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Have you ever accepted a substance without knowing its prohibited status?

It’s easy to assume that someone you trust – a doctor, a coach, a spouse – is going to understand and help you uphold your anti-doping responsibilities. Unfortunately, the trusted people in an athlete’s life are not always going to know or respect the rules as expected. And more importantly, the athlete is ultimately responsible for what goes on and in their body, even if a trusted person gives an athlete a prohibited substance without their knowledge.

So, when you find yourself in situations like these, remember this: Did you check though?
It only takes a few minutes to check medications and ingredients on GlobalDRO.com.


Why it matters: an athlete testimonial

Desmond Jackson thought he could trust his coach. They had been working together for years, developing a bond that felt more like family than professional mentorship. He was led to believe their values were the same.

At the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Trials, the 22-year-old Jackson was accompanied by his coach as usual, and his thoughts were consumed by the anticipation of competing in an event where he could finally qualify for the postponed 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. He was in a rush and already feeling the Minneapolis heat when his coach offered him a pill to help with his energy. Jackson took it, no questions asked. What happened that day would change the course of his athletic career and life.

Watch the video to learn more.   


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The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) provides athletes and support personnel with information about the prohibited status of specific medications based on the current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

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Unlike prescription and over-the-counter medications, you can’t check supplements on Global DRO. Supplements are regulated differently than medications and always come with some level of risk for athletes. Visit Supplement Connect for more info.

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An athlete may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to use a prohibited medication or method for a specified time period. A prescription alone is not enough to justify a TUE, so athletes need to work with their physicians to provide the required documentation.


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My name is Desmond Jackson, and I moved to Durham, North Carolina, when I was around the age of five or six years old. So, I practically grew up here. This is pretty much all I’ve known my whole life. I was always an active kid, even being a congenital amputee. You know, I was hopping at a very young age. And so from hopping, it went to, you know, getting my first running leg. And I started running as an amputee. And that changed my life. I think that was the beginning of what was soon to, you know, be and I played all the sports pretty much before track and field, which is something that like not everyone knows that. Like I started off playing, you know, flag football, soccer, I played baseball, basketball, of course. And I tried everything, you know, before I got to track. And it was around the age of ten that I actually went to my first track meet. And that was when, you know, my path was set. It was my first meet where I broke multiple national records and international records for my age group within the adaptive community or athletes. And you know, doing that my first meet with no practice, that alone, I had people coming up to me, you know, asking me, you know, questions I wasn’t even thinking about. So like, I got, you know, that was where I really heard of the Paralympics and hearing about the Paralympics I knew like this was an opportunity for me. This might be an opportunity for me in the future.

In 2012, my mother was able to raise enough money so we could go to London and just, you know, spectate. And that was where it was just solidified. You know, whatever I knew before, I knew I wanted to do it and I was passionate about it. But the 2012 Games is where everything was just set in stone. The Paralympics, the atmosphere. It was amazing. Because of the success I was having in high school and on the Paralympic level, I knew I needed a coach and I started working with them in high school. It was a pivotal time for me in track and field because I was trying to go to the next level, which meant trying to essentially, you know, break records. And I knew that the Paralympics was the main goal. So, we found this guy through another athlete who was actually he’s like a family friend. And he was doing extremely well in the North Carolina high school system in track and field. And so he was working with this coach. We met him. And, you know, there you know, the first conversation, we knew this was the guy, you know, this was the guy I wanted to work with going forward. And he said the right things, especially in the right time for what I was looking for.

And so, you know, I started working with him. We had a relationship going on for six years, six, seven years since then. And he became more than a coach for me because he was, in a way, an older brother, a mentor, you know, a family member, in a sense. He was a father figure to me. You know, I grew up with my mother as a single child. And she was the only parent and my dad is in my life, but he lives in a different state. So, having someone present was, you know, it was a big, you know, void for me and he filled it, you know, my coach in a lot of ways. And so, you know, our relationship developed on the track, but especially off the track. Together we developed, I would say, the alter ego, I guess like my alter ego in terms of how I would go about competing with grown men, essentially, because that’s what was ahead of me during that time.

You know, being 11, 12, 13, I was trying to make the 2016 team where I would be 16. Most of the people I compete with are 20, 25, 30, 35. I just continued to build on training and just kept getting better. During that time period, I was able to set the United States national record in the 100 meter dash and at the 2016 Rio Games, I made the finals in the long jump, the 200 meter. I didn’t make the finals in the 100 meter, which is my favorite event, but it was okay. You know, the experience again was most important for me. You know, after that I can remember the day that I was at the 2021 U.S. Track and Field Paralympic trials. When I first got there for the long jump, you know, we were kind of rushing, getting to the track and field area because of COVID. You know, it was a lot of measures and precautions that we had to take. So, that kind of complicated things. So once we got there, you know, I was warming up. My coach told me that he wanted me to take a vitamin, vitamin B pill or, you know, supplement really just for my energy and maintaining, you know, during the day because it was kind of, you know, sunny and hot at the same time and just staying hydrated.

So, my whole focus or worry was on the meet, you know, making sure I competed well. I did ask whether it was a certified supplement. But beyond that, I believe that, you know, our relationship was already at a point where, you know, I didn’t really have to ask, I believed that it was always going to be there certified supplement that he gave me because he knew the tests that I would go through at my house or whether it be at a competition and just the process of filling out my whereabouts. You know, he was very aware that I needed to make sure that the list of supplements were clean or else I would be penalized. And later on that day, I was tested. I think after the long jump, you know, normal tests, I’ve taken plenty of USADA tests and urine tests and, you know, it came back to me actually two weeks after, I think the day of trials. And that email just opening, opening it, you know, I remember just being shocked and surprised and really not understanding, you know, what it was or what it could have been. You know, seeing the word steroid ran across, you know, a letter is like, okay, I don’t take steroids. So what is this? The first word that comes to mind is devastated because I’ve been competing so long and I know what came or what was going to come after getting that letter.

So, you know, just bracing myself for that impact. But after that, you know, I informed my mother, I informed some of the close people in my circle and the questions started to begin, you know, and questions that I wasn’t thinking about. At that point, my coach, you know, after I asked him what he gave me, he actually sent me a picture of a DHEA bottle. So, he did send me the prohibited substance, but he quickly changed his story multiple times. And that’s where it gets confusing because, you know, his story wasn’t clear. You know, one minute, you know, he gave me something by accident. Another, he said that the pills were mixed up. You know, his story kept changing. And, you know, looking back on it, it hurts because it’s like, you know, here’s someone you’re supposed to trust and they just they’re just constantly lying to you.

Strict liability. It means that the athlete is responsible for what goes in their body and going into the trials, I wasn’t focused on the rules. You know, I knew the rules. I wasn’t focused on them. To miss the 2020 Games, Tokyo games, it was devastating. It was a huge loss for me at that time. You know, I just I struggled to even watch the Games after I couldn’t go. If I just slowed down, I could of, you know, alleviated this process in terms of testing positive. And so, you know, it’s a learning experience. You know, we all make mistakes. And I accept it. You know, I accept my responsibility in the role that I did play in the end. I hope to use this opportunity to grow professionally.

I am a Paralympic athlete and when I first started doing track, it was mainly it was solely for fun, you know, it was a passion. Now, I pride myself on just being a professional, and my integrity is of the utmost importance, especially now. Moving forward, I hope to, you know, be a leader and just being a clean athlete and clean sport especially, and showing people that even if you have a stigma on you from situations like this that occur where you are announced as a, you know, a prohibited athlete, you can come back and you can show that, you know, it’s not the end of the world for you. The athlete, when they cross the line, it’s their name on the board that you see, not the coach, not their family or their friends. So you want the athlete to know how they carried themselves at all times. A lot of athletes, when they start young, at track and field, they believe they are track and field, you know, it is who they are. It is what they become.

And when situations like this happen, you know, you have to reassess that. You know, there’s more to life than your sport. You know, the athletes that commit themselves and are so passionate and become elite athletes, you know, they can become obsessed with that and, you know, during this time, I’ve been learning more about myself and developing, you know, other areas pertaining to just hobbies, you know, having a regular hobbies is a big deal, you know, for me, especially now. And so, you know, having that balance is important. And I’ve been able to find that balance and find peace and happiness, really, with where I’m at.