As a professional distance runner, it is your responsibility to be aware of your rights and responsibilities relating to the doping control process. Athletes need to be familiar with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), the “prohibited list,” and whether you are in the “registered testing pool.” The link which follows provides important details about these topics and more including the “whereabouts policy,” an athlete’s “biological passport,” and what happens if you should test positive for a prohibited substance.

This piece was prepared by Matt Lane, a business and sports law attorney who was a professional distance runner sponsored by Nike from 2001-2006. He competed primarily in the 5000 meters.


by Jack Wickens

Would it surprise you to hear that a small group of passionate USATF members collectively donate almost half a million dollars every year to important causes within our sport?  And that thousands of children in some of America’s most challenged metropolitan and rural areas have received uniforms, equipment, running shoes, and character-developing experiences thanks to this generosity?

Would it surprise you to also learn that some of our highest ranked athletes have little or no sponsorship support, but that very generous fans have stepped up to provide the critical financial assistance that enable them to pursue their athletic dreams?  Or that we have one of the strongest programs among all professional sports in America to help our elite athletes successfully transition to post-competitive careers after their athletic skills start to fade?

Well, be surprised!


Centrowitz_MattR-WorCh11USA Track & Field is the National Governing Body (NGB) for track and field, race walking and long distance running. The organization sets forth rules and regulations for competitions. USATF is a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). IAAF is the World Governing Body for track and field. The USATF web site is at and IAAF is at


In order to compete in national championship events and to represent the United States in international championship competitions, a USA Track & Field membership is required. The USATF membership needs to be renewed annually and can be done online either through the national office or through a state association.

High Performance Tier System for Athlete Support - USATF offers a variety of support packages for qualifying athletes based on a four-tier system.  To view a full description of the 2012 Athlete Criteria and Tier System, click here.

USA Distance Project

In an effort to continue building upon the success of U.S. marathoners and distance runners, the USA Distance Project was formed in 2005. It is a financial, marketing and promotional partnership designed to support long-term development of elite USA distance athletes. The Project provides significant grants to U.S. training centers which in turn work with developing athletes who have shown the potential to compete nationally and internationally.

The Project is operated by the USATF Foundation. Training centers which receive funding are designated as USA Distance Project Training Centers.

Long Distance Running Division

USATF has a Men’s Long Distance Running Committee and a Women’s Long Distance Running Committee made up of a combination of association members (volunteers) and athlete representatives. The committees select road running championships from bids received, determine selection criteria for international teams, and propose pertinent LDR rules changes, among other responsibilities. Minutes from LDR Committee meetings held at the USATF Annual Meeting in December are available on the USATF web site. The Men's LDR page can be found here and the Women's here.

Athletes Advisory Committee

The Athletes Advisory Committee is the athletes’ voice within USATF. Its basic purpose is to provide an athlete voice on all issues pertaining to the sport. The AAC is composed of current and former elite athletes. The committee’s responsibilities include appointing athletes to all USATF committees (all committees are required to have 20 percent representation by athletes), and to work with the USATF president on all matters relating to athletes.


A number of resources are available to professional and developing athletes through USATF, including the following which are described in full on the USATF web site.

Elite Athlete Handbook – The handbook is printed annually and covers everything from athlete support to travel information, to dealing with the media to drug testing to filing taxes. Athletes can acquire this comprehensive handbook by contacting USATF or clicking here.

Sports Performance Workshops –Sport Performance Workshops are held around the country with invited athletes (and their personal coaches) and focus on biomechanics, functional movement analysis, nutrition and sports psychology.  For full information on workshop content and athlete eligibility click here.

Olympic Training Centers in Chula Vista and Colorado Springs – USATF has a full coaching staff on-site at each Olympic Training Center whose role is to work with athletes at the center. There are three types of programs available to athletes – resident, short term and facility use. If an athlete ranks in the top 15 of his or her event in the preceding year, there is no cost to using the Olympic Training Center. Non-qualified athletes are charged $45 per day with a limit of 90 days in any calendar year. For more information contact Duffy Mahoney at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

USA Anti-Doping Association (USADA) – USADA is the National Anti-Doping Organization in the United States. It is responsible for drug testing of U.S. athletes, in- and out-of-competition, enforcement and adjudication of anti-doping rule violations, and anti-doping education in the U.S. USADA’s website is an invaluable resource for athletes. Several essential publications can be found at including the USADA Athlete Handbook. A number of frequently asked questions about drug testing and anti-doping can be found at The USATF anti-doping homepage can be found at

Other -   Visit the Athlete Development page of the USATF website to view a list of additional resources offered by USATF, including: Sport Performance Newsletter, Eagle Eye Motion Analysis Video, Nutritional Information, Jet Lag Reduction Strategies, and Travel Nutrition.




Win With Integrity - In 2004, USATF and Team USA athletes initiated an outreach program that was aimed at educating youth, parents, educators, and coaches about the positive results that come from leading a physically active, drug-free lifestyle while living with integrity. Track and Field champions from every discipline visited schools and community centers all over the country to work directly with young people. Since then, the Win With Integrity program has evolved from a start-up program into one of USA Track & Field's most successful initiatives.  For more information on this program, click here.

Zero Tolerance - Developed by combining existing programs and USATF priorities with ambitious new initiatives, “Zero Tolerance” focuses on three goals: increasing efforts to catch and punish cheaters; expanding educational efforts and focusing the message on the theme that cheating is wrong and cheaters will be caught; and taking a more visible role on these issues.  For more information on this program, click here.