Coushay relied on bad USADA database in checking on Adderall

GIGO got Brian Coushay. After learning that the M50 multi-eventer had accepted a two-year suspension for testing positive for banned stuff at Jacksonville nationals, I wrote him. He replied Saturday with an honest and plausible account. He said he took Adderall and didn’t find it on USADA’s banned list. (It’s on the WADA list.) But Brian’s experience is instructive. Do a better search. I did two. I typed in Google: Is Adderall on banned doping list? and What is in Adderall? Those would have raised sufficient alarms, since both mention amphetamines. Sorry that Brian didn’t take the extra step. I’m grateful for his sharing. We all need to learn from this.

Here is what Google displays when you ask: Is Adderall on the banned doping list?

Here is what Google displays when you ask: Is Adderall on banned doping list?

Brian shared this note Sunday:

Dear Masters Track friends and family,

I would like to explain the circumstances surrounding my positive test for Amphetamines that was taken at the Masters National Championships in Jacksonville. Two days before I competed I was in Phoenix giving a business presentation. I took an Adderall pill only to help me focus on my work presentation not to enhance my sports performance.

Here is what Google displays for the query: What is in Adderall?

Here is what Google displays for the query: What is in Adderall?

However, before I took the Adderall pill, I checked the WADA Prohibited Substance list. I have never been in a testing pool so I have never had any formal anti-doping education, but I respect the integrity of sport. I have never taken performance enhancing substances. I went on the USADA website and looked up the banned substances. Adderall was not listed. I did not know that Adderall contained banned Amphetamines. I should have looked into it more, but I reasonably believed that because it wasn’t listed there, that it was okay to take.

When I was selected for my drug test, I was completely forthcoming on my form and listed that I had taken Adderall. I had no reason to hide it. I had checked if it was on the banned list, and I had taken it out of competition for work purposes. My performance marks in Jacksonville were substandard. It was the first time I did not medal at a National Championship.

The USADA did a thorough investigation and concluded though I had Amphetamines in my system there was no intention to enhance athletic performance.

I do take some responsibility for not determining that Adderall contained Amphetamines, thus a 2 year sanction from competition. I value clean sport!! Because I want a clean sport I welcome the opportunity to be tested at any time. I am excited about taking a rest for a while and letting my body completely heal. By taking some Hopefully, I will come back stronger in 2 years.

Brian Coushay

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October 24, 2015

25 Responses

  1. Damon Blakemore - October 24, 2015

    I don’t profess to know a great deal about Brian Coushay, but I wouldn’t hesitate to vouch for his character. In the last year or so he and I have had a few conversations about track and field, out events and the amount of hard work, commitment and sacrifice required to perform well, not to mention position yourself to have an opportunity to hopefully break some of the records that currently exist. I have come away from those conversations with the opinion he is a thoughtful and sincere person. I hope this episode doesn’t completely detract from what he has accomplished.

  2. Rob Jerome - October 24, 2015

    I got to know Brian somewhat photographing him in Lyon and he’s a great guy. I hope to see him back competing in two years.

    One thing I have never understood about drug testing…and maybe someone can enlighten me…is the following:

    I can understand the need to ban someone for breaking rules, whether inadvertently or not, but I do not understand the need for the USADA to publicly identify banned Masters Athletes through press releases.

    Isn’t banning the person for two years sufficient punishment?

    Why can’t the banned athlete be notified privately and then decide for himself how to explain his absence for two years? There are plenty of forums such as Ken’s blog for a banned athlete to explain his absence…if he so chooses to explain.

    Publication of a Masters Athlete’s name who has been banned for prohibited drug taking could have severe implications on the athlete’s livelihood, family life, community stature, etc.

    Masters Athletes are, after all, pursuing their sport for the fun of it, not for money, and the possibility of having one’s reputation sullied by public announcement of a drug infraction…which may or may not be explainable… could have a chilling effect on participation in the sport.

    Isn’t banning enough of a punishment? Why must public humiliation be part of the deal?

  3. Ken Stone - October 24, 2015

    Rob, I suspect banned athletes are identified for two main reasons:

    1. Lets meet organizers know the athlete can’t compete.

    2. Lets the world know USADA is “on the job.”

    Here is database of banned athletes:

  4. Rob Jerome - October 24, 2015

    Thanks, Ken.

    Without getting into the whole TUE issue and the fact that many Masters need to take various drugs, it just seems to me to be particularly cruel to subject people to public humiliation when some banned athletes made simple mistakes like Brian, who apparently didn’t do enough research. Banning is enough.

    Again these aren’t current Olympians we are dealing with…these are adult Masters hobbyists with jobs to report to, mortgages to pay, kids to explain to why daddy’s name is in the paper, etc.

    When news like this hits someone’s local newspaper, readers have a tendency to forget the explanation and just see “banned for illegal drug use”.

  5. Craig Simmons - October 24, 2015

    I ate a whole bunch of See’s candy before a race in 1969 thinking it would give me more energy and make me run faster. What a poorly conceived scheme that was. It failed miserably. It actually slowed me down. Plus I got in trouble for eating most of the box of candy. I think I was banned from eating any candy out of the next box.

  6. Wade Sorenson - October 25, 2015

    I don’t know Brian at all. But all of these stories follow a familiar script. Test positive, get banned, proclaim it was an honest mistake. When you put up record level performances over a year or two period, you have to understand people are watching. Who takes Adderall prescribed to another person to help focus on a presentation? He very well could be completely innocent, but seems like an odd explanation to me.

  7. Mike Walker - October 25, 2015

    I think that ken is right about why they do go public when someone is suspended. It also may be that knowing that the world will hear that you were caught may deter some who would cheat intentionally and unfortunately there are those that will do what ever it takes to win.

  8. Milan jamrich - October 25, 2015

    Wade Sorenson is right

  9. Jason Purcell - October 25, 2015

    A little fishy.

  10. Mike Walker - October 25, 2015

    The drug issue is pretty complicated especially for Masters athletes as so many of us have to take wide range of medications for health reasons so honest mistakes can easily happen but I have to agree with Wade that his explanation does seem odd.

  11. A Dogooder - October 25, 2015

    I can say that I have done the research for what is prohibited and what is not. Since my first World Championship I have been very vigilant. I have had TUEs for all championship whether they are local and international. However, this summer I competed in Lyon at the World Championship without a TUE for one of my asthma medication. I submitted the proper paperwork and as I type this I am still awaiting a response on this.

  12. Kenton brown - October 25, 2015

    Wade sorenson’s comments do go to the heart of the matter. Really! Take someone else’s medication and not know what it is. Forget positive drug tests…what about health conditions it might affect or other medicines it might interact with.

  13. Ken Stone - October 26, 2015

    Dave Ortman shares this comment:

    Let’s go through the process shall we:

    1. Go to the USADA website:

    This is a very user unfriendly website.

    2. The Substances webpage states: “Athletes under USADA’s jurisdiction are prohibited from using the substances and methods found on the WADA Prohibited List.”

    Hiding under the Substances tab is the WADA Prohibited List.

    A search of the 2015 WDA Prohibit List does NOT return any hits on Adderall. Adderall has a number of active ingredients including:

    amphetamine aspartate

    dextroamphetamine saccharate

    dextroamphetamine sulfate

    amphetamine sulfate

    amphetamine aspartate monohydrate

    NONE of these ingredients return search hits either.

    3. Although “amphetamine” would raise a flag, a reasonable person could conclude, that Adderall or its active ingredients are NOT on the WDA Prohibited List.

    4. If USADA or WDA want to notify athletes that Adderall or its active ingredients are on the list, they could damn well make a greater effort.

  14. Thad Wilson - October 26, 2015

    Search for Adderall at this link

  15. Robert Thomas - October 26, 2015

    Nice find Thad, I’m not sure what links the others were using, but it clearly states, on the link you provided, that Adderall is prohibited during competition and ok, out of competition.

  16. David E. Ortman (M62), Seattle, WA - October 26, 2015

    Response to #14 and #15. As previously noted, WADA’s website is very user unfriendly. The webpage (unlike the WADA Prohibited List) does return Adderall tablets and capsules as prohibited “in competition” and not prohibited (i.e., o.k.) “out of competition.” No additional clarification or link to defining what is meant by in and out of competition.

    Again, from the WADA website, a reasonable person could conclude that as long as one was not taking Adderall during competition, it was not prohibited.

    This is all in reference to prescription medication. Those consuming vast amounts of “supplements” that are not FDA tested and are produced who knows where do so at their own peril.

  17. Bill Newsham - October 26, 2015

    I’m a little surprised no one has called BS here. He took an amphetamine to “help me focus on my work presentation “? Come on. You’ve already got a problem if you’re taking drugs for work. I can see honest mistakes for prescribed drugs for medical reasons but this is ridiculous. What have you proven if you need this or a Jolt or 5 hour energy or similar to compete? Other than you can’t get through a day of competition without a fix. I don’t need to check WADA or USADA or any other site, at least until Klondike starts putting banned substances is their ice cream bars.

  18. Thad Wilson - October 26, 2015

    Link to “defining what is meant by in and out of competition”.

  19. Robert Thomas - October 26, 2015

    David I am not pointing the finger at Brian or anyone else. To the best of Brian’s knowledge he went to the website that he thought would provide him with the necessary information that he needed to compete. Thad merely showed that Brian did not go far enough when checking medications. Right below the WADA PROHIBITED LIST is the tab for DRO GLOBAL medication search. Anyone competing and taking a prescription drug should be checking the DRO GLOBAL medication search. As well as the WADA prohibited list. Anytime I get a prescription, I ask my doctor is this a steroid or is this something that would test positive on a athletic drug test. Even after I ask my doctor that I still check on the website.

    After reading most of the post on the blog, I think it’s clear that most of the individuals that commented about how difficult it is to navigate the USADA website are not reading the information correctly. The WADA prohibited list is specific to illegal substances like steroids, illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine as well as substances that mask steroid and illegal drugs. Medications are not listed under the prohibited list, there is a specific tab for medication and they are listed separately because athletes are allowed to use them under certain circumstances as this particular drug can be used out of competition but not during the competitive season and you have other drugs like inhalers that can be used during the season with a TUE.

    You have others on here that are questioning his reasoning for taking the drug. That is not my place to judge. I merely pointed out that the website is not as difficult to navigate if one reads the information clearly. Also there is a phone number to call as ask questions. Brian had no problem accepting his mistake. I applaud him for that. I’m merely commenting here so that others can avoid making the same mistake. As a member of the executive committee. We have offered numerous information session about checking your prescription drugs. It’s unfortunate that we are even having this conversation.
    The typical track season is December to March for indoor and March to August or September for outdoor with that said I know there are several events out west that are held during the fall. So for master’s we really don’t have an out of competition testing. Also I am unaware of any master’s athletes being tested out of season. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening I have just never heard of it.

  20. Bob White - October 26, 2015

    For those who are questioning Brian’s explanation – do you really think taking Adderall two days earlier was going to give him any benefit in ecompetition? This drug has a short half-life – intentionally, so it doesn’t interfere with sleep later in the day.

    Brian didn’t try to hide it, either before being tested or after being banned. We can say he should have looked harder, but he is paying a pretty high price, so we probably aren’t saying anything he doesn’t already know. Still, some will think he is not being completely honest with us and while none of us can know that for sure, my take on it is that if the USADA thought his story was bogus they would have come down a lot harder.

    So let’s commend him for being honest, feel bad that he won’t be able to compete, and hope that the sites that are supposed to help us in this are improved so that all of us can stay clean without having to be a web wizard.

  21. David E. Ortman (M62), Seattle, WA - October 26, 2015

    Response to #18 and #19.

    These comments address ONLY the USADA and WADA websites.

    Thad’s link (thanks) to the webpage does define in-competition and out-of-competition but only in the context of testing:

    “at a competition (in-competition testing) or without any advanced notice (out-of-competition testing)”

    Again, a reasonable person could conclude that Adderall is not prohibited or tested for out-of-competition, only during competition.

    USATF does have a FAQ drug webpage at:

    which states, “The list of prohibited substances is subject to change without notice. In addition, drugs not listed or different formulations of the same brand name may not be allowed. For any of these reasons, a “complete” or “safe” list is not available for distribution.”

    This is contrary to what is stated on the home WADA webpage under its link to the Prohibited List:

    “Updated annually, the List identifies the substances and methods prohibited to athletes in- and out-of-competition.”

    If WADA can’t produce an understandable or factually accurate website, it would be helpful for USATF to amend its FAQs webpage to explain how masters can navigate the USADA and WADA websites.

  22. Jeff Davison - October 27, 2015

    Note: The banned list changes (adds and deletes) what is and what is not banned.
    A moving target …

    And why two different websites?

  23. Mike Walker - October 27, 2015

    While I am supporting drug use, the system seems to be unmanageable, difficult to enforce and people do cheat to help their performances. Perhaps the solution is to allow drug use for Masters.

  24. Mike Walker - October 27, 2015

    OOPS! in my last response, I meant to say that “I am not supporting drug use”. Should have proof read my email before sending.

  25. Johnb5 - September 8, 2016

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