The Jackson Hole News & Guide (JHNG) has published a somewhat detailed article and interview on their local athlete and citizen, Holly Balogh, who has been banned by Ironman and thus from any WADA affiliated sport for the next 4-years.
As per my journal update the other day, Balogh was still in denial, and attempting to race in ultra races. After reading the JH New and Guide article, it seems she is still confused about what she did wrong, and why it was wrong. Although I can't imagine why she'd ever read this blog post, but just in case others in a similar situation do, I though a quick analogy might be useful to help you see why taking any form of banned substance is not acceptable.
“My understanding was that if you were taking a drug within your body’s normal level — what would be considered normal for your body — as long as you didn’t exceed those normal levels, you were not taking it at a banned level.”
So, lets be clear, normals are established by measuring a sample of similar people. The outliers, or extremes are removed from the sample, and the range of those left are considered normal. There is nothing in this "normal" which is Baloghs. She was tested, and her level didn't come within the normal range. So, if she was part of the tested sample, she would have been an outlier.
So, did that entitle her to take a testosterone? No.
Anyone who has been following my blog for any time will know I have one leg a full 2-inches shorter than the other following a 1978 motorcycle crash. Even though I now have a specially adapted cleat for my bike shoes and running shoes, I still have serious problems with my knees and hips. My right leg stride length is some 6-inches shorter than my left, and overall, my running always slow in my age group. I'm unable to train as much or at the same intensity as my age group peers.
So, you take a sample of my age group stride length, and I'd come in as an outlier, my stride would be short. Does this mean I can cut the run course to make up for my stride length? No.
I've been tempted, at the Republic of Texas Triathlon (half-ironman distance) I was in the lead by 12-minutes as the run started, I knew is was a 2-loop out and back, how would see if at the far end of the course I cut the course? But I didn't on either loop. But I can't deny thinking about it. After all if I had two normal legs I'd be able to run faster and would win more than I do! I lost a 12-monute lead and cane 2nd.
The JHNG article goes on to say:
"Balogh said she was prescribed testosterone as part of hormone replacement therapy treatment from her doctor, but did not know the substance was banned."
"The Jackson real estate associate said she didn’t apply for a therapeutic use exemption — which those in the sport abbreviate to TUE — because she said she didn’t know what a TUE was. “I didn’t think that I was doping,” she said. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”
USADA will not grant Women a TUE for testosterone. This is clearly stated here.
“It allowed me to stay healthy and train, and not be recovering from injury,” she said. “I don’t believe it helped me in the sense that I substantially improved my time or gave me some sort of advantage of being better and faster.”
AND THATS THE MILLION DOLLAR POINT. Everyone else suffers through their injuries, takes time off, and then works hard to try to get back to their normal fitness, many do not make it. In the Age Group ranks, unlike the pro category, some never come back at all after a serious injury as they are unable to spend the time and money to regain their former fitness.
"Balogh has had to change her Twitter handle on more than one occasion after online strangers demanded answers from the woman they didn’t know."
Likely Tim Heming, Tim is an excellent journalist who writes for News International, The Times Sports section, and 220 Triathlon Magazine.
Hollys story is common, especially with women in the mid-life phase, plenty do suffer from bone density problems; the menopause affects women differently and is life-changing. That doesn't give anyone the right to take banned drugs, there is no normal. Statistical samples do not apply when it comes to racing.
Should you be deprived of the chance to participate in the sport you love just because you have a medical condition that requires treatment. No, but YOU are responsible for your actions. Don't win, don't place, and most importantly, don't accept slots in discretionary races like Ironman Hawaii when you taken substances that give you an advantage over an identically aged woman with the same diagnosis who decided not to take supplements.