Two summers ago we were riding on the Monon Trail in Indianapolis when I got stung be a bee on my forehead between my sunglasses and helmet. In the past I've had mild allergic reactions to stings - but nothing life threatening so while it hurt badly, we didn't go to the emergency room and drove from Indianapolis to Chicago for Intelligensia Cup.
Four hours later after napping in the back of our van, I woke up to a very swollen face. We arrived at the race venue and Ben started warming up. I decided to walk down toward registration and even with sunglasses and a hat on, my friends didn't recognize me. I was a little scared that my throat could close up so while Ben raced his race, I opted to skip mine and see if an ice compress and the benadryl I'd taken would make any difference.
The next morning I woke up even more puffy so we headed to a walk in clinic. I explained the situation to the medical staff and got a ration of shit for not coming in sooner. They administered an epi pen shot and prescribed a steroid to help with the inflammation. I checked the banned drug list and sure enough - not even a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) would make it okay to race.
I had a choice to make. And it was an easy one. I'm a coach and athlete and I believe in competing clean at all times. As a leader in my community, it's super important to lead by example. Even though medically I had a pretty good excuse, there's no way it would stand up in an arbitration and I made the easy choice of not racing. Yes we had traveled all that way - but that wouldn't make it right. Taking a prohibited drug and competing is never okay.
My experience came flooding back to me after a local female racer was handed a four year suspension this past week. You can read more about it here. She claimed she was taking testosterone for a medical reason and tried to file a TUE. But the drug she was on is on the prohibited list and she was caught with it in her system while competing. It's up to you as an athlete competing to know what's on the prohibited list and what's not.
To see if the medications or supplements you're taking are prohibited, visit www.usada.org. The Global DRO is a great resource to see if the specific medications you're on are on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. A quick check is all it takes.
We all have choices to make. It is your duty as an athlete and coach to know the rules of play and to play by the rules.