Event adopts drug policy: Anti-doping rules implemented for top race finishers

Mill Race Marathon organizers have implemented an anti-doping policy intended to ensure a clean and level playing field for next month’s competition.

The policy, being introduced for the first time, applies to any athlete who competes for cash awards Sept. 24 in the marathon and half-marathon, said Randy Stafford, a member of the organizing committee. Runners in the 5K race will not be affected.

Organizers of the fourth annual event in Columbus deemed the policy necessary because of a trend of runners suspended from larger marathons for using performance-enhancing drugs switching to smaller races to compete for prize money.

“As larger marathons have implemented doping controls and restrictions on who is eligible to win cash awards, these athletes have been moving to smaller events that have not been aware of the suspensions. We would like to keep the playing field level for all athletes so that hard work and talent are rewarded,” Stafford said.

The top five male and female finishers in the marathon and half-marathon receive prize money. Marathon winners receive $1,500, and half-marathon winners $750, for example. All total, prize money awarded to the top five male and female finishers in the two races equals $12,800.

The Mill Race Marathon also serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. However, implementation of the anti-doping policy is more the fact that the Mill Race Marathon is a medium-size event with a nice prize money offering, race director Joel Sauer said.

“We don’t anticipate any problems, but this shows the running community that we take this seriously and (are) committed to a clean, healthy and fair event,” Sauer said.

Violation of the anti-doping policy carries penalties.

“Anyone found ineligible due to past doping will not only lose the cash award but would lose their place in the results as well,” Sauer said.

A cross-checking system will be used to identify suspended runners.

Organizers request each participant’s anticipated finish time to seed the runners in corrals. The fastest corral participants will be compared against the current doping suspension list maintained by the International Association of Athletics Federations before the race. For race-day entries, organizers will check during the day to confirm eligibility, Stafford said.

Payment of prize money will be delayed one to two weeks to give race organizers time to cross-check all award winners against the doping suspension list, Sauer said.

Implementing an anti-doping policy was considered for last year’s race, but a plan could not be completed in time, Stafford said.

The anti-doping policy for the Mill Race Marathon was adopted from the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, which developed its policy in 2015.

“The race director gave us permission to use their document and we are happy to coordinate to prevent rewarding athletes who have used performance enhancing drugs to cheat,” Stafford said.

Organizers learned that feedback received about the Monumental Marathon’s anti-doping policy considered it a positive step to stand up against the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Stafford said.

Participants in this year’s marathon and half-marathon will be informed about the anti-doping policy through emails and the marathon’s website, he said.

What the policy says

An anti-doping policy has been adopted for the Mill Race Marathon. Here’s what it says.

To be eligible for elite entry, prize purse or finish result an athlete must:

  • Not be currently serving a suspension for use of a banned substance
  • Not have ever served a ban for use of performance-enhancing drugs
  • Not be represented by coaches and/or agents who have had two or more such suspensions by their athletes in the previous four years
  • Not be represented by coaches and/or agents who ever served a ban for use of performance-enhancing drugs during their own athletic career
  • Provide proper documentation proving they are eligible for prize money (form W-9, W-8ECI or W-8BEN)
  • Consent to random drug testing according to the standards and procedures of USATF, USADA, and WADA

— Source: Mill Race Marathon organizing committee

Reason for policy

Here is the Mill Race Marathon’s statement on why the implementation of an anti-doping policy is needed:

“The Mill Race Marathon event supports healthy lifestyles that encompass physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. This can only be attained through everyone’s commitment to a ‘clean’ event. To ensure this, we have adopted what we believe is a very fair anti-doping policy instated by the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2015. We are excited to take a stand on having an event that provides opportunities for clean athletes to be recognized for their honest and hard work.”

Policy on website

Implementation of the Mill Race Marathon’s anti-doping policy is found on the race website, millracemarathon.com, under the awards tab. It says:

“The Mill Race Marathon has a policy that prize money is only eligible to participants who are not currently serving a suspension for use of a banned substance, nor has ever served a ban for use of performance-enhancing drugs.”

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.