When we started November to help level the equipment playing field, we didn't foresee that we'd eventually be involved in helping to level the physiological playing field. But here we are. Mike and I race masters, which as you'll know if you read the internets, means that we and everyone else we race with and against is on the sauce. Freaking masters, what can you do with them? But seriously, we aren't doping and we don't think you're doping. What we do see is an opportunity to benefit everyone in our region race with the peace of mind that there is a significant deterrent and identification mechanism in place against anyone who wants to be the next David Anthony, or Jonathan Chodroff, or whomever else.
For those unaware of what I'm talking about, USAC has offered local associations matching funds in $3000 or $6000 increments in order to have USADA test at local events within the region. MABRA can elect to take part in the program or not. There is significant concern that, while this may be a great and noble program, spending $3000 on it isn't the greatest use of MABRA funds. To that end, John Cutler has initiated an ipetition where MABRA riders can voice their support for MABRA's participation in the program, and pledge to voluntarily donate money to fund the program. We went through the whole thing pretty much backwards and forwards with John, and he identified that about half of the $1500 threshold had been reached. At that point, we offered to retroactively match the funds already pledged, and make up the difference.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE PROGRAM IS GOING FORWARD IN MABRA. It merely means that a decision on whether MABRA should participate in the program or not can be made without needing to figure out how to pay for it. The decision of whether MABRA participates in the program will be made at the MABRA Annual Meeting on January 6. Anyone who has an opinion one way or another needs to raise the discussion within his/her club, and make sure that the club's stance is registered at the Annual Meeting.
Significantly, this is November's first sponsorship investment of any kind. We feel that sponsorship itself benefits the few at the expense of the many, and instead we choose to put any money that might go into sponsoring a few athletes into keeping our prices as low as possible for all athletes. This program is unique in that the benefits accrue to every racer equally. We realize that this is a contentious issue (the thousand and nine emails on the MABRA list serve having been our first clue) and that there are legitimate concerns on both sides. We thought it was important that the decision be made on its own merits without regard to the financial question, which is now possible through all of the people who contributed individually and our match. We want racing to grow and be healthy, for racers to be secure that their efforts aren't being undermined by people giving themselves unfair advantages, and for parents to have some reassurance that they are getting their kids involved in a healthy and beneficial sport.
I took an extensive walk through the system with John Cutler. The systems in place to ensure that this isn't an onerous burden or threat to people living their lives are great. ANY medical condition for which you are being treated, and any medical event for which you might need therapy, are easily addressed through the TUE process. I stress easily. Finding out which products are banned in which circumstances is easy. If you are into the purple fizzy stuff that you buy out of the back of fitness magazines, you'd probably want to take a second look at that, but I'd say that regardless of testing. We are very satisfied that this is a good program, and that it's very easy to stay on the right side of it, but again the ultimate decision is for MABRA clubs and riders. In any case, as USAC license holders, we all agree to be beholden to USADA rules, and are subject to testing at any event.
We encourage everyone to become aware of the program and how it may or may not affect them, and to be involved in the very important decision that will be made on January 6th. If you are in another region, this has undoubtedly gotten some air time in your district and we'd very strongly encourage you to be a party to the process as well.
Race smart and race clean.