New York Road Runners, one the largest road racing organizations of the United States, is planning to expand its testing for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to include the top runners in its local races, not just those in its top-tier events.
The organization has for more than a decade tested elite runners in the New York City Marathon, its largest and best-known race, and its other professional events. Runners, found of cheating are disqualified, and their prize money is withheld. Moreover, runners who previously tested positive for performance enhancing drugs are ineligible to run.
The new effort is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017. It will test the top local and club runners — the tier below the level of full-time professionals. The extended doping tests will be a part of the organization’s efforts for increasing awareness of the dangers of PEDs and ensuring a level playing field at more of its races.
Peter Ciaccia, the president of events at New York Road Runners and the race director of the marathon, the largest in the country, remarked it is meant for guys running up front in the local races. Ciaccia added the idea is to just throw out a wider net. The president of events at New York Road Runners also said it is not just about the brand integrity, but also the educational component so young kids understand what they might get themselves into. Ciaccia added his organization wants to alert runners of all ages to the dangers of performance enhancing drugs and this step is not just about expanding testing because of a specific instance of a runner being caught taking a banned substance.
The effort has come in praise from anti-doping experts. Dr. Don Catlin, the former director of the U.C.L.A. Olympic Analytical Laboratory, said it is always worth extending the testing experience, that’s for sure and also added there are a limited number of tests done for events, so it is always best to increase the numbers and get runners tested more.
Travis T. Tygart, the chief executive of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), remarked he hoped more sports organizations would follow the club’s lead. Tygart added it is fantastic and shows great commitment and leadership to ensuring a level playing field, where clean athletes can compete clean and win.
Club runners in the New York area remarked the hassle of extra testing was a low price to pay for ruling out potential cheaters, no matter how few there were and how little the prize money. John Roberts, the president of the Central Park Track Club, who was briefed on New York Road Runners’ plans, remarked he very much think drug testing has to be part of the sport at almost every level.
William du Pont Staab Jr., the president of the West Side Runners Club, said the extra time spent analyzing the test results will likely increase the time it takes to distribute prize money. The West Side Runners Club President said it takes months for them to pay out $500 in prize money, so it will now take longer.