IAAF response re EPO positive test at UTMB®

It has been a whirlwind 36 hours and I would like to make one thing clear, I have grabbed this positive EPO test at UTMB® by the horns not because I wish to humiliate the guilty runner, cast doubts on UTMB® or UTWT but because this is the first official EPO test of a runner in a trail running event (as far as I know).

I believe strongly that if we get it right NOW then this can only help in the future. For me and yes, I may be naive, but it appears that the current process has huge flaws!

See my original post HERE

The positives are obvious:

  1. Testing at the world highest profile event
  2. Finding a positive test ‘in competition’
  3. This test being confirmed, listed on the IAAF website and a ban put in place.

However, the test was taken on the day of UTMB® and ‘we’ the public have only found out on July 18th/ 19th and this was down to the eagle eyes of UK ultra runner Robbie Britton.

I picked up the case and contacted all the relevant people and within 24 hours we had a UTMB® release stating disqualification. See HERE.

The above are positives but how was it possible that the UTMB® did not know of this positive test? I asked for clarification and Michel Poletti at the UTMB® provided a response HERE.

Michel Poletti eluded to the facts:

  1. Indeed, the anti-doping procedure is so discreet that :
    The organizer has no information about the doping controls operated on his race.
  2. When a national or international federation make a decision, this decision is published on the web site of the federation, with no other announcement.
  3. 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…

It seems crazy to me that a race (any race) would not be informed of a positive test. How are the race meant to action on this? Like Michel Poletti implies above, he or the race would need to check monthly, weekly and/ or daily for results to be posted? This is a major flaw and I hope that we can somehow instigate from this a better procedure so that races and those in charge receive results asap!

I must stress that I don’t think that this positive test is a negative thing for UTMB®, on the contrary, it’s a positive! They have had tests, the tests have worked and the sport is a little cleaner.

What I am worried about is the protocols and procedure.

This morning I emailed the IAAF and I also found out that AFLD provided the testing procedures at UTMB®. The procedures are HERE but importantly look at the screen shot below:


By the above ‘After Controls’ one has to assume that Gonzalo Calisto was informed of his positive test in September 2015 (the above says, within 3 weeks maximum.) Calisto lives in Ecuador so if he requested a B sample this would take us to the middle of October but lets assume the worst and it was November.

What has happened since November 2015?

Luckily as I was asking theses questions (somewhat bemused and flabbergasted) the IAAF emailed me and they clarified the following points:

Information regarding the positive test and sanction for Mr. Calisto was included in the June 2016 IAAF newsletter. http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/documents/iaaf-newsletter

The athlete is also added to the IAAF list of athletes currently serving a suspension: http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/documents/anti-doping

In this case, the Testing and Results Management process was performed by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD): https://www.afld.fr/  Normally we would expect that they would have informed the organisers but in this case as it was handled at a national level we do not have confirmation of this.

As you will see, some major flaws in my opinion. This is bad for the UTMB®, UTWT and ALL runners who want to compete on a level playing field.

It’s time to lobby for a change and YOU as runners, followers of the sport or whatever capacity you have as a fan need to ensure that we all act now and make sure that the following happens:

  1. Positive tests are confirmed to the athlete asap
  2. Due process is allowed for a B sample
  3. The race, race director and management team are notified immediately
  4. A press release is issued by the race and or organisation
  5. IAAF, WADA, AFLD and so on list and make results public asap

I am still struggling to understand how it has taken till July for us all, UTMB® included to find out of a positive test and a ban that must have taken place in November, December at the latest.

I welcome your thoughts

International Trail Running Association (ITRA) – Press Release

Introduced a few months ago, the International Trail-Running Association (known as the ITRA), is answering the necessity to organise trail-running as a full discipline and was registered as an association last July. Today, the website http://i-tra.org is active, members have started joining and visitors are able to obtain information… The association’s work doesn’t cease to grow and evolve, the principal motivation being to promote and to develop Trail-Running at the world level by addressing all players in the field.

This press release has been provided by the ITRA. It has been posted impartially to provide an informative resource to the trail and ultra community. Ian Corless


The ITRA is, today a real player in a discipline in full evolution. After two years of reflection, meetings and exchanges we can now talk about the end of the first act?

If Act 1 corresponds to the end of the set-up, yes… the first principles and basic values are well and truly in place… Today the ITRA, due to the preliminary work carried out by 5 working groups, can work towards the development of trail-running as a full sport,respecting the diversity of the cultures and venues, around the same ethical vision of the discipline.

Concretely different but important items such as the establishing of an ethical charter, an international definition of trail-running, a health policy, the management of high calibre athletes and an international ranking, have already been thought through at length and the conclusions are on-line on the website.

Today, the ITRA collaborates with national trail-running associations, national and international federations, and gets involved as a real partner in the promotion of a sports ethic leaning on strong values (authenticity, humility, fair-play, equity, respect, solidarity) alongside not only all trail-running players, but also the general public: the improvement in the quality of organisations and participants safety; facilitating preventive actions concerning health matters and the anti-doping fight; the implementation of an environment-friendly practice and the promotion of sustainable development within trail-running are the priorities. Today the ITRA participates in the organisation of championships and continental or worldwide trail-running circuits which reinforce the visibility of international trail-running.

Who is the ITRA aimed at? And what does it offer them?

The ITRA is open to all players in the field of trail-running, runners whether elite or not, organisers, brands… It wants to give ALL its members the best service by making available the means by which it can live up to expectations of all.

For all race organisers and associations it is the opportunity to join an association which has international representation, a guarantor for the seriousness and quality of the organisation. Help and advice, evaluation the quality of races and establishing a label of quality, health matters and fighting against doping, being put into contact with service providers, development of the member organisations and the optimization of communication,  recommendations for security … as well as other services will be put into action during 2014 in direct response  to clearly expressed opinions.

For brands and equipment manufacturers: Always with the will to gather all the players in the world of Trail-running, the ITRA wishes to take into account their opinion within its various commissions. The performance index published on the ITRA’s website will, from the beginning of 2014, help companies to promote their runners’ results and prize lists and therefore benefit from more visibility.

For the runners, the international performance index established from the results of the previous 2 years, and the year in progress, allows them to see their level in relation to the best athletes in the world. The database already lists more than 320 000 runners from the results of 3 500 races.

The implication of the elite athletes via a commission dedicated to them will mean that events can be organised to suit their requirements. The race Calendar will be available in 2014 and will be regularly updated to give a global vision and help runners to better managetheir season.

Being a member of the ITRA opens the door to participantion in the various debates and to very soon benefit from an individual page for personal information (photo, club membership, team….). Membership already gives access to better and more complete information upon consulting the performance index.

Annual membership costs 5€ for runners and followers, 150€ for associations and companies and for race organisers the cost is in relation to the size of their race starting from 30€.

What are the concrete actions today?

The ITRA is actually acting on several levels.

Security is the 6th sector of work taken on by the ITRA. Indeed, the level of safety during organised trail races world-wide is very varied between one country and another, one race and another. If certain countries like France have, at the initiative of organisers and due to the input of Fédération Française d’Athlétisme, special regulations adapted for trail-running, that is not the case in most othercountries. The ITRA’s security commission, created in October, is comprised of ITRA members or partners who have a lot ofexperience in the security sector. Its objective is to publish, in spring 2014, a text which will evoke recommendations and adviceallowing all organisers, whatever their nationality, to take the necessary precautionary measures and to set up a well adapted securityplan.

In matters concerning health, the association «Athletes For Transparency», an ITRA partner, is actually developing a unique Web service platform which will centralise all the runners’ necessary medical and sporting information. This service will not only allow the runners to follow their medical reports to facilitate their relationships with organisations and to share their training with the community, but also so that organisers can access the necessary information for the implementation of a prevention initiative regarding health.

The ITRA participates in the elaboration of trail-running circuits. A partnership has been made with the Ultra-Trail ® World Tour (UTWT) for the realisation of its ranking to be drawn from the performance index. Elsewhere the ITRA is also a partner of a new Spanish circuit, the Ultra-Trail® Spain Tour which has several races on offer of between 80 and 120km.

Finally in collaboration with the IAU (International Association of Ultra runners), the ITRA is working on France’s candidature for theorganistion of the 2015 Trail-running World Championships and is giving its support to the MaXi Race (86km, 5 600m ascent, aroundthe Lac d’Annecy – 74). The application has been validated by the FFA (Fédération Française d’Athlétisme) and the IAU’s decision isexpected in the next few days.

The ITRA’s objectives are ambitious and, with the vice-presidents Alessandra Nicoletti (ITA) and José Santos (POR), we arededicated to the idea that the ITRA, a non-profit organisation, becomes the reference for Trail-Running thought up by, and for, all theplayers in the field of the discipline


Provide us with your feedback 

  1. What are your thoughts about the ITRA?
  2. Does our sport need an ethical charter?
  3. Doping… does our sport have doping and do we need anti-doping?
  4. As a runner do you need to see your performance and how it compares to everyone else?
  5. Does the UTWT or other similar circuits appeal to you?
  6. What are the pluses?
  7. What are the negatives?

Skyrunning UK announce the 3x3ULTRA


A new year and what better way to start than with the announcement of the first race in the new Skyrunning UK ‘Skyrunner® National Series’ – the ‘3x3ULTRA’ by High Terrain Events.

Skyrunninguk logo

Over 4000m (13,000ft) of ascent await participants of the 3x3Ultra. “It’s an opportunity to cover three classic Lakeland peaks in an accumulative distance of 80km’s”, says High Terrain Events race director, Ian Mulvey.


Salomon athlete, Ricky Lightfoot (IAU World Trail Champion 2013 and Otter course record holder) has been instrumental in combining his skills and knowledge in designing a course that will bring Skyrunning UK an event that ultimately will create the perfect flagship for the Skyrunner® National Series (SNS) within the UK.

Based on the classic ‘Lakes 3000’s’ the 80km route will include Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. An amazing circular route over the best mountains available within the UK, it promises to be a tough challenge.

Lauri van Houten, executive director for the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) has been instrumental in providing the backing and support to enable Skyrunning UK to become a reality. When asked about Skyrunning in the UK, Lauri had this to say:

“Some of the world’s top athletes come from the UK! Andy Symonds, Tom Owens, Ricky Lightfoot, Robbie Simpson, Tessa Hill, Anna Lupton and past SWS (Skyrunner® World Series) Champions Angela Mudge and Rob Jebb… British races are known for being tough and challenging. Skyrunning captures the spirit and tough technical challenges runners are looking for today. That’s the ‘feel’ we’d like to bring to the UK.”



The race route combines all the elements of a classic Lakeland run with aspects of European racing. “Skyrunning UK offers a great opportunity, we already have the main ingredients; technical terrain, beautiful mountains and hillssaid Tom Owens (UK based Salomon athlete) “The UK has brilliant and committed athletes who love racing. We may not have the required altitude that a Skyrunning race would require in Europe but this is compensated for with the amount and steepness of climb that we can accumulate over distance, the 3x3Ultra is a great example of this.”


No stranger to Skyrunning, Salomon International athlete, Andy Symonds has performed with the best-of-the-best all over Europe, his podium finish at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 a particular highlight also offered his approval of the 3x3Ultra:

“Skyrunning is about running high up on rough ground. Getting up, over and along big mountains with big views. The 3x3Ultra does just that and it’s great to see it finalized on the all new Skyrunning UK calendar, it’s an exciting time”.


National Series Logo

The Skyrunner® National Series will bring a new race series to the UK. Made up of five races in each category (Sky and Ultra), runners will accumulate ranking points by competing in at least three out of five races over the SkyRace® and Ultra SkyMarathon® distances. Respective male and female winners of the ‘SNS’ in 2015 will be rewarded with the ultimate prize; not only they will they be crowned champions of the ‘SNS’ but they will also receive the opportunity to race in the final of the Skyrunner® World Series.


Ian Corless, director for Skyrunning UK has been working for months in conjunction with the ISF Athlete Commission to bring this moment to fruition, “It’s about progression and development. Having witnessed Skyrunning from every level for the past 2-years and seen the growth, the excitement, the opportunities; to not be part of this in the UK would be a shame. The sport is growing at all levels. In time I hope we will have a series of UK based Skyrunning teams similar to the model that inov-8 have created. A Skyrunner®  National Series will provide not only a great structure for the sport but it will also provide a springboard for UK athletes to race in other countries but equally, we hope to attract foreign athletes to race on home soil. The announcement of the 3x3Ultra clearly states our intentions for what a Skyrunning event should be in the UK.”

3x3ultra_highterrainevents_iancorless.comLauri van Houten continues, “The only setback has been the difficulty in finding the right person to represent Skyrunning in the UK and bring it in line with other countries. It’s been hard to find a replacement but Ian Corless has embodied that and with his contacts and know-how we’re confident he’ll pull a great movement together.

The stage is set for the 3x3Ultra.

Ian Mulvey, race director for the 3x3Ultra explained his thoughts and vision:

“It will showcase what we have to offer in the UK and hopefully attract international runners enabling the top UK athletes to race against the world’s best on their home terrain.”

When asked about the benefits Skyrunning will bring to the UK race circuit, Ian replied:

“Having raced in Europe I can see the potential of bringing Skyrunning to the UK. In terms of raising the profile of UK ultra running, I think this will take ultra running to the next level and give us recognition on an international scale. Now is the perfect time for this type of event, runners are looking for tougher challenges to strive for. Being part of the Skyrunning UK series I hope will raise the profile of the event & attract international athletes.”


Seize the opportunity now and sign up for what will become an iconic Skyrunning UK event.

Enter online here: https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?elid=Y&event_id=1222


Get involved with Skyrunning UK