The Domestique Partner is an anonymous columnist who will be writing about the experience of being a pro cyclist’s better half. Follow along this season to learn about what it’s like to live on the other side of the barriers
Ah the drug testers … once again, headlines are full of them, but at least they haven’t interrupted my sleep in a few weeks.
Let’s talk about whereabouts, which lie at the center of the Lizzie Armitstead controversy that erupted Tuesday. She missed three tests, got suspended (secretly), then had one of the missed tests removed, and will now race in Rio. That’s the very short version of what is undoubtedly a long story.
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Here are the basics: Every rider designates a one-hour testing slot, 365 days a year. Vacations, holidays, the drug testers can come on Christmas morning if they want. I hope one year they do, and the kids think it’s Santa Claus. (Should we start a new tradition of leaving Santa a cup of pee?) We tend to pick early hours, because that’s when we know we’ll be home.
So here’s what happens: The testers show up (in a pair) and ring the bell (at 6 a.m.). Then they do the obligatory paperwork. Then they follow the rider into the bathroom to watch him (or her) pee into a cup.
There’s a long-circulating tale of one rider, who after years of this, decided to start telling the drug testers he couldn’t wee in the morning without doing a #2 as well, and would go all in “dropping the kids off at school” in front of WADA. I’ve never confirmed the authenticity of this, but it sure is a good laugh.
So anyway, the urination happens, the blood is taken and they are on their way. The whole affair usually takes about 20 minutes. It’s definitely a bit weird to have strangers in your home at funny hours, and it’s weird to know that I have to be prepared to answer the door; it’s a fear that leads me to leave risqué lingerie sitting unused in my bottom drawer.
The funny thing with being tested at home, living among a large community of cyclists, is the gossip network is like a wildfire. We all know within about 20 minutes when the drug testers are in town. One person gets tested and everyone knows.
I’m assuming they usually test the most suspect first, and they only ever stay for a day or two, so it’s probably not enough time to sufficiently “flush” (and we aren’t talking about that #2 anymore).
My partner missed a test once, a long time ago. Due to a delayed flight, he’d put his one-hour slot late in the evening as it was an overnight flight. But the flight was so delayed he didn’t make it home in time, and in his haze of jet lag, forgot to update.
(Note: There is an in-transit option to accommodate long flights and travel.)
All I can say on this is he’s never missed one again. He asks me to always double-check, I have emergency access to update them if he can’t get online (good ol’ French WiFi…), and since that one error he’s been vigilant. After that mistake, he was mortified. He had to call his team and let them know what had happened. He counted down the next 18 months (it’s now three in 12 months, not 18, but that’s a recent change), in fear constantly of any further errors beyond his control.
Whereabouts can have some unexpected bonuses (or downfalls) as well. There is, for example, the somewhat famous divorce proceedings where the jilted, soon-to-be ex-wife subpoenaed the whereabouts records to prove the philandering of the rider. Essentially he was claiming he was home with her for times that he wasn’t. The ADAMS records showed the truth. That’s a pretty badass move there.
It’s a tough thing, but it’s part of life. An occasional interrupted sleep, the inability to do a cross-country road trip without a plan, these things are unfortunate. Route 66 will have to wait until retirement, along with that silk negligee. But the fact that catching cheaters will always be worth the sacrifices.
And on that note ladies (or gentlemen): If you ever happen across a one-night tryst with a pro rider, don’t be alarmed or upset that you’ve woken up in the morning alone. They have probably just run home to make sure they didn’t miss a testing slot.