The world of professional and even age-group endurance athletics has been plagued by performance enhancing drug (PED) scandals and suspicions to the point that many exceptional athletes and performances seem to come under automatic suspicions.
Trail and ultra-running is rapidly growing in popularity with athlete sponsorships and prize money, and it too is beginning to be wracked by PED rumors. In response to this, Salomon announced on March 22 its Athlete Transparency Program and race series sponsorship of five major trail races that will be related to the clean sport initiative.
Kilian Jornet, the preeminent star of the sport and a Salomon-sponsored athlete stated,“I trust that trail running is a clean sport and I can’t understand cheating in a sport that is more about a connection with nature. But since it is also a performance-driven sport with competition, it is important to be clear that we are clean.”
The Athlete Transparency Program will be one of the strictest and most transparent of any testing program by a sports brand or sports federation to date. In 2017, 16 top Salomon athletes, including Jornet, will be randomly tested up to 10 times per year by the totally independent Quartz program affiliated with Athletes for Transparency. Other testing conducted by official agencies such as the WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) will also be included in the review by Quartz. Athlete contracts will clearly state the requirements and the consequences of any violation.
Further TUE’s (Therapeutic Use Exceptions), sometimes abused as “legitimate” prescriptions that can provide performance benefits, will not be allowed for Salomon athletes without specific approval by an independent physician affiliated with Quartz. If the athlete has TUE’s that have not been independently reviewed and approved they will be considered too sick to race. Athletes will be required to report their locations at all times, and list all supplements, prescriptions, and medications. This information will also provide a record keeping platform for responding to the formal anti-doping control protocols.
“As a leader in the sport of trail running, we feel it’s important to be at the forefront of efforts in the area of clean sport,” said Greg Vollet, Salomon’s Global Trail Running Sports and Community Marketing Manager. “We are initiating this program to create a tool for athletes to prove their integrity; to show that they are clean and to continue to uphold the honor and values of the sport we all love.”
Not just a testing program for PEDs, the program will seek to help athletes better manage their health, identify pathologies and other emerging health issues, including those potentially affecting performance.
Salomon athlete, World Mountain Running champion and top ultra-runner, Max King has been subject to mandatory anti-doping controls for many years. Competitor interviewed him about the new program at Salomon’s Ultra Running Academy in Moab, Utah, this week and King said: “The program has the potential to change how anti-doping is analysed in our sport. My hope is that anything we do keeps the sport clean for future generations and keeps the playing field level.”
Salomon will also sponsor five major trail races in 2017. The five races on which the brand will focus its initial clean sport and athlete transparency efforts include the Maxi Race in Salomon’s hometown of Annecy, France; the Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix, France; the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos; the Glen Coe Skyline in Scotland; and the Ultra Pireneu in Spain.
The races will have extensive media and social media coverage, community and educational events and will help pay travel expenses for top-ranked athletes, from all brands, to compete for prize money.
In relation to Salomon’s new Transparency Program, all top non-Salomon invited athletes will be asked to optionally submit to testing three weeks before the race and the day before. All podium winners will be tested after the race as well. The testing will be mandatory for all top-ranked Salomon and non-Salomon athletes for 2018 races and will include a ban of any day-of-race TUE’s for corticosteroids, asthma medications, which can be abused for performance benefits.
Upholding the health education focus, these Salomon-sponsored races will also include, for all participants, educational conferences on anti-doping control that discuss causes of positive controls, the use of food supplements—which can sometimes contain un-labeled banned substances—and the dangers of over-indulgence of anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen.