[05:22] About Ian Adamson
[08:42] On World Governing Bodies
[12:10] On Anti-Doping
[21:01] Federations & Competitions
[40:02] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hello, what's up? It's Ben Greenfield. Hey, I have a pretty special series, a doozy full series of interviews for you coming up today and a whole bunch of other days this week. I'm churning up the podcast this week because I just got back from Lake Tahoe, and I got a chance to hang out with some of the world's top athletes, and biohackers, and inventors, and physicians, and more down at the Spartan World Championships. Even if you're not an obstacle course racer, you're going to dig today's show.
You can access the show notes where I have a special video for you over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17. Yes, as in Sparta 17, like the movie 300 where they all talk with Scottish accents even though they're supposedly from Greece. Anyways though, we digress.
So in that video that I posted for you at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17, I actually have a fascinating discussion off the top of the page that you see there about legal ways to dope your blood. Legal ways to get nitric oxide up like Viagra for your whole body without actually taking the little blue pill. On how to max your ATP and what you call your erythrocyte levels using some pretty fringe formulas that are out there. So when you visit that page over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17, you're going to want to watch my interview there at the top of the page with this guy named Craig Dinkel. You may have heard Craig on previous podcast episodes. He's a total whiz when it comes to formulating very potent and unique supplements. I got a bunch of discount codes for you over there too on some of the stuff that Craig and I talk about. So that is what's bringing you today's show. That video and those supplements which I consider to be not only some of the best supplements for altitude, but some of the best supplements for sex, and nitric oxide, and for recovery from jet lag and for enhanced blood flow and for just about any situation where you want more blood. So check it out, bengreenfieldfitness.com/sparta17. Alright, let's move forward shall we?
Hey, what's up? It's Ben Greenfield, and this is a bit out of the ordinary, but I happen to be sitting here with my trustee podcast sidekick, Brock Jason Skywalker Armstrong. Brock, how are you doing?
Brock: I'm doing well. Hello, hello, everyone.
Ben: And you could get sick of that lolling Canadian accent over the next few days because Brock, and myself to a certain extent, but Brock to a much greater extent are going to be bringing you some amazing interviews over the next several days because we are at Spartan World Championships.
Brock: Spartan World Championships!
Ben: So here's what to expect. First, if you're not an obstacle course junkie or an athlete, don't worry. We are right now here surrounded by some of the top fitness, health, biohacking, nutrition and even personal productivity, and lifestyle minds on the face of the planet who Spartan CEO Joe De Sena has flown in to be here, and Brock and I have decided to get the microphone in front of them and take a deep dive with them into their top secrets that we can deliver to you. And we're also of course, since we're surrounded by some of the fittest people on the face of the planet here, we're going to be interviewing some of the most hardcore men and women that exist when it comes to their insider training tactics, their nutrition secrets, their recovery hacks and a whole lot more.
So basically you are going to be getting lots of podcasts over the next few days. Don't worry if you don't have time to listen to them. You can save them, and I even believe there's even a handy save function in Apple podcasts. Most podcasting apps. Save for later, next time you're bored on a drive or you have a few extra gym sessions or you're out on a long hike, you can basically listen in to a lot of these extra episodes we're going to be pushing out over the next few days.
Brock: You can bathe in them even.
Ben: You can bathe in them, literally. Like a float tank or have some salts, yes. So we are, in addition to a bunch of podcasts, you're going to get right here on the podcast feed doing a bunch of short video and audio interviews over on the Facebook page, and if you don't know the facebook URL, it is… Brock, take it away.
Ben: So go to facebook.com/bgfitness if you want extra photos, amazing, entertaining and educational content for you in addition to what we're giving you right here on the podcast.
Brock: I call it edutainment.
Ben: Edutainment, did you make that up?
Ben: Okay, now we may not have our usual show notes. I'm going to warn you because Brock is illiterate and dyslexic.
Brock: And Canadian.
Ben: And Canadian, and frankly, we're going to be so busy interviewing people. We're probably not going to have a lot of time to sit down and make show notes for you, but we will make for you plenty of extremely helpful content, and we promise mad value if you just listen in on the next few days. Again, we're not going to bore you with the ho-hum – I eat Red Bull and stinkers before the race, and my top recovery tactic is wearing compression socks.
Brock: Nor are we going to bore you with a longer intro than we've already done.
Ben: No, this is getting a little bit long in the tooth, so I will be racing. And I will not only be racing but likely leading other racers through the course after I've done the race myself, so you're going to need to get used to Brock's Canadian voice and his beautiful, shaven ballerina legs.
Brock: You betcha.
Ben: Which you can't actually see on an audio podcast, but I can vouch that they are quite beautiful. He'll be the voice you're listening to and seeing if you're on Facebook all weekend as we make you a part of what is wildly considered to be the Superbowl of obstacle course racing and is the crown race to discover who the fittest person on the face of the planet actually is.
Brock: Spartan World Championships!
Ben: Unless you're a crossfitter, in which case it would be the crossfit games. So get ready for plenty of action over the next few days, and if you want to have the most fun with this, stay tuned to all the live content and the conversations over at facebook.com/bgfitness and keep a notepad or your own fricking nugget.
Brock: Make your own show notes guys, come on. We've been holding your hand for too long now, it's your turn.
Ben: Take notes on everything that we bring your way. We promise, we're going to make this a lot of fun for you. So that being said, listen in 'cause here we go.
Brock: Alright, welcome back to The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, and once again, this is not Ben Greenfield as you probably guessed by the sound of my voice, and we're still here at the 2017 Spartan World Championships here in Lake Tahoe, and this podcast is part of the pod-fest as put on by our gracious host Joe De Sena, and right now I'm sitting across a very low table from a fellow that I actually interviewed a few years ago about something completely different. I can't actually remember what it was, I think it was fat adaptation and use of fat in sports or something?
Ian: Sounds about right.
Brock: Yeah, so today we're talking about something completely different, and it's Ian Adamson who is an adventure racer. He's a television personality, and now he's the president of The International Obstacle Sports Federation. I got that right, he's looking at me very proudly 'cause I got it wrong earlier.
Ian: Nothing like a proud father.
Brock: Yes, I'm feeling pretty proud too because it's been a long weekend. I don't know about you, but I've done so much talking and my tongue actually hurts a little bit.
Ian: Oh, that is a lot of talking.
Brock: I have never experienced that before in my life, but seriously I've got a sore on the side of my mouth from talking so much. So I'll shut up. I think our audience will be interested in hearing more about the federation.
Ian: Well thank you, Not-Ben-Greenfield. (laughs) So our federation is The International Obstacle Sports Federation, and we are the world governing body for obstacle sports which are obstacle course racing. We have obstacle racing, no running, so like American Ninja Warrior, so these are events.
Brock: So not sixteen-mile events, they're just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.
Ian: That's correct, so sports typically have disciplines and events, and obstacle sports right now, there's many events. There's about thirty common events. Most people are doing something that's cross country. Out in the world, there's a Spartan race or a Tough Mudder or one of these other brand events, but there are also federation events signed to kick in, and we've been working on the governance. It's really putting together the structure of the federation for a few years now. It's all been pretty quiet behind the scenes, not a lot of fun facing stuff.
Brock: Yeah, I haven't heard anything about it. Not that I've expected to, you don't hear a lot about federations or generally not flashy kind of things until you get to the Pan Am games or until you get into the Commonwealth games or the Olympic games of course.
Ian: Well that's right, and one thing, and it's kind of transparent. The community doesn't often care very much about federations until it matters to them, and the things that really matter to us as athletes. When we're involved in events, we want things that are better value, so it's cheaper, safe. You don't want obstacles to fall to which they do occasionally. Unfortunately, they shouldn't. You want things to be fair, you want to have good competition rules. You want to have anti-doping, so doping control.
Brock: And we're going to get into that for sure in a bit.
Ian: We will get into that. Doping control is important because no one wants to be up against someone who is not as good as them, but beats them because they had an unfair advantage. So that would fall into the category of them.
Brock: Okay, so this weekend, what was your role with the Spartan World Championships? Are you working on the server?
Ian: Yeah, one of the things that the old federations do at every level, our job is to facilitate safety and fairness for the athletes and value and all that kind of good stuff that the athletes need and want, but it's also to facilitate collaboration between all the parties of interest which are governments, brands, advertizers, all the things that make the race happen, actually then happen. And all the vendors and people around these big events are necessary because they help the event exist. It goes all the way through podcasts, NBCs presence doing their broadcasting.
Brock: Damn, that's amazing.
Ian: It's a big deal, it's quite complex, but it extends all the way outside the brands. Now obviously Spartan race specifically is a very big brand, the dominant brand actually in competition, but there are many brands. Two-and-a-half thousand brands in obstacles.
Brock: Holy smokes, really?
Ian: Yeah, there's a lot there in the world. We have seventy national federations, so the international federations members are the national federations which are the governing bodies in this country. Their members are the athletes. The reason there's an international federation is to facilitate collaboration between all of the national federations which are represented in the members, so it's all the athletes. And we do things like we represent and facilitate the ability to have safe, fair competition at the international level and the continental level and then ultimately the ability to get the games. So for example, you couldn't go to a Spartan race and qualify for Pan Am games. Well don't qualify for the games because it's a brand and then all part of the sport. Well they are part of the sport, they are a brand in the sport like triathlon.
Ironman is a brand, they have a distance which is not in the Olympics as an example because that's not a big event, but they do have a very good relationship with ITU which is their world governing body. So you can qualify for international championships and various games of which they are many at Ironman events. So you can see it's a very flexible system.
Brock: It is a little bit confusing, but I guess the confusion sounds like they're really trying to be very inclusive which is great and not just set up themselves as almost another brand.
Ian: Well that's right. In fact, federations are not brands. This confuses the brand sometimes. Certain brands view federations as being complete competition, and they're absolutely not. Their job is to facilitate collaboration and help the brands wherever we can. The big brands usually get it really fast. Spartan race, these guys understand it because they start getting into the bigger system and they start going international, and then they become very, very apparent that it's a very effect and very friendly collaborative environment between sporting brand at the top level. Now as you go further down the tree, there's less understanding and there's less collaboration, but we're not too concerned about it. Our job is really representing the athletes, and that of course means if we can work with the brands to be safer and fairer, and this is a great example of the Spartan World Championships. It's a big event, there's a lot of people here. There's a lot of people here very seriously chasing money, and wins, and working with the sport is valuable because we help facilitate a closer alignment between how it looks, and feels, and people qualifying in the rankings, and he goes on and on and on. And, anti-doping.
Brock: And anti-doping, that's what I was going to bring up next which is absolutely perfect because the idea of fairness, the idea of representing athletes themselves, the doping part of it really comes down to protection for not only the fairness but protection for the athletes themselves as well. And I know at lunch yesterday, you were talking to Ben about some of the differences in the testing going on, and that's what really sparked my interest.
Ian: Well that's right, and there's anti-doping done correctly. So we call doping control, and if done correctly, it's very effective. It's quite difficult to bug the system. It's possible, if anyone saw interest.
Brock: I was just going to bring that up, but that was really complicated. It's not very easy to bug the system even if you've got somebody like that fellow working on your side.
Ian: Well now the events switched, that was actually very simple, very effective, very clever. Not clever enough 'cause they couldn't get away with it.
Brock: They got away with it for what, twenty-seven years?
Ian: They got away with a lot for a really long time in various countries. Various sports have managed to do that. It's often at a team level, it's often at a team in a sport, in a country may do it. There's some well-known examples, in cycling and in Nordic skiing, and the sports have quite a lot of control. When I say control, I mean ability to create a fairer plying field done properly working with all the brands and all the natural federations, the common door federations, and the athletes need and want it for the most part. The number of people doing doping is really small, and we can cast a fairly wide net, but the reality is that for the athletes, it's more than just fairness. It's actually a lot more because health and safety is a huge deal. Plenty of athletes die because they dope, and they dope too long. I mean the doping period is not good, but they can kill themselves and they do.
Brock: Yeah, it's a terrifying prospect that people are willing to put their lives really on the line for this potentially only small advantage too.
Ian: That's right, and sometimes the advantage doesn't work, and this is the beauty about obstacle course racing. It's that the variables, you can't dope your way typically into a win if you don't have the skills, so there's things out there that if you manage correctly as a smart, good, savvy athlete, you're going to do on the average better than the guy next to you who thinks they're going to do it through doping. So that's an advantage. Having said that, some point there may be doping in the sport. It may exist, we don't know. There's enough people? Statistically yes, statistically there's plenty of people, so statistically you would expect somewhere in there, elite or age group aware of someone's doping.
Brock: So I know the age groupers weren't tested yesterday, but who exactly was tested in the big championship competition yesterday?
Ian: So I'm going to go into a little bit of detail, so forgive me. So there's a difference between sample taking and testing. So the first thing is sample taking, so you're sampling the field, and yesterday was the four top men and the four top women had urine samples taken, so that's in-competition sample taking.
Brock: So those are just on-site somewhere. Is that a urine test?
Ian: Urine test, yeah. So urinalysis, so this is a fairly effective test. It's very easy to do, it's not blood, and for all the people who went through the testing, at least half of them had been tested before. This is where it gets interesting because some athletes on level, the actual Olympics. In which case, they've probably been tested hundreds of times, and then there's others who've been tested in professional sports, and they've been tested probably hundreds of times. Some people get what they called an athlete's passport. You have a passport and you have to know where you are at all times.
Brock: Oh, so they basically pop up and test your urine or take your urine.
Ian: That's right. Have a goal to make it as a professional triathlete.
Block: Yeah, amazing athlete.
Ian: She was in the system, right? So she was at Disneyland with the family one time, and she has to right down what she's going to be. They tested her at Disneyland.
Brock: Wow, I guess if you're going to be really, really fair that's the only way to do it. Otherwise you can just be oh, sorry I didn't tell you that I happened to be in Russia, for example three months leading up to the Olympics.
Ian: That's correct. So what we're talking about sampling and testing. So actually she’s testing and sampling.
Brock: Yeah, that was all about the sampling.
Ian: Yeah, so it's the sampling. Easy quick ones, urinalysis done properly. There's very strict protocols around it, very specific forms to go with it, and there's protocols. You need a medical director, you need people to know how the whole system works, you need a team of doping control, people with chaperones. It's a very specific chronology of things that happened.
Brock: Chaperones? You mean to escort them into the bathroom stall?
Ian: To watch them from the finish line until they've peed in the cup. I actually watched the pee leave the human body and take it out. That's important 'cause you don't want someone putting something.
Brock: I suppose that was something they talked about in Tour De France. They were thinking they had bladders full of other people's urine.
Ian: Oh there's all sorts of tricks that people use. I mean there's all sorts of misjudgments, huge range of things. So the medical director here does open control for Olympic sports, so he's a very, very good medical director, and then we had another gentleman who has been in the Olympic movement as a two-sport, four-time Olympian and medalist. So he's been tested now in heads up sports. We have a full doping team here and anti-doping team, so they did the sampling, so there's samples now that are being shipped to their office at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Brock: Wait, do they use those crazy bottles that they showed in the Icarus movie?
Ian: You can, well that's the top level. They didn't, they used the medical sample. They do four levels of tamper-proof sealing. So thy seal it up, they actually split the sample into two, then they seal it up, and the athletes have to do it all 'cause it's always caspy on the athlete's hands, but then they put these anti-tamper, adhesive labels on, and then they draw through the label. So if someone does attempt to take the label off which is very difficult, try getting it back on where the line was. It's almost impossible, and you can try it for a hundred years and you wouldn't get it. So you do all these levels of security, so you know the A and B samples are the ones, and then there's bar codes ,and there's numbers, and there's big form, and it just goes on and on and on, takes a while, and that's just the sampling. Then it goes to the testing.
So those go to various labs, so this is the first step. So what happened here is very good sampling all through protocol where the people actually do it regularly, and then it goes to a spread of people. I do well and catch a few more, but it's very expensive. So you do a full panel urinalysis, I don't remember the actual number, about a thousand bucks. Basically it's about a thousand bucks per person, so if you test all eight, that's eight thousand dollars in the testing, but then you got the medical director, the time, the flights and all that. So really it's about a twenty thousand dollar exercise just for that. In people, most racers don't have that kind of money.
Brock: Yeah, that falls into Spartan in this case.
Ian: Yeah, Spartan requested it. So we went in with the U.S. Federation, USAOCR, and they're recognized in the United States, like officially recognized. Not many in the world are. There's seventy countries, but maybe eight are recognized, takes a long time. We're three years in the international level, and most people say twenty years to never… We're hopeful, I'm blushing. I'm super optimistic, but I'd say we can do it by nineteen. That's what I say, now what? It's not up to me, a lot of it is. And we can then roll this thing across every country, and there becomes a point where we can do it at no cost to the brands. We're not them 'cause we haven't monetized the sport yet. We're doing all the governments, we do it. I do it, I spend money on it. I advance money to the federations and to myself and to the international federation to make it happen that eventually we'll get there. Hopefully I'll get my advance back.
Brock: That'd be nice. Okay, so now we've collected the samples and potentially sent them off for testing. What's the criteria that they decide whether to test it or not?
Ian: Well it's done in two ways. So the samples are stored, right? So they're basically in the fridge or freezer, and we don't know who sample who at this point because you got to match the forms and the numbers and all that sort of stuff. So now you've just got old bag of samples, and then you can either test all of them or you can choose a few or almost or some or whatever is tested, and that's quite common. Usually you do top three in test and then some randoms. That would be normal.
Now remember this is the first step, so most of the standard international criteria and standards for sampling and testing met. What we have not done yet is we're not doing actual water testing, so that's Anti-Doping World Agencies. Now this is another level because now the controls are stricter. You bring in actual water. People who do the actual sample taking and actual testing, and most sports don't do that. They'll bring in accredited actual medical directors who do it properly, and that's where we are. We're not at the hundred thousand, all the testing that we're at.
Brock: Would WADA be testing for something different, something beyond the regular doping style?
Ian: No, it's like Icarus. So the glass jars with the tamper-proof tops, and the labs that test. Now that's different because water doesn't test, they're credited labs. Imagine the America's and the North America's USADA, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. So USADA does it in the Americas, it's the same thing simply and then there's accredited labs. So what is the top of my head, UCLA? I don't remember, somewhere in California is the accredited lab, and then there's other levels of testing. This is where it get quite interesting because I was talking to Jon Albon coming in. He said oh, I was tested in Scotland and I was tested in Canada, and I've been tested here and there. What did they do? How did it look?
He goes well, in Scotland, they just took one vile. The guy looked at it and just threw it in the box, and I'm thinking okay, not even a sample probably. Right, so that's where anti-doping or doping control is, but we're actually not, so that was interesting.
Brock: Because it wasn't labelled in any way?
Ian: Well you need two samples, and you need all the labeling and the seals. I mean there's this whole protocol that goes around it, and here's the description. It wasn't even close because they're probably assuming that no one, or they don't even know how to do it.
Brock: And this was at an obstacle course?
Ian: Yeah, I don't know. It could have been running. Well, he was testing somewhere and he did it.
Ian: He had something done in Canada. I don't know exactly where it was. I believe it was the OCR World Championships last year. Now the OCR World Championships, just so you know, it's not federation. It's the trademark of a New York corporation, so there's not actually a world championships. They just have the name.
Brock: It's easy 'cause I can have a world championships, I suppose.
Ian: Yeah, you can. You absolutely can, everybody can have a world championships.
Brock: Yeah, let’s do it.
Ian: It gets a little sticky though when you say where the independent OCR World Championships, and everyone thinks you're the actual world championships because the federations get tons of calls from people saying can I qualify for a race, and we go, we don't have a race. What do you mean, you got the OCR World Championships? No that's just a name for a new corporation that uses for branding to make money because they are making money from the athletes. It's a great idea, it's brilliant.
Brock: Yeah, what do they call it? The search engine optimization of stealing people's names on the internet. It's the same sort of idea I suppose.
Ian: Yeah, I mean it's a great idea. We would love for them to work with us. At this point they have to climb, but I think it's an investor thing, right? They've got the answer to the investors, and it's a full profit business, and being in the non-profit world. Basically it's just competition, there you go. You answered the question. You're one of the brands that's sees the sport as competition which makes sense because they've got this trademark, Independent OCR World Championships.
Brock: Anyways, let's get back. So he was tested in Canada?
Ian: Same thing, how did it go, what did they do? Picked up, got a sample. But what about all the forms and the ceiling and the handling? Now they say on their website if you check on the Independent OCR World Championships website, they say they use the Association for Drug-Free Sport or the Something-For -The-Drug-Free-Sports. The US business, and they do middle man testing, so they actually don't test.
What they do is they provide services where they can send people to do the sampling, and they probably do it properly, I'm guessing. And then they can if they choose, depending what that sample is, they can then send it to an accredited lab if you want an accredited lab. Of course the price keeps going up and up and up and up and up. So if they take samples, so they do the sampling, and if they do it properly and then if they decide to do the full screen test as what it's got, so full panel, then it get very expensive because it is a very expensive exercise and this is in great depth. This is what you want to see, you want that to happen.
Now the chances of that from happening from where I'm standing is from the description is that probably didn't happen. I actually called the company, and they couldn't find any information on it.
Brock: So if these things are happening so differently like blood versus urine versus in a cup versus in a thing that's sealed and stuff. There's some obvious ramifications of that, but on a sort of bigger, broader scale, what is the implication there?
Ian: Well I think the threat of anti-doping is good.
Brock: You mean just the idea that the athletes know that they might be tested?
Ian: Smoke and mirrors, so from what we can tell it's mostly smoke and mirrors. That's what as far as I can tell. I don't know, I could be talking in my proverbial, I could be talking out of my ass. I know we can say I'm in stuff, I just said it.
Brock: The Mind Pump guys earlier today were swearing like crazy.
Ian: Awesome, all we'll do is hang out. The threat is good, it means more people will pay more attention, the athletes. That's good. If you try and fake a test, but it's a really poor fake, it starts raising questions and then you could lose credibility. I mean I think from what I can tell from Jon, you should probably talk to him. My message is second hand. My interpretation from what he said was a joke. The so-called anti-doping done and these other things is actually a joke 'cause he knows what it looks like. Here at least half the people that were tested have been regularly tested at the highest level, at the Olympic games, by water. They know what it looks like. They know exactly what it looks like, you can't fool them.
Brock: I guess you're right about the smoke and mirrors. Just the idea that I showed up in a race in Scotland and then went in Canada that didn't quite test right, but then boom they show up in Tahoe and they tested correctly. There's still the fear that there's going to be the correct test at some point, I suppose, but it does kind of make you raise an eyebrow.
Ian: We know the people that have questions because we give the athletes all sorts of opportunities to declare things and show documents, and so there's a single one, that therapeutic use exemption, TUE.
Brock: So if you have low testosterone and using a supplement.
Ian: Right, exactly right.
Brock: Not to extraordinary levels, but to regular levels.
Ian: No, but in standing, it's a real thing, and it happens a lot. So you've got asthma, and you've got just the real inhaler or something like this, so there are real cases where an athlete really needs a TUE 'cause yeah, they can compete and yeah, it's fair, so if they're smart enough and they understand that they will go in the US. or go to USADA. They'll go to the paperwork, they'll get the TUE, and we had it happen here. We had athletes with TUEs.
Brock: So you get your physician to say yes, this is a valid thing, and then you take it to USADA, you say?
Ian: USADA, so they get it from USADA. So they're in the system and then it's all documented before it even happened, and they're smart enough to know that. So these people, athletes are smart, and they should be. They should educate themselves on all this.
Brock: Yeah, well it's easy to get this information now. It's not twenty years ago when you had to go to the library or something like that.
Ian: At least the international federation and the US federation is right on the website, and then click on the link.
Brock: So many supplements that I buy these days actually have a label on it that says WADA-approved or something like that, just indicating that you're not going to get busted if you're taking that supplement.
Ian: That's correct, there are products. Thorne is an example, do you know Thorne?
Brock: Yeah, Ben's a big on Thorne affiliates.
Ian: Oh okay, yeah. So Thorne are accredited for all of their products. So they sponsor Olympic sports because it's safe. It's not going to be tampered and it's not going to go in a factory that could accidentally dope the athlete, and when you get to the highest level as an athlete, you get very careful through that way. You get very careful about who touches you, you get very careful about what they put on you, you get very careful about what you eat because you don't want to be that athlete who got doped somehow by someone or just by instance, and it happens. Really unfortunate when it does.
Brock: Yeah, well there's a triathlete not that long ago that gut busted for the SARMs selective androgen receptor modulators, and eventually they tracked it down to her electrolyte formula had just trace amounts of it or something. So how the heck does that happen?
Ian: More likely you're a small producer, but you're using someone's factory, right? So you're making some electrolytes stuff. You're in some factory, and they don't clean the equipment because they don't really care. They're just going to clean it and not clean it precisely, and this really doesn't matter to almost anyone 'cause it doesn't have a clinical effect on almost anyone, but you can still measure it. So that's the problem, it's that yeah, I got this electrolyte and it's great. It works great, but you don't know what the factory did or what was in the line before that product.
Brock: But that's really hard to prove too. Once you've been busted and labeled and kicked off the circuit, and what you're going to do is spend hundreds and thousands of your own dollars tracking down the manufacturer. It's unlikely to happen.
Ian: That's right, and that's why companies like Thorne have stepped up, and they get accredited that they're clean. Their stuff is clean, not tampered with, sealed up properly, you're safe.
Brock: So that's a lesson to you folks out there listening right now. Make sure that you do your diligence on your own end if you're competing at a level of where you're likely to be tested and likely to run into those problems. I'm quite certain I'll never have a doping test 'cause I'll never be at that level where anyone cares about my outcome. But if you are at that level, then you do need to do that due to diligence, don't you?
Ian: That’s right, that's exactly right. So that's what Spartan is doing right now, it's stepping up to get the fairness elements in place, then we hope to see it with other big brands and, of course, as we mature in the sport with the national, continental and international federation will be out to take a lot more of that burden.
Brock: And this really means a lot to the sport of taking this part of it seriously in your federation's hopes to get it to that bigger level if you’re getting it into the Pan Am games and places like that, right?
Ian: That's right. Hang on one second, (coughing) that was my running-up-the-hill cough.
Brock: It's really dusty here, really is dry.
Ian: It is. So yes. The goals of our international federation to achieve recognition as an international federation, and what that means is that once recognized then we actually do have the sport. I would be shocked if anyone says we don't have a sport. We have all the bits and pieces that looks and feels as big. I think the biggest mass participation sport on earth now, and I'm not just thinking, I know for sure. Meaning a lot of people on the start line, for competition where people are actually racing for their time. We are big, huge, which is good because it gives a lot of power to what we can do, and we are very, very early in on the life of the sport, and we can have a more collaborative atmosphere between all the players and create a playing field that is a lot more cohesive than say combat sports as a good example. They're disarraying combat sports because there's so many of these four or five bodies that emerged and then fought each other.
Now we don't want that to happen. Cross my fingers, but so far, we've managed to relatively seamless collaborate. There's a little league ups on the way meaning that the federation's not fighting anyone and the brands not fighting anyone and everyone's happy and we're all moving together and bringing things into alignment like anti-doping and competition rules, and it doesn't mean it's constraining the sport at all. This is a big fear by the way. A lot of athletes think well, aren't you just going to make our sport terrible?
Brock: Or homogenize it, so all of the races are the same. They don't have their specific like they gonna say require.
Ian: Exactly, the goal of a good governing body is to encourage the thing that makes the sport itself, and in obstacle course racing the thing that makes this interesting is you can do anything you want. And you got to innovate constantly and be really flexible and throw out these new… Okay, so that's necessary, so to encourage that is absolutely crucial. To encourage the diversity and the flexibility and the innovation, that's crucial to this sport to keep it healthy. I do all sports, but this is a good one, it does that. The layer we add is the ability we add events that are easier to measure and easier to have records, rankings, fair competition, if you're competing in Bulgaria or Sacramento or Sydney, Australia, and you're on a championship course for a games, then you know it's the same course. Now that's different. That's just adding something in, that's adding another layer of ability for people to compete for those who want to go on the games level. Then they get a format that they can do.
They're going to compete in the other stuff most likely, but then to go through that championship system. Ultimately, the more mature sport would be the Olympic games. Even at the Olympic level, you're going to see a mountain bike course which has flexibility. Cycling, mountain biking, BMX, triathlon, yeah. I mean there's good flexible guidelines around the system, but it's flexibility within the framework, and we're creating a solid framework but with a lot of flexibility, so that we facilitate the innovation and the stuff that makes it fun for goodness sake. That's what makes it fun.
Brock: Yeah, even marathon, as limited as there really is, it's 42.2 kilometers, but in the meantime in between those two points, there can be hills, there can be ninety-degree turns, there can be whatever you throw at it, but obstacle. It's a hundred times more variables than that.
Ian: That's exactly right, so it just doesn't not constrain the sport and the goal of the sport and the ability for the sport to be innovative and change and move and do the things that we want. It just adds another layer of ability to go to different things I should say, not necessarily bigger. Well, put it this way. If at some point in the future, we manage to get recognition, and if we got a medal event at the Olympics, if that's a reality, the number of people that are watching it is vast because Rio, as an example, close to five billion people are watching, five billion.
Brock: Watching sports that they aren't even aware exist for the three years between the games.
Ian: That's exactly right. Now people are saying well, why does that matter? It may not matter to a lot of people, but it really does matter for the health of the sport because you tap into this huge ability. Well there's a lot of money involved is one, and you can tab them to become mental money because they want to help with development and safety and all the things that we do.
Brock: Imagine getting paid to be an obstacle racer with all the sponsorship money.
Ian: Yeah, we want to build professional and semi-professional athletes, and this is another thing that the sport needs to do. We want heroes, heroes are great for sport. Anti-heroes are good. We don't necessarily want them.
Brock: I don't think you have a choice.
Ian: Yeah, you're going to get them as well. Maybe all so good for the sports, so heroes, anti-heroes, heroines, people to look up to and aspire to and follow and cheer, and this is the thing that human elements that make it fun and exciting. You like to see your favorite athletes, and then you further develop the country team aspect. There's lots of opportunity here to put it that way, and I come from a lot of Olympic sport stuff, so I've seen a lot of things in sport. Thirty years? A bit more probably, seventy three on.
Brock: Fantastic, well that is an awesome place to leave it. I think we took it full circle there, and if people want to find out more about the federation where can they go?
Brock: And you have an amazing background in history too, so people should go and check you out. Where would be the best place to do that?
Brock: How much easier can that be?
Ian: If you can remember my name, that's easy.
Brock: Well thank you for sitting down, and it's a beautiful day outside, and we're hiding in the dark, so I'll let you go and enjoy the sunshine at the 2017 World Championship Spartan Event, Podfest. I've lost track of all the titles and things I'm supposed to say, but this is Brock Armstrong for Ben Greenfield Fitness and Ian Adamson signing off, thanks for coming.
Ian: Thank you, Brock.
Woo boy…do I have a doozy for you today! This past weekend, at the 2017 Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe, my trusty podcast sidekick Brock Jason Skywalker Armstrong and I pieced together a series of exclusive audio interviews with the world's top athletes, biohackers, inventors, physicians and more – and in today's article, you get access to all the goodies.
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“Is Doping An Obstacle?”
From very near the start line of the 2017 Spartan World Championship race in Lake Tahoe, podcast sidekick Brock Armstrong talks with Ian Adamson, former competitive adventure racer, television professional and president of the International Obstacle Sports Federation. They chat about the state of obstacle racing as a recognized sport as well as how the anti-doping regulations could help or hinder it in getting recognized.