Hey all, in any physical performance sport, there is always going to be a certain cohort of people that are looking to gain an illegal edge. No major sport has been able to avoid the stigma of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), whether it's baseball, football, cycling, soccer, rugby, and all the rest. Some sports are more "known" for having a doping problem, but that may be due to the fact that they are better at covering it up!
The CrossFit Games is a relatively new concept, with the first official Games having taken place in 2007. The organizers have progressively increased their anti-doping program over the years with (I believe) their first official testing year being 2010.
At first, only podium finishers were tested and only on-site at Regionals or the CrossFit Games. The protocol then expanded to podium plus some randomly selected individuals.
The most recent iteration of the drug testing program is pretty comprehensive, and is similar to that seen in other top tier sports. Athletes can now be tested at any time of the year and can be subjected to both urine and blood tests. The testing is also much more comprehensive, in that more athletes than ever are being tested.
All the testing is done through a third party company (Drug Free Sport) which is a well known and highly regarded organization that runs testing for a wide variety of high profile sports. This provides an important separation from the CrossFit Games organizers and the testing program, avoiding any possible conflicts of interest.
As a result of this testing program, 13 individual and team athletes have tested positive from this year's Regionals. CrossFit HQ cites testing earlier in the week leading into Regionals and testing more athletes overall as the main reasons why so many people got caught (13 athletes is around how many in total have been publicly revealed as doping since 2011, so that's a big number). These positive tests have opened up the door for other (clean) athletes to compete at the Games as they were moved up into qualifying spots.
I think this is both a good thing and a bad thing for the sport. It is good in that these people are getting caught and therefore are not able to get away with having an unfair advantage. The downside is that the reality we've all wanted to partially ignore - that some CrossFit athletes do dope - is now in plain view.
I don't think this taints the achievements of past CrossFit Games winners or competitors, and really I do believe that most of the athletes are clean. I think CrossFit is doing exactly what they should in terms of implementing such a rigorous and comprehensive testing program. That isn't to say that competitors outside of the scope of the Games aren't doping, and there's a high probability that some are.
One of the athletes that was caught at this year's Regionals, Emily Abbott, is a Canadian athlete and one of the stars of the sport. She was given a ban of 4 years due to a substance being in her system over the Regionals weekend. This positive test has affected her life in a number of gut wrenching ways, and has been at the forefront of the doping discussion for the past week.
If you want to know more about Emily's case and how CrossFit evaluated it, you can watch the video below (for CrossFit's view) and listen to the podcast (for Emily's side). It's a super tough scenario, and I feel terrible for Emily about how this will affect her life both inside and outside of CrossFit however I understand and respect completely the decision that CrossFit made regarding her case.
PODCAST (Emily's View)
TRAINING MONDAY - TUESDAY
This is a tough little "out and back" wod with a heavy challenge in the middle. The clean and jerks are meant to be done as quick singles as opposed to touch and go, so don't be afraid to pick a slightly heavier weight. Pace on the way out then hammer the way back!
Rx: 15 burpee box jumps (20/24), 500m row, 10 clean and jerks (125/185), 500m row, 15 burpee box jumps
FG2: Bar weight 95-105/135-155, burpee step ups
FG1: Bar weight 55-75/75-115, regular burpees
TG: 10 burpees, 300m row, scaled bar
CASH-OUT: 5 rounds of: 10 double crunch or toes to bar, 10 medball bearhug squats