Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Trouble With Growing The Game

As I sat in the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) seminar last Saturday I began to ponder the age old question, “Why isn’t Lacrosse bigger?”

It is a difficult question and one that has been asked for many years. It should not be this hard and yet every year we pine for acceptance while only gaining notoriety when the next brawl video shows up on the news.

While I listened to the CCES presenter struggle to answer any questions on Lacrosse specific sanctions while two executives of the OLA sat silent in the same room, it struck me. Lacrosse has a serious leadership problem. I don’t mean Lacrosse lacks good, quality people who do great work to run the day to day of our game. I mean Lacrosse in Canada at the National and Provincial and Local level really lacks people with vision and the ability to see outside the box.

I approached one of the aforementioned OLA Executives after the CCES presentation and asked why he did not speak up. The response; “I have no idea what the answer is because the CLA has not given any rules yet”. Remember that in September of 2012, the Mann Cup was tarred by conflicts around Doping Control and testing of selected players. Here we are 6 months later and still nothing further has been done to inform the Lacrosse community about sanctions or testing parameters.

How could we get into a spot where our National Governing body isn’t even aware of the possibility of drug testing being required by their masters at Sport Canada? Did not one person at the CLA Conventions or meetings speak up about the real possibility that Sport Canada would demand drug testing in Lacrosse for continued financial support? I shudder to think that either no one did or that someone did and they were dismissed. Based on the CLA’s foot dragging, it is painfully obvious that the majority had dismissed the very real possibility of drug testing in Lacrosse as far-fetched. Yet these are the people who we let continually run our game.

Maybe it is time that we start asking ourselves one important question. Why? Why are we still letting the same people run the sport the same way it has always been run? Why are we not asking for more clarity and more information and more accountability? Why are we so afraid of change? It is one small world with the power for major change.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drug Testing comes to Lacrosse in Canada

CCES and Drug Testing in Lacrosse

The 2012 Mann Cup was marred by a confrontation between Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) Doping Control Officers and the staffs of Langley and Peterborough. Both Head Coaches were suspended after they denied Doping Control Officers access to requested players. Ultimately the players were tested and the suspensions lifted by the CLA but the whole story was a black eye on the sport.

The main issue then was the clear lack of proper information being provided to the teams. It took until February but it seems that we finally have more information on the Drug Testing process. The OLA is even conducting a seminar at next weekend’s Semi-Annual Meeting with CCES Staff to answer questions from teams.

Here are the basics of Drug Testing for Lacrosse as outlined by the OLA.

1. Athlete Selection

Athletes may be selected for sample collection at competitions, training camps, at their home or at any other location throughout the year, with no advance notice.

The athlete will be notified of his/her selection for doping control by a CCES chaperone or CCES doping control officer and informed that a urine and/or blood sample will be collected. The athlete will also be informed of his/her rights and responsibilities. The athlete reads and signs the Athlete Selection Order and then reports to the doping control station.

2. In-Competition and Out of Competition Selection

How are athletes selected and notified for in-competition testing?
Athletes are chosen for in-competition testing as a result of a finishing position, a random selection method, or in some cases, a targeted test. A chaperone or doping control officer (DCO) approaches the athlete after the event to present the Athlete Selection Order.

How are athletes selected and notified for out-of-competition testing?
Athletes may be selected for out-of competition testing anywhere and at any time during the year. This means that the tests are unscheduled and athletes will not know they are going to be tested until an authorized DCO arrives at their training venue, residence, or any other location, and presents them with an Athlete Selection Order.

3. Reporting for Drug Testing and Acceptable Delay Reasons

Once notified, you must report to the doping control station immediately. If necessary, you can request a delay in reporting for a valid reason. Valid reasons include:
• Competing in further events;
• Participation in a victory ceremony;
• Fulfillment of media commitments;
• Performing a warm down;
• Obtaining necessary medical treatments;
• Locating a representative and/or interpreter;
• Obtaining photo identification; or
• Completing a training session.
If you are granted a delay in reporting to the doping control station, or a leave from the doping control station, you will be accompanied by a chaperone. Once at the doping control station, the DCO will explain the sample collection process to you and give you the opportunity to ask questions

4. Sample Types – Urine vs. Blood Sample

Urine Sample
When the athlete is ready to provide a sample, he/she selects an individually sealed collection vessel. The athlete is responsible for retaining control of the collection vessel at all times until the sample is sealed. In the washroom, the athlete washes his/her hands with little or no soap and then rinses them. The athlete provides a urine sample of at least 90 ml in the presence of a chaperone of the same sex. To ensure the chaperone has an unobstructed view of the passing of the sample, the athlete must disrobe from mid-torso to mid-thigh.

Blood Sample
The athlete will be asked to remain seated and relaxed for at least 10 minutes before undergoing venipuncture. Similar to the urine collection, the athlete will be asked to select the blood collection equipment to be used for the session from a number of available kits (including Berlinger blood kit, Vacutainer blood tubes, needles, etc.). They must also inspect the equipment and verify the sample code numbers. The blood collection officer will ask for the athlete’s non-dominant arm, apply a tourniquet to the upper arm, and clean the skin at the puncture site. Once this is complete, the blood collection officer will draw blood from the athlete and fill each Vacutainer blood tube with the required volume of blood. At the completion of the blood draw, the collection officer will place the Vacutainer tubes into the Berlinger A and B bottles.

What does it all mean? Well first and foremost, drug testing is here and a part of Lacrosse in Canada. Don’t think it will be restricted to the MSL/WLA as they have said any level could be tested, though let’s presume that they would focus primarily on age groups of 18 and above. Though this is definitely not certain!

What are they testing for? Well you can refer to this handy 60 page document for a list of banned substances as well as perfectly legal substances that you can continue to use. Remember that while it may seem silly that a cough medicine could trigger a positive test result, many drugs are on the banned list not because they enhance performance but because they mask other drugs which are associated with performance enhancement. For the full list, please visit the CCES website here:


What is currently unclear are the penalties that will be applied by the CLA should an athlete have a positive test. I hope to have more answers to this and other important questions after the meeting next weekend.