By Rick Schultz, MBA, DBA
This afternoon, I visited with a friend that worked as a bike fitter at a local shop that just closed. We were discussing what he might want to do next. He brought up his recent fast group ride and I brought up the question of him coaching. He said he knows a guy that coaches a female racer and then said something that made me respond with a name. He said yes, that’s him.
I said, did you know that about 2 years ago, he got a 4-year suspension from USADA (United States Anti-Doping agency) and USAC (USA Cycling)? He said “yes, I heard something about that.” I then said, did you know that if that licensed athlete he coaches gets caught being coached by him (a suspended coach/athlete), that they can also get the same sanction? He said he was unaware of that. I also said that any licensed USAC coach has signed a code of conduct to report these incidences, i.e., those not “playing by the rules.”
All of the rules come from WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), and, although a separate agency, USADA is basically WADA’s representative for the USA.
Their latest official code book is located at:
Below is section 2.10 Prohibited Association.
2.10 Prohibited Association – Association by an Athlete or other Person subject to the authority of an Anti-Doping Organization in a professional or sport-related capacity with any Athlete Support Person who:
2.10.1 If subject to the authority of an Anti-Doping Organization, is serving a period of Ineligibility; or
2.10.2 If not subject to the authority of an Anti-Doping Organization, and where Ineligibility has not been addressed in a results management process pursuant to the Code, has been convicted or found in a criminal, disciplinary or professional proceeding to have engaged in conduct which would have constituted a violation of anti-doping rules if Code-compliant rules had been applicable to such Person. The disqualifying status of such Person shall be in force for the longer of six years from the criminal, professional or disciplinary decision or the duration of the criminal, disciplinary or professional sanction imposed; or
2.10.3 Is serving as a front or intermediary for an individual described in Article 2.10.1 or 2.10.2.
In order for this provision to apply, it is necessary that the Athlete or other Person has previously been advised in writing by an Anti-Doping Organization with jurisdiction over the Athlete or other Person, or by WADA, of the Athlete Support Person’s disqualifying status and the potential Consequence of prohibited association and that the Athlete or other Person can reasonably avoid the association. The Anti-Doping Organization shall also use reasonable efforts to advise the Athlete Support Person who is the subject of the notice to the Athlete or other Person that the Athlete Support Person may, within 15 days, come forward to the Anti-Doping Organization to explain that the criteria described in Articles 2.10.1 and 2.10.2 do not apply to him or her. (Notwithstanding Article 17, this Article applies even when the Athlete Support Person’s disqualifying conduct occurred prior to the effective date provided in Article 25.) The burden shall be on the Athlete or other Person to establish that any association with Athlete Support Personnel described in Article 2.10.1 or 2.10.2 is not in a professional or sport-related capacity.
Anti-Doping Organizations that are aware of Athlete Support Personnel who meet the criteria described in Article 2.10.1, 2.10.2, or 2.10.3 shall submit that information to WADA.
[WADA Comment to Article 2.10: Athletes and other Persons must not work with coaches, trainers, physicians or other Athlete Support Personnel who are Ineligible on account of an antidoping rule violation or who have been criminally convicted or professionally disciplined in relation to doping. Some examples of the types of association which are prohibited include: obtaining training, strategy, technique, nutrition or medical advice; obtaining therapy, treatment or prescriptions; providing any bodily products for analysis; or allowing the Athlete Support Person to serve as an agent or representative. Prohibited association need not involve any form of compensation.]
So, I don’t blame anyone for not knowing this, nor what it actually says. It’s written in pretty “legalese” and is confusing at best. This is why they added their comment (in bold above) to 2.10.
Why this is so important?
Locally, racers who have been sanctioned under 2.10 just quit the USA Cycling organization. This means that WADA and USADA have no more ‘teeth’ to hold them accountable to follow the rules. The only ‘teeth’ is to go after those athletes being associated with (being coached by) those that are ‘sanctioned’.
In other words, if you are a licensed athlete and decide to associate with a racer/coach who has been sanctioned under 2.10, and you are caught, you can expect to receive the same sanctions as that coach received. As the WADA comments suggest, examples of association include obtaining coaching, training, race strategies, training strategies, techniques, nutrition advice, medical advice, therapy, treatments, etc.
So, be careful out there with who you associate with. Know the history of your coach.