CrossFit LLC has come under scrutiny regarding this topic over the years for various reasons. So what exactly is the answer? Let’s find out.
CrossFit athletes competing at the Elite level are tested for the use of prohibited substances, during in-competition and out-of-competition time periods. The tests are carried out by blood extraction or urine specimens for both men and women. Selection for the testing is on a spontaneous basis, and all athletes wishing to participate in the CrossFit Games must sign documentation becoming part of CrossFit LLCs ‘Testing Pool’, with quarterly updates of their contact and whereabouts, should they be called upon for random testing. Testing is also undertaken at CrossFit events.
Failure to abide by CrossFit’s Drug Testing Policy can result in a penal response, with sanctions being applied to the individual.
Testing falls into 2 categories: in-competition testing and out-of-competition testing.
Testing ‘out of competition’
In order to comply, Testing Pool athletes on the out-of-competition testing watch list who intend to travel away from the address listed on their contact form making it impossible to meet a collecting agent within 12 hours – or an initial contact from a collection agent – must update their contact information before they travel.
Failure to update this information can result in a charge of Drug Testing Policy violation and or sanctions.
Testing will be at a site not biased in favour of the individual being tested, and in the off-season too.
This is how it reads and you’ve guessed it – it is testing during a single or multi-day competition.
The athletes are obliged to provide a sample for testing purposes when requesting.
Failure to provide a sample also can also afford a charge of Drug Testing Policy violation and or sanctions.
Who Gets Drug Tested?
Those who are tested at in-competition periods are chosen based on directed selection, random selection or position of finish.
All athletes who wish to participate in any CrossFit Games competition have to undergo testing in accordance CrossFit’s Drug Testing Policy.
In short, anyone who is competing must consent.
However, who is actually tested is based on a selection of individuals – either random or directed.
How Are The Athletes Tested?
An individual selected for testing on site at a CrossFit competition (in-competition) is notified by an doping control officer.
They are then escorted to a drug testing station where a specified collection agent from Drug Free Sport will administer the test. This is sometimes fondly referred to as a “piss test”.
The station is able to provide rapid results as to whether an athlete is positive for any banned substance (known as “positive”) or not.
During out-of-competition testing, an athlete will be notified electronically, which will set up a subsequent in-person meeting with the doping control officer (DCO), with the purpose to administer a test and collect samples for analysis.
Tests are taken by blood samples or urine specimens from the individual within strict time constraints from notification to collection.
These samples are sent to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approved lab for interrogation and analysis.
All samples (according to CrossFit’s Drug Testing Programme) are carried out in accordance with WADA standards of testing guidelines.
Any suspicion of tampering, manipulating or falsifying carries the same sanction of anyone refusing a drugs test, and will ultimately be treated as someone having a positive drugs test.
What’s Drugs Tests Do They Carry Out?
There are multiple tests from one specimen that is carried out, and they look for a multitude of markers that are indicative or provide confirmation of the use of a prohibited substance(s). Hmm, so what are these then?
Substances not permissible by CrossFit’s Policy
The Drug Free Sport Agency carry out tests such to find banned substances such as, but not limited to:
- Anabolic agents
- Street or recreational drugs
- Peptide Hormones
- Hormone and Metabolic Modulators
- Beta-2 Agonists
Drugs not permissible by CrossFit’s Policy
Further, CrossFit also bans the following drugs in competition:
- Stimulants (except those noted in their policy, such as caffeine! So don’t worry about coffee!)
- Narcotics – so no naughty, illicit stuff too
- Cannabinoids – puffin’ the ‘erb mid-CrossFit competition is not advised anyway….
Manipulation by procedures
It’s not just substances – other testing includes the ban of certain methods and procedures to gain an advantage over fellow competitors.
These include, but are not limited to:
- manipulation of blood and/or its components. The lengths people will go through…
- Intravenous infusions (ahem Lance Armstrong) such as intravenous EPO
- Local anaesthetics – nasty stuff
- Manipulation of samples (see Icarus on Netflix for this on an industrial scale by the Russian State and FSB (KGB))
- Caffeine if concentrations in urine is to exceed 15 micrograms/mL. Very very strong coffee is a no no, then.
- Gene Doping
Gaming the system
Whilst this sounds like a lot, there is still scope to game the system.
At our affiliates, the suspicion is still in the majority of CrossFitters competing at Elite level are largely juicing (using PED’s).
I prefer to remain optimistic and believe upstanding athletes such as Pat Vellner, or Brent Fikowski aren’t on something, many people believe in order to maintain that level of fitness and recovery, you need a little chemical help.
Whilst I appreciate the viewpoint, I do not agree. Also, if 1 or 2 can manage to be up there without PED’s, so can 10 or 20, 30 or 50. 2022 saw around 13 positive busts in the lead-up to the CrossFit Games in 2022!
What Would PEDs or Steroids Do For CrossFitters Who Take Them?
PEDs (or performance-enhancing drugs) can do a whole range of different things for CrossFitters, or any athletes for that matter.
The ultimate aim is to improve the overall performance, compared to fellow competitors (in other words cheat by using banned substances).
Effects they seek are physiological and neurological enhancements such as better recovery, a higher level of sustained output, strength gain, muscle mass gain, increase in power output, increased focus and alertness, or even an increased pain threshold. An unfair advantage over their competitors.
Some will try and ‘game the system’ and utilise substances that are not yet on the banned substance list. It’s still cheating.
Others have been caught out by simply ingesting something that contains something with traces of a banned substance, but the policy stands, and even though an appeal has been made, a ban is invariably withheld.
Some will try and find a way, however.
What Happens To CrossFit Athletes That Get Caught Using PEDs?
Any CrossFitter who is found to be violating the CrossFit Drug Testing Policy is reported by Drug Free Sport to CrossFit LLC.
CrossFit then publicly announces any violations and violators.
Any announcements are then followed by an appeals process should the athlete wish to appeal against the charge.
The announcement includes the athlete’s name, whether it was in-competition or out-of-competition, the date of sample collection, and the banned substance or substances involved.
See what this kind of announcement looks like here.
An example of what NEGATIVE results from CrossFitters being tested is here. Results are shown from 2021 and 2022
Other types of violations
Violations also include:
- Not updating the DCO prior to a test
- Evasiveness when needing to provide a sample
- Sample Tampering or manipulation
- Misuse of a banned substance being detected
- Possession of a banned substance
- Or a positive drug test result for a banned substance
High profile bust
To read about a high-profile bust and community butt-kicking, read Ricky Garards story. Or watch him being questioned after the event here. It’s a bit cringe.
The 2022 season has seemed opinion sway. The 2022 CrossFit Games was an exciting spectacle with him returning following a 4-year ban.
Many eyes were on him as he was back for redemption. A very solid 3rd place finish this year means (if he is clean) then fair play to him.
Of all the people that would be under intense scrutiny and probably last person to cheat again, there is something to be said for his 3rd place finish, for sure.
Have Any CrossFit Athletes Tested Positive for PEDs?
A significant number of CrossFit athletes have tested positive for banned substances.
Already, over 13 athletes have tested positive in this 2022 season in Team and Individual.
Many are already serving a sanction or ban for their violation, with new offenders being added as testing continues. As of today, there are over 55. This tracker is updated continually as athletes serve their ban, or others are found violating.
Here is a current list from CrossFit LLC of who is serving a ban as of June 2022, along with their offence and return to eligibility.
Summary of CrossFit’s Drug Testing Policy
Whilst no sport is perfect, CrossFit is still relatively young and learning its craft in many ways.
A key objective for new owner Eric Roza is a further professionalisation of the sport.
As the brand has gained traction and exposure, its protocols and policies have grown with it. This includes its drug-testing programme, which is claimed to be world-class.
People have been caught
Given the quantity of ousting of Elite CrossFit athletes found to be doping in the space, their testing policy is clearly working, (despite the bad-mouthing that it’s not).
That said, we have seen doping being executed on an unfathomable scale over the years – right under our noses – so we should always keep our minds open.
As technology continually improves, so will detection. The key for Drug Free Sport is that they are always 1 step ahead of those who persist in gaming the system, or to put it honestly, cheating.
Because doping is cheating. Nobody likes a cheat.