USA Track & Field will heighten anti-doping education initiatives at its three youth national championships in 2008 and will begin in-competition drug testing at the 2009 championship events. The programs are a partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and are tied to USATF's Zero Tolerance anti-doping initiative and Win With Integrity youth outreach program.
At the 2008 USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships, USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships and USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, USATF will work with USADA to distribute educational materials on drug testing, will conduct town hall meetings for parents and coaches to learn more about anti-doping efforts, and will require athletes in the Youth, Intermediate, and Young divisions to view USADA's Doping Control Process video which highlights the processes and procedures that occur during an in-competition drug test.
USATF will also work with USADA to further promote USADA's 100% Me, My Choices Matter campaign, which focuses on equipping young athletes with knowledge and skills to make responsible, ethical, and healthy choices.
In 2009, formal drug testing at the USATF youth championships will be conducted for athletes in the Intermediate (15-16 years old) and Young Men/Woman (17-18) divisions. American athletes in the Intermediate and Young divisions have always been subject to drug testing when competing in the USA Junior Championships, IAAF World Youth Championships, and IAAF World Junior Championships. USATF hopes that by adding the educational programs and the drug testing at the youth events the athletes will be provided with the information and experience necessary to compete drug-free at the highest levels of competition and in life.
"We are pleased to be moving forward with new education initiatives in partnership with USADA," said USATF President/Acting CEO Bill Roe. "Athletes at younger and younger ages are feeling the pressure to enhance their performances by any means possible, and we need to let them, their coaches, and parents know that we are here to help them stay away from unethical and potentially dangerous choices."
"In keeping with USATF's Zero Tolerance initiative, we felt that it is critical to send a strong message to our young athletes, their parents, and our youth club coaches that the use of drugs is wrong and will not be tolerated in our sport," stated Lionel Leach USATF Youth Athletics Committee Chair. "We feel that a strong educational program that includes in-person education and more information distributed via e-mail and the internet would provide us with the foundation to move forward in 2009 with formal drug testing."
For more information on USATF's youth, Zero Tolerance and Win With Integrity programs, visit www.usatf.org