Australia to test age-groupers

Thank you Karmichael Hunt. Thank you Essendon Bombers Football Club. Thank you rugby league players in the NRL. Because Australian sports is so rife with drug and doping controversies, Triathlon Australia is attempting to turn all this bad press into good by making a renewed commitment to protecting the integrity of triathlon in Australia. Read their announcement.

It’s wonderful corporate speak, I know, but worth a closer look, because one of their “four areas of integrity” is doping. In fact, it’s number one on the list. And then this follows:

“To help ensure that doping is not occurring in triathlon, we will be commencing anti-doping testing on age group athletes at several events this year. As a start, we will be collecting blood and urine samples at the Mooloolaba Triathlon this weekend, and at the IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne next weekend.”

“All competitors in sanctioned triathlon events are subject to the Triathlon Australia Anti-Doping Policy and are therefore eligible to be selected for a blood or urine test.”

Holy crap! They’re actually going to test age-groupers!

I know TA really are trying to do the right thing by “protecting the integrity of triathlon,” and hats off to CEO Anne Gripper for instigating this, but … but I can’t help but wonder if they’re about to shoot themselves in the foot. What happens when a pile of these age-groupers test positive? Or the age-groupers overload the ASADA website trying to request the required Therapeutic Use Exemption? Or half the athletes pull out on race day, or don’t finish?

I’m fascinated to see how this unfolds. I’ve long called for testing of age-groupers and amateurs. Well, here we have it. What’s interesting is that it appears to be a preemptive strike, with TA looking to ensure triathlon is in a good place (especially compared to other sports in Australia), but what they might end up doing is exposing its sordid, juiced-up underbelly, creating the sport’s biggest scandal in the process.

Let the testing begin.