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Who’s Behind USADA’s Athlete Express Line?

While there are a number of resources available to athletes, USADA’s Athlete Express Line is the best way for athletes to get timely responses to their questions, whether its’s requesting help with Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), Whereabouts filings, or the testing process.

But as you spend time on the phone or over email getting answers to your anti-doping questions, do you ever wonder who is on the other end of the Athlete Express Line? Meet USADA’s Athlete Services Team.

Emily Bench, Athlete Services Coordinator

Emily Bench PortraitI grew up in Littleton, Colorado, and went on to play volleyball for the Colorado State Rams. I have a beautiful family and we LOVE to go explore the mountains any chance we get. My favorite thing to do while we are up in the mountains is snowboard!

Athletics has had such a paramount impact on my life and has shaped me into the person I am today. I decided long ago that it is part of my life’s mission to use the universal language of sport to bring people together and promote peace. The core values and mission of USADA align so well with why I love athletics and why I want to promote it. I can’t imagine a better place for me to fulfill my mission than at USADA protecting the integrity of sport.

My favorite Olympic moment is when Eric Liddell, a Scottish Olympic Gold Medalist, chose not to run in the heats for his favored 100 meters because they were held on a Sunday, a day he held sacred. Later, on a weekday, he raced in the 400 meters, for which he was not favored, and won. I love this story because Eric is remembered for the decision he made to uphold his values rather than compromise for the sake of winning. That is a hero and that is what true sport means.

Hali Dickson, Athlete Services Coordinator

Hali Dickson PortraitI am from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated from the Sport Management program at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). USADA’s Chief Executive Officer, Education Coordinator, and Chief Science Officer presented to one of my classes, which is when I first learned about USADA and realized clean sport was exactly what I wanted to get behind.

USADA was the only organization I applied to before graduation (talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!), but I knew I wanted to help protect clean sport. I have now been with USADA for more than two and a half years.

Participating in sports all my life has helped shape my passion for clean sport. I can only imagine what it would be like to be robbed of a medal and this image has lit the fire under me to do my part to ensure no athlete loses their chance at a podium moment.

Austin Marks, Sport Relations Coordinator

Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, I enjoyed watching and playing sports with my family. Having the opportunity to compete in high school sport allowed me the opportunity to embrace the team aspect of whatever sport I was playing at that time. It also instilled in me a desire to work and compete with integrity in everything I do.

So why USADA? I started working at USADA in August 2018 because I firmly believe in USADA’s mission to preserve and protect clean sport, and I want to help realize that goal.

I received my BS in Sports Management from Arkansas State University and my MS in Sport Administration from the University of Louisville. In my free time, I enjoy binge watching Netflix shows and watching college football and basketball, as well as the NFL and NBA.

Melissa McPherson, Sport Relations Coordinator

Melissa McPerson PortraitPlaying sports growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I never even thought about doping in sports, nor did I know it was an issue. I wasn’t around athletes who took anything to enhance their performance. When I started working at USADA more than two years ago and learned about the issue, it became my mission to make sure I get all my athletes effectively tested to help keep those sports clean.

The core values of USADA (courage, respect, integrity, teamwork, and responsibility) were ingrained in me at a very young age, and I have carried these values with me as a coach and incorporate them into my work on a daily basis. 

When it comes to my favorite Olympic sport to watch, it’s without a doubt the snowboard halfpipe. It’s so intense seeing those athletes going down that icy, steep pipe doing incredible tricks.

Before joining USADA, I earned my undergrad from the University of New Mexico and my graduate degree at the University of Northern Colorado. I am a huge sports fan (both in-person and on TV), love watching movies, and enjoy anything outdoors, especially hiking with my husband and dog, snowboarding, and camping.

Athletes can reach Athlete Express by phone at 1-866-601-2632 or by email at athleteexpress@usada.org. Phone assistance is available during business hours, 8 am to 4 pm MT. Outside of business hours, the phone system provides helpful messages to help callers resolve issues, or athletes can choose to leave a message.

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