Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why We Test

To my knowledge, the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge is the only sport in the public safety sector that conducts drug testing. We do this not because it is easy or that we even want to do it. We do it because people who cheat undermine the very ethos of what we’re all about.

Drugs in sport has permeated professional and scholastic ranks for decades. With seemingly so much on the line, people are willing to cut corners or cheat to win. In the Tour d’France, it’s virtually impossible to win without the aid of a pharmacopeia of supplements. One wonders if baseball will ever really recover from the abuses of the past.

In our sport, it’s not money, but the prestige of the fire service that’s at stake. Professional athletes have publicly rejected the notion that they serve in any capacity as a role model. Like it or not, Firefighters are held to a higher standard. People allow us, even command us to enter their premises when they’re not there. We are afforded a level of confidence that’s a sacred bond. And in all but the most infrequent of circumstances we meet their expectations.

In our early years, we tried the voluntary compliance route; i.e., “I affirm by my signature...” Regrettably, that did not work. Testing appears to be the only true remedy. As Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” A drug might be legally prescribed, but might also be a banned substance for the purposes of sport.

And so, we will at considerable expense continue to test at the World Challenge and other random locations. Presently, we’re revisiting the protocols for sample accessions and the consequences for violation. Again, it is your responsibility to know what you’re taking. Labels on some products can be misleading or downright inaccurate. There are respected brands that have submitted samples for assays and have posted bonds to validate the purity of their products.


Anonymous said...

"Bring it On!". Thanks to FFCC for recognizing a problem and doing something to fix it, or at least address it. It makes an admireable sport and company that much more respectable. Thank you for taking the time and expense.

Larry H said...

There are interesting references concerning the use of enhancements. Rosen (2008) wrote that Zulu warriors used an alcohol extract called "dop" for strength and endurance before heading off into battle and that stimulants could still used by some military organizations today.
We live in a society that has conflicting views on the use of enhancements. On one hand I believe people accept the use of enhancements for some activity (taking vitamins, weight loss drugs, or stimulants) but when it comes to athletics and winning a medal or ribbon, it is unacceptable to 'cheat' to win.
Remember the Olympics held during the Cold War? When it became known what some of the more organized Eastern European teams were doing to win, the world cried foul and the era of drug testing began. (Mehlman, 2009)
When athletes face the adulation and praise of their fans and fellow competitors, the motivation to win is compelling and there is a strong temptation to do anything to excel. The Combat Challenge has transitioned from an event that began with common firefighters attempting to complete a difficult course to one where world class athletes compete to win esteem and respect from their peers nationwide.
History notes that athletes will cut corners to perform optimally and competing to win has re-defined the original goal of demonstrating competency by simply completing the course.
Drug testing is here to stay.
Mehlman, Maxwell. (2009). The price of perfection. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore: Md
Rosen, Daniel. (2008). Dope, a history of performance enhancement in sports from the nineteenth century to today. Praeger Press. Westport: Conn.

McKFit said...

I'm happy to hear it! Let's keep this sport clean and fair.

staysafe605 said...

My nerves during the competition mixed with my motivation leave me having to pee nearly 80%a of the time. So bring on the cup, free samples for the sake of knowing I'm clean!