By Eric Baudouy, 2014 The North Face Canada Trail Ambassador
Of course, racing has its competitive edge. However, for most of us passionate trail runners, the competition is with our own self. It’s all about testing our own limits, bettering a past performance or erasing a bad one. Introducing drug testing at trail races will rob the trail running experience of its essence and magic.
Pierre De Courbertin said it well: “The day when a sportsman stops thinking above all else of the happiness in his own effort and the intoxication of the power and physical balance he derives from it, the day when he lets considerations of vanity or interest take over, on this day his ideal will die.”
This is when I realise that I am just being naïve. De Courbertin’s ideal died a long time ago when Sports became a lucrative business and the Anti-Doping Agency an institution.
Trail running is becoming very popular, especially ultra-trail running. This year’s series of the Ultra-Trail World Tour consists of 10 races with $10,000 in prizes for the first 5 top finishers. Even some smaller events now offer cash prize incentives. These cash prizes help fund great athletes that do not necessarily have the financial means or backing to travel and participate in many events. However, at the same time, athletes looking for notoriety and endorsements may be tempted to take the easy route to victory.
Will drug testing solve the problem? No it will just fuel it as cheaters will always be looking for another way to cheat. For testing to be somewhat effective and a deterrent, it needs to be done often and especially during off season. It needs to become part of the sport and therefore, kill its purity. Will this be enough? Still a no. We’ve all seen the adverse effects drug testing has had on other disciplines. It’s no longer about the performance but about who will be caught or who will not!
So I choose to be naïve and to keep running freely with no other objective than to surpass my mental and physical capacities. That’s my personal victory and my claim to fame!