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On Racing Clean

Posted: Jun 13 2017

Triathlon, Cycling, Running, & Swimming are Beautiful. Please, let's keep them that way.

We consider ourselves lucky to live in Los Angeles. In addition to having access to incredible people and fantastic factories, we also have more than our fair share of entertainment options. When we’re not out swimming, biking, or running, a few of us in the Coeur office will visit a comedy club from time to time. There are quite a few of them in and around LA and they generally fall into two camps. Sketch and Improv. In case you’re interested, Sketch comedy is more scripted and Improv (as you might expect) is more spontaneous.

Clean Sport Collective Blog

We're told that one of the rules of Improv Comedy is to stay positive

Now the reason we bring this up is because, while it is unscripted, there are some rules about how an Improv Troupe operates. Depending on who you ask, there could be five, eight, or ten things to keep in mind to create great improvisational comedy. These include things like: “Make your partner look good”, “Move the story forward” and say “Yes and” as often as possible. Generally very positive actions and they all work in concert to create remarkable and hilarious skits.

Now, we’re not experts on this by any stretch, but we find it interesting to note that amidst all of the positive things that an Improv comedian is to do, there is one major thing that she or he is not supposed to do. Namely…“Don’t go Negative”. Our understanding of the art is that going negative blocks the story, kills the mood, and can ruin the skit.

Now that idea resonates with us. We enjoy being positive and almost invariably consider Life's Glass to be Half Full. 

Wine Glass from Coeur Sports

This Glass is fluctuates between half full and fully full

That’s why we get so energized by cheering, seeing people accomplish their goals and by (hopefully) playing some small part in their journey. Being positive has a self-reinforcing nature and saying “yes” seems to have a magical way of opening doors.  

However, today we’re addressing a topic that challenges our desire to stay positive. Namely doping in endurance sports. Recently, we read where another endurance athlete tested positive for a banned substance. In this case, it was a female Brazilian professional triathlete who was caught. She was racing 70.3 Buenos Aires and after being caught, she rationalized her doping by saying something to the effect of that it didn’t help her because she didn’t win the race.

While we don’t know if it is statistically valid, it seems like there has been an unusually high number of positive tests over the last year and several of them have been with female athletes. When a doping story breaks, we may mention it around the office and ask if anyone knows the back story on the athlete. Then after a bit discussion, we generally get back to work and try not to get too distracted. However, this latest positive test was a proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” and we had a crack in our self-control. That led to our posting the link to the story along with this comment on twitter:

Sad this happened again. We can only imagine how much it must hurt to race clean & be cheated out of a podium spot @coeursports

Then, to add to some more blueness to an already blue day, we received a number of responses from retired and active professionals that can only be categorized as heartbreaking. They included these two that really resonated with us:

Yeah... the effects are felt in lost prize money, lost sponsorship opportunities, & constant self-questioning of "What am I doing wrong?"

And

I'll tell you how it feels, horrible!

To expand a bit on our tweet, we know how hard pros work and we know how a podium spot that comes with a paycheck is an incredibly fulfilling accomplishment. Of course, the money isn’t huge, but we suspect that getting a check must provide a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction. The hours of work, the sacrifices and decisions made along the way are publically validated by standing on that podium and receiving actual cash for your work.

In our opinion, to have that moment stolen from a clean athlete by someone who decided that the rules didn’t apply to them would be absolutely devastating.

Fortunately, there is hope! There’s an organization called the Clean Sport Collective that is taking a very interesting (and we think effective) approach to eliminating doping. They are asking all the constituents to take a pledge to do their part to clean up sports. The pledges differ by role and the collective effect of brands, athletes, coaches, agents, fans, events, and clubs coming together to demand a clean sport should be incredibly powerful.

Clean Sport Collective

The pledge for a brand basically states that we will support athletes who race clean and will not sponsor athletes who have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. The full pledge (along with all the others) can be found here at the Clean Sport Collective site.

Now, we know that few things in life are as simple as they seems, but we honestly believe that every brand would want to sign this pledge. It stands to reason that having a sponsored athlete who dopes is a negative for a brand and the more we, as an industry, can align around a common message, the more good we can do.

So, our request of you is to consider signing the pledge and to spread the word so we can make and keep endurance sports clean.

Happy Training and Racing!

Your friends at Coeur