Another week passes and it’s important not to let the momentum drop around the positive test of Gonzalo Calisto at UTMB in 2015. This is possibly even more important with the proximity of the 2016 event which is just weeks away.
If you are coming to this story new, you can read my post below:
I am pleased to say, today, Compressport have replied to my emails and forwarded me a press release that I assume will be distributed through the appropriate channels in due course.
I have been vocal that brands and sponsors MUST act accordingly when an athlete is found positive and I therefore applaud Compressport for stepping up to the plate and sending out a clear message. And I quote:
“Given the evidence surrounding Gonzalo Callisto’s alleged actions, we determined that our relationship with Gonzalo no longer aligns with out companies mission and core values.”
This is a big step for Mountain, Ultra, Trail and Skyrunning and as a fellow colleague said, “Nicely worded, clear and unequivocal and shows compressport in a really good light!”
Lets be clear here, Callisto’s positive test has never really been about the individual for me. At first it was about the system, how a positive test was almost hidden, how UTMB were not notified of the positive test and ultimately what the repercussions are/ were for the sport. This is not a witch hunt!
Our sport is potentially at the early stages of doping and I can’t stress enough how important it is that we all – runners, races, sponsors, brands and so on set and send a very clear message.
We now need MOVISTAR AVENTURA TEAM (web here) who sponsor Calisto to clarify their stance in regard to this positive test and the implications for their brand and race team.
The press release from UTMB, ITRA and now COMPRESSPORT set the example.
This is Episode 116 of Talk Ultra and We speak with Beth Pascall who obliterated the female record at the UK’s Lakeland 100 and placed 4th overall in the process. We also speak with Donnie Campbell who won the Lakes Sky Ultra. We have the news, results and Niandi Carmont co-hosts while Speedgoat Karl goes for a jog on the AT!
Luis Alberto Hernando and Caroline Chaverot were crowned champions for the ULTRA in 12:53 and 14:41 ofthe 105km course with 8000m of vert. Andy Symonds and Javier Dominguez were 2nd and 3rd and Eva Moreda and Jasmin Paris were 2nd and 3rd in the ladies. HERE
Stian Angermund did a double winning the VK and SKY. He ran 3:56 for the SKY to beat Tom Owens and Ismail Razga. Maite Maiora won the ladies race in 4:42, Azara Garcia placed 2nd and Elisa Desco 3rd. HERE
In the VK it was Stian Angermund and Christel Dewalle who took top honours. HERE
KENDAL MOUNTAIN RUN
Dakota Jones and Emelie Forsberg both had two great runs and returns to form to win in 1:37 and 1:59. In the men’s race Daniel Hadis placed 2nd and Timmy Parr 3rd. Sarah Pizzo and Taylor Nowlin were 2nd and 3rd respectively in the ladies’ race.
Pete Kostelnick set a new CR** of 21:56 beating Valerie Nunes 2007 record. Harvey Lewis placed 2nd and Dan Lawson from the UK 3rd.
Alyson Venti won the ladies race with a new CR**too in 25:53 – 23 minutes better than the old CR. Brenda Guajardo was 2nd and Nikki Wynd 3rd.
** The race now starts at night as opposed to the morning start and may very well influence the new CR’s?
Donnie Campbell and Sarah Ridgeway, champions at the 2nd edition of the LAKES SKY ULTRA their respective times 07:30:40 and 8:38:46 and new CR’s.
Second place went to Neil Talbott and Sophie Grant with Alexander Beaven and Katie Boden placing 3rd.
00:26:22 INTERVIEW DONNIE CAMPBELL
Yassine Diboun and Scott Loughney set the new Supported FKT on the Oregon Section of the PCT running the length of the state in 8 days 12 hours & 5 minutes (Finishing the 453 mile journey yesterday). Brian Donnelly still holds the overall FKT of 7 days 22 Hours & 37 minutes (Respectively unsupported).
Gonzalo Calisto, 5th at 2015 UTMB tests positive for EPO
Lizzy Hawker has just completed a solo foot circumnavigation of monte Rosa on the Tour de Monte Rosa. Approximately 170km and 11,700m of elevation change in just over 37 hours. She returned to grachen after leaving the church square at 4am on Friday.
Controvery over UTMB, the Polettis and the term, ‘ULTRA TRAIL’
Last week and the week before, EPO, DOPING and the UTMB was the hot topic after Gonzalo Callisto’s positive test. Everyone was talking about it… this week it’s all gone quiet. That can’t happen! You can catch up on my posts below.
There are far too many questions unanswered, there are far too many people being quiet and if we want to eradicate doping from Mountain, Ultra and Trail running – we need to keep talking and discussing.
I was approached by Outside Magazine and they asked me a few questions. I am pretty sure that what gets used or published will be an edited version and with that in mind here are my thoughts, un-edited.
In light of the latest news from UTMB, what you think this positive test means for the sport?
One has to embrace the positive test as a good thing as it confirms that preventative measures against doping are working. This positive was an ‘in competition’ test which only confirms the need for out of competition testing and blood passports. Of course, the answer is always that testing is too expensive. We have to act now and be proactive. I don’t have the answers but I do feel that we could start to address certain issues that would help. Maybe it’s time that we ask (for example) the top 100 male and top 50 female runners as listed on ITRA to pay for a regular medical? Sage Canaday recently released a full report on his medical status to ‘prove’ he is clean; that’s a good thing! (See below). Athletes of course may well say that they can’t afford it but this is where sponsors come in maybe? We cannot keep making excuses as to why we can’t but find ways to make sure we can! We are at the very early stages of doping in our sport and if we don’t act now it will only become worse and God forbid, we could end up like cycling or athletics.
Do you think doping is really becoming something to worry about, or is this a case of an outlier?
We need to worry, yes! This is not the first positive test, it maybe a high profile conviction, but it would be foolish to think that this is an isolated incident.
Are people starting to talk about doping more in ultarunning than before? Or maybe a better way of asking this is how are the athletes you know, talking about this subject and what it means for the sport?
I certainly have witnessed more discussion about doping and of course this was highlighted at the end of 2015 at San Francisco 50. This was a moment when the sport really looked at itself and many questions were asked. It actually became quite nasty at times and I think a sense of perspective was lost. For example, WMRA (World Mountain Running Association) and Skyrunning have been testing athletes for many years. They have very much paved the way but they acknowledge they can only do so much. In competition testing costs 1000’s of euros or dollars for one event and of course, only urine can be tested. Many say it takes an idiot to to be caught ‘in competition’ but it happens. I go back to blood passports – we really need them for elite, professional and sponsored runners. Some races do not have a ‘PED’ policy and San Francisco highlighted the need for races and RD’s to address this in the rules of the race. Western States for example has re-written its race rules to say that any runner who has had a positive conviction cannot race. Many runners have asked for a lifetime ban for any positive test and they have been vocal about this. I personally am reluctant to go down this route… I do believe that mistakes can happen in drug testing but I am not an expert. This creates a whole new debate and raises questions about the lasting effects of a doping program. For example, we used to have two positive tests and out, I liked that but apparently that has been deemed unfair?
Are people starting to test more for doping than in previous years? What has this looked like?
As mentioned previously, WMRA and Skyrunning have been testing for many years but not at all events. Skyrunning for example had its World Championships in Spain in July, they had three events, VK, SKY and ULTRA and WADA performed tests at all three race distances. The problem comes, once again with cost. At the Skyrunning World Championships, 12 athletes were tested. The make and female winner in each category (making 6) and then 6random tests. Let’s assume testing at an event is $10,000 – who pays? Do we add a surcharge on every runners entry fee? Does that race find a sponsor to cover the cost? Do we rely on a wealthy donor or do we approach all the major brands in the sport and say, you must pay! It’s a complex matter and this is why doping control is a rarity in contrast to the norm. Let’s look at races such as Speedgoat 50k, Run Rabbit Run and San Francisco 50 – these races have some substantial prize money, in some scenarios it could mean a pay check of $10,000+ for a win. Yet nobody has any idea if the winner is clean? Moving away from trail running and looking at ultra road running, Comrades in South Africa has huge prize money and it has a very chequered past with doping: Max King, Ellie Greenwood, Sage Canaday and Michael Wardian (amongst others) have all witnessed the impact of it first hand.
What is your own experience with testing?
I attend races as a photographer and a journalist so in reality, I have little experience of the drug testing process. However, I am a media partner for Skyrunning and I have been present and seen the processes undertaken at several major events where doping control has been in place by WADA. For example, I was at the Skyrunning World Champions on July, 22, 23rd and 24th. I also experienced doping control at Limone Extreme in 2015 and Mont-Blanc 80k in 2014 amongst others.
Do you think the tests, or the conversation about doping in general in ultras is lacking? What could be done better?
Certainly the positive test of Gonzalo Calisto has raised some major flaws in the communication process. I have done extensive research over the last weeks and my conclusions have been quite worrying. I will elaborate:
Gonzalo Calisto was tested after placing 5th at UTMB by French drug control – AFLD In August 2015.
AFLD have a written policy that a positive test is given to (in this case) the runner within three weeks.
The runner is then entitled to appeal and ask for a B sample test.
This process can then go backwards and forwards for several weeks and in this scenario (as I understand it) months. Don’t get me wrong, the runner has rights and it’s only fair that he or she has every opportunity to clear his or her name.
In June 2016 the IAAF released its current banned list.
On July 18/19th British Ultrarunner Robbie Britton noticed that Gonzalo Calisto was convicted of EPO and banned till March 2017.
I picked up the case and contacted UTWT and UTMB directly and asked were they aware of this conviction? I later found out, no!
Within 12 hours, UTMB released a press release disqualifying Gonzalo Calisto of doping.
The above raised so many questions for me:
1. How was it possible that Gonzalo Calisto had tested positive but UTMB did not know?
2. Why was his period of exclusion dated till March 2017 when he had been tested in August 2015?
3. Why had the IAAF only published this in June 2016?
I asked questions of the UTMB and the IAAF. In both scenarios they were both helpful.
1. To cut a long story short it would appear that when an athlete is tested positive, the testing control, in this scenario AFLD, are not required to inform the race. REALLY? A race has a runner place 5th, the runner is tested, the runner is found guilty, due process is run and then a positive is confirmed and a sanction is put in place without the race being told…. C’mon that HAS to change! Had it not been for the eagle eyes of Robbie Britton and me grabbing the bull by the horns, nobody ‘may’ have known?
2. IAAF explained the ‘due process’ to me and although they were not able to supply specifics, they did say that these things can often take much longer than we would all like and that 6 months is not unusual. Considering Calisto was tested on the last day of August, that potentially could take us to February or March the following year.
3. The IAAF then confirmed that an error had been made! As I pointed out to them, why was Calisto banned till March 2017? The answer: Calisto’s ban and records were amended from a memo dated March 2016 and it was therefore human error. Calisto’s ban dates actually run from March 2016 to March 2018. This coincided with point 2 above and a lengthy due process where one assumes Calisto tried to clear his name.
4. From the March conviction, Calisto’s records then entered the IAAF system and his conviction was uploaded to the ‘sanctioned athletes’ list in June 2016.
5. The IAAF confirmed to me that AFLD did not have to notify UTMB of a conviction but they would look into it?
So, for UTMB to be aware that an athlete had cheated at a previous edition of their race it would appear that the only option open to them is to check daily on the IAAF website for any additions to the sanctioned athlete list.
I could go on…
Why do you think the sport has stayed clean for so long, and what might be changing that would compel people to cheat?
The sport hasn’t been clean for so long. That is a naive viewpoint. Doping has existed in trail running for ages but if you don’t have testing or a blood passport, how would you know that…? I like to use an example and I must be clear here, I don’t doubt the integrity of the runner I use as an example. Karl Meltzer, my co-host for Talk Ultra podcast has won more 100 mile races than anyone. He has even won Run Rabbit Run and he took home $10,000+ He has been running ULTRA’s for 20+ years. You know how many times he has been tested for PED use? NEVER. Need I say more… This is why our sport has bean ‘clean’ for so long, no testing!
For the most part it seems like the conversation around doping in ultras is relatively new, and also that cheating might be a new thing too. Do you think there’s a chance for race directors, athletes, etc. to get out in front of this and keep the sport clean before it becomes the kind of large-scale issue it is in some other sports?
The Calisto case has raised eyebrows, we need to latch on to that momentum and we need to consider many of my points above but let’s be clear, Calisto is not the first!
On a final note we need to keep this discussion open, we need to keep asking questions and we need to find answers and solutions. It’s too easy to say it’s too expensive, too difficult and so on. We could start by:
Blood passports for runners
Regular in and out of competition testing
Positive results MUST be sent to a race or RD as soon as possible if a positive test came from a race.
IAAF need to find a way to communicate ‘new’ sanctioned athletes to the relevant sport discipline. This is where ITRA or maybe an athlete commission could be set up.
We, as runners, journalists, sponsors and so on must be loud and clear that doping is not welcome and we must do all we can to work together. In the Calisto case I have still not seen or heard any public statement from his sponsors, Movistar and Compressport. Compressport did contact me to say that they were ‘looking into it!’ What does that mean…? They also said that Callisto’s sponsorship with Compressport was with a local distributor and not the International division. As far as I am concerned, local or International, Calisto is still representing a brand and that brand gains attention. And also what about the races that Calisto has run and placed in in post August 2015? The IAAF now confirms the suspension dates back to that time and until March 2018. Not one word, not one public statement from any race that I have seen… do these races condone doping? What about the runners who placed top 5 or top 10 only to loose a place… come on, speak up!
Update August 12th and Compressport respond
A great place to start is here, Sage Canaday has just recently posted his results online for all to see. Let’s lead by example!
Today, I have now received a statement and clarification from ITRA into the process that Gonzalo Calisto has gone through:
July 25th 2016
On June 29th 2016*, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) published on its web-site in newsletter 174 a list of athletes who had been sanctioned for doping. On this list figures M. Gonzalo CALISTO for a positive test of EPO on August 29th 2015 at the finish of the UTMB®.
ITRA HEALTH POLICY
The term «health policy» designates actions which aim at increasing the prevention and the protection of the health of the sportspersons.
The ITRA, in particular, offers organisers the chance of setting up a preventative action concerning health matters. This action has neither the vocation nor the competence to be a substitute for current national and/or international regulations regarding the anti-doping fight but has the aim of strengthening the medical supervision within the framework of the health security plan set up by the organisation. This action is led by a Medical Counsel, uniquely made up of doctors, who are able to take advice from experts of their choice and who are charged with giving consultative advice to the Race Jury on the medical state of participants.
HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE ITRA’S HEALTH POLICY
Within the framework of the health policy set up by the ITRA, M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a first blood sample on May 28th 2015 at 13:077 (World Trail-Running Championships in Annecy (France) organised by the IAU in collaboration with the ITRA)
M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s haematological profile presented several abnormal values which led to the athlete being summoned, on May 29th 2015, before the start of the race, to a meet with the event’s medical commission of 2 doctors and an expert from the Association «Athletes For Transparency» with a more specific responsibility for aspects concerning the anti-doping fight.
The Ecuadorian origin of M. Gonzalo CALISTO, which according to scientific literature, maybe be responsible for specific haematological profiles (Quito, altitude of 2850m), as well as the argument put forward by the athlete of having very regular exposure to very high altitudes (>5500m) were retained to classify his haematological profile as « atypical » (rather than « abnormal ») and so authorised him to take the start of the race for the World trail-Running Championships in Annecy.
The information relating to M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s « atypical » profile was transmitted by telephone on May 29th 2015 to an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight. The two possible options were retained by the Association «Athletes For Transparency» to explain this « atypical » profile knowing that a specific genetical profile or the taking of EPO were then evoked.
The « atypical » profile of the athlete was once again brought up in a telephone conversation in June 2015 (no precise date) with an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight.
M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a second blood sample on August 27th 2015 at 13:45 before the start of the UTMB® within the framework of the ITRA’s Health policy. His haematological profile once again showed several abnormalities.
With the reason, of the always possible specific genetic profile linked to his Ecuadorian origins, the athlete’s haematological profile was again classed as « atypical » and he was authorised to take the start of the UTMB®.
The ITRA learnt, on August 29th 2015 the urinary anti-doping tests at the finish had been able to specifically target M. Gonzalo CALISTO.
On April 21st 2016 information relating to M. Gonzalo CALISTO were sent by email to the Association «Athletes For Transparency» by an organisation in charge of the anti-doping fight.
THE ITRA’S MANAGEMENT OF A POSITIVE TEST
The role of the ITRA following a positive test is:
– To ensure the disqualification of M. Gonzalo CALISTO from events in which he would have been able to participate in during the period of disqualification (as from August 19th, 2015).
– To ensure the non-participation in any race which is a member of the ITRA during the period of M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s period of suspension, from March 17th 2016 to March 17th 2018. (The start of the period of sanction (March 17th 2016) is determined by the “test authority” in relation to the provisional suspension, interviews, appeals made by the athlete, etc….)
Patrick BASSET – President of the ITRA Health Commission
Pierre SALLET – President of the Association Athletes For Transparency
I would welcome clarification and statements from Gonzalo Callisto’s sponsors, MOVISTAR and COMPRESSPORT. I would welcome clarification from races that Gonzalo Calisto participated in after August 2015 – how will they proceed?
As usual I welcome your thoughts in this story and process
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