Clean competition – Biathletes want more anti-doping testing done

By Alysha Campbell

Jan.12, 2017

There isn’t much time to celebrate a victory when you are pulled aside and tested for taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Doping officers sweep in on a few randomly selected Athletes in the finishing pen, and aren’t afraid to follow you to the bathroom.

Biathlete Lucas Boudreau knows it all too well.

As he began to win more and more biathlons, which combine cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, the spotlight hit, and so did questions of whether his skill was natural, or enhanced by drugs.

Tested three times last year, and once already this year, Boudreau isn’t shy about peeing around prying eyes anymore. He isn’t bothered by the procedures and believes anti-doping should be enforced by testing more.

“I can imagine, for some athletes, taking performance enhancing drugs could be pretty tempting.”

Lucas’ twin brother and fellow biathlete, Andre, feels just as strongly about the topic.

He points to Ethiopia. There the law says if an athlete is caught using performance-enhancing drugs, they are banned for life. Drastic measures like this should be universal, Andre said.

“It seems harsh, but in the end you need to stop it. If it’s not stopped, it’s a vicious circle handed down to younger athletes.”

Enforcement of the rules in Canada and elsewhere isn’t where it needs to be. The punishments aren’t always affecting these athletes. Banning athletes caught doping would help to keep not only biathlon fair, but all sports, he said.

Josh Richard is a retired biathlete. He knows what it’s like to be tested and he knows there is more to be done.

Richard would be pulled aside and watched like a hawk during his cool down after a big race.

“People are still getting caught, there is plenty [of testing] but there could always be more.”

Russian athletes have a reputation for using performance-enhancing drugs, but fingers should be pointed at our own country before we look at them, Richard said.

“A lot of the drugs the Russians take actually come from Canada. We need to stop the problem where it starts.”

Lynn Boudreau is the mother of Andre and Lucas. She works for Sport PEI and teaches courses to coaches about performance enhancing drugs.

She questions whether the randomized testing, is all that random.

Her sons, especially Lucas, have stepped onto the national and international stage, and Lucas has been tested quite often, and in circumstances that seem odd.

The first time he was tested she thought it was justified. He had won a race and it made sense to test the winner. Although as time went on, win or lose, he seemed to find himself peeing in a cup.

There should be more testing at the lower competitive levels so once on the national and international stage, steroid scandals don’t arise, she said.

“Not enough happens at the college and university level, and with a lack of testing, people are starting to think they can get away with it.”