I have been very vocal lately about the doping scandal around Gonzalo Calisto and his positive test for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. Outside Magazine contacted me and and asked for my input based on my articles and research as listed below.
You can now read an article by Meaghen Brown published on Outside Online
Over the past few years, rumors have swirled in ultrarunning circles about how some frequent podium finishers seem so resilient to the endless, hard, mountain miles. But when news broke in mid July that Ecuadorian ultrarunner Gonzalo Calisto had been busted in a positive EPO test and subsequently disqualified from the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, it marked an important turning point for a sport that has thus far maintained a pretty wholesome image.
“To be honest, it breaks my heart,” says professional ultrarunner Mike Foote, who’s twice placed in the top five at UTMB. “The ultrarunning community prides itself on a deep we-are-in-this-together mentality, and Calisto being busted for EPO undermines this culture and this mutual respect and celebration of one another.”
It is never nice to have to report and document on doping, particularly in a sport I love. However, in the past 24-hours many questions have been raised re a positive test for EPO at the worlds largest trail running event, the UTMB®
I must thank Robbie Biritton for bringing the positive test of Gonzalo Calisto to the limelight. I recommend that you read my post from earlier today HERE.
This positive test raised many questions. Most importantly, how was it possible that the IAAF could have this information available to the public and the UTMB® or UTWT not notify the world media and runners of this positive decision?
I was proactive and I emailed UTWT and UTMB® and within a relatively short period of time, the UTMB® released a ‘press release’ which acknowledged all our claims. You can read that HERE.
Problem is, myself and many of the ultra running community still have many questions. How was it possible that Robbie, myself and other journalists were the ‘first’ to release this information?
And I quote:
Many thanks for this and thank you for responding so quickly.
It does pose some serious questions though and I would like clarification why it has taken myself (and a few others) to bring this to everyones attention.
How long have the UTMB known about this positive test?
This evening I have received a reply from Michel Poletti. He provides the following answers to my question?
We have learned this news this morning at 7 AM (Paris time) by an email from Anne who has been asked by other journalists.
Indeed, the anti-doping procedure is so discreet that : – the organizer has no information about the doping controls operated on his race – when a national or international federation make a decision, this decision is published on the web site of the federation, with no other announcement Thus, if an organizer want to know something about the anti-doping controls which were made on his race, he should need to look every day on the web site of the federations…or to wait to be warned by someone else…
Do not hesitate to ask for any other question
I have to say that I welcome this response. However, I struggle with it…. I responded:
I appreciate your email and I thank you for the clarification.
I am somewhat bemused and perplexed by this situation?
I became aware of this some 12 hours before the UTMB organisation? I find this hard to believe… this has been ‘public’ knowledge on the IAAF website since June 24th. Are you telling me, that it was myself that informed UTMB of a positive test?
The IAAF have found Gonzalo Calisto ‘positive’ of EPO at ‘in competition testing’ after placing 5th at ‘the’ most prestigious trail running event in the world and they did not inform the race, you or Catherine?
Could I ask the following please?
1. Why are you not informed of a positive test?
2. Which authority took the test and on who’s authority?
3. Who does Gonzalo Calisto approach to review the test?
4. Under who’s authority is Gonzalo Calisto suspended from racing?
These are fundamental points and please rest assured, I want to ensure that Gonzalo Calisto is not the subject of a witch hunt.
The UTMB® organisation has today seen the list of recent infringements concerning the rules of anti- doping published by the IAAF and the penalties applied to the offenders.
Gonzalo Calisto (Ecuador) is included in the list of athletes who are suspended, following a positive result of an anti-doping test which was carried out in Chamonix on August 29th 2015 at the finishing line of the UTMB®.
Consequently, Gonzalo Calisto (ranked 5th in the UTMB® 2015) has been officially disqualified and has been instructed to return his trophy and finisher’s jacket. The 2015 official results will be corrected as soon as possible on the UTMB® web-site.
The trophies given to the top ten men were unique works of art, each runner placed from 5th to 9th place will receive a new plaque, while the 10th runner will receive the trophy to which he is entitled.
At the same time, the organisation would like to remind you that to maintain the spirit of the event, and its authenticity, a health policy has been in place for the UTMB® since 2008.
It includes, in particular, a preventive initiative regarding health matters. This action is carried out in collaboration with Athletes for Transparency (since 2008) and the ITRA (since 2014).This action has neither the vocation, nor the competence to be a substitute for current national and international regulations concerning the fight against doping but has the objective of reinforcing the medical supervision wished for by the Organisation and it may allow for a better orientation of doping tests prompted by various anti-doping organizations.
UTMB PRESS RELEASE HERE MICHEL POLETTI RESPONSE HERE IAAF RESPONSE HERE
You may have noticed but sport in general is going through a tough time. Athletics is in a mess, the Russians are out, questions over Salazar, Seb Coe backtracking and in and amongst all this a series of positive tests in Basketball, Tennis, Football and so on…
Trail running has to all intents and purposes been isolated, in a bubble you may say. That bubble was burst though late in 2015 when Italian runner, Elisa Desco turned up in the USA to run in San Francisco. iRunFar commented in a pre-race article that Desco had previously tested positive for EPO and had served a 2-year ban.
The internet exploded, Facebook and Twitter ignited into a series of debates and posts that said, ‘convicted’ dopers were not welcome in the sport of trail, mountain and ultra running. Notice I did not add Skyrunning here! The reason being that Desco had raced repeatedly in the Skyrunner World Series in 2015 and previous years post her ban. She had gained success with many wins and on occasion these victories (not always) had been confirmed clear with post race drug testing.
Now of course I could dwell on the rights and wrongs of the reaction in the USA to Desco’s participation but I won’t. I commented at the time on my thoughts and if you so desire, you can read them HERE.
A flurry of responses in the USA saw many runners become vocal about #cleansport and let’s be clear here, I am 100% for clean sport. Ian Sharman was very proactive and a website was created where athletes could sign up and declare that they would run clean. It was a start and I am sure the momentum will fuel onward debate and proactive actions that ensure a ‘clean’ sport for all those who participate in trail, mountain, ultra and Skyrunning races.
Cut to March 2016 and Maria Sharapova stands at a press conference and declares to the world that she has tested positive for a drug called Meldonium.
Shock, horror; what a bombshell! one of THE most successful sports stars in the world is found guilty of doping!
This is Episode 101 of Talk Ultra. We speak with Jo Meek who is back in form after almost a year of injury. Mal Law talks about HIGH FIVE-0 and Lucja Leonard talks all about weight loss in Talk Training. Dare I say it, but the PED debate has started in ultra, trail and mountain running and we discuss what is happening! Speedgoat is here.
00:01:31 Show Start
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE
TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE
DRUGS, PEDs, EPO are becoming a reality in our sport READ HERE and your thoughts.
1 – Zach Miller 6:12
2 – Dylan Bowman 6:20
3 – Ryan Bak 6:26
1 – Megan Kimmel 7:13
2 – Ellie Greenwood 7:23
3 – Larisa Dannis 7:25
1 – Francois D’Haene 5:42
2 – Eirik Haugsness
3 – Upendra Sunuwar
1 – Maud Gobert 7:08
2 – Marie McNaughton
3 – Rebecca Nakuwa
VULCANO ULTRA TRAIL 100k
1 – Cristofer Clemente 12:31 held off Joe Grant for the win
2 – Manuela Vilaseca 15:48 ran away with the ladies race ahead of Veronica Bravo
SAINT E LYON France
Benoit Cori (Templars winner) finished with Nicolas Martin joint 1st 5:07 and Corali Bugnare took out the ladies wins 6:32
The ‘Armstrong’ debate will run and run. I’m not going into the debate. The confessions and chat with Oprah have left me feeling sick. Never did I think his deception and nastiness ran so deep.
This is a guy that I looked up to, admired, followed and defended.
But in all the lies and deception, think of his poor kids.
” I told Luke, I said, ‘don’t defend me anymore,” Armstrong said, finally, after choking up while describing how he finally told his children that he had cheated during his cycling career.
He has five kids: a 13-year-old boy, 11-year-old twin girls, and another boy and girl under five years old. Armstrong said Luke, his eldest son, was, or is, usually harassed on social media and the Internet over their father’s steroid accusations.
“I knew I had to tell him. He never said ‘Dad, is this true?’ He trusted me!” It was when his son told him he was defending him that he knew he had to finally come clean. But they didn’t end up having the conversation until just over the holidays.
“‘Listen, there’s been a lot of questions about your dad, about my career, whether I doped or did not dope,'” he told them. “‘I’ve always denied that, and I’ve always been ruthless and defiant about that, you guys have seen that. It’s probably why you trusted me on it,’ which makes it even sicker…” he told Oprah.