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Athletes Complain About "Knock and Pee" Program


October 1995

US track and field athletes are complaining about a new set of rules governing drug testing (Christine Brennan, "Track Athletes Are Sorely Tested," Washington Post, August 13, 1995, p. D1).

The new rules require that the urine collector arrive at the athlete's home or place of business unannounced. At that time, the athlete is required to produce a urine sample in the presence of the collector. If for any reason the athlete cannot complete the test immediately, the collector is required to keep the athlete in his/her sight at all times until the urine sample is given. Any athlete ranked in the top 15 of a particular sport is subject to these tests at any time.

These rules were established on July 15 by USA Track and Field, the governing body of the sport. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), another body with jurisdiction over track and field athletes, has been conducting "knock and pee" tests for about 2 1/2 years.

The new tests cost between $1500 and $2000 each. In the previous program, which gave the athlete 48 hours to appear at a testing station, each test cost about $300.

"In representing my country, do I give up my constitutional rights?" asked track athlete Butch Reynolds. "I have no problem giving a sample on the track. But I have a hard time with them coming to my house at 8:30 pm when I'm having people over for dinner."

Reynolds was approached by a tester as he was headed out for a workout and soon before he was to host a dinner party. The collector and her husband followed Reynolds as he walked two miles. When they got back to Reynolds's house, they waited for two hours until Reynolds could urinate. The collector's husband went into the bathroom with the athlete to ensure the sample was not tampered with.

Reynolds said he does not understand why the testers have to come to his home when they could easily, and still unannounced, show up at his practices.

Reynolds was the center of another drug testing controversy in the early 1990s (see "Supreme Court Will Not Review Ruling on Olympic Gold Medalist's Botched Drug Test," NewsBriefs, January 1995). Reynolds was suspended by the IAAF in 1990 for two years after a suspiciously handled urine sample tested positive.