Drug Testing Has Arrived in Freestyle BMX

Well, it happened. BMX riders were drug tested at the UCI Urban Worlds in China. We’ve known this was coming for a while, but it almost didn’t seem real until it actually happened. 

Technically, any rider with a UCI license - which is everyone competing in UCI or FISE / UCI events - can be drug tested at any time. At the Urban Worlds, the top three placing men and women were tested. Traditionally, podium riders and one-or-two random riders are tested, but none of this is set in stone. To the best of my knowledge, only the podium riders were tested in Chengdu.

If you haven’t been following this, just to be clear - this is primarily looking for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. A rider can have marijuana in their system, but their metabolite level must be under a certain threshold during competition (basically, don’t use marijuana within 48 hours of competing). 

There are some banned substances that are perfectly legal - meaning you won’t get handcuffed for having them in your pocket - that can be found in a number of fitness supplements available at stores like GNC and BodyBuilding.com. 

It’s the riders’ responsibility to police what goes in their body. The vast list of banned substances is available to the public and it's in every licensed rider's best interest to at least know where to find it.

While I sincerely feel like all of the riders competing in these events are clean (minus a few that may slip up on marijuana or a prescribed medication that contains a banned substance), we can never be certain. I won’t name names, but I personally know one rider who used illegal steroids to bounce back form an injury a number of years ago.

We asked Logan Martin - the winner on the men’s side - how the drug test went down. Here’s how he described it - 

"This was the first drug test I’ve ever done. It wasn’t so much awkward, although it was definitely an experience. Someone followed me around for a bit before the podium ceremony happened - I guess to make sure I didn’t do anything shady. After the ceremony, they took me to a little room where they went over everything pretty thoroughly. After that, they had me sign some paperwork and go into the bathroom with a doctor. 

The bathroom is surrounded by mirrors and the doctor watches you pee into a cup. 

At first I didn’t need to pee, but I tried anyway and was unsuccessful. I waited 40 minutes until I needed to go. Haha!"

As Logan mentioned, the doctor literally has to watch you urinate. I assume this is to ensure the athlete actually produces the sample and doesn’t deliver a foreign substance. The big question here is…….. who the hell wants that job!?

According to Colton Walker - who finished in third - the urine sample is divided in two. 

"I poured half of the cup into a glass container and the other half into another glass container, put them in a foam box, signed some paperwork, and then left."

The separate samples only come into play if a rider fails a test. If a test shows up positive, they will test the second sample to make sure there wasn’t an error.

Riders aren’t paid their win money until drug test results are delivered. Also, riders are only informed if they fail a test. No news is good news.

This is definitely the beginning of a new era in BMX. Understandably, it’s not for everyone - and I understand many riders wanting to stay as far away from these types of events as possible. But, for those with Olympic aspirations, hang on for the ride!

Ryan Nyquist - who has been competing for over twenty years - summed it up pretty well - 

"I think drug testing is unusual for freestyle, but if we want to be a part of The Olympics, then it’s something we have to work with. Call it growing pains, but if The Olympics is another level of competition and their goal is to keep things equal and clean, then we have to adopt that goal as well. I don’t honestly think it’s a bad thing. I’m all about setting good examples for the youth."

Logan Martin, Alex Coleborn, Colton Walker, Hannah Roberts, Lara Lessmann, and Angie Marino were all tested in China. Though results are currently unknown, I’d bet everything I own - which is basically a Toyota Prius, a few cameras, and the computer I'm typing this on - that these six are clean. Time will tell!


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