Established in October of 2000, USADA has spent the last 15 years fighting to preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport, and protect the rights of clean athletes. In celebration of this milestone, we’re taking a look back at some of the ways in which the pursuit of a level playing field has evolved over the course of the last decade and half.
At the heart of that reflection is the perspective of the athletes themselves. Anchorage-based cross country star, Kikkan Randall has been in the USADA testing pool since 2001, and over the course of that time, has competed in four Olympic games as well as becoming the first American – alongside teammate Jessica Diggins – to win a cross country World Championship at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Despite her rigorous training schedule, Randall was kind enough to take a few minutes to share her experiences with us recently, having witnessed first-hand the fight for clean sport.
USADA: How did you feel when you found out you would be included in USADA’s Registered Testing Pool?
Kikkan Randall: To be included in the RTP was a real honor because it meant that I was reaching a high level of competition. I remember being quite excited with the responsibility. If I remember correctly, my first interaction with USADA was at our 2002 U.S. Championships. I was tested after winning my first national title – it was a good day.
USADA: What is the biggest change you’ve seen in anti-doping during your time as an athlete?
Randall: I am really excited about the development of the [athlete biological] passport because I think it’s important to understand the naturally occurring differences between athletes and then use those individual profiles to identify when athletes values are out of the norm. Before, there was just one range that every athlete was supposed to fall within… I think it was too restrictive. The passport is a certainly a step in the right direction.
USADA: The whereabouts filing process has changed a lot during the time you have been in our testing pool. How do you think it has improved?
Randall: The whereabouts filing process was greatly improved when we were able to submit changes via email and text. It’s often challenging to remember to make changes when fun plans suddenly come up and – for me – it’s been key to be able to report those whereabouts from more remote places.
USADA: We know that athletes spend a good amount of time with Doping Control Officers (DCOs), what has your experience been like with the DCOs you have worked with?
Randall: Most of the DCO’s I’ve worked with have been very pleasant, professional and easy to work with. They try to make the process a simple and unobtrusive as possible and you can tell they believe in the mission for clean sport.
USADA: Do you think athletes have changed their views on anti-doping over the last 15 years? If so, how?
Randall: I think being a clean athlete has become something that every athlete holds as an important value in their careers and are in turn happy to be a part of the process that keeps our sports clean. Athletes are recognizing more and more that they are role models responsible for teaching the next generation the importance of clean sport. I also think athletes are more and more confident in the anti-doping system to catch cheaters and most believe the sports are the cleanest they’ve ever been.
USADA: What are your hopes for USADA/anti-doping in the future?
Randall: My hope is that the anti-doping agencies can stay one step ahead of those that would chose to cheat so that we can continue to make sports as clean as possible. I also hope that the process for being a part of the RTP continues to be more seamless and easy to use for athletes.
USADA: What would you hope young athletes would know about doping in sport?
Randall: I want young athletes to know that you can absolutely be successful in sport in a clean way and that victory is only satisfying when you know you’ve done it honestly and with your own hard work.