Kristi Anderson ‘bewildered’ over yearlong drug suspension

Kristi at work.

Kristi at work.

In its news release on Kristi Anderson’s suspension, USADA called her a track and field athlete. Not so. The 51-year-old mountain runner in Colorado says she’s never competed in a masters track meet. Had she been a part of our game, she might have shared our awareness about banned substances and how to get permission to use them for medical reasons. In any case, she was blindsided by the fallout from her drug test at an August race. She shared her thoughts (often with a great sense of humor) in a quickie Q&A conducted via email Christmas Eve. Kristi runs a physical therapy shop near her home in Longmont. Her case illustrates (again) what happens when a one-size-fits-all antidoping system bumps up against age-groupers with legitimate medical needs. Ask Kathy Jager.

Kristi says she won't let competition ban cramp her Colorado running plans

Kristi says she won’t let competition ban cramp her Colorado running plans. What was your reaction to the positive test at the Pikes Peak Marathon?

Kristi Anderson: My reaction: a series of emotions ranging from fear to bewilderment to amusement — mostly fear. “Why are they after me?” “Oh my God, do I have to go on Oprah?”

Were you aware of the TUE process going into the race?

I have never heard of the TUE process. I’m not an elite runner; I’m a middle-aged mom and business owner who loves to run in the mountains.

What’s your medical need for DHEA?  

I saw a doctor for adrenal fatigue and menopausal symptoms. (I’m 51.) A hormonal panel showed low DHEA, practically nonexistent testosterone and low estrogen. Despite taking the dose recommended, my levels remain low; there is no competitive advantage from my perspective.

Did you consider fighting the suspension?  If not, why not?

I did not consider fighting the suspension. The protocol for fighting it seemed daunting and the suspension at any length doesn’t affect my aspirations as a runner.

How does your suspension affect your competition plans? 

The suspension has no effect on my future plans in any way. My enjoyment lies in experiencing the trails either solo or within the friendly trail running community. I like the trail running races because of their low key nature and the perk of having festive water stations in crazy remote places.

How is your case being covered locally? Snark or sympathy?

It’s too soon to tell how the local media will treat my case. The USADA press release felt like a slap in the face. I have received supportive phone calls and comments to my defense on the local trail running thread so far. One person expressed shock on what he called a “random assault” on my character. People are entitled to their opinions and some people are more prone to judge than others. I accept the fact that I have no control over that.

What do you want your fellow masters runners to know about your case?  What you’ve learned from this ordeal?

I still feel a combination of horror and amusement about this experience. I am bewildered as to why USADA would waste their time and resources on me. I take DHEA to support my health and well-being and will continue to take it for those reasons. Avoiding the competitive events that ban this substance is not an issue for me. The Pikes Peak Marathon race director completely understood my situation and invited me back to his race.

Me again: Kristi also notes: “I am not a member of USATF. Does that matter? I don’t know why USADA was at Pikes Peak Marathon. The Ascent, on Saturday, was part of a team world competition. The marathon was a low key, though very challenging, event. USADA says they can come to my house now. I feel like I’ve been abducted by the circus.”

So how can a non-USATF member be suspended by USADA? That’s like a non-Catholic being excommunicated. Crazy.

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December 25, 2014

19 Responses

  1. Dexter - December 26, 2014

    USADA is not affiliated with USATF. And, Kristi does not have to be a member of USATF to be tested. USADA is responsible for administration of anti-doping programs for all USOC recognized Olympic, para-Olympic sports AND events (which includes competitions such as mountain ultra-trail)

    Kristi was tested because she ran in a sanctioned competition. It was pure chance, I’m guessing, that She was tested as they do random testing.

  2. Wayne Middlesteadt - December 26, 2014

    “USADA says they can come to my house now.”

    And you can tell the USADA rep to shove his sample vial where the sun doesn’t shine. That’s the beauty of having USATF provide zero support to 90% of the US running scene.

  3. Jeff Hammond - December 26, 2014

    This is a shameless and immoral act by USADA. Unfortunately, it has become a pattern for age group recreational athletes.

  4. tb - December 26, 2014

    It might be via the World Mountain Running Association which is in some way under the IAAF umbrella. Has nothing to do with USATF.

  5. Caroline M. - December 27, 2014

    The USADA says they can come to her house? WTF? Under the circumstances in this article, I wouldn’t be opening the door for them, to say the least.

  6. char vc - December 27, 2014

    Excuses excuses. Why can’t anyone tell the truth and say “I wanted a competitive advantage so I doped”.

    Athletes of all ages and levels should not be taking PEDs. Rule one of an athlete – check your supplements. Plenty of information out there.

    You’re also cheating yourself. If you are prescribed a PED then all your PBs from then on are invalid as they will be aided.

  7. Paul - December 27, 2014

    The decision to starting testing the top ten marathon finishers and top four half-marathon finishers was widely publicized last year in magazines like Runner’s World. All master’s runners are trying to fight the onsite of age and it’s only right that we do it through fair means, training, not medication.

  8. Tollie Bibb - December 27, 2014

    You have my admiration as a great masters trail runner. Keep up the good work and onto us to take care of your physical needs. Being a 71year old trail runner do I have to be worried about a possible drug test at my next race. Maybe I should stop thing me baby aspirin since it helps my continuing performance.

  9. M. Ford - December 27, 2014

    Seems to me that she isnt part of or a member of a sanctioning body nor was running masters so it isnt a issue…. She didnt pull a Lance Armstrong…. Let things be…..

  10. dave albo - December 28, 2014

    Does Kristi performance make sense as regards being tested? Her time was 5:41, but this is not a normal marathon as you climb to 14000′ and come back down. So is this a good time or not?

    The course record for women is 4:15. If you do some math Kristi ran 33% slower than the course record. I’ll assume the course record is really really good but not quite as good as say Paula Radcliffe. I’ll just guess that 4:15 is maybe as good as running a 2:25 open marathon so that there is something to compare against.

    33% slower than 2:25 is 3:13, which would be the time equivalent of Kristi’s time.

    So how good is 3:13? I looked up Boston 2014 results for women 50+ and see that Susan Lokken was first woman 50+ with a 2:55, and the 14’th W50+ (549th overall) ran a 3:13.

    Would you really expect the 14th 50+ year old, 549th finisher to be completely up to speed on which supplements and drugs are disallowed? And to plan their life around a potential test? I would argue that is a somewhat extreme expectation.

  11. Bob Pollmann - December 28, 2014

    It seems pretty clear to me that she was prescribed DHEA by her physician for a legitimate health problem, so I find the negative comments against her here to be completely baseless.

  12. Deb Conley - December 28, 2014

    I have now started the process to submit my TUE application for adrenal insufficiency which I have been on treatment for last 18 years. My medical records are massive. For the first 12 years, I was getting blood monitored every 4 months. I see my doctor for this condition every 4 months. My condition was due to trauma of the brain and pituary after massive blood loss during the birth of my child.

    I hope that USADA is bombarded with TUE applications. By the way, can I deduct the costs associated from getting my medical records and doctors notes from my USATF membership fees?

  13. Mark - December 28, 2014

    Deb, what part of USADA and USATF not being related do you not understand?

  14. David - December 29, 2014

    If you are ranked in the top 15 in the US at any event covered under the NGBs, you are part of the available testing pool. MUT (Mountain, Ultra, and Trail) is now part of USATF and the IAAF has world championship events for these distances. No matter your age, if you are ranked in the top 15, you are subject to being tested. It is unfortunate that Kristi was unaware of this, but this happens with young athletes as well. There are young kids with allergies or even asthma that have a break through year. They find themselves at the US Junior Champs and make a Team USA, just to find out they test positive because their medications are not on file with the USADA. There should be exceptions to the rule and they may well be, but since Kristi didn’t file a petition, we will never know.

  15. TrackCoach - December 30, 2014

    There is a lot to this story we can offer opinions about, but the fact remains, Kristi doped and she got caught. (That’s not debatable!) Some people are actually blaming USADA as if they did something wrong; they were just doing their job.

    I looked at Kristi’s pic, she looks very fit and her performance results indicates she takes her running serious. Competitive female master’s runners are not stupid, they are always looking for ways to get better. Kristi is a smart lady, I am not buying her somewhat flippant response.

  16. Kevin - December 30, 2014

    To the people commenting about USADA coming to her house. She doesn’t have to let them in and test her. But if she doesn’t then they will likely ban her for life.

    BTW, Tyler Hamilton tested positive for this same substance when he came back to cycling after his blood doping suspension. Being that it was his second offense he was banned for 8 years I believe.

    They aren’t picking on this woman. DHEA is on the banned list. If you compete at a high level you have a responsibility to be aware of the anti doping rules and what you put into your body. That may require hard choices and those choices may have consequences on way or the other.

    Based on her results, she does compete at a high level. She may be “old” at 51 (I’m 53 BTW), but there are a lot of “old” people who are fast and she is one of them.

    Everybody who competes at a high level whether it be overall elite or age group would do well to become familiar with the contents of the USADA web site.

    You can walk into your local GNC and probably buy 20 substances that will cause you to test positive in a dope test.

    Know what you take and know what is in what you take. Just because a doctor prescribes it doesn’t mean that it’s legal in sport.

  17. Ken Stone - December 30, 2014

    Lotsa chatter on T&FN message board on this case:

  18. Linda - January 6, 2015

    Deb, as a woman you will not get a TUE for any androgen regardless of your circumstances or your history of test results. USADA takes a hard line stance on that. Sadly, you have to choose between safeguarding your health by taking prescribed drugs, or competing in a USADA-tested sport. You can’t do both, regardless of your age.

  19. Jim - January 16, 2015

    The suspension is valid and should be supported by all competitors. Ms. Anderson attributes her low levels to age; okay. Boosting them to a higher level which she or her doctor deems acceptable is the definition of doping. Guess what? Chemical changes occur in the body over time, and over time substances in our body that help us to run fast, jump high, endure longer periods of extreme exercise, heal more quickly, etc. deteriorate. Its called aging. Couch it under any personal moral rock you choose, taking substance(s) knowingly or not that improves ability is still doping. USADA testing is an effort to create a level–fair–playing field. When Ms. Anderson states that she’ll continue to take DHEA she is demonstrating to her competitors that her wish to perform at whatever level she chooses is more important than their desire to compete in a fair race. To her they may collectively and correctly state: You are a doper, Ms. Anderson. Go compete against other dopers only, or stop doping and test yourself against clean athletes and push your own inherent limits.

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