Testing Pool

Almost everyone is aware that athletes in most sports are tested for drugs via urine and blood samples, to prevent performance enhancement that would constitute cheating. Those with more in depth knowledge are aware that many of the more successful athletes are put on a list, called the Registered Testing Pool, where they could be subject to out-of-competition testing on an on going, but irregular basis. In order for the testers to do this on a random basis, they must know where an athlete is, so those in the pool must file Whereabouts data. The information on whereabouts identifies a 60-minute window that the athlete must provide a location for between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m that anchors the athlete to a specific location. But if you examine closely, it refers to the International Testing Pool (ITP) for this 60-minute window. Very few people are aware that there are two pools in the USA as defined on the link to View PDF where there is also a National Testing Pool (NTP) which can include "any Athletes who USADA, within its sole discretion".

Gea was added to the NTP on 9/9/2015 where the email begins with "Congratulations!" The actual email can not be displayed here as it is stated at the bottom: "any disclosure, copying, printing, distribution or use of any of the information contained in or attached to this transmission is STRICTLY PROHIBITED." for reasons only they know. This was a surprise as she has only competed in a few Elite races from 2013 to 2015 (where she did well, but never won), is not on any National team, receives no National funding, and she is a Masters age athlete.

The NTP differs from the ITP in the Whereabouts obligation:
"Members of the NTP are not required to designate a 60-minute time slot, but are instead required to be available for Testing at the precise regular locations and during the precise times specified on their Whereabouts Filings."
This means that instead of a one hour window of each day that they have to make the testers aware of for their location, they have to file for each hour of the 24 hours in a day, 365 days a year. For those with a regular schedule, such as a 9 to 5 job and regular workout locations and times, this may not be too much of a burden. But if you are a salesman, constantly on the go at different times and different locations, it becomes a nightmare to constantly update each hour via a phone app or email.

Gea's situation is that she is out around town every day doing business throughout the city and fitting in gym time and road training time when facilities, weather, and coaches can be coordinated, which changes all the time. Then add on family responsibilities where her Mother may be taken to the hospital at 2 a.m. or a sibling is in an emergency situation and she has to scramble in the middle of the night to assist, then try to juggle a whereabouts phone app while driving half asleep in the dark to update her possible location (this has happened on more than one occurrence) and then remember to update her whereabouts while stressed out in an emergency room or at her Mother's bedside. Thus her schedule has her sleep hours juggled constantly and calls from clients can come at all hours of the day or night.

Since the tests can show up at any time, Gea's testers find it convenient to show up about 6 a.m. Gea turns off her phone so that clients will not prevent her from getting some semblance of a night's sleep and often gets to bed about 2 a.m. Testers will ring the door bell and then make a phone call if no one answers. Gea can not hear her door bell from her bedroom while asleep, so for nearly 2 years she has been sleeping on her couch so she can hear the testers arrive in the middle of her night.

However, even with careful whereabouts filing, one can still get penalized. When she is in business meetings, she can not always have her phone on, can not be constantly checking her phone for missed calls, and certainly can not just cancel a meeting because a tester demands that she appear. Gea has been tested many times since she has been put into the pool, probably more than any other Masters athlete in any sport. On 6/20/2017, Gea had updated her whereabouts to specify that in the morning she would either be at home or visiting client businesses. The tester showed up at her home and left voice mails for her to appear, ignoring the fact that the whereabouts included various possible locations.
Gea responded to the missed test letter with:

Usada Missed Test 6.20.17

USADA testers came to my home to test me on 6/20/17. The tester left a voicemail at 10:55 AM and 12 PM. I was not home. I was working at a hotel property and did not get the voicemails at the exact time they were left on my phone. As soon as I was able to check my voicemails, I called the tester back. It was 1:24 PM. She did not answer. I left her a voicemail. I told her I wanted to be tested and that I was working at a property at the time she called. She did not call me back.

The USADA letter says I was not at the designated place on my whereabouts filing. Actually, I was - My form declares that I work from home and at various properties around the valley. On the main USADA site I further explain this entry on the whereabouts filing, "I do not have an office. I work from home sometimes and I am on the road almost every day. I travel to different properties around the valley - apartment complexes, hotels, etc. I do not have a set schedule." And just as my form states, I was working at a property conducting business. As soon as I found out about the testers, I called and asked to be tested. It wasn't like it was 10 hours later. It was 1 hour 24 minutes.

As previously mentioned, the tester left voicemails. She specifically stated in her first voicemail that she was Not driving around town to meet me, that it was too hot, and that I needed to come home because she was not waiting one minute past 12PM (which actually indicates she already knew I was not home).

I work full time. My job does not provide the opportunity to spontaneously or immediately stop what I'm doing with a client and take a USADA test. That would certainly impede my ability to do my day-to-day job. I am not able to look at my phone every hour of the day either, nor do I want to, especially when I'm working. It seems unreasonable and ridiculous to expect that. I am not a 20 or even 30 something year old who lives on twitter or Facebook. I do not do social media. I am 49 years old. I do not live at the US training center. I am not in school on a set class schedule or training schedule. I graduated from college in 1991.

I am happy to give USADA a 2 hour window in the AM or PM every day. I have asked many times to be tested in the evening but instead the testers come in the morning, usually 5:30 AM - 6:30 AM. The only reason they did not come to my home in the extreme early AM that morning is most likely because I updated my whereabouts, which was probably a major inconvenience for the tester. However, there were still many other hours that evening to test me rather than showing up at my home when I specifically state on my whereabouts form that I am working during those hours.

There were many other days where I had no updates. There were so many opportunities to test me and perhaps that is all irrelevant. Regardless, the tester could've answered her phone or called me back and still tested me on 6/20/17. She lives in Tucson and maybe it was inconvenient to drive anywhere, other than back to Tucson. Nonetheless, is USADA's goal to test an athlete or to give an athlete a missed test? Clearly, USADA could've easily collected my sample that day within a very reasonable time frame, in accordance with my whereabouts form.


When an athlete gets selected for the RTP NAN program, he/she receive emails from USADA that say... "Congratulations!!! You have met your sports criteria for the RTP .....You are now part of the NTP", etc etc. Normally, it IS exciting and congratulations are in order; it's like an accomplishment in a way. You are considered the "Elite of the Elite" by USADA and your sport. However, I'm not considered at all. Unlike every other athlete on this list, I get zero elite benefits. I am not funded or even recognized by my federation. I get no USOC insurance, actually I get no support of any kind. I am not part of any national team program or team selection. I am not even included or invited to all-comers camps.

Understandably, the RTP NAN comes with the territory of being a top elite athlete in his/her sport. It's something an athlete signs up for as part of the elite. But therein lies the problem with my situation; I am not part of anything national level or elite with USAC. I am not included whatsoever. Yet, I'm in the RTP NAN as one of their "elite of the elite"??? Of course, if I was on the US team, part of the US team, considered for a team, or funded because of my so-called "elite performances", it would make sense. But it doesn't make sense; it's confounding. And the insane inconvenience of the RTP NAN pales in comparison to the risks involved - case in point, missed tests can equal a positive finding.


I am the ONLY master athlete (of any sport that I know) who is in the RTP NAN program. I've asked USADA many times to explain why I am on this list - they have never responded and It doesn't add up. The motivation behind why I am in this program is extremely peculiar and targeted at the very least. I competed in ONE UCI event week in Colorado Springs over two years ago, July 3-10, 2015. I have not even competed in an Elite Nationals since 2015. Before that I competed in one elite nationals in 2013, one in 2014, and one in 2015. There are many elite athletes who compete in numerous UCI elite events every year, and are funded, yet are not in the NAN RTP program. Yet, I am?? This is obvious targeting.

I know I currently have zero missed tests, but I take testing very seriously. I certainly didn't avoid or ignore the test. I proactively tried to complete the test. The testers did not follow the whereabouts form. I feel like I'm in a knife fight using a flashlight; and I don't stand a chance. This is a near impossible standard for a master athlete, especially one who is not funded, not a member of any US team, and one who has not even competed in any elite event in over 2 years. I have a test record of over 20 years with USADA but I object to being targeted. I object to this 6/20/17 being called a missed test when the testers came to a location not in accordance with my whereabouts form.


Gea has been tested at least 41 times since 10/21/2001, most of those out-of-competition (Lance Armstrong was tested less than 60 times by USADA).

 

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