Skip to content

How to avoid the CrossFit doping test

Wie man den CrossFit Dopingtest umgeht

How to avoid the CrossFit drug test

Here is a brief summary:

  1. The author is one of the world's leading experts on steroid use. He believes in their use and teaches athletes including CrossFitters how to avoid drug tests.
  2. Anyone with the IQ of a chicken breast could pass the drug test at the CrossFit Games. There are loopholes that can be easily exploited if you have the resources.
  3. Cheaters will do whatever it takes to win. But remember that "whatever it takes" means they really have to be willing to push the envelope to beat the tests.
  4. Dirty athletes in sports that test for banned performance-enhancing compounds have several tools at their disposal: designer steroids that are undetectable, artificial urine, rapidly undetectable drug cocktails, and the "duck and dodge" method.
  5. Even with the best methods, your social environment can expose you. Since it's possible for dopers in some disciplines to get away with a lighter sentence if they blow the whistle on other dopers, it's better to do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut.

Note: This is an article dealing with the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in CrossFit - and the CrossFit Games in particular. All comments made in this article regarding specific pharmacokinetics pertain to male athletes. Even though the loopholes in the CrossFit Doping Policy are not gender specific, the chemical side of cheating is quite gender specific.

You feel attacked and I don't care

After the many responses to my last article on CrossFit and steroids, I decided to address one of the more popular topics of discussion sparked by that article.

I delved into this topic because more and more of this world is being viewed through rose-colored glasses, and the rose-colored ones seem to be worn by aspiring athletes who are also wearing at least two pieces of completely overpriced Reebok clothing at any given time. It's my pleasure to give these Kool Aid drinking dreamers a nudge back to reality.

What I think - my opinion, based on my experience - is that anyone with the IQ of a chicken breast can pass a CrossFit drug test. However, if you are thinking that this is going to be a step by step guide on how to pass this test, then you are going to be disappointed. This is not the aim of this article.

If you want me to help you pass your doping test, then like everyone else - including the CrossFit athletes who come to me - you will have to pay for it.

Anti-doping policies for fools

The Crossfiteratti are convinced that if any of their godlike followers even dreamed of using performance-enhancing substances, they would wake up and apologize. And to prove that this denial is justified, they point to a very nice anti-doping policy that is designed to give the appearance that it is actually an effective deterrent.

At the top of this anti-doping policy you will find this short entry defining its purpose:

"CrossFit believes that its combination of targeted and random drug testing is appropriate for a number of reasons: to ensure the health, safety and well-being of athletes; to promote fair athletic competition; to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations regarding the misuse of performance-enhancing substances; to identify athletes who use drugs inappropriately; and to identify individuals and products that could harm the reputation of CrossFit, the CrossFit Games and participants worldwide."

"In addition, CrossFit recognizes its responsibility to create awareness of performance-enhancing drugs and supplements and to promote fitness and lifestyle choices that are consistent with CrossFit's models of fitness and health."

The only problem with such a definition of purpose is that it not only counters the tone of the entire document, but it also contradicts itself. First of all, this whole "fair competition in sport" fuss is a fallacy. Despite all efforts, there was no such thing as fair competition in sport even in the days of the ancient Greeks. Just to even mention such a thing shows how ridiculous the whole thing is.

The self-contradictory element becomes apparent at the point where the health, safety and well-being of the athlete is at stake. There is more than enough evidence to support the fact that if you really want to hurt yourself, you should definitely do CrossFit. A large number of doctors will confirm this as an indisputable fact, which in their opinion makes CrossFit one of the most injury-prone sports of our time.

Another indisputable fact is that anabolic steroids have significant recovery-enhancing effects in addition to building muscle mass and promoting the release and burning of body fat, according to numerous scientific studies published in prestigious medical journals.

CrossFit, known for its very high injury rate, should in good conscience promote the safe use of steroids instead of promoting an anti-doping policy that has more holes than a Swiss cheese. But the law, the public image, an idea that would make the gods look down more wickedly...If the bottom line is that the position is a contradiction in terms, then it is better to avoid the subject altogether, as is the case in bodybuilding.

I particularly like this little passage " identify athletes who use drugs inappropriately." And after they've been identified? Then what? "In addition, CrossFit recognizes its responsibility to create awareness of performance enhancing drugs and supplements."

Really? So you're going to identify athletes who use medications inappropriately and then provide them with awareness of this? For what? How to use these drugs properly? But that would contradict "...and promote fitness and lifestyle choices that are consistent with CrossFit models of fitness and health." So you mean living with nagging injuries that result from incorrect training protocols?

Whatever. Let's get back to the demon "steroids."

Cheating: Whatever it takes to do this

Even though CrossFit has worked very hard to emulate the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Anti-Doping Code, they've fallen short and left loopholes open that any halfway competent athlete could walk through with a top hat and walking stick.

According to the CrossFit Anti-Doping Policy, the following applies:

"All registered athletes are subject to testing for banned substances at any time of the year, including random and unannounced testing during the off-season."

Sounds serious, doesn't it? Well, let's pull back the blanket and see where the loopholes are.

A quick note: As far as skirting rules, regulations, protocols and doping tests, every person with mediocre morals who does this on a regular and successful basis has their own way of doing things. My way is certainly not the only way.

Today, there are many smart and cunning coaches and chemists who really know their stuff and I am honored to be one of them. My view in this article is to open up my particular toolbox and show you what I have at my disposal, not claiming that my methods are unique, nor will I teach you how to use them.

Some of the following may seem a little extreme, but you should remember that if you are going to cheat, you need to do so with full commitment. You can't be half-hearted here, because there's just too much at stake.

And if you're a level 10 player, the protocols are tight but still porous enough to let you get through. However, you must be willing to do whatever it takes. This should not be a problem as you have already decided to do whatever it takes to win, including cheating. If you do the latter, then you must also be willing to do whatever it takes to get away with it. You cannot choose to do one without the other.

If you're not willing to have a packed bag in the trunk of your car at all times and have enough wiggle room on your credit card to drop whatever you're doing to go to the airport and buy the next available ticket to a sinkhole in Egypt, then you shouldn't be playing this game, because that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Whatever it takes" is a serious salvo in this area. Which reminds me, you will also need a lawyer who is well versed in steroid investigations.

How the cheaters cheat

If we're going to get around the CrossFit Anti-Doping Code, there are a few dimensions of cheating that an athlete should become adept at if they want to get away with whatever it takes to win. Here are some of them.

Be bad or "retire" to avoid doping tests

According to WADA, and to a certain extent CrossFit, if you are an exceptional athlete in your chosen sport or are starting to show significant improvements in muscle mass, strength or speed, you are considered a "high risk doping candidate".

This means that you will be placed in a special pool of exceptional athletes. You will be tested at least three times in an 18-month period or at any time they want to test you - and the latter can be quite often. So the best way to minimize the risk of being tested is to be bad.

However, if you are not bad, then the best way to pass a doping test is still not to be tested. The best way to avoid such tests is to announce that you are ending your competitive career immediately after the CrossFit Games. If you end your competitive career, you will not be in the pool of athletes to be tested. You can announce your comeback before the next regional competition you want to compete in - or sometime just before the CrossFit Games if you know your test will be negative.

Use substances that are not tested for

The second best way to pass a doping test is to know for which substances on the banned list a test is not yet available.

CrossFit prohibits "most" of the substances on the NCAA Prohibited List. This list is long and CrossFit also admits that this list is not exhaustive. They are essentially leaving the door open to add any substance they want to this list at any time they want, which may even include substances that are not yet known.

The only problem with such an ambitious list is that it will always include some substances that are not tested for. Even if they say you can't use these substances, they have no way of convicting you of using them. Basically, they rely on the honor system - or your ignorance - to keep these substances out of competition. If you want to cheat, then this is a license to do so.

Never risk a doping test you can't pass

Knowing that you will pass a test is crucial. To do this, you need to find a laboratory that will quickly test your urine, blood or both and provide you with the results. This may take a good excuse, a pile of money or a trip to another country, but we do this all the time.

I would never let an athlete take a doping test without knowing beforehand that they will pass. Remember that this is a much simpler process on our side than on the other side. All we need is a test for the substance we know we are using.

The others have to test for a long list of compounds because they don't know what you are using and that is quite expensive. It's also pointless if you already know the answer. In the words of Sun Tzu, "Never fight a battle you cannot win."

Dodge the testers

"Testing without notice" - this one is my favorite because it sounds so strict and insurmountable - and with good reason. At the Olympic level, this is the most difficult aspect of the game.

The whole thing has recently become even more difficult since WADA added another veil of complication. Athletes in the high-risk pool must submit a detailed quarterly schedule of their whereabouts, which must not only include where they stay, work, train, etc. for each day of their lives, but must also include a one-hour window of time during which the athlete is in a specific location at a specific time each day so that they can be visited by a tester. However, CrossFit has not adopted this procedure from WADA, so you do not need to worry about this.

So it is entirely up to the athlete/coach to decide whether an unannounced doping test is more than just an allegation. This could be done in a specific way so that the test is not an issue. Just pee in the cup. What you take is either not on the list or there is no viable test for it yet.

If you use some or all of what I will later describe as a "fast acting cocktail" then you will have to buy yourself some time to get clean. You will need to aim for an extra 10 to 15 days from the time they contact you until you finally find your way back to the tester from the hole in the ground in Egypt.

If you need this window of time to get clean, then you will need to use what is called an "evasion technique". This means that the athlete will take advantage of several loopholes in the anti-doping regulations to be unreachable after the first attempt to contact him (usually by phone).

Depending on the time frame required, this charade can last from several days to several weeks. By the time the athlete gets back to civilization, all the fast-acting stuff he used will be gone from his body by the time he shows up at the testers, who may or may not test him. However, this missed test will be documented.

Three missed tests within 18 months will be equated with a doping violation and will have the same consequences for the athlete. However, if WADA accepts certain excuses for a late out-of-competition test, then I'm sure your legal counsel - who is well versed in doping testing - will create a petition to CrossFit to at least follow WADA's lead and excuse the missed test based on the following:

  • Contacting a representative: I imagine that if you are in a location where they don't have such a person, it would be hard to contact one
  • Conducting a training session: A two-week cross-country hike in the mountains of Montana - sorry, no cell service.
  • Requesting a new photo ID: Wallet was stolen while traveling. I can't apply for a new ID until I get back. And a photo ID is urgently required for a doping test.
  • Any other exceptional circumstance that can be justified and documented. An emergency trip to see a dying relative counts if you can document it.

Any viable coach working with an athlete they know who is likely to be tested during a prohibited substance use cycle will build the protocol based on either substances that are not tested for (such as undiscovered designer steroids) or substances that are quickly becoming undetectable.

Use performance-enhancing substances during the off-season and perform exceptionally during the competitive season

Successful coaches know that strength, stamina, speed, power, etc. are built during the off-season. Endurance and agility, on the other hand, are noticeably affected by steroid use.

We have tested 100 meter sprinters both while using steroids and between cycles of use. The same athletes were cleanly faster than when using steroids. This is because they were lighter and had less water retention. Their muscles were looser and more supple, but had maintained most of the strength built up during steroid use.

Lighter + stronger = faster

Many trainers today use this paradigm. The off-season is spent building strength and speed, while the weeks leading up to competition are spent improving technique. How many weeks? Not many. Even if we can get a doped athlete clean for a test in less than 2 weeks, there will be no noticeable loss of strength and speed for a month or more after stopping.

Bottom line: you can spend the off-season getting stronger, more muscular and faster with the help of performance enhancing substances, then stop taking them a few weeks before competition, pass a test and still reap the benefits of the gains you made earlier in the off-season. For this reason, no athlete should have to worry about unannounced doping tests during a competition - there should be nothing detectable during the competition.

The only wildcards are stimulants and blood doping (an increase in the number of red blood cells). And of course there are ways to get around a test for these two categories. I won't go into the specifics here, but suffice it to say that if you want to compete using stimulants and oxygenated blood, it's nothing that hasn't been done repeatedly and successfully in the past. Just ask Lance, the most tested athlete in the world who has never failed a doping test.

Use a fast-acting cocktail

A good understanding of the performance enhancing substances available today, how to use them correctly, how to administer them 'creatively' and how testing for these compounds works will reveal several hormones, stimulants and peptides that can be used. These are either rapidly broken down by the body (some within a few hours), or there is no test for them, or both. This is perhaps the most technical and important aspect of cheating and this is done at Olympic level today.

Using a protocol from this category in the realm of CrossFit is not an overly complicated matter. The length of the off-season in CrossFit and the jagged training programs provide plenty of room to develop effective performance-enhancing compound use protocols that can be used to avoid a drug test. And I'm not the only one who knows this.

Buy some urine

I love the creativity involved in this area of cheating, as it involves the use of some very interesting gadgets to transport the urine into the cup.

The CrossFit Anti-Doping Policy has adopted the need for personal monitoring of the delivery of the urine from WADA. So how do we get nice clean artificial urine (yes, you can buy one of these online) to leave the urethra of a doped athlete?

Well, you have a choice between two alternatives, neither of which is the best. I've never advocated this method of cheating a test and I wouldn't dream of letting one of my athletes do it. But a surprisingly large number of athletes choose this route - sometimes as an emergency measure to trick an unannounced test they weren't prepared for.

The first route into the cup involves a little procedure called "reverse catheterization". As the name implies, a catheter is inserted into the empty bladder. Yes, this means that you have to insert a tube into your penis. A small infusion bag filled with sterile artificial urine is then pushed into the bladder.

A less extreme route involves the use of a so-called "incognito belt". One of the preconditions for a urine test is the temperature of the urine. This must be close to body temperature for an acceptable sample. Filling the bladder with different urine solves this problem.

The Incognito Belt does the same by positioning a bag of urine in a wide belt so that it is positioned at the back or under the abdomen. The urine is then heated by your body heat. A tube coming out of this bag can then be fished out of your underwear and fed into the cup. However, as these tests are supervised, another tool is needed called a "whizzinator".

In my opinion, both methods are crap. Reverse catheterization can result in a positive test because more metabolites of the banned substances than allowed are excreted because too much time has elapsed between filling and emptying the bladder. The athlete may also develop a urinary tract infection, cystitis, perforation of the bladder, development of scar tissue, etc. - not uncommon consequences of this insane process.

And as good as whizzinator manufacturers are at making lifelike penises of various ethnic colorations, an experienced tester will know all of this. If you are caught using one of these devices, you are guilty of two offenses: a positive doping test and tampering with the test.

Avoid being snitched on

As our society shifts in the direction of producing more pussies per capita than ever before in human history, anti-doping laws have changed to include a new type of anti-doping code violation. This is called an "Administrative Positive".

As Lance Armstrong can attest, this is a doping offense that is confirmed by the testimony of others. Lance - and many other lesser known athletes - despite never testing positive for banned performance enhancing substances, have been told off by disgruntled former colleagues who either wanted to avoid punishment themselves (Floyd Landis) or simply had a hatred for the athlete in question.

You can pass all your tests but still be penalized for doping because some pussy blew the whistle on you. The lesson you should learn from this is that you should keep everything to yourself.

There is an old saying that was popularized during the Second World War. Propaganda posters were printed to reduce the risk of people unwittingly passing on important information to enemy spies. One slogan used by the US was "Loose lips sink ships". Today, loose lips sink athletes. So keep quiet.

Don't hate the players, hate the (CrossFit) games

Every sport is full of participants whose competitive spirit allows them to do whatever it takes to win. Those who are successful at this will also be willing to do whatever it takes to get away with it. And these people exist. They exist in CrossFit and are as successful there as in any other sport.

The idea that there is an effective deterrent to prevent the use of performance enhancing substances is foolish. Today's coaches are not only well versed in building strength and athletic ability, but also in the use of performance enhancing substances and how to get away with using them.

The collective has made this a part of the game. This is the way the game is played today. You can't hate the players for that.

By John Romano


Previous article The definitive guide to preventing muscle loss