By SARAH SCRIVENS
Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and USA TODAY Sports columnist Christine Brennan held an informative Q&A session during the Ann Miller Service Award and Mary Garber Pioneer Award dinner on the last night of the 2015 AWSM convention.
The USADA is based in Colorado Springs, Colo., and oversees the the anti-doping program for athletes in the U.S. Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games.
The USADA’s responsibilities include education, in- and out-of-competition testing and collection, results management, and drug reference resources for athletes.
Tygart shared the agency’s stance on why their work is important.
“Yes it is about entertainment, and yes it is about fun,” Tygart said, regarding professional athletic competitions. “But at its very core, it’s an agreement between competitors to play by a set of rules.”
Questions posed by Brennan varied from direct inquiries about particular cases in which the USADA had to step in, to attempting to clarify exactly the agency goes about testing professional athletes.
U.S. professional athletes, once registered with the USADA, are on-call for drug testing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and must notify the agency if they are traveling.
Performance-enhancing drug tests are modeled as an athlete’s biological passport that looks at markers in blood and urine and their variations over time. With the drug market regularly infiltrated with new drugs aimed to increase athletic performance, the USADA tries its best to keep up with the current “trendy” drugs.
“That’s the toughest part about the fight,” Tygart said.
Tygart believes journalists need to do their part to report information accurately and fairly. He feels that not projecting assumptions that athletes must be using performance-enhancing drugs gives respect to the majority of all professional athletes who refrain from illegal drug use.
“We can talk about the Lance Armstrong case or a Floyd Landis type case because the process has determined them to have violated the rule,” Tygart said. “I think it is really unfair for athletes, and this is where you guys play a huge role, to question the performances of athletes.”