Drug Testing in the Sport of Obstacle Racing: Yay or Nay?


So there has been a lot of talk about creating a governing body for obstacle course racing (OCR) and getting OCR into the olympics.  The only way I ever see a governing body being formed in the United Sates where the major players, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Spartan Race play nice together is through government mandates.  I don’t think it is that far fetched however, to one day see Spartan Race style obstacle racing make it into the Olympics (since Spartan Race is the one pushing for the sport’s olympic legitimacy). Should that day ever come athletes will of course be subject to the Olympic’s standards for drug use and the corresponding testing practices.  My question is, should OCR athletes be subject to some kind of drug testing now?

This weekend I ran the Spartan Race World Championship Beast race.  I was scheduled to run the Ultra Beast the next day.  Kudos to the race directors for designing a Beast course that broke me mentally. I quit the Ultra Beast in my head before the race even began. I barely finished the Beast. Yet so many others rose to the challenge and accomplished so much more. There were people who ran the Beast both days (one winning the second day), a lot more people than expected were able to complete the Beast and the Ultra Beast (despite a Spartan Race internal bet that it couldn’t be done), one athlete rode his bike from Texas to the race weekend and did both the Beast and the Ultra Beast. Others competed in the Team Death Race, a multi day, non-stop sufferfest that culminated in the entrants having to complete the Ultra Beast for their finisher skulls and they too rose to that challenge.  

All of these remarkable people obviously put in a lot more training and had a higher tolerance for suffering than what I chose to give to Vermont this past weekend. Now here’s my thought and I will receive some flak for this. Given the high rate of performance enhancing drug (PED) use by high school athletes in the US (search Google) I think it would be safe to assume there are people  among us in this sport taking PEDs.  While I don’t think we are anywhere near what is going on in cycling where all the top guys are enhanced I will bet my business, based on the statistics, that inevitably we have and will see athletes taking PEDs to push themselves further in our sport. Should we care? I will never be in the top 20 so this doesn’t affect me personally. Yet we have races like the World Championship race and World’s Toughest Mudder paying out some decent prize money now.  Is it fair to those in the top to go against someone using PEDs? Is it fair to all the true beasts that accomplished the great feats this past weekend if one (or possibly more of them) used PEDs?

I personally don’t care either way. I left VT no longer caring about my ranking but focusing on my own abilities, weaknesses and athletic goals (I feel like I ran a simple 5k in comparison to what my fellow athletes accomplished). I know however, how passionate people can be about the topic of performance enhancing drug use in sports and I invite you to start the discussion of its assumed existence in OCR.  


  1. Agreed. PED use is too widespread for it NOT to have featured in these races. As things progress, it needs monitoring, and there’s no time like the present to introduce it, esp. with the prize money on offer.

  2. 100 % yes. I’ve been saying there should be testing for a quite a while. To presume people would not do it in this sport is just naive. The lesson learned from competitive running for example is that people will use performance enhancing drugs for less prize money that is on the table in OCR right now.

  3. So within two minutes I was asked twice whether I was implying that those or some of those who completed both the Beast and the Ultra Beast are on PEDs…. NOT AT ALL. Just that statistically I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more were. Please don’t hit me with a bat next time I’m at a race!

  4. Hey guys, my name is Marc-Andre Bedard, I’m an Olympian in biathlon and I’ve been racing my first OCR at the Killington beast in 2011. I’ve race a few more and I’ve seen the level step up since, not so much for the top spots but definitely for everyone trying to crack the top 10!

    As a biathlete racing for my coutry; I’m only allowed to get paid and compete in order to follow the drug testing routine, which basically put;
    I fill up a calendar, giving an hour a day where I’m available at a precise adress so that the “doping police” can come and test me anywhere, anytime. All year around!! On races, every winner gets tested (blood), 5 others in the top spots and 5 more are “drawn” in a bucket (not really ,if you haven’t been tested for a while even if your not on the podium, they’ll pick you! Even worst if your blood/urine is not regular or have tested positive on anything in the past!

    This is the world cup/Olympic standard in my sport, and there have been next to no case in 5years!! So it works…

    I don’t believe ocr is there yet but I do believe strongly that, if it means money, then there should be a possible test! Then cheaters will get scared and will go back to training! With a purse like Vermont, that makes quite a difference if one person gets caught! (7000$for 2nd!!15000$ for first!! ) With a sport like OCR, nobody has any control over anybody right now… Except the few “high level athletes” from other sports that race in those! (because they already get tested all the time!)

    Easy said, you win the 15G prize money or any money if you want my opinion, you get tested right after the race(or you might get tested) just like any other sport, fear works pretty good against people that might think of cheating!

    You get caught, you lose the money, medal, you’re banned for 2 years or something! That simple! Nobody will get caught that way! No top spots anyway and the sport won’t get a controversy that’s right there, on the corner waiting to kill OCR as a racing sport! And if it does, then everyone will know that OCR is taking the health of their participant seriously and that no such act will be tolerated…

    Sorry for the long reply, I’m pretty serious about this and this “sport” is too good too lose control and credibility over some idiots trying to get some glory from the back door!
    My girlfriend (claude g) and I will be racing more next year and we will push toward a clean sport like any sport should be!
    Marc Andre Bédard


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