U.S. Winter Olympians Reveal Bizarre Drug Testing Experiences

U.S. Winter Olympians Reveal Bizarre Drug Testing Experiences

By McCarton Ackerman 01/13/14

From the Sundance Film Festival to Sundays at church, Olympic athletes have grown used to the inconvenient places they've been asked to pee.

heather mcphie.jpg
Heather McPhie Photo via

For the athletes competing next month in the Winter Olympics, drug testing is just as year-round as their training regimen. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) requires athletes to keep them informed of their whereabouts 365 days a year in order for Doping Control Officers (DCO) to show up and administer a drug test at a moment’s notice. Naturally, that can result in some awkward locations for a pee test to be administered.

“One time they came to church,” said snowboarder Kelly Clark. Per the standard process, a female DCO chaperone accompanied Clark to the bathroom and watched as she provided a urine sample. Samples are then tested for a variety of banned substances in about an hour so long as additional blood work isn’t required. “Somebody came up to me and was like, 'Um, so there’s some people here to see you.' It was before the service had started ... it was awkward at best.”

The invasiveness of the drug testing process can be shocking for those who aren’t used to it, but plenty of Olympians have grown immune to the process. “My aunt thought it was funny that they followed me around everywhere. She kept asking for them to give me a little breathing room, but I had to explain that, no, they have to follow me around,” said hockey player Brianna Decker. “In the beginning I would make small talk with them. Now I just pretend they’re not there. I don’t want to be rude, but I’m on a schedule and I need to go on with my day."

Even when athletes are on holiday, DCO chaperones still reserve the right to come knocking at the most inconvenient times. "I was tested during the Sundance Film Festival once — that was fun,” said speed skater Allison Baver. “There was a knock on my door at 6 a.m., and everyone was like, 'What is going on right now?' They came in and sat at the table, and we’re all hanging out, shooting the shit, talking about Sundance, waiting for me to pee. Everyone is still in their pj's. I asked if I can tweet that this is happening. And they were like, 'You want to take a picture of your pee?' Apparently you’re allowed to do that, so I did. The tester was not allowed to be in the photo though."