Out of competition drug testing

For all that I’ve been on the National Fencing Squad for years, I’ve been lucky enough to never be picked for drug testing. This changed tonight.

I had arrived at training, and was just changing my shoes, when two ASDA people walked into the room, with my name on their list. This is the first time they’ve ever turned up at our club – previously, they’ve come to National level competitions, but as it happened I haven’t made the top four at the comps they’ve been at, so I was never selected for testing.

The way it works is that from the moment they’ve identified me, one of them has to keep me in their sight at all times. This includes the bit when I’m actually producing the urine sample for them. What fun! (That was sarcasm, by the way.)

After drinking about a litre of water in 40 minutes, I was able to produce the sample in spite of having a witness. But the security around it is really amazing. I had to give them a list of any medication (including vitamin supplements) that I had taken in the past week. They gave me a choice of three (sealed) cups in which to produce the sample. Then I had a choice of three packs of sample jars – the pack was numbered and sealed. I had to unseal it, take out the two jars inside, make sure they were sealed and that they and the pack all had the same numbers on them. I then had to pour the sample into the two jars (they weren’t allowed to touch it) and reseal the pack. One of the jars is sent to a lab for testing, and the other is held for a second test if there is a problem with the first one – i.e. if it comes out positive. If everything is okay, I’ll get a report in 8 to 10 weeks. However, they explained that if there’s a positive result from the first jar, I should hear back in a couple of days, and I then have the right to be present for the opening and testing of the second jar.

It was all a bit embarrassing from my point of view. However, later I got to thinking what kind of a job it must be to follow an athlete around and then watch her pee into a bottle. I hope that it’s only a small part of the ASDA person’s role, or that it’s only something she has to do for a short time, before moving on to bigger and better things. I don’t imagine it’s the sort of job most people are thinking about when they talk to the Careers Guidance person at High School.

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