Staying Vigilant to Protect Your Health and Reputation
When an athlete chooses to compete in a sanctioned event or as a member of a national governing body in sport, whether it be an Olympic athlete or a Masters athlete, the individual is not only accepting the opportunity to be in the spotlight, but also under the spotlight when it comes to clean sport. As such, athletes who are subject to anti-doping rules must be particularly vigilant about the substances they consume, medical treatment they receive, people they associate with, and competitive practices they accept. This vigilance means recognizing high-risk behaviors and situations to minimize the risk of a positive test, adverse health event, or rule violation.
While USADA is always available to help, athletes also need to be able recognize clean sport red flags, so as to protect their health, their reputation, and their livelihoods.
Red Flag #2: Medical practitioners who don’t consider anti-doping obligations
Athletes should always tell their treating physician that they are subject to anti-doping rules since compliance is ultimately the athlete’s responsibility. Due to these strict liability principles, athletes risk an anti-doping rule violation and sanction, including a possible period of ineligibility, even if they received poor guidance from their primary care providers.
Once a medical practitioner has been informed of an athlete’s anti-doping obligations, it is a red flag if practitioners aren’t discussing anti-doping rules with athlete patients or accounting for those requirements during treatment.
Medical professionals who treat athletes need to be aware of the Prohibited List and how to determine if a substance or method is prohibited in sport, which is easily done using GlobalDRO.com. Moreover, physicians should know that athletes can apply for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) before using a prohibited substance or method, but that strict criteria exist for approval, meaning that the physician’s assistance is often vital to the application process. A prescription or a doctor’s note is not enough.
In addition, athletes should consider it a red flag if medical personnel aren’t aware of the risks surrounding the supplement industry and aren’t challenging the reasons for using a dietary supplement. It’s important for athletes and their support personnel, including health professionals, to question if there is a clear nutritional benefit from a supplement and if there are food alternatives. If the medical practitioner is receiving a financial benefit for prescribing or offering a product, this is a red flag.