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Canada's Jessica Zelinka (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Canada's Jessica Zelinka (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Athletes have mixed feelings on testing protocol Add to ...

Andreanne Morin, a rower and a member of WADA’s athletes council, said Armstrong is the best argument for unannounced testing at home.

“It’s not because (anti-doing officials) want to be complicated, or they want to be annoying,” she said.

Morin, a member of the women’s eight that won silver at the London Olympics, referred to the 202-page report on Armstrong’s doping investigation, and evidence that the fallen U.S. cycling star used the blood-boosting hormone EPO.

“These guys would do EPO at night, and it’s only detectable in your first urine sample in the morning. They would literally go into their hotel rooms, lock the door, and not answer it to absolutely anyone until they’d done their first urine in the morning,” Morin said.

Many athletes complain the testing is excessive. Mychasiw said Lopes-Schliep and teammates Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George were tested more than 50 times last season between them.

Miller noted that the 31-year-old Zelinka was tested four times in the span of six days at the Olympic trials last summer in Calgary – the day before the trials started, the day of each of her victories in the heptathlon and hurdles, and blood tests the day after the meet.

“That is not just overkill, it’s a huge waste of funding that makes no sense,” he said.

A test costs between $500 and $800.

What bothers the heptathlete and her husband most is the unannounced testing in their home.

Protocol demands that from the moment an athlete answers the door, they’re not allowed out of the tester’s sight.

“So you’re in your pyjamas, they have to come with you into your bedroom if you want to get changed, you have to get changed in front of them, you have no privacy,” Miller says. “Then with women’s monthly cycles, if you’re caught in the middle of your monthly cycle and there’s the desire to freshen up, you don’t have that right, you have to do that in front of this complete stranger in your home in your bathroom – what is supposed to be your private domain.”

Collecting a sample requires a doping control officer watching an athlete urinate into a bottle.

Some officers demand athletes “drop their pants to their knees and pull their shirts up to their chests,” said sprinter Justyn Warner. Others are slightly more discreet, and “will watch over my shoulder.”

Warner found it tricky to provide his whereabouts to the CCES in the months leading up to his recent marriage to Holder, a hurdler.

“We were kind of at both places, so she would be at my house, I would be at her house, and it made it hard to kind of pick that hour when you always had to be home,” said Warner, who anchored Canada’s 4x100-metre relay team that crossed third at the London Olympics but was then disqualified for a lane violation.

Warner said there were plenty of mornings of rushing home before sunrise.

“It’s just the way they go about it, something needs to change in that aspect,” Warner said. “But I don’t complain about it. I wouldn’t care if I got drug tested every week just to show people that I’m a clean athlete.”

Holder once received a strike for a missed filing because she didn’t properly click “submit” on the CCES online form athletes use to report their whereabouts.

“It’s incredibly onerous and doesn’t work on all devices,” said Miller, pointing out that Zelinka has been using a computer at a local library since their move to Connecticut because the program doesn’t work on her iPad.

The CCES website has a video tutorial on using the program, and once offered prizes such as gift certificates as incentives for athletes to submit their forms quickly.

Morin said there have been suggestions of tracking athletes by GPS.

“But I think that’s even more invasive than what currently exists,” Morin said.

Three-time world boxing champion Mary Spencer said unannounced testing might be intrusive but it’s necessary.

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