Passing a Doping Urine Test in Sports
Drug testing in sports looks for enhancers and can utilize biomarkers for more stringent screening.
Athletes can be subjected to much more stringent urine and blood tests than is common by employers. This is because athletes are tested for more than just illegal substances. Whereas employers are primarily looking for substances that impair performance, athletes are also tested for substances that enhance performance. This means that most of the methods employees use to pass drug tests just won't work for athletes.
The urine testing process is documented for athletes subject to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). They clearly spell out that "Athletes subject to USADA drug testing may be subject to both in- and out-of-competition testing." This means that athletes may second guess even simple decisions like taking acetimenophen for a headache. This is a lot of pressure on athletes that is relatively uncommon outside professional sports.
Whether you are taking steps to enhance performance or occasionally relaxing with some weed on the weekend, the threat of an unaccounced urine drug test may keep you awake at night. Ensuring that you pass the test is a little harder than in most careers.
Does Urine Substitution Work?
Before considering trying to cheat a sports-related urine test, understand what's at stake. Will failing a test keep you out of the next competition or will it disqualify you for the entire season? Would getting caught trying to cheat have a much harsher penalty?
The other important consideration is your support network. Do you have an experienced and professional network of experts carefully monitoring your use of performance enhancers and ensuring you will pass a urine test or are you on your own? Professional athletes acting under the advisement of professionals and following their carefully designed protocol are unlikely to fail a urine test, but it can happen. If you don't have the resources to ensure your do it yourself strategy will succeed, urine substitution may be your best option.
Even if urine substitution is your best option, however, it is important to keep in mind that athletes are often subjected to a much more extensive screening process that may get your sample flagged for inconsinstencies between tests. The latest testing methods for the most elite athletes now includes checking for certain "biomarkers" that are likely to be different from urine donors. Before attempting substitution, do some research to determine the likelihood of getting caught and also check with the urine supplier for whether they recommend it for your situation.
Can I rely on urine substitution?
Even if urine substitution helps you beat a urine test, USADA indicates that athletes may be subjected to random blood tests. In such cases, urine substitution obviously won't help. Blood tests are also more stringent and can rely on many more biomarkers than urine tests. For this reason, it's important to keep the limitations of urine substitution in mind.
As we have detailed in our other sports-related testing articles, testing is very expensive. This puts practical limits on how frequently athletes can be tested and, for this reason, tests are usually not nearly as random as might be represented. Even if you, as an athlete, don't know when these tests will occur, it's likely that your coaches or trainers do. For this reason, it is important that you stick to their recommendations and not rely on urine substitution for passing a test.