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New anti-doping laws a hassle

Athletes have to keep WADA informed of their whereabouts at all times



So where are you going to be on Aug. 15?

The average person probably couldn’t answer this question with any accuracy. It’s a Sunday, so you could be off somewhere camping or visiting relatives, maybe. If you’re at home, you could be off mountain biking or hanging at the lake. Who really knows?

Our national team athletes, who spend most of their time on the road training and competing, don’t have the luxury of not knowing anymore.

Starting on June 15 they are expected to know exactly where they are going to be at all times, three months in advance, so that the World Anti-Doping Agency can track them down to take random drug and doping tests. If they deviate from their plan in any way they have to inform WADA – in writing no less – of their schedule change, including addresses and phone numbers where they can be reached.

Most teenagers have less supervision these days, but WADA believes the program is necessary to reduce the impact of drugs on amateur sports.

Athletes are already grumbling. In May, alpine skiing star Lasse Kjus of Norway publicly slammed the new laws in an interview with Norway’s largest newspaper, and said he would defy the rules requiring him to keep WADA informed of his whereabouts.

"They can’t demand to know where I am all the time," said Kjus. "For one thing, I don’t like to make long-term plans about where I go.

"I am totally against our freedoms being infringed on like this."

Kjus, 33, has five Olympic medals to his credit, as well as 10 world championship gold medals. In 1999 he finished on the podium in all five alpine world championship events.

Far from being past his prime, Kjus was ranked second overall in the World Cup standings this year when he was sidelined with a knee injury.

Norway’s anti-doping laws went into effect on June 1, and there is no word on whether Kjus decided to comply after all. If he does not, he likely will not be allowed to compete.

For Canadian athletes the new rules go into effect on June 15 through the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES). The WADA rules will go into effect on Aug. 13.

Alpine athletes are already subjected to drug testing by WADA and the CCES. At a typical World Cup contest the top three skiers are automatically tested, as well as two random skiers. Surprise tests are also possible outside of the World Cup circuit, although they are rare.

Whistler’s Britt Janyk, a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, says she wasn’t tested at all last year, and only once the year before. She understands the need for the program, but says it will be tough for her and her teammates to comply with WADA’s stringent requirements.