete to participate can be construed as violating the insurance contract.

    I believe that organizers who do not use USATF insurance are a small subset of organizers, and I believe Inside Trail is the only major trail running organizer in the Bay Area that does not, although I can be mistaken. My feeling is that the overall fraction of trail runs/races that are cleanly unaffiliated with an NGB is small, I estimate it to be in the low tens of percent. So, legally, a banned athlete’s options are a small subset of the total range of offerings and not “most races in the US”.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Good to know! It’s really most races that have USATF liability insurance? I guess we’ll just see what race Lance chooses next.
      Could be a good option for RD’s to make some choices.

  12. Jack Brotchie says:

    I loved this post.

    I’m about as far away from Mr. Canaday as possible as a runner. I bought my first pair of running shoes 9 months ago at 29. I’ve only run one ultra and live across the ocean in flat, urban London.

    BUT, it’s posts like these that make me think that I’ve finally found the right sport, populated by the right people. A current, elite athlete being so upfront and passionate, whilst remaining positive and open minded is a joy to see.

    When you see the faces, expressions and stories written on peoples faces at the finish line of ultras, especially near the back of the field, the idea that anyone further ahead is doping truly sickens me. You read of people training for WS for a decade, desperately hoping to get in the lottery, it’s an achievement of a lifetime. The idea that doping/convicted dopers is/are possible in such an environment cheapens that and deserves harsh punishment.

    Wonderful piece, bravely done.

  13. Andrius says:

    Agree with you 100%, if an athlete caught using EPO, or EPO-like drugs (aparently there ~100 EPO-like drugs, some even oral) should be life-time ban from all sports, no exemptions, including that UK teenage cyclist who recently been caught. I think that would be a stronger deterrent from using PED. Because if the guy at junior level is already using EPO, imagine what he would take if he became a pro.

    In regards to strava, they say that PED use is not a valid reason to flag activity. And it is probably right, dont think Lance or Tommy D should be banned from strava. Though maybe need to stick a disclaimer or smth that they have used PEds in the past.

    Some also suggested that if an athlete is given 2nd chance he/she should wear a T-shirt saying that ‘drug-cheat’ or something like that.

  14. Stewart Gunyon says:

    Well written, Sage. Very thoughtful as usual. I hope high profile the RDs and sponsors can agree in the coming months on a strategy to address this. Your point hit home particularly when you mentioned a convicted doper of taking a lottery spot from a clean athlete.

    Good job!

  15. Stewart Gunyon says:

    Well written, Sage. Very thoughtful as usual. I hope high profile RDs and sponsors can agree in the coming months on a strategy to address this. Your point hit home particularly when you mentioned a convicted doper of taking a lottery spot from a clean athlete.

    Good job!

    (Edited)

  16. Donene Vukovich says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Excellent post, Sage.

  17. John Tran says:

    Clear and on point Sage. MUT running is still in its infancy relative to other major running events. Action and support from elite athletes such as yourself can make a huge difference. Thank you for being vocal and an advocate for what is right. Keeping MUT running pure.

  18. Juan Carlos Flores says:

    Courageous on the tracks and in life … go on Sage!!!!

  19. Pez says:

    Great Post Cheers!

    Not sure if you have seen this:
    http://hedgehogcycling.co.uk/france-2-micro-dosing-experiment.html

    enjoy

    Pez

  20. Joe Dudak says:

    Sage I really appreciate your insight regarding PEDs in sport as well as your concern as to how it could negatively impact the ultra running community. The stigma around Lance will never go away and what he did IMO that is not forgivable is not so much that he doped but rather how he purgered himself and ruined so many people’s lives with all of his lies and malicious attacks. He is an asshole and if he does end up running ultras I hope someone like you or another front runner breaks his body and his spirit. That could be tough though. As to doping in ultra races it’s certainly not good and will/ probably does take place on some level, however ultra racing unlike pro bike racing is for everyone…people like myself who actually do it for the fun of it and maybe don’t take their race times quite so seriously…I mean losing a big account at work would hurt much more than my 25 minute pity party spread out over 6 aid stations at Hellgate. But I see your point and I appreciate it! It’s going to take someone like yourself with a voice and something to lose to get the attention needed for anything to happen and I say THANK YOU for being that guy. Just remember the TDF and all those bike races Lance used PEDs for was to compete in a field of pros who were also using PEDs. I support your clean sport initiative and will give this a share on Facebook from Sandis page. Great article.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hey thanks for your support Joe! I’m for sure more outspoken about this because it is my “work” and I take it very seriously.

      Lance is an example to use here, but ultimately we want to discourage future runners (and cyclists and any athletes for that matter) from taking his unhealthy plunge into PEDs.

      Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your running too!

  21. Lori Enlow says:

    I am so thrilled to hear top ultra runners speak out with a resounding voice on this issue. The louder the better. Let ours be the sport that steps up and says “no way!” Before we watch athlete after athlete cast shadow on the trail races and ruin the careers of those who race clean. I want to know that the people I admire most on this sport are clean.

  22. Rick Hensser says:

    Spot on Sage great article I agree 100%.There should be a lifetime ban because it’s proven that training and racing with epo has very long lasting improvements maybe for years after the drug has left you body.Curious what your thoughts are on altitude tents,personally I cannot see a problem with them as you could replicate that type of training if you lived by a large mountain.thanks for the article.

    • SageCanaday says:

      I’ve never used an altitude tent. I think it is actually slightly different (i.e. not as good) as actually living at high altitude. But then again I think the best thing to do is “live high” then “train low.” If one does that right it can for sure be a training benefit. I don’t see a problem with either one.

      However, it is not even close to the PED benefit of taking something like EPO!

  23. Greg Hammett says:

    Great post, Sage! As an athlete and fan of almost every sport (especially running), the thing I love to see is human beings reaching the pinnacle of human achievement. PEDs have taken this joy away from me. I’ve become bitter and jaded and am doubtful of most amazing performances.

    I agree with everything you posted. I always think of the clean athletes that were oh so close, but never made it to the top of their sport because they refused PEDs. It sickens me!

    Thank you for racing clean! You are an inspiration and you should feel proud!

  24. Thanks for putting the emerging problem of doping in MUT races into perspective, very “Sage” remarks…

    Unfortunately, it is likely to become an issue even for the smaller races. My tiny race (Creemore Vertical Challenge) has recently joined the Canadian Skyrunning Series and even I must now face the doping issue. Perhaps as intimated above, we need a new category for non-finishers? DNS, DNF and now DNP (Did Not Pass – doping test). A DNP would not show placement or finishing time, similar to a DNS. This would allow Dopers to run a race, but avoid their result having an impact on clean runners.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Yes, I think a policy needs to be put in place…we might look to organizing a similar policy for an umbrella of MUT Running Races. The DNP category can time themselves if they want a finishing time!

  25. Run Ranger says:

    Nice to see your thoughts here. Twitter doesn’t make it easy to get all this across. I was surprised to see any self-respecting RD let in an unrepentant, serial cheater like Lance. The day I saw this story, I asked a local RD if he’d let Lance into one of his trail ultras. He responded he’d have no problem with it. I was disappointed, but maybe shouldn’t have been surprised. (This is a guy who runs one race so laid back that the course is very easy to cut, and when it was pretty clear that a winner one year had done just that, he shrugged and said it didn’t hurt anyone but the runner himself…)

    But those who argue Lance should be allowed into unsanctioned races, it seems to me, have to answer the question, “Just how much cheating does it take to get yourself banned from respectful competition?” Would these people ban him if he were caught cutting a course? Caught cutting a course multiple times? Continually caught with prohibited aid (drop bag, pacer, nutrition, etc., out of zone?)

    That he cheated in a different sport shouldn’t give him a free pass in running. He not only cheated for years, he lied, stole (by breaking the no doping contracts) and ruined many people’s livelihoods and lives by using his notoriety to trash them in order to cover up his cheating. The cheating alone is enough to DQ him from respectful competition, but the other behavior should also be enough.

    Once Lance started posting his stuff on Strava (he seems really starved for attention) I wondered if I’d ever run into him at a race. I sure wouldn’t run in a race that would allow him to compete. Any RD doing so is proving a lack of respect for fair play, and disrespecting the vast majority of entrants who work hard and don’t cheat.

    (Quick postscript on a detail from above, i.e., the oft-stated idea that an altitude tent = EPO doping. I live at sea level and have an altitude tent. I have read dozens of studies on the effects of both living high/training low as well as attempts to simulate that with normobaric hypoxia (tent or mask). There’s no conclusive evidence that LH/TL works to boost sea-level performance, and there’s a similar lack of evidence that the tent can do it. The tent doesn’t reliably increase EPO, hematocrit, or performance at altitude, either. There is evidence that it works to reduce altitude sickness, which is the only thing I’m looking for. For instance, despite having a low, 72% blood oxygenation level at the end of the Pike’s Peak Ascent, I wasn’t dizzy, headachey, or pukey. Without that simulated acclimatization, I generally feel pukey above 10,000. But I do not use the thing to try and boost sea-level performance, because my experience mirrors the research: It doesn’t help.)

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hey thanks so much for your detailed comment. I agree on all of it! For sure altitude tents are not even close to having a huge advantage like injecting EPO would be (i’ve read some studies on altitude training as well and at best it is a tough stimulus to even balance or benefit a whole lot from). Now if you were using a tent and injecting EPO…that would be a very different story.

      I like the idea of “respecting the game” so to speak. I also think (perhaps wrongly) that Lance probably does like to seek attention wants a “pat on the back” for now getting to beat people in running races. Why would a competitive athlete enter races (he is still pretty competitive). Honestly i don’t like the media attention that he takes away from the clean athletes. He lost that privilege IMO.

      Finally, I think running and cycling have a ton in common. They are both endurance sports that demand a lot from the heart,lungs, and legs.

      Thanks for your support!

  26. Matt says:

    I applaud your passion and forthrightness about keeping the sport clean and fair and think that if more elites spoke out like you, the culture may have a chance to change.

    However on the issue of LA, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. What he did professionally was an absolute disgrace, both athletically and more importantly, for the lives he ruined to protect his secret.

    On the flip side of him cheating, deceiving and generally being a huge jerk is the fact that his organization has raised somewhere in the vicinity of $500M and helped countless (millions) people deal with/beat/suffer less from cancer.

    That, and that alone, “atones” for his other transgressions. When I compare the two – cheating to win vs. raising money for something far more important than sport – the answer is clear (to me at least), give the guy a break.

    If RD’s want to create their own classification, “Doper”, that is fine with me. Just put in anyone else who has self-admittedly doped (marijuana during race, etc.) or been caught doping in that category. I don’t think LA cares what others think and all he wants to do is compete – so come up with whatever rules but let the guy run.

    Having said all that, good luck in 2016 with your OTQ and your MUT racing. I’m hoping one day to watch you at Hardrock to see what you could do there!

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hey thanks for the support. I did mention LiveStrong in my post and give Lance credit for that…how much credit he deserves for that is debatable (good external marketing team etc. a saving grace project for publicity etc.). In any case I’m sure as a cancer survivor Lance has passion about the disease and has inspired many.

  27. Hey Sage,

    Good post. I was thinking that maybe a relatively easy first step at this point could be for a large group of you elites (and anyone else who wants to!) to come together and commit to not running any races that don’t put in place a rule prohibiting past EPO or EPO-like-drug users from competing. the RDs have little to lose from doing so, the sponsors have nothing to lose (good publicity for them if their athletes are promoting clean sport), and, assuming that those two things lead to quick implementation of that rule, the athletes should also have nothing to lose? I would think that the prospect of, say, 30 elites refusing to run your race would lead to some pretty quick action by RDs!

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hey thanks for your comment! I think that’s a great idea! At least it would work for all the iconic, high profile races. It’s a great way to spread the message as well.

  28. Joshua Hampton says:

    Honestly, I agree with everything you wrote and you made a true effort at making sure your reasons were exhaustively explained until certain point. It just drives me nuts when people go to all that effort then generalize/summarize and entire decade of abuse and ignorance of the sports leadership into saying “if everyone else jumps off a bridge would you” and blah blah. Come on you can do better than that. Of course he should have received exactly the punishment he did, but who cares about opinions of second chances when you don’t even hold true to your own logic. he gets a second chance at life by beating cancer and that is cool, but when he does a completely different sport its a no go… why? Explain in the same detail you spent explaining everything else. If you decided to be a doctor and attended medical school all of a sudden your opinion would change based of of actual scientific understanding. Especially after making clear you don’t think he is cheating anymore.

    Food for thought, if “everyone else was doing it” who cares? Black out his name and let the guy move on. You said he isn’t going to win any major events anyways so he won’t tarnish any reputations. The more I write the more I feel like your article was full of contradictions. Maybe you should read it again with fresh eyes.

    • SageCanaday says:

      “The more I write the more I feel like your article was full of contradictions. Maybe you should read it again with fresh eyes.”

      I often do make some mistakes, but I really tired to logically lay this blog post out. Point out some of my contradictions so I can see them better.

  29. David says:

    Hi Mr. Sage, Please allow for a dissenting option. I confess that I have come to loathe many things about this burgeoning sport, with its lotteries and ugly belt buckles. Trail running is, for me, an escape from rules and regulation. It belongs as a participatory and not a spectator sport.

    The sport shouldn’t have a governing body or prize money, and the only race series that should matter is the one held on Saturdays at Fresh Pond where there is no signup and results are tracked with numbered popsicle sticks.

    Everyone has the right to participate because the hills don’t belong to anybody. If someone is a convicted murder or pedophile and has served their time, they can still run and compete just like anyone else. Everyone will be better off for it. Yes, Lance is probably a jerk, but you’d no doubt think that I was a jerk if you knew me, and me and alot of Wall Street sociopaths are competing in races without any attention from you. I assume that Lance competes for the same reason I do; he’s not going to get any money or accolades from racing, but he’s a hypercompetitive person who wants to pass the old lady ahead of him on the trail. But the competitive aspect of a race is just a motivational ploy to get you to compete and improve yourself.

    I think you are being overly sanctimonious about PEDs given that lots of ultrarunners are probably stoners (both during training and racing) and lots probably do Adderall. If somebody wants to dope, it doesn’t affect me, and I don’t have the right to tell them what to do with their body just because I’m running on the same trail as them.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Thanks for your comment – I agree for the most part!
      However, you said it right here: “But the competitive aspect of a race is just a motivational ploy to get you to compete and improve yourself.” That is not true for me and (other few “pros”). The difference between me getting 1st place and 2nd place at TNF50 was $6,000. For me (not wealthy) that is a lot of money. Sure, I compete to improve myself but in a race where place matters, I compete for a job and a lifestyle (a lucky one at that). It’s not just about Lance…it’s about setting a precedent. Let Lance or any mid packer dope and you’ve created a culture that doesn’t condone it…then other actual “pros” are more likely to dope. And what example does that set for kids, for the future of the sport?

  30. Mike Jones says:

    Sage, you say that ‘he’s not going to win any really big-profile MUT Running Race anytime soon’, I’m not so sure about that, back in 2012 he started competing in triathlons and pro triathletes were saying much the same thing, but he ended up winning a number of high profile races including Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, he was about to compete in full Ironman races before being kicked out. If Lance is allowed to compete in MUT races then in my humble opinion, he will enter the big races and do well because the guy is a serious competitor.

    • SageCanaday says:

      Running is a bit different than Tri’s where the bike segment is the most time spent racing. I also believe Lance started off in Tri’s before becoming a cyclist…so he has background. I’m not saying he’s a bad runner – he can win a lot of trail-ultra races for sure. I’d say he could probably be top 20 or even top 15 at Western States 100…or TNF50 or Lake Sonoma etc…but he’s not going to be top 5 in my opinion. That being said age group awards are on the line and he could win a lot of those!!

  31. Jesse Murray says:

    Sage excellent comments. I grew up (in UK) listening to the Tour De France with my father. He speaks fluent french and we listened to commentary daily on French radio. I sat on the edge of my seat listening to the battle between Lemond and Hinault in 1986. Lemond became a boyhood hero. A hero that overcame a near fatal shooting accident and won two more tours after that incident. When controversy began to swirl around Armstrong he lacerated Lemond in the press and ruined his post cycling career. The reason? Lemond dared to be suspicious of Armstrong’s performance. Armstrong’s PED use alone was enough but considering what he did to so many people to cover up his cheating? I will have hard time showing him any respect whatsoever. I concur EPO usage should have serious consequences. I’m wholly against Armstrong running States or similar stature events. The irony is I will be crewing a good friend at MUC 50K where he has an outside shot of placing well and in that same race? Lance Armstrong.

  32. Dave-O says:

    Sage – I think your viewpoint is spot-on. If my boss told me I was being replaced by a robot because it can worker faster, I’d be pissed. Your livelihood is at stake here. I’ll never be eyeing a finish line with first place in the balance. Nevertheless, I would hope that all those that I am competing against are doing so without PED’s.

    With that said, I’m going to go have a beer and give this a few more minutes thought.

  33. Julien says:

    Great Post Sage !
    I have been competing in cycling in the late 90ies when doping was all over the sport.
    I would never have been able to turn pro, even with a cocktail of the best drugs out there. I did not have it. 🙂
    Some of my friends though could have, they were really good, but still not good enough compare to people that are now know for doping.
    They had to decide and they decided not to take that route. Some of them continue to ride their bikes, some don’t. They are real estate agents, they own a shop or they created their companies. Maybe they could have make enough money to live from their passion if others did not cheat.

    So when you say everybody has the choice, I cannot agree more.

    And if you cheat and get caught…don’t pick what ever sport just because it allows you still to go compete.

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