Sandes of Time – Ryan Sandes at the 2017 #WSER Western States Endurance Run on IRUN4ULTRA

I recently caught up with South Africa’s Ryan Sandes after his impressive victory at the 2017 Western States. You can listen to a full and in-depth interview HERE on Talk Ultra podcast.

Ryan’s story is one that inspires and it just shows what is possible.

“An impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon completely changed my life back in 2008. Could I run 250km, self-supported through a Desert? Without another thought, I maxed out my credit card and entered a race I knew almost nothing about. The lead up to the Gobi Desert Race consumed me but most importantly it enabled me to dream.”

You can read the full article on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Two 39km

The mood in bivouac on the second morning of the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables was one of mixed emotions. Satisfaction on completing day one, a good nights sleep and then the daunting contrast of a ‘tough’ day two and 39km with some significant technical and sandy terrain.

An 0830 start would allow runners a little more time to complete the stage – the cut-off was 11h 30min.

Heading south the early km’s were full of sand, dunes and climbing – Bou Laadam Jebel a significant marker at 5km. A plateau and then a steady sandy climb at 8.5km would lead to Cp1 at 12.8km. The next 12km would follow a southerly direction of sand, hills and dunes. Cp2 would offer some recovery before the push to Cp3. Dunes would sap the runners energy here and then a tough climb would lead to the highest point of the day via a gulley of rock. Elotfal jebel offered stunning views and then a steep sandy descent before the final Cp3 and a flat run to bivouac.

Day 2 was all about Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes. The duo dominated the day from the front and have well and truly laid a foundation for potential victory in the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables. Of course, there is still a long way to go…

El Morabity ran within himself till Cp1 but then opened up a gap leaving the rest to follow. The men’s field was spread throughout the sand, dunes and plateaus of Morocco – El Morabity was having none of the group running of day 1.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz, Mohamed El Morabity and Thomas Evans followed but they were not match for the MDS master. At the line, the gaps were significant. El Morabity crossed in 3:04:52 and then it was 3:12:15, 3:14:31 and 3:14:35 for El Mouaziz, El Morabity (younger brother) and Evans. Aziz Ek Akad placed 5th and Andy Symonds 6th.

In the ladies race, Elisabet Barnes is showing the form that gained her victory in 2015. She looks relaxed, happy and focussed. Last year’s second place Nathalie Mauclair commented on how strong she was running. Barnes lead from the front and never looked back, just as day 1, a way she like to run. She crossed the line in 3:49:04.

Following behind there was a change with Fernanda Maciel returning to form and pipping Mauclair to 2nd, the times 4:00:42 and 4:04:14 respectively. Emilie Lecomte placed 4th, Aziza Jaji 5th and rising star Jennifer Hill 6th.

FULL RESULTS HERE

The third stage will start 0830 and a distance of 31.6km and a 10h 30m cut-off will be applied.

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As Hard as a Rock -Jason Schlarb on IRUN4ULTRA

Jason Schlarb is ‘the man!’ – Let’s face it, anyone who can go head-to-head with ‘KJ’ and finish alongside him at Hardrock 100 is doing something right. Jason just placed 3rd at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and while we downed one or three ‘Imperials’ we discussed what 2017 has in store.

Read the article on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

Transgrancanaria 2017 Race Summary and Images

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The island of Gran Canaria once again hosted the Transgrancanaria series of races. Over the years, the races have grown not only in stature and entries but also in quantity. In total, there are now seven races and this year the addition of the TRANS 360 (265km) really has elevated the race portfolio so that TRANSGRANCANARIA now contrasts and compares directly to the UTMB series of races.

Starting with a FAMILY race (17km) you then have PROMO (17km), STARTER (30km), MARATHON (42km), ADVANCED (82km), the TRANS 360 and then the main event of the weekend, TRANSGRANCANARIA at 125km and 8000m of vertical gain.

Over the year’s, TRANSGRANCANARIA has had the world best come to this Canary island and do battle. Ryan Sandes, Sebsatien Chaigneau, Nuria Picas and Caroline Chaverot are amongst the winners and the 2017 edition, like previous years, had a high quality field.

Notably, the 2017 edition is also earlier in the year, in the past, the race has been in March. This is significant, the 125km race is tough at anytime of the year but coming so early means that the end of one season and the beginning of the next becomes increasingly cloudy. If you want to do well here, it’s fair to say that the previous year’s season needs to end in September or October to allow for recovery and then building training once again to be ready in February.

Caroline Chaverot and Didrick Hermansen were 2016 returning champions and without doubt they were pre-race favourites. Didrick most definitely would have a fight on his hands with the final result going anyway. By contrast, Caroline after an incredible 2016 season was almost guaranteed a victory. But this is ultra-running and things don’t always go the way you expect.

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Click on an image to view the gallery

From the off, Pau Capell and Azara Garcia dictated the race from the front and by the time they reached Artenara (approx 30km), the duo had a convincing lead in their respective races. Many had predicted pre-race that 2017 was Pau’s year, however, Azara was stepping up to the 125km distance – she normally races hilly, technical mountain races of marathon distance, so, stepping up to 125km and 8000m of vert was going to be a challenge.

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Click on an image to view the gallery

 

The Spanish duo most certainly had some highs and lows on an incredible journey to the line but they didn’t falter. Pau looked to be a man on a mission throughout the race and although he went through a bad patch in the last 20km, he rallied and then continued to pull away to take one of the biggest victories of his life.

Azara battled and battled and from Roque Nublio looked tired and maybe a little bit broken. Somehow she managed to find the mental strength to beat and will her body to the line. She finished with a convincing lead over 2nd lady Andrea Huser, but Azara was an empty shell on the line. She was broken and the emotion of the biggest win of her career seemed all too much as she sat lost in her exhaustion. Eventually she was stretchered away to recover.

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Click on an image to view the gallery

Behind two amazing performances were the highs and lows of the ultra world. In the ladies’ race we saw Caroline Chaverot drop from the race at Artenara lacking energy with tired legs. We saw Andrea Huser produce an ever-consistent and well placed performance to place 2nd and gain another high-ranking podium place and Melanie Rousset from France rallied to finish 3rd ahead of Kirstin Berglund. Full ladies’ results HERE.

The men’s race was a cracker, however, everyone was running in the wake of Pau Capell who produced a dominating world-class performance. Vlaidas Zlabys from Lithuania was the revelationn of the race and a name to note for the future. Right from the beginning he was in the mix and he produced a strong, consistent and well paced performance to finish 2nd 14:35 minutes behind Pau. In the final 20km he had closed that gap down to 10-minutes but Pau surged. Didrick Hermansen ran much of the race off the podium but he knows his strength. In the last 3rd of the race he closed hard and moved up through the race to finally finish on the podium in 3rd – a great result!

Behind the top-3 is a story of trials and tribulations, pre-race favourites of Andy Symonds, Diego Pazos and Timothy Olson all finished in the top-10 but it was stories of niggles, sickness, fatigue and fighting a cold and challenging night. Full men’s results HERE.

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Click on an image to view the gallery

The 2017 edition of the race will be remembered for a very cold and windy night that challenged the runners. Even the arrival of daylight did not warm the ambient temperature in the mountains. It was only as the runners descended to the sea in the final 20-30km’s did temperatures rise and of course, this brings it’s own problems. From 4-degrees to 25-degrees is a tough ask. The challenge was clearly seen on each runners face.

Pau Capell and Azara Garcia are the names of 2017, I wonder, who will be the names of 2018?

Men Results

  1. Pau Capell 13:21:03 (Didrick ran 13:41 in 2016)
  2. Vlaidas Zlabys 13:35:38
  3. Didrick Hermansen 13:50:06
  4. Jordi Baus 13:53:53
  5. Maxime Cazajous 13:53:54

Ladies Results

  1. Azara Garcia 16:25:20 (Caroline ran 15:23 in 2016)
  2. Andrea Huser 17:15:45
  3. Melanie Rousset 17:30:40
  4. Kistin Berglund 18:00:04
  5. Ildo Wermescher 18:17:43

Images will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com

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DRUGS in Mountain, Ultra and Trail #EPO #UTMB

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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.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Post 6 ITRA statement HERE

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!

SageDopingReport

I welcome your thoughts!

ITRA release statement on #EPO positive for Gonzalo Calisto

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This morning I posted the long awaited statement from Gonzalo Calisto after testing positive for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. If you are new to the story, please read the posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Today, I have now received a statement and clarification from ITRA into the process that Gonzalo Calisto has gone through:

July 25th 2016

PREAMBLE

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.

More information about the ITRA health policy : http://itra.run/page/261/Politique_sante.html

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

ITRA performance profile – Gonzalo Calisto HERE


ITRAperformanceprofile

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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

Gonzalo Calisto releases #EPO #UTMB Statement (English Version)

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One week ago, the mountain, ultra and trail running world found out that Gonzalo Calisto tested positive after placing 5th at the 2015 UTMB. If you are coming to this new, may I suggest you read my posts in order as listed below as they will provide information and also chronologically provide an insight into my investigations.

Post 1 HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

 

Gonzalo Calisto has now released a statement via his Facebook page in Spanish and I have had a translation done. Please keep in mind that a translation may lose some of the uniqueness of the original, however, I do feel that what we have below provides an excellent insight.

As with all posts relating to this matter, I welcome your feedback.

Gonzalo introduces this by saying:

Thank you all for your support, I’ve taken a few days to be able to collect all this information and share it with you.
We will continue with the head held high, we’ll see you soon in the mountains!!!

I’m not a professional runner. I’m an amateur, with dreams which mantain my passion for adventure. Plainly, experiences in nature are my day-to-day targets, for every train and every run. I have never ran for prizes, or medal or recognizement, least of all for money. During these 13 years full of adventures I have filled my spirit with livings and learnings, and I have had the luck to share them with lots of generations of adventurers on lots of countries. During these years, I have witnessed exponential grow of trailrunning all over the world, and today trailrunning has lots of fans on my country on lots of running events.
Physiology: I have always been fascinated for the mountains, specially for the tall ones. I learnt to run there, to go up and down, walking and running, pushing myself and learning how the nature and strenght of the mountains fills our body and spirit. Ecuador, due to its geographical situation – Quito its capital 3000m above sea level – mountains with different heights and terraings and even different weather. Due to this, it is a privileged playground to train and go outdoors. Sport events are usually run on mountain and in zones, which go fron 3000 to 4500m+. Our bodies adapt to the high altitude and our blood is dense, which allows oxigenation. This process does not happen on sea level, and this training in altitude is scientifically known and used by lots of athletes to improve performance. It is called ‘altitude training’ and it’s a natural process. Legal At a country level, in Ecuador Trail running is not registered as a sport. No federation guides it, and it is not regulated by any ministery or govenrnment agency. Every trailrun event is private, and there are no licenses to ‘legally’ compete nor standarised rules. At an international level, Trail running is availed by the different athletic federations on the diferent countries, and runners have a local ranking to run on some important events. So, inside this called ‘elite’ they got licenses granted by their respective federations. These licenses somehow guarantee sport protocols between runners and sport event organizations.
IAAF is the organization which handles rules on elite athletics at a world level. IAAF runs an world ultratrail championship, but does not avail more trail events, as they are not considered ‘big events’ such as olimpic or panamerican games. This way, UTMB is not on their list.
AFLD: The French Agency against doping is the organization who takes care of doping on sport events on France.
ITRA: The Internationan Association of Trail Running, is an organization wich mantains a ranking based on an index generated based on the performance of a given athlete in different runs.
EPO: The eritropoyetin hormone, is an hormone which makes blood dense. It is naturally generated on hypoxic conditions, such as high altitude..
UTMB: UTMB is the most prestigious long-distance trailrun, which goes arond the Mont-Blanc. It is a private event, with no prices in money, which gathers 2500 runners from all around the world. 300 of them are ‘elite’ or ‘professional’. UTMB has its own ranking, based on the points gained for the participants in different sport events which UTMB avails.
CASE: During the UTMB I went on a doping control, before the depart and another after the run. This test marked positive, showing presence of EPO, but without specifying which kind of EPO was found, nor the EPO levels.
AFLD was the one who ran these tests and the one who reported the case to the IAAF.
I asked for the analysis, but I could never review the exact results. Altough IAAF regulates professional sport they have make public the results obtained.
However, they have not considered that I am not a professional athlete. I don’t have a license and I don’t belong to any federation, so the have no jurisdiction on ‘punishing’ me.
UTMB organisation had no knowledge on this case until it was public on social networks. This shows also the lack of coordination between these two organizations.
Positive test should be analized in the ‘B’ take to ratificate EPO presence. This second test should ratificate the first positive and its levels or mark the first test as a false positive. This second test is usually done upon solicitation from the federation which the athlete belongs to, which is usually the one who extends the license to the athlete. In my case, as I don’t have a license, UTMB should make me firm a provisional license to allow me to participate with the ‘elite’ ones. I never firmed that document. Besides, they should make sure that I got all the information and knowledge about all the ‘elite’ protocols; information that never was told to me.
In this case, I was without legal support from any ferederation or government; and to go agains the positive I should take all expenses on myself. These expenses are above my resources, as I’m a person from Ecuador against an international French agency.
With all these I want to point out that legal resources that have judged and sentenced me are not enough, as they lack of the ‘bases’ to coordinate events, regulators and rules to apply to non-professional athletes. We amateurs take the expenses on ourselves without no federation. So, I can’t use my right to defend myself, rigth that every juridic rule on the world has and I cannot use. To end In my country, we the ecuator runners must ask our Ecuator Running Federation to register trailrunning as a sport, to grant licenses to high-level runners who want to take part on international events and support and avail the main running events in Ecuador. Also, the Ecuatorian federation should take care also of the andti-doping tasks and generate a runners ranking at an international level, we must estabish compatible parameters between international event organizers and the federations; improve the information and make sure that the athletes know the category where they are going to run, and to make sure that they know the anti-pogind rules applicable.
I’m with the anti-doping. I like clean game and I have never intentionally used anything to artificially improve my performance. But we must be coherent with runner’s real life, specially on countries where these sports have no international rules, and work to create a clear and safe platform to run high performance sports on.
I wonder, are the anti-doping tests really fit? do they take into account genetic trace of the runners (feeding, origin, training) before publishing results?
Is it OK to judge a non-professional runner, which does not make a living with trailrunning the same way we do with a professional?
Is it OK to run anti-doping tests without the legal coverage for non-licensed runners which will have difficults to claim their rights?
Conclusion:
I’m probably the first case on this. I’m not a professional. I don’t have a license. I live and train between 3000 and 5000 masl. I have dense blood. I got a top-5 on an international running event with professional runners from all Europe which clearly know the rules. I came to the UTMB controls without the complete knowledge of high competition protocols. I have no license and no legal support fom a federation and I consider that methods used on me are not equity, transparent and impartial. There are other sports -such as the IronMan series- where they take into account the runner condition (amateur or professional) to skip these kind of polemic situation due to the lack of legal support and information on the professional protocols.
Questions
Why my case was reported by the IAAD and the UTMB organization had no idea on what was going on?
Why the rules from IAAF, AFLD and UTMB are not compatible with the positive anti-doping test from an amateur runner?
Under which authority IAAF punished me for 2 years?
I’m not a federated runner. Why the UTMB does not have a professional runner list?
Why UTMB is not registered with the IAAF avail?
Why they let me run without a federative license in a category where they are going to do controls which need this license?
I want my case to clarify and modify the trailrunning world rules.
*******
We welcome your feedback on this post?
  • For me, it raises many question marks and the most important is the fact that Gonzalo tested positive in August 2015. The AFLD/IAAF confirmed a ban in March 2016 and then this was published on the IAAF website in June.
  • Gonzalo Calisto will have known about this positive test for sometime and chose to do nothing! The above statement has come about because his positive test has been made public.
  • We still have no news from his sponsors, Movistar and Compressport.
  • Amateur or professional, rules are rules and doping is doping!
  • Gonzalo Calisto has raced since UTMB and July 2016 and gained results, why have these races not made a statement and why have they not disqualified him?

Many more questions will come….

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:

AFLD_aftercontrols

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

Statement from Michel Poletti UTMB® re: EPO Positive Test

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:

Dear UTMB®
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?
Kind regards,
Ian

This evening I have received a reply from Michel Poletti.  He provides the following answers to my question?

Dear Ian,

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

Best regards

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.
*****
I will inform you of a reply when I receive it.

BREAKING NEWS – Disqualification of a runner from the 2015 UTMB®

Disqualification of a runner from the 2015 UTMB®

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®.

Read my original post HERE

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.

UPDATES

UTMB PRESS RELEASE HERE
MICHEL POLETTI RESPONSE HERE
IAAF RESPONSE HERE