Kara Goucher, Shanna Burnette, and Chris McClung
The Clean Sport Collective is a community of powerful voices comprised to support the pursuit of clean sport and athletics through the absence of performance enhancing drugs.
With this podcast, we will celebrate clean athletes, educate you on issues in the world of clean sport, and bring hope that we can all believe in the power of fair play across all sports.
"You don't quit. You don't look behind you, and you don't cheat." - Molly Seidel, discussing values she learned from her mom. We can't think of a better guest for our 100th episode than Molly Seidel. To the world, she might be the new face of American marathoning, but privately she is the same person who grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, doesn't take herself too seriously, and is the fiercest of competitors once on a start line. From Foot Locker champion to NCAA champion to Olympic Bronze Medalist, the journey has not been a linear one for her. In fact, she almost quit the sport multiple times before finding her love for it again in late 2019. In this episode, we learn about it all. This episode also represents a passing of the torch as Kara discusses Molly breaking her American course record in New York. You get to be a fly on the wall as the two of them fan-girl each other. Come for that, stay for the fun details about Molly's journey including her running heroes in high school, where and when she decided to race the Olympic Trials, the source of her ferocious nature in races, and near the end, the advice she would now give to the younger Molly who once wrote down her dream to earn an Olympic medal. We love Molly for her integrity and for her fun-loving nature. We need more of both in our sport so we know the future of American marathoning is in very good hands.
1 hr 9 min
Annie Frisbie had a dream day at the NYC Marathon. She finished as the 3rd American and 7th overall in her debut marathon, running two half marathon PRs en route to the finish line in Central Park. Her finishing time gave her the 4th fastest marathon debut ever by an American. As an unsponsored athlete, she ran in a mix of apparel and footwear from different brands, all while taking vacation from her day job as a graphic designer for a healthcare start-up. Though unsponsored, she is not unsupported as she runs with Minnesota Distance Elite in Minneapolis. At 24, Annie Frisbie seems to just be getting started as an elite-level runner. She won a state title in cross country in high school, is an NCAA All-American, and is now getting the opportunity to show her potential and passion for road racing. In this episode, we cover her childhood growing up in River Falls, Wisconsin where her entrepreneurial parents showed her the importance of hard work. We discuss her patient progression in the sport from high school to Iowa State to joining Minnesota Distance Elite. We discuss her love for and early success on the roads and why she chose to move up to the marathon so soon. Then of course, we get the play-by-play on her amazing marathon debut in NYC including how she celebrated afterward. Finally, we talk about her perspective on clean sport including the fact that she's never been tested out of competition as a pro. Annie's perspective on our sport is pure and refreshing, and we can't wait to see where it takes her next!
48 min 38 sec
In 2016, Noah Droddy finished dead last in the US 10K Track Trials as an unsponsored athlete who was relatively new to the pro ranks. In 2021, Noah Droddy is now the 9th fastest US marathoner of all-time, and to the surprise of many, is again unsponsored. On the US top 10 list, he's listed with big names like Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Meb Keflezighi, and yet Noah works full-time at SOS Hydration to make ends meet amidst a professional running world that doesn't always make sense. Sponsored or not, he seems happy, and he's ready to continue chasing his dreams on the road at the NYC Marathon on November 7th. Sponsored or not, Noah is also unabashedly himself and not afraid to tell it like it is. In this episode, he shares all about his journey from underdog runner in high school in Indiana and at Depauw University to one of the very fastest American marathoners of all-time. He speaks truth about the ups and downs in his story and then isn't afraid to name names on the topics of doping and clean sport. (Yes, he went there.) We are big fans of Noah and know you will be too. He tells us that he has a big announcement coming on November 4th, and we hope that means a new sponsor sees what we see too!
1 hr 9 min
"There's value in showing up when you're not at your best and seeing what you can do. Who are you when it's rough?" - Des Linden. You will have to listen until the very end to hear this very introspective life advice from Des. She showed up in Boston two weeks ago when not at her best. She got it done anyway and is now prepping for the NYC Marathon in just under two weeks. In this episode, we catch up with Des on everything happening in her life from February 2020 onward including her 4th place finish at the Marathon Trials, life during the pandemic, Des-tober, the 50K world record, her announcing career, and of course, her prep for getting back to the marathon distance this fall. Along the way, we learn about overcoming failure, when to open "the good stuff," the power of tequila, her future in ultras, and whether or not she has any FOMO for Shalane's Project Eclipse. Plus, we get her clear perspective on the Shelby Houlihan case from this summer and the impact it may or may not have had on how she monitors what goes into her body. It's always great to catch up with Des. She is an inspiration in running and in life, and we can't wait to see what's next for her in NYC and beyond.
52 min 54 sec
Good journalism is an important part of promoting a sport, and it’s also an important part of bringing the dark sides into the light. Fortunately, we have good journalists like Erin Strout who help us do both for the sport of running. Erin’s interest in writing began by interviewing her family at the Thanksgiving table which ultimately led to majoring in journalism at Penn State. After that, she did stints covering business in NYC and higher education in DC before melding her passion for running with her career. Since then, she has worked with Running Times, Runner’s World, and now Women’s Running where she is a writer and digital editor. In this episode, we chat with Erin about her parallel journeys as an amateur athlete and a journalist before digging into the role of journalism in the areas of doping and clean sport. She tells us about pushback she received covering the Shelby Houlihan case and gives us her ideas for uncovering the dark sides of the sport if she had unlimited time, money, and resources. Erin is a great writer and storyteller. When she writes we read it, and when she speaks, we listen. We encourage you to do the same.
46 min 8 sec
We can't think of a better way to finish the summer of Kate Grace than with a podcast with Kate Grace! Yes, she's an Olympian, US Champion, and now multiple-time Diamond League winner, but her career is loaded with ups and downs from injuries to team and sponsor changes and to disappointment on the track. Through it all, she remains the same, balanced human who operates with high integrity and who values family above it all. For those reasons alone, we know you will love getting to know Kate in this episode. In addition, we know you will be interested to learn from Kate about the practical reality of clean sport in her daily life from whereabouts filings and early morning drug tests to avoiding contaminated food or supplements. Plus, she provides her perspective on the Shelby Houlihan case as a former teammate. In the end, she tells about what's next for her as she dreams big for the next Olympic cycle. We have a good feeling that there will be more summers of Kate Grace around the corner, and we can't wait to cheer her on for all of them!
1 hr 7 min
We last talked to Sara Hall in February of 2020 for episode #37, just before she had a disappointing DNF at the Olympic Marathon Trials shortly after. Then, the world shut down and her plan to cope by diving straight into a new training cycle fell apart. She responded like a champion by pivoting and adjusting to the rapidly changing circumstances to make the most of it. What followed were the best results of her career including a half marathon PR, 2nd place in the London Marathon, a win at the Marathon Project in the 2nd fastest time ever by an American (2:20:32), and 6th place in the 10,000m at the US Track Trials in Eugene. Of course, it wasn't easy as she faced a host of ups and downs along the way including her own case of COVID-19 earlier this year. We talk to Sara about the details and emotions of it all from dealing with disappointment in Atlanta to the joy and relief of her amazing kick finish in London. Plus, she tells us about how recent doping cases affect her day-to-day life in very real ways. Sara is now prepping to go after Deena Kastor's American record in Chicago on October 10th, but as she shares in the interview, she is far from done regardless of how it goes. Join us in cheering her on as she goes for the record books and beyond!
57 min 48 sec
Courtney Dauwalter is already one of the greatest ultra runners of all-time, and she's far from finished. She recently won her second Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in course record time. She's won the Western States 100, the Tahoe 200, the Moab 240, and the US edition of Big's Backyard Ultra, finishing with 283.3 miles completed over nearly 57 hours. It seems that she gets better as the races get longer and harder. Did you know that she grew up in Minnesota where she got her start in sport in gymnastics, soccer and floor hockey? Or, that she was a state cross-country skiing champion in high school and went on to compete collegiately as a cross-country ski racer at the University of Denver? And, did you know that she did not finish her first 100 mile race, which stoked her fire to run another one (and another)? Kara and Shanna host this episode to talk with Courtney about it all, including her perspective on clean sport. You will fall in love with her kind, infectious energy and maybe, just maybe, want to add an ultra distance race to your bucket list. Listen at your own risk!
53 min 22 sec
It was a busy summer for your Clean Sport Collective hosts, but we are excited to be back to you with new content, starting this week with a host roundtable. In this episode, we give you quick updates on the lives of Kara, Shanna, and Chris and then dive right into the deep end to discuss the biggest cases of the summer. We cover the Alberto Salazar SafeSport ban, the Sha'Carri Richardson and Brianna McNeal cases, and of course, our perspectives on the Shelby Houlihan decision. This episode is just us calling it how we see it, and we look forward to the great debate to follow.
55 min 18 sec
We are excited to present this conversation with new Olympian Cory McGee! She earned a spot in Tokyo with a 2nd place finish in the 1500m at the Olympic Trials earlier this week, and in this episode, she joins us to tell us all about it. Cory has been running at a high level for a very long time. She was a US junior champion in 2011 then went on to become a 10-time All-American at the University of Florida. In the pro ranks, she's been working diligently toward this breakthrough moment for a really long time. In this discussion, she talks about the importance of her move to Team Boss and the lessons she's learned from teammates Emma Coburn, Aisha Praught-Leer, Kate Grace, Dom Scott, and Laura Thweatt. She then takes us through the race from her pre-race expectations and strategy to the glorious final 100m when she willed her body to that 2nd place finish. Cory just loves to run and knowing her integrity and her stance on clean sport makes it so easy to cheer loudly for her both now and in Tokyo later this summer!
30 min 54 sec
Zola Budd Pieterse has every reason in the world to hate the sport of track and field, but she doesn't. Instead, she gives back to it in ways that will help today's young stars experience it in a much more positive way than she did. It has not, however, been an easy journey. Zola grew up on a farm in South Africa before suddenly being thrust on the world stage at the age of 17 when she ran a world record time in the 5000m. That time would not be ratified by the IAAF because it did not recognize competitions in her home country due to apartheid policies there. Thus to compete internationally, she was sent to Great Britain to claim UK citizenship since her grandfather was British. This move was met with great controversy as many meet organizers and fans protested her naturalization, making life difficult for Zola upon her arrival. In spite of the less-than-warm welcome, Zola still ran extremely well, claiming the official 5000m world record and earning a spot in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In the final in LA, she was involved in a collision with Mary Decker Slaney that sent Mary to the ground and left Zola reeling from the boos that then filled the Olympic stadium, directed toward her even though the contact was incidental. Even with this disappointment, Zola went on to claim more European records, win the World Cross Country Championship in back to back years, and make another Olympic team in 1992. In this episode, Zola joins Shanna and Kara to talk about it all including growing up as a running prodigy, how she dealt with the intensity of the negative spotlight often on her, and why she competed barefoot and always clean in the steroid era of the 1980s and EPO era of the early 1990s. Zola then shares how she reclaimed her love for the sport as her own while also coaching the next generation of runners in her current home city of Conway, South Carolina. Zola is an absolute legend in our sport, and we are so honored to share her story.
52 min 18 sec
What price would you be willing to pay for telling the truth? What if you knew it would cost you your home, your livelihood, your security, and nearly your country? Would you still speak up? Would you still do the right thing? Whether they know it at the time or not, that is the choice often faced by what the world calls "whistleblowers." We call them truth-tellers, and Renee Anne Shirley ("Anne") is one of those truth-telling heroes. In August of 2013, she spoke out via a Sport Illustrated editorial about the lack of testing being done by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) in and around the 2012 Olympics in London. That editorial would change her life forever. In this episode, Kara and Chris talk to Anne about her story including her background in sport growing up in Jamaica and the eventual combination of serendipity and strong will that put her in position to build the anti-doping infrastructure in Jamaica. She details the behind-the-scenes political gamesmanship that sits behind the anti-doping apparatus worldwide and how she maneuvered her way into the power structure before eventually exposing its flaws. Anne discusses why the global governance structure needs to be re-built from the ground up while still giving us hope for a better future. In addition, she tells us what we can do as fans to make a difference for clean sport wherever we are. Anne is one of the clearest and most objective speakers on any issue related to clean sport, and we are excited to share her story and her insight.
1 hr 8 min
Hillary Allen is used to defying the odds. She did it in graduate school when her running career began, rising from a first-time marathoner in 2012 to the very top of the sky running world in just five short years. She did it again in 2017, surviving a 150-foot fall on the trails which nearly killed her to return to the podium in her sport just over a year later. In this episode, Hillary shares her inspiring story with Kara and Chris. We start with her journey to becoming a runner evolving from a childhood sports-fanatic and tennis player who saw running as punishment to a graduate student simply seeking running as an outlet from her intense coursework. From there, Hillary describes how an unlikely running buddy of hers helped her fall in love with the sport and discover her passion and potential on the trails, which quickly and almost accidentally evolved into an elite-level career. That career would take her to the top of the sport and the world, as she found global success in a niche area of trail running called sky running. Then, everything changed with a traumatic fall from a ridge line in a race in Norway. Hillary gives us a moment-by-moment account of that life-changing step and recounts the painful and challenging recovery process that followed. She tells us how she found the strength to persist in rehab, how she overcame her fears to return racing again, and how her perspective on life is forever changed. Of course, we also get her perspective on the clean sport culture in the trail running world, how the culture might be different in the US vs Europe, and whether or not trail running needs a more organized anti-doping program. We walked away inspired from this conversation with Hillary and know you will too! To read Hillary's story in her own words, check out her new book: Out and Back: A Runner's Story of Survival Against All Odds.
1 hr 12 min
You might know Anthony Famiglietti (nicknamed “Fam”) as the two-time Olympian in the steeplechase with an aggressive, front-running style on the track. You may not know his other side as the quiet, introverted artist who sees the world a little different than the rest of us, including a unique perspective on the world of clean sport. In this episode with Kara, Shanna, and Chris, we get to meet both sides of him, Anthony and Fam, the artist and the athlete. Anthony grew up on Long Island and was first introduced to the world of sport with a skateboard on his feet, learning on his homemade half pipe to enjoy the journey toward a goal even through failure. He came to running in high school through a few mentors in his life who both died tragically. Running then became an outlet for his grief as well as a pure way to honor those who had believed in him. Not recruited heavily in high school, Anthony had to win the 3200m at the state meet to earn a scholarship to Appalachian State in his final high school race. Anthony tells us how he discovered and fell in love with the steeplechase at Appalachian State and why he had to transfer to Tennessee in order to truly pursue the event. Once at Tennessee, he met the great US distance runner Todd Williams, discovered that you could make a living as a pro runner, and set his sights on beating Todd’s times and making an Olympic team. From there, the conversation turns to doping and clean sport as Anthony asks us the question: “what is doping?” He then shares his own experiences being introduced to the gray areas of cheating from a place you might not expect – a doctor associated with the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. These experiences have informed his art including his interpretation of the Alberto Salazar case via a piece called “Death of Saladbar,” in which Kara is also depicted for her role as truth teller. Anthony understands the impact of the system but still puts the responsibility for the fight for clean sport on the athlete who he believes should be protecting the sanctity of their pursuit at all costs. We appreciate his perspective and the deep dialogue.
59 min 22 sec
Nick Willis might be the fastest "amateur" athlete in the world. He hopes it is fast enough to help him qualify for his 5th Olympic Games in Tokyo this year. In this episode led by Chris and Adam, we find out all about Nick's career, which now spans nearly two decades, from growing up in New Zealand to now joining the corporate world with Tracksmith. Of course, we cover the two Olympic medals in between too! Nick's story is a fascinating one as he showed promise in running at a very early age, running a city record at the age of 7 in the 200m sprint. Even with the early promise, his path to his first Olympic medal in 2008 was far from a linear one. We discuss those twists and turns with Nick and then hear the play by play on his final race in Beijing as he passed 3 runners in the home stretch to earn bronze on the day. That medal would be upgraded to silver just a year later to the surprise of no one as the gold medalist Rashid Ramzi was disqualified for doping. Later Asbel Kiprop, who still officially holds the gold for that race, would be banned for doping as well. In spite of all of that, Nick explains why neither Ramzi or Kiprop could ruin his memory of that experience. On doping, Nick shares his first experience seeing it on the international scene. He talks about how he approached races knowing that certain competitors were definitely cheating and how speaking out against it can come with a price. He even details how drug testing works for an international athlete training outside his home country, as he spent most of his career training in the US. Plus, Nick gives his perspective on the future of clean sport and how he plans to give back to it in his new role with Tracksmith. Nick has said, "Running is empty unless it’s about something more." In his new role as an "amateur" athlete, he is committed to building that something more in the sport, and we can't wait to see what comes next for him!
1 hr 2 min
With this episode, we release an important follow-up conversation with Dawn Harper-Nelson. In our preparation for our original interview with Dawn, we missed an important detail that should have been central to that first discussion. After posting episode 84, we learned that Dawn actually served a three-month suspension beginning in December of 2016 for unintentionally ingesting a banned substance. In the fall of 2016, Dawn ended up in the emergency room with high blood pressure. The prescribed medication to get it under control contained the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide. Dawn attempted to check the medication, but the name on the bottle included an acronym that didn't match what was in the banned substance database. She documented everything about the incident (including a screenshot of her search) and was able to get all proof to USADA immediately after her adverse test result. That information led to the short, three-month suspension. According to USADA, "Following an investigation into the circumstances of her case, including Harper-Nelson’s medical records, USADA has accepted Harper-Nelson’s explanation that her positive test was caused by a blood pressure medication she was prescribed by a physician to treat hypertension. Harper-Nelson further explained that she made efforts to determine if the medication contained prohibited substances; however, due to using partial search terms, those efforts were unsuccessful." We sincerely apologize to you as listeners and to Dawn for this oversight. We absolutely still believe in Dawn as a clean athlete and are thankful to her for taking additional time to share the story of this situation. It's an important cautionary tale for clean athletes everywhere. If you are clean athlete and have questions about a potential medication, USADA encourages you to reach to their Athlete Express hotline at 1-866-601-2632. Plus, if you haven't listened to episode 84 already, it's a must-listen as Dawn is such an inspiration.
24 min 22 sec
You don't want to miss this episode with Dawn Harper-Nelson because we can't think of a better person to showcase on this International Women's Day. Dawn is a fierce competitor and loving mom with an absolutely infectious personality. She's earned 4 global championship medals on the track including a gold, 2 silvers, and a bronze, but her story has impact well beyond the podium. In this episode with Shanna and Chris, Dawn opens up about her journey from growing up in East St. Louis to now raising a daughter of her own in the same area. She talks about the impact of the role models in her life including her parents who made sure her education took priority over her track career, her high school coach who saw her ultimate potential in the hurdles, and the legendary Jackie Joyner-Kersee, also from East St. Louis, who pulled her aside at a young age and told her that she had the potential to be great. In spite of the support, Dawn shares that her path to Olympic gold in 2008 was far from easy as she barely made the Olympic team while navigating the initial part of her pro career without a sponsor, wearing borrowed spikes from a teammate. From there, Dawn discusses how she dealt with the added pressure of being Olympic champion while going on to win 3 more medals and 4 Diamond League titles over the next decade in her highly-competitive event. She also tells us why the hurdles are different and why she believes the clean sport culture in the event is so strong. In 2018, she chose to retire after finding out she was pregnant with her daughter Harper. As she explains, the culture is gradually changing for the better, but traditionally, pregnancy has meant the end of your career for most women. Now in partnership with Cadenshae and &Mother, Dawn is on the comeback trail to return to the Olympics in Tokyo to show her daughter that you can be a mom and still chase big dreams. We are rooting for her but will still be forever-fans no matter what happens. Dawn's story is a powerful inspiration for us all!
1 hr 11 min
There are few in the sport that have so selflessly given back to it as Kevin Hanson, and he's been doing it for the last 40+ years. He has coached at every level from high school to community college to the pros. He and his brother started and continue to run the Hanson's Running Shops near Detroit, Michigan, and of course, they are also the co-founders and coaches of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, the program that produced Olympian and Boston Marathon Champion Desiree Linden. In this episode, Chris and Shanna talk to Kevin about his journey from growing up near Detroit, Michigan in a lower-middle-class family to now giving back to the sport and to his home city as a coach, race director, and store owner. Kevin tells the hilarious story of his introduction to the marathon via his brother Keith boldly deciding to run one at the age of 13. He shares how his high school coach inspired him to get into coaching himself and to dream big, which ultimately led to the formation of the Hansons-Brooks team even though everyone told them it was a foolish idea. He talks about the evolution of the team from bringing Brooks on as a sponsor to producing their first Olympian in Brian Sell in 2008 and ultimately to the big win for Des Linden in Boston in 2018. Getting to the issues of clean sport, we discuss the zero-tolerance policy for doping on his team, the suspension of Alberto Salazar, the impact of super shoes on the roads and track, and the need for the re-allocation of funds from enriching the leaders in sports governance to more money for drug testing to catch the cheats. Kevin is a no-nonsense kind of guy that operates with integrity, who will always speak the truth about any topic. This conversation with us was no exception. Thank you Kevin for all that you do for our sport and for clean sport.
1 hr 13 min
You know Jim Walmsley as the 4-time ultra runner of the year who owns the course record at the Western States 100, the 50-mile world record, and now the US 100K record. You probably also know him as the trail runner who ran a 1:04 half marathon on the roads to qualify and compete in the Olympic Marathon Trials with the road specialists, where he finished a respectable 22nd last February. But, did you know that he won a state cross country title in high school in Arizona? Or, that he attended the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs where he ran every distance from the mile to the 10,000 meters on the track including the steeplechase? Or, that he may not be the ultra trail runner he is today if not for being stationed at missile silo in Montana after graduation? Or, that he was one of the very first trail runners to sign the Clean Sport Pledge? Learn all of those things and more in this episode with Jim led by Shanna and Kara. Jim holds nothing back in sharing his story openly and honestly. It is comforting for us to know that Jim is leading the way in the trail world, where the culture of clean sport is already strong.
1 hr 16 min
Clare Egan has *only* been competing in the sport of Biathlon for 8 years, but she has already made a lifetime of impact. Yes, you could talk about what she's accomplished for the US on the snow and ice as an athlete. She's an Olympian and a World Cup podium winner after all. Her real impact, however, has come as chair of the Athletes' Committee for the International Biathlon Union (IBU) where she's helped set a new tone in the sport, rooting out corruption in governance and taking a stand for clean sport. In this episode, Clare shares her story with Kara and Chris. She discusses growing up in Maine in the hometown of Joan Benoit Samuelson where running and cross country skiing were her first loves in sport. She shares her unusual path to the sport of Biathlon, which she didn't discover until the age of 25 when she met a famous Biathlon coach through her ski team. You also get to hear the hilarious story of her first target shooting lesson when the coach unceremoniously advised her, "do not try to hit the target." From there, we chat about her quick rise in the sport from Olympian in 2018 to World Cup bronze medalist in 2019, and Clare refreshingly tells us why she deserved that medal. Finally, we discuss all things clean sport as Clare talks about why it is such an important topic to her. Clare does not mince her words as she tells us that she believes the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) should be dismantled and re-organized if we are ever going to win this fight for clean sport. She understands the impact of integrity within governance due to her involvement with the IBU, and we wholeheartedly agree with her perspective. Clare talks the talk and backs it up by walking the walk as an activist making change in her sport. We need more athletes willing to do so just like her. NY Times articles referenced in the discussion: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/sports/olympics/biathlon-russia-doping-besseberg.html#click=https://t.co/cQW7z1bUV6 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/21/sports/olympics/russia-doping-wada-cas.html
1 hr 5 min
For a professional runner, the resume of Alexi Pappas looks a little different than most. Even though she is an Olympian and 10,000m record holder for Greece, her running accolades might not even be at the top of the list. She's also an actress, filmmaker, and now author of her own memoir Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas. Her journey in life, however, has not been an easy one. In this episode, Kara and Shanna talk with Alexi about the challenges she has faced and the life lessons that have come along the way. Alexi discusses the difficulty of losing her mom to suicide at a young age and her evolving perspective on her mom's struggle as she has aged. She shares the story of being forced to quit her high school XC/track team and how it ended up being a blessing in disguise for her future in the sport. She talks about the importance of team in her life and all of the ways others (including Kara) have shown up for her. Alexi tells us why she chose to run for Greece, the magic of running a PR and national record in the Olympics in Rio in 2016, and then how she battled and overcame her own depression immediately following. Of course, we also get Alexi's perspective on doping, including her own initial naivete about it, and what she wants to see for the future of sport. This interview with Alexi is unlike any we have ever done. There is something for everyone in the discussion, and we are thankful that Alexi was so willing to openly share her story. Alexi is a role model to so many, and we highly recommend that you check out her book! Here are the two articles mentioned in the discussion: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/07/opinion/alexi-pappas-depression.html https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a35120434/mary-cain-alexi-pappas-friendship/
59 min 45 sec
We dare you to tell Ali Jawad that he can't do something. He will probably prove you wrong just as he's been doing his entire life. Ali was born without legs, but he has never viewed that as a disadvantage. At age 7, he dreamed of being on an Olympic podium after watching Michael Johnson win double golds in the 200m and 400m in Atlanta. He finally made that dream come true by winning a silver medal in Rio in 2016 in his third Paralympic Games. The journey to that podium was not an easy one. In fact, Ali nearly lost his life in 2010 due to complications from Crohn's disease. In this episode with Kara and Chris, Ali shares his inspiring story, one that has been grounded in integrity since the very beginning. He discusses his first week in powerlifting at 16 when his coach gave him the choice to always compete clean or get out of his gym. He talks about his meteoric rise in the sport to his first Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, but his chances for the podium there were derailed by a mysterious illness. That illness, later diagnosed as Crohn's disease would nearly take his life and almost cost him his career in 2010. Ever present, he is still struggling with the impact of Crohn's on his body to this day. Ali discusses how he overcame these challenges to become a World Champion in 2014, European Champion in 2015, and then win that coveted silver medal in Rio in 2016. Now, Ali hopes to make a 4th Paralympic team in Tokyo this year, but he tells you why it might be his biggest challenge yet. Along the way, Ali has been an outspoken advocate for clean sport since the very beginning of his career in powerlifting. He has spoken out against systematic doping in his sport, advocated for lifetime bans, and provided specific recommendations on how to change the governance structure within WADA in order to better elevate the athlete's voice. You will not find an athlete who speaks more clearly on these topics, and we are honored to share Ali's inspiring story with you.
54 min 41 sec
Track and field is full of thousands of athletes who train hard, seeking glory without a sponsor and unsure of where they might earn their next check to cover rent and food. Mikel Thomas is one of those athletes, and in spite of all of his challenges, he's grinded to 3 Olympic Games and podium finishes at the Pan Am Games and NACAC Championships (for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean). Plus, he is now an advocate on topics that include athletes' rights and clean sport, even while he is attempting to make a 4th Olympic team, because he wants to leave the sport a better place for those who will come after him. He also wants to make his mother proud. In this episode with Chris and Kara, Mikel shares his story from being born in Trinidad and Tobago to moving to Brooklyn at a young age to the turning-point moment when a school administrator chose not to punish him but instead to give him an opportunity in sport that would change his life forever. He talks about making the most of that opportunity by teaching himself how to run in the high hurdles by watching YouTube videos even as coaches told him he couldn't do it. He's proved them and others wrong time and time again, not only learning and excelling at the high hurdles but also overcoming countless figurative hurdles from lack of sponsorship to eviction and injury to being forced to speak out against an embezzlement scandal within his own federation. Regarding clean sport, Mikel discusses seeing organized doping within the sprints as an athlete, and he details his experience seeing it from the top while working as an intern at the International Testing Agency (which is affiliated with WADA). Mikel says that his story shows that he is either relentless or stubborn. We think it's both... in a good way. Join us in standing with Mikel to support him in his journey to Tokyo and in his fight to empower and educate athletes for clean sport worldwide.
1 hr 18 min
We are excited to kick off the podcast in 2021 with one of the greatest American distance runners of all time - Shalane Flanagan. From the roads to the track to the grass and mud of a cross-country course, her resumé of accomplishments pretty much has it all: 3-time NCAA champion, 4-time Olympian, Olympic silver medalist, 18-time US champion, World XC bronze, NYC Marathon champion, and former American record holder for all distances from 3K, 5K, 10K and 15K. Even with this amazing list of accolades, we may never know Shalane's true accomplishments because many of her major races were affected in some way by drug cheats. In this episode, Kara and Chris ask Shalane about it all. We discuss her childhood growing up as the daughter of two elite distance runners, living in Colorado and then Massachusetts, where her parents emphasized surrounding yourself with the right people. She shares when her Olympic aspirations began and the gory details of getting food poisoning in China before bouncing back to earn Olympic bronze (which was later upgraded to silver). She talks about that medal upgrade and the impact of drug cheats on many of her major races including the Boston Marathon in 2014. Finally, she tells us about the true meaning behind the "f-yeah" moment at the finish line of her NYC Marathon victory and then how she now approaches clean sport as a coach with her athletes at the Bowerman Track Club. Shalane is an amazing ambassador for #cleansport, and we can't think of a better way to kick off our podcasts as we head into this Olympic year!
1 hr 3 min
What is it like growing up as the daughter of one of the greatest distance runners of all-time? Surprisingly normal actually. In this episode, Eilish McColgan, the daughter of episode 60 guest Liz McColgan, joins Chris and Kara to talk about her own running journey from childhood club star to 2-time Olympian. Not pressured into it by her distance-running parents, she fell in love with the sport all on her own, making her journey uniquely beautiful. Eilish details her up and down journey where she endured a performance plateau in high school before breakout performances in her early 20s led to a 2012 Olympic berth in the steeplechase and eventually to the 2016 Olympics in the 5K. It wasn't easy, however, as multiple injuries and surgeries almost derailed each of those opportunities on the world stage. Eilish shares so much wisdom in this episode including navigating her changing body as a teenager, learning how to individualize her training for optimal results, and maintaining her passion and commitment to the sport through major injury. Of course, she also provides her perspective on what should be done to level the playing field and ensure all countries uphold similar standards for clean sport. Throughout the conversation, Eilish's love for running shines brightly through, and we can't wait to root for her in Tokyo next year! A quick programming note: we will be on hiatus for the month of December to enjoy time with our families for the holidays and will be back to you with new episodes in January.
1 hr 15 min
Leo Manzano’s story should be a simple picture of everything that is beautiful about track and field. Mexican-born, he moved to small-town Texas at a young age and had to negotiate with his father to join the middle school cross country team by agreeing to work over the summer to help his family pay the bills. Once on that team, he fell in love with the sport, and then with his raw talent combined with grit, determination, perseverance, and lots of hard work, he went on to earn 9 state titles, 5 NCAA championships, 10-straight podium finishes at USAs, 2 Olympic teams, and one history-making silver medal at the London Olympics. Though small in stature at five and a half feet tall, Leo was a giant on the track known for his devastating finishing kick that carried him onto that podium in London and to the front of countless races. Unfortunately, Leo’s story cannot be told without discussing some of the sport’s darkest shadows. In his first Olympics in Beijing, the gold and silver medalists were later busted for EPO use. In London in 2012, he was beaten by Taoufik Makhloufi who was the subject of great suspicion at the time and is now under investigation by French doping authorities after allegedly being caught with syringes and performance-enhancing substances. Gold medal and national anthem moment stolen. Even after winning his silver medal, the first Olympic medal by an American in 44 years in the 1500m, Leo’s contract was reduced by Nike because he was deemed “too old” at the age of 27. As a result, Leo let his Nike contract expire but couldn’t find another deal for 18 months as he struggled to find another company that appreciated the value in his story. Meanwhile, he silenced the skeptics in 2014 and won his 2nd national title wearing a singlet with no logos. Leo ultimately signed with Hoka and is supported by them to this day, even beyond retirement, but we can’t help but wonder why one of America’s greatest milers wasn’t more appreciated in his prime. In this episode, Leo joins Chris and Shanna to talk about both sides of his incredibly inspiring story. This one is a must-listen as Leo humbly reflects on what led him to become one the most decorated milers in US history while also shining new light on the dark sides of the sport with unique perspective and potential solutions. It’s an honor for us to share Leo’s story.
1 hr 17 min
For Frank Lara, there is so much bittersweet about winning his first national title. He earned his first podium in a US road championship less than a year after turning pro. He was ecstatic with his second-place finish on the day only to find out that he was beaten by a drug cheat with a prior suspension for using EPO. Still, he celebrated while the world was outraged for him, and he waited patiently for the much needed 2nd place prize money to supplement his part-time paycheck. The prize money never came. He forgot about it and moved on to prepare for other races with the Olympics on his mind. Meanwhile behind the scenes, the process was working for him. The runner who crossed the line first that day tested positive for anabolic agents on race day and later in an out-of-competition test. The US Anti-Doping Agency was hard at work to confirm the adverse results and deliver a new 8-year sanction to the athlete in question. Then more than 6 months after race day on the day before his birthday, Frank found out via a text from a friend that he was the deserving champion of the US 15K championship on that day in March. He didn’t know how to feel with his top-of-the-podium moment already stolen. He did the only thing he could control and hammered a training run the next day on the famous Magnolia Road, earning a fastest-known-time (FKT), before celebrating quietly with friends. Frank joins Chris and Kara in this episode to talk about the up and down emotions of it all. Plus, he shares his full story from being born in Mexico City to moving to Houston at the age of 5 to his “slow” starting in running before attending Furman University and ultimately joining the Roots Running Project in Boulder. Now, Frank Lara is officially a national champion with that first-place prize money in hand and all eyes on Tokyo 2021. While it’s tragic that Frank lost his winning moment in March, we can celebrate and find hope in the fact that the process worked, and clean sport prevailed in this story. It’s so important that we keep fighting for young athletes just like Frank. Thanks to him for so graciously sharing his story.
46 min 8 sec
Olympian in the 1500m in 2004. Podium finisher at the Ironman distance in 2016. Canadian record holder in the marathon in 2020. Malindi has 16 years of competing at a high-level as a pro, and she isn't finished yet with a potential spot at Tokyo 2021 pending selection by Athletics Canada. Malindi's longevity and range in endurance sports is beyond impressive, but perhaps more impressive and inspiring, is the mindset that helped her achieve these results. Malindi joins Chris and Kara in this episode to talk about it all from growing up playing soccer in British Columbia (BC) to competing at Stanford with Sara Hall and Lauren Fleshman and on to the twists and turns of her amazing pro career. In spite of her success, Malindi's career's was significantly affected by doping in a way that we haven't discussed yet. Listen in to learn about that and hear about how it cost her a 2nd Olympic berth in 2008 and stole her joy in the sport, driving her retirement from the track in 2012. Letting go of that heartbreak, she later discovered a 2nd phase of her career in long-course triathlon and ultimately the marathon. Now a mom of two and living a full life in BC, Malindi focuses on her love of the journey, and it has her again poised to make that 2nd Olympic team more than 16 years after her first. We hope she makes it, but either way, she's an inspiring example for clean athletes everywhere.
55 min 33 sec
Paula Aranda is the Chair of the Board for USA Weightlifting. As a 31-year-old woman of color, her background is unfortunately all too rare within sports governance. Perhaps equally rare is her clear and unequivocal stance on clean sport. USA Weightlifting is currently locked in an international battle for the integrity of its sport as the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) tries to protect a culture of secrecy, bribery, and cheating. With Paula at the helm, USA Weightlifting recently took a stand via public statement to admonish the actions of the international governing body. This statement had us giving a virtual stand ovation as it was perhaps the clearest statement for clean sport that we've ever seen a federation make. Paula joins Chris and Kara for this episode to talk about the reasons for that statement and why she and her board are fighting so hard for clean athletes. We start by getting background on Paula herself and then discuss her origins in weightlifting as a competitor and eventually board member. She discusses her indoctrination into a culture of clean sport within USA Weightlifting that started the first time she walked into a gym. She shares more about the differences in the culture in the USA versus internationally and how politics and corruption are protecting a culture of doping outside the US. To conclude, she gives details on the athlete-first approach to governance her board is taking in order to protect the integrity of results here in the US. To quote the USA Weightlifting statement, "we are not done fighting for our sport or clean athletes worldwide." We are right there with you, Paula. Thank you for the example you are setting for federations worldwide.
44 min 42 sec
We are excited to welcome Ross Tucker back to the show! He joined us in a special episode in January to discuss the great shoe debate, and this time we learn more about his background growing up in South Africa before turning to discuss all of the major issues of today. Chris and Adam lead this discussion as Ross talks about growing up in a small, industrial town in South Africa. He describes how checking out the only book on running in his local library would change the course of his life and career. That book - Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes - would lead him to study under Dr. Noakes at the University of Capetown before embarking on a career in sports science himself. Now, Ross is a science and research consultant for World Rugby, where he advises on issues of player safety and policy. He's also co-host of the Science of Sport Podcast where he and co-host Mike Finch regularly bring data and evidence to discuss a host of issues across sports. In this episode, we dig into a handful of those issues including the shift of the great shoe debate from the roads to the track, the Caster Semenya case, new rules from World Rugby governing the participation of transgender athletes, and of course, the latest in the world of clean sport. Ross Tucker has an amazing ability to make complex issues very simple and easy to understand. He's also adept at arguing both sides of each issue, which often brings unique perspective to any discussion. We learn something new every time we listen to Ross speak, and this was no exception.
1 hr 22 min
Lee Troop grew up in Geelong, Australia and started running as an elementary school kid with his dad. His journey from that kid to become a 3-time Olympian and then ultimately to become coach of Olympic marathon team member Jacob Riley is equal parts fascinating and inspiring. The journey has been far from easy, however, and Chris and Shanna chat with Lee about it all. He shares the story of the personal transformation of his father that would lead them to start running together. He discusses when he knew running could be career for him in spite of not having formal coaching until he was 18 years old. He talks about his hero Australian marathoner Robert de Castella who inspired him to move up to the marathon and to always compete clean. Lee is very open and forthright about his challenges in life including under-performing his own expectations in all three of his Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2008 and overcoming periods of time as an athlete and coach when he lost joy in the sport. Through difficult times, Lee began working with Jacob Riley which led to a measure of redemption for both of them when Jacob placed 2nd at the Olympic Marathon Trials to earn his trip to the Tokyo Olympics. Lee recounts his emotions embracing Jacob at the finish line in Atlanta, while also being open about "selling his soul" by supporting Jacob's decision to wear the Nike Alphafly in that race. We ask Lee about that decision and get his perspective on how technology, corruption in sports governance, and doping are affecting the simple beauty of our sport. In spite of all of it, Lee still believes in the power of running to change lives. He is still coaching hard, advocating for clean sport, and giving back to the next generation of athletes. Thank you Lee for staying the course with grit and integrity. You are an inspiration.
1 hr 20 min
This week, we take a break from interviews for a Clean Sport Collective host roundtable to discuss current events in the world of clean sport. Chris moderates while Shanna, Kara, and Adam weigh in with their perspectives. Topics include recent doping sanctions in the pro and amateur ranks, the use of CBD, bribery charges for the former President of World Athletics, the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Lance Armstrong, and of course, how the great shoe debate is now moving from the roads to the track. On the positive side, we finish by discussing inspiring moments with recent guests, celebrating Alysia Montaño on the cover of Runner's World, and reflecting on what creative race production during the pandemic might mean for the future of the sport. The excitement we've seen from fans engaging in the sport during this crazy time brings us great hope. Together, as a collective, we can change the culture and make a difference for the next generation of athletes to face a more level playing field. Join us.
1 hr 23 min
It's rare for a track & field athlete to appear on Time's List of the 100 Most Influential People of the year, but there is no one more deserving than Allyson Felix for everything she represents both on and off the track. To celebrate Allyson this week for receiving this great honor, we are replaying our prior interview with her (recorded in September 2019). In this conversation with Chris and Kara, we begin with a quick introduction on her background in sport and then dive into two topics on which Allyson's voice is so important: maternity rights and clean sport. She discusses how being a mom has motivated her to speak out on topics such as these. She provides her thoughts on what more can be done to protect female athletes during and after their pregnancies. In addition, we talk about the culture within sprinting regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs and what more can be done to create a level playing field. She also gives her perspective on Christian Coleman's whereabouts violations and why missing a drug test is such a big deal, including a story about her one and only missed test while taking an exam at USC. At the end, we discuss Allyson's sponsorship deal with Athleta and what she is doing to try to make another Olympic team in Toyko. Allyson is the most decorated track and field athlete of all-time with 27 global championship medals, but her impact off the track is perhaps even more important. Thank you to Time for recognizing that and congratulations again to Allyson for making the list. You deserve it.
35 min 13 sec
One of the best ways to support #cleansport is to buy products from companies that have signed the Clean Sport pledge. Altra Running is one of those companies. In this episode, Shanna and Kara interview Altra co-founder Brian Beckstead. Brian shares the story of how Altra was born from his entry into the sport by following the footsteps of his older sisters to meeting his co-founder Golden Harper on the first day of high school cross-country. He and Golden went on to work together in a specialty running store where they began to modify shoes at home to balance the cushioning and provide more room for the toes to splay in the forefoot. They then tried to give their ideas away for free to established shoe companies at the time, who wouldn't listen or who ridiculed their ideas in some cases. With no one responding, they decided to just build the shoes themselves and Altra Running was born. Brian gives several of the behind-the-scenes stories in the roller coaster journey that led Altra to be the success story it is today, including the spiritual moment near the end of a 100-mile race when he realized that the company was going to make it. Finally, Brian talks about what companies like Altra can do to support clean sport including the creative ways they are choosing to sponsor clean athletes and build the running community in grassroots ways. The fight for clean sport needs more companies like Altra to step up and set the tone with a zero tolerance policy for doping. Thank you to Brian and the full team at Altra for doing their part.
45 min 1 sec
Did you know that women weren't allowed to compete in the 1500m in the Olympics until 1972 in Munich or in the 10,000m until 1988 in Seoul? As a pioneer for women in track and field, Francie Larrieu Smith competed in both of those events. All-in-all, she made 5 Olympic teams in three different distances including the marathon in 1992. In this conversation with Kara and Shanna (and a special guest co-host), Francie talks about growing up as one of nine children where she aspired to be an Olympian from a very early age in spite of not having access to sports as a young girl in school. She made her first Olympic team at the age of 19, and she shares how she struggled at those games due to the emotions from the terrorist attack at the Olympic village in Munich. Francie discusses racing in the first Olympic 10,000m in 1988, and she gets emotional talking about what it was like to carry the flag at the opening ceremony for the US at the 1992 games in Barcelona. Francie also provides us with insight into the early days of drug testing and how she approached competing against dirty athletes during her 20+ year career. As an athlete and later as a coach, Francie has dedicated her life to the sport of track and field. She's a role model for any athlete to emulate, male or female, and it's a great honor to have her on the podcast.
1 hr 3 min
She won 6 Paralympic medals including 5 golds. She competed in two Olympics in the 1500m and 5000m. She won 3 national titles in both the 1500m and 5000m on the track. She won US road championships at 4 different distances from the 5K up to the marathon. She finished 4th at the NYC Marathon, and she did it all as a legally blind athlete who never viewed her condition as a limitation or excuse. In this fascinating conversation, Kara and Chris talk to Marla Runyan about her journey in sport from playing soccer as a kid to learning to high jump in her backyard after watching the 1984 Olympics to turning to the heptathlon in college and eventually to becoming one of the greatest distance runners in US history. Marla shares the heartbreaking story of losing her central vision at the age of 9, but she also talks about why and how it never held her back on her way to becoming a four-time Olympian and Paralympian and many-time national champion. Through many injuries and setbacks, Marla never let anything get in the way of her dreams and seemed only to rise higher after every bump in the road. In addition, Marla shares what it was like to compete against several US and international athletes that would later be convicted of doping, including what it was like to beat one of them to win the US 5000m title in 2001. Marla provides great perspective on what is needed to promote a culture of clean and safe sport in track and field. Marla Runyan is a living inspiration, and we are so excited and honored to share her story with you.
1 hr 36 min
You've heard the story of Frank Shorter and how he was robbed of a second gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Marathon (discussed in episode 15). But, have you heard the story of the fourth place finisher that day - American Don Kardong. He finished just 3 seconds out of bronze on that day and should be the rightful holder of that medal after the winner Waldemar Cierpinski was later implicated in a state-sponsored doping program in East Germany. Even though the International Olympic Committee has acknowledged that cheating occurred, they have yet to correct the record because the statute of limitations has expired. Now 71 years old, Don still waits for his rightly-deserved medal. In this episode, Chris and Kara catch up with Don to hear his side of the story. We discuss his beginnings in the sport when he joined cross country to stay fit for the basketball team. We hear about his decorated career at Stanford racing rival Steve Prefontaine from Oregon. Post-collegiately, Don shares how he continued to train to make the Olympic team, running two-a-days while working full-time as a 6th grade teacher in Spokane. He talks about making the 1976 Olympic team with Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers but how no one expected him to perform well at the Games. He then gives all of the details of that bittersweet day in 1976 in Montreal including what he felt like during, immediately after, and of course nearly 2 decades later when he learned the news of Cierpinski's cheating. Even though he was robbed on that day, Don has gone on to play so many important roles in our sport as a writer for Runner's World, President of the Road Runners Club of America, and founder and race director of the Lilac Bloomsday Run, one of the largest road races in the country. He also continues to give back to clean sport by helping race directors initiate drug testing programs through the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO). Because it is never too late to do the right thing, we want to see Don awarded his medal. He deserved it then, and he definitely deserves it now. Thank you to Don for sharing his story with us.
1 hr 5 min
"I really need athletes and coaches and executives within national governing bodies to understand... there is no gray area." - Summer Sanders. We agree. There is no gray area when it comes to clean sport. There is also no gray area when it comes to how much we loved this conversation with Summer Sanders. She is exactly the person you hope she would be - real, funny, relatable, and an absolute inspiration in sport and in life. She also happens to be a 4-time Olympic medalist (including 2 golds) and has an equally impressive career in sports commentating. Kara and Shanna lead this conversation and cover many aspect's of Summer's story from her childhood growing up in California, splitting time between divorced parents who both shaped her as a person, to her meteoric rise to multiple Olympic gold medals by the age of 19 and to her extensive resume in sports broadcasting. Summer shares so many great stories in this episode. She talks about how barely missing an Olympic team at the age of 15 was exactly the failure she needed at the time. She describes every detail of her final gold-medal winning race in Barcelona and what it was like standing on the podium while the Star Spangled Banner played. She discusses her life-long dream of being on TV and how that led to her career in broadcasting after the 1992 Olympics. Summer gets emotional talking about her experiences as a runner including her first marathon in NYC and running Boston in 2013, where she left the finish line just 15 minutes before the first bomb went off on Boylston. Of course, we also ask her about the clean sport culture in swimming, when she became aware of doping herself, and how she dealt with it during her career. Then, we close with her hopes for the future of sport which are as black and white as they can be when it comes to this very important topic. Summer is a hero to many in the pool and in front of the camera. We were absolutely honored to have her join us.
1 hr 7 min
"If there was ever a time for mass-market doping to become even more widespread, for an 'anything goes' mechanistic mindset to take hold, this is it. Sport needs not to add fuel to this trend but to buck it; to serve as a strong counter-balancing force. To be a final frontier that reminds people what humans—not super-humans—are capable of." Those are the words of author, performance coach, and Clean Sport Collective contributor Brad Stulberg. Brad is co-author of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox with episode #26 guest Steve Magness. Through his writing and his one-on-one performance coaching practice, he has made it his life's work to help people become better versions of themselves - the clean way. In addition to his books, you can also learn more about his principles for clean performance enhancement on his podcast with Steve Magness called The Growth Equation. In this wide-ranging conversation, Shanna and Chris talk to Brad about his journey to helping people in this way and how it exposed him to the dark sides of enhancing performance, particularly in environments outside of sport such as the workplace. Brad provides great perspective on big clean-sport questions from the seemingly obvious - "Why is doping wrong?" - to the more complex - "Why not just make doping legal for all to level the playing field?" Brad talks about his conversations with elite athletes like Shalane Flanagan on how they might deal with their thoughts and frustrations on doping in sport, and he gives us some outside-the-box, yet practical, solutions to the problem. As a bonus, we get some really helpful tips from Brad on dealing with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate Brad's perspective because he has a magical way of bringing simplicity to complex topics. This is a fascinating and provocative discussion that we think you will enjoy. Thank you to Brad for joining us!
51 min 13 sec
Jon Rankin is a self-described dreamer, and his story is one that is packed with equal doses of heartbreak and inspiration. In this conversation with Kara and Chris, you will hear about how he fell in love with the sport at the age of 14 watching Michael Johnson earn double golds in the 200 and 400 in Atlanta in 1996 and promptly announced to his parents that he would be an Olympian some day. You will hear about his up-and-down high school career where he overcame a performance plateau his senior year to receive just enough attention from UCLA to make the team as a walk-on. You will hear about his breakthrough performance to win the US Junior Championship in the 1500m his freshman year only to suffer 7 stress fractures over the next 2 years pushing him to nearly quit the team. You will hear about him learning to fall in love with the sport again and how that led him to break 4 minutes in the mile and run 17 straight PRs in his final outdoor track season at UCLA, which earned him a contract to continue his dream as a professional. You will hear about him finishing 6th at the Olympic Trials in 2008 only to find out shortly thereafter that he had a terminal kidney disease and might only have months to live. You will hear the gut-wrenching emotion in his voice as he talks about how that news ended his career, contrasted with the joy he experienced when an experimental stem cell treatment miraculously cured the disease. And of course, you will hear about his perspective on clean sport and why he has become an advocate for it since his time on the track including why he believes that the culture must be changed by the athletes from within. Jon is now the founder of the apparel company Go Be More, and he's made it his mission to inspire others to pursue their dreams just like he did. We appreciate him sharing his story with us.
1 hr 20 min
Liz McColgan is a legend and pioneer in the sport of track and field. She won the first-ever women's 10K at the Commonwealth Games in 1986. She competed in the first-ever Olympic 10,000 meter event for women in Seoul in 1988 (and earned a silver). She became a World Champion in 1991 just 9 months after giving birth to her daughter. She won the first-ever World Half Marathon Championship for women in 1992, and she won 3 World Marathon Majors (before they were called that) with victories in NYC, London, and Tokyo. She was also a pioneer in less fortunate ways as an athlete who lost gold medals to dopers and who lost her sponsorship with Nike due to pregnancy. Both experiences almost ended her career prematurely. Through it all, she remained the same hard-working, fiercely-competitive athlete with integrity who believed in doing things the right way. In this episode with Kara and Chris, Liz holds nothing back as we discuss it all from being bullied growing up in Scotland to competing in those pioneering days for women's athletics and now to coaching kids and elite athletes (including her daughter Eilish and US marathoner Allie Kieffer) in a sport at risk due to doping, shoe technology and the power dynamics within governing bodies. Liz provides great perspective on competing herself in an era dominated by steroids and EPO as well as what she believes should be done to level the playing field and clean up the sport today (hint: lifetime bans for athletes AND coaches plus standardized shoe specs). What you see (and hear) is what you get with Liz McColgan, and we are proud to amplify her voice.
1 hr 11 min
"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort." - Jesse Owens. Tianna Bartoletta is no stranger to determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. She won 9 high school state titles to match her idol from the same state of Ohio - Jesse Owens. She went to the University of Tennessee on a full academic scholarship. She became a world champion in the long jump at the age of 19. Over the next 12 years, she won 8 other global championship medals including 5 more golds. She is the reigning Olympic champion and hopes to defend that title in Tokyo next summer. Her journey, however, has been far from easy. From facing failure in high school to the ups and downs of a pro career where she questioned whether or not she would ever return to the top of her event, Chris and Shanna discuss it all with her in this episode. In particular, we dig into her perspective on clean sport as someone who was robbed of a gold medal (which has since been upgraded) from the 2006 World Indoor Championship. She talks about how that "disappointing" silver medal would lead her to make changes in her career that almost ended it. She also discusses how sponsors and the structure of contracts encourage doping in sport as well as the responsibility of athletes to comply with the whereabouts filing system. Beyond athletics, Tianna's voice is perhaps even more important as she stands up for what's right through her blog. This includes defying her sponsor to speak up for Mary Cain and the abuse she suffered as a member of the Nike Oregon Project. Tianna's energy in this discussion is infectious. Her advocacy for doing what's right - for clean sport and beyond - is strong and powerful. Her dreams extend well beyond the track, and we know that her idol Jesse Owens would be so proud of her.
1 hr 16 min
With this episode, we welcome back Travis Tygart to the show. Travis is the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency and was our very first guest to join the podcast in episode #1. In this episode, Kara and Chris chat with Travis on the latest in clean sport news including the impact of the pandemic and the delayed Olympics on anti-doping efforts in the US and around the world. Travis talks about the initial impact of the stay-at-home orders on USADA in March and the details behind Project Believe, a program to experiment with virtual testing during this time which could change the future of drug testing. We dig into the whereabouts filing system, how it works, and whether or not Travis believes there is a rise in those cases and suspensions in the last 12 months. Travis also provides details on the Rodchenkov Act and its progress in Congress, plus what it means to criminalize doping in the United States. Finally, we discuss the recent threats by the US Congress and the White House to defund the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) including USADA's perspective and the potential impact of such a decision. We are excited to have Travis back on the show and couldn't be more appreciative of his support of the podcast over the last 13 months.
1 hr 14 min
You might know Sanya Richards-Ross as an athlete, but do you know Sanya Richards-Ross as a person? When it comes to the 400 meters, Sanya Richards-Ross is one of the greatest of all-time. She has 14 global championship medals including 10 golds. She's a world and Olympic champion. She's run under 50 seconds a record 49 times and still owns the US national record of 48.70 from 2006. It is fascinating to dig into what made her so great on the track, but perhaps more fascinating is what made her want to do it clean and do it with integrity. In this interview, Kara and Chris dig into both with Sanya. We discuss growing up in Jamaica where she fell in love with running at a very early age. We learn about her influences from her parents, who guided her closely throughout her career, to her coaches and to her idols like Jackie Joyner-Kersee. We talk about her faith and what drove her to want to be great and to do it the right way, while also enduring physical, mental, and emotional hardships throughout her career. Sanya shares her perspective on doping, the whereabouts filing system, and how she didn't even take vitamins during her career in order to avoid any potential supplement contamination. We also ask about life off the track, which is now as busy as ever as she juggles her family life with a young son, multiple business opportunities, writing books and broadcasting, and setting an example for Black moms through her blog site mommination.com. Finally, Sanya provides her thoughts on what she wants for the future for her son and for other young athletes that might follow in her footsteps. Sanya is certainly an amazing athlete, but she is an even better human and we are excited to share our conversation with her.
56 min 38 sec
Christian Taylor is a name you need to know. He’s one of the most dominant athletes in his discipline – the triple jump. He’s won 6 of the last 7 global outdoor championships dating back to 2011 including 2 Olympic and 4 World Championship gold medals. He is President of the recently formed Athletics Association, an athlete’s union created to advocate for athlete-centered change in the sport. And, he is an outspoken advocate for clean sport. In this wide-ranging interview, Kara and Chris begin by discussing Christian’s childhood growing up as a multi-sport athlete where he played soccer, football, and golf before initially turning to run cross country as a way to stay in shape for soccer. Christian laughs as he describes those early cross country meets where he would use his sprint skills to lead for the first 400m meters of the race before falling back as the finish line approached. Those experiences “sucking wind” on longer courses would eventually lead him to the track where he could use his speed instead. In high school, he became a dominant force in the long jump, triple jump, and 400m dash before winning a World Youth Championship at 17 years old. Christian discusses his success in high school and how that led him to the University of Florida where he won 3 NCAA titles and dominated the triple jump along with teammates and rivals Omar Craddock and Will Claye. Christian talks about his first World Championship gold medal at the age of 21 and how words of inspiration from his idol during the meet helped propel him to a huge personal best jump and first senior outdoor title. He gives his keys to success over the last 9 years including what it took to change lead legs for his jumps to protect his knee, a process he equates to changing your dominant writing hand. He is now the only athlete to win two Olympic gold medals while jumping with different lead legs. Then, we turn to his advocacy for clean sport and athlete rights including why he is passionate about both and what he hopes to accomplish as President of the Athletics Association. We discuss his experience with the whereabouts filing system including how many missed tests he’s had in the last nine years and why he places responsibility on the athlete and agent for any issue with missed tests. Finally, Christian shares his perspective growing up as a black man in the US including how recent events have affected him and what he hopes to see happen next. Christian is an amazing ambassador for our sport. He brings so much joy and hope to this interview. We know you will be a fan of his and the triple jump after you listen!
1 hr 19 min
Matt Taylor grew up in the industrial city of Pittsburgh, PA with a family history in the steel and coal industries. As that city (and its industries evolved), his father lost his job with a steel company. His dad's career struggles and then watching his mom start a store of her own planted a seed for Matt that he wanted to eventually pursue entrepreneurship as well. Meanwhile, he played basketball and ran track and cross country growing up which began a connection to sport that he would eventually carry with him to Yale and then well beyond into his career. In this conversation with Shanna and Chris, Matt shares his journey from playing basketball and running track as a kid to founding Tracksmith in 2014. He tells the story of the handwritten and hand-delivered letter that got him his first career break at IMG. He talks about what he learned about product, branding, and the opportunities in the running world while working with Usain Bolt at Puma. He gives us the inside story on the beginnings of Tracksmith, well before he had a name for it. Then, he shares how and why Tracksmith approaches building the sport the way it does, including its grassroots effort to put kits on over 130 athletes at this year's Olympic Marathon Trials. Finally, Matt talks about what it means for a brand like Tracksmith to support clean sport while he calls out the biggest founder and brand in running for not doing more. The importance of brand allies in the fight for #cleansport cannot be stressed enough. We thank Tracksmith for being one of those allies, and we encourage you as listeners to support them and other brands who have signed the clean sport pledge.
54 min 53 sec
Imagine missing the Olympic team by .14 seconds in 2008 after working so hard to return from having twins and becoming a mom the first time. Then four years later, imagine nearly tearing your hamstring off the bone just a few months before the Olympic Trials, putting your shot at redemption in doubt. Imagine traveling to Germany away from your kids to see a special doctor and working so hard every day in rehab just to make it to the Olympic Trials to earn a spot on the team. Imagine the relief of making that team, the additional month of painful, hard work to try to get to 100%, and then imagine earning a silver medal in front of a packed Olympic stadium in London. Now, imagine being so fiercely competitive and believing so firmly that you were the best that you viewed that medal as a disappointment because it wasn't gold. Imagine 8 years later in 2020 that you wait in limbo as a court of arbitration is set to determine whether or not the woman that beat you that day was a doper. Imagine the victory lap not run, the US anthem not played, and the lost moment of glory that you could have shared with your twins who were there that day. Imagine the lost bonus and future earnings that would have been associated with being an Olympic gold medalist. And imagine all of the private moments of mental anguish as you beat yourself up and second-guessed every step in a race that you lost by .07 seconds. Imagine not knowing if you were just great or truly the very best in the world that day. There is one person who doesn't have to imagine it because she lived it, and that's 400m hurdler Lashinda Demus. In this episode with Kara and Shanna, you will hear about it all and also learn that that this story only scratches the surface of the strong and fascinating woman that Lashinda is. She is a world junior champion, a world champion, officially-for-now an Olympic silver medalist, a mom of 4 boys, a clean sport advocate, and a badass on and off the track that we promise will inspire you. We are very honored and proud to introduce you to Lashinda Demus.
57 min 1 sec
Many remember Gary Hall, Jr as the 10-time Olympic medalist (five gold, three silver, two bronze) who dominated in the 50 and 100m freestyle for 3 Olympics. Or, they remember his bold antics on the pool deck from wearing a boxing robe and shorts to line up behind the blocks to talking trash with the Australians in advance of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay in Sydney in 2000. But, do you know the Gary Hall, Jr who twice left renowned swim coaches to take a different path because he knew his body needed something different than the traditional approach at the time? Do you know the Gary Hall, Jr who is the Type 1 diabetic who learned to compete at the highest level with the disease even though doctors initially told him it would end his career? Or, do you know the Gary Hall, Jr who was so outspoken about doping during his career that he was sued by a fellow swimmer after speaking out about her association with the BALCO scandal? In this episode, Kara and Chris interview Gary and get to it all. We discuss his early years in sport, where in spite of having an Olympic swimmer as a father and uncle (and grandfather who was a collegiate champion), he stayed away from the sport initially opting to play baseball, soccer, and basketball instead. Once he became a swimmer, he began training heavily pretty quickly but struggled early on until he found his home in the sprint events. He talks about his meteoric rise in the sport to make an Olympic team in 1996 in Atlanta at 21 where he finished second in the 50 and 100m freestyle to Russian Alexander Popov. We ask him if the recent Russian doping scandals make him rethink his experience in those Olympics. From there, we shift to discuss his longevity in the sport as a clean athlete who excelled in 3 Olympics and what made him so outspoken on the topic of clean sport when no one else was talking about it in the early to mid 2000s. As we conclude, Gary provides some really interesting insight on the regulation of speed suits in swimming, the indirect complicity of drug companies in doping scandals, and why private investigators need to be a more pervasive tool in the fight for clean sport. With Gary, it is clear that what you see and hear is what you get. He gave us his unvarnished perspective on every single question, and it's an honor for us to elevate his voice.
1 hr 11 min
In this episode, we learn the fascinating back story of how Aisha Praught Leer became a Commonwealth Games champion in the steeplechase, while also evolving into an outspoken champion for #cleansport. Aisha grew up in Illinois where she competed in a variety of sports but developed an initial focus in competitive cheerleading. In a twist of fate, cheerleading politics led her to quit that sport and turn her attention to the track where she found her niche in the mile before later adding the steeplechase while in college at Illinois State University. At Illinois State, she finished 2nd in the indoor mile in her senior year which would pave the way for her to turn pro and join the Oregon Track Club, where she made both World Championship and Olympic teams in 2015 and 2016, competing for Jamaica. Later, she would move to Boulder to be coached by Joe Bosshard and train with steeplechase World Champion Emma Coburn (and others). After a disappointing 2017 World Championships, she came back strong in 2018 at the Commonwealth Games in the race of her life where she earned a gold medal in the steeplechase with a come-from-behind victory over Kenyan Celliphine Cesspol. In this interview, Kara and Chris discuss it all with Aisha including how she came to compete for Jamaica, what it was like turning pro including the "baptism by fire" that was joining the Oregon Track Club, why she made the switch to train with Emma Coburn in Colorado, and what it's been like living in a two-athlete household with her husband and fellow pro runner Will Leer. Finally, Aisha provides her perspective on clean sport by sharing her first exposure to other athletes doping and what has led to her be more outspoken on the topic. She talks about how cheaters change the dynamics of races and how the psychological impact of cheating goes well beyond the result for clean athletes. She calls for lifetime bans for dopers, and she gives crystal clear ideas on what can be done to build a better future. We know it's not easy to stand up and use your voice, but we can't thank Aisha enough for leading by example with both her actions and her words.
1 hr 18 min
Betsy Andreu was there when Lance Armstrong first admitted to doping in a hospital room in Indianapolis while preparing for cancer treatment. She heard him rattle off the performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) that he used well before winning his first tour including EPO, HGH, cortisone, and steroids. She was shocked not just by this revelation but also by the lack of surprise exhibited by everyone else in the room including his coach, business associates, sponsors, and yes, her now-husband Frankie who was one of Lance's cycling teammates. That moment would change her life forever. Growing up in Dearborn, Michigan, however, there was no way to know the path that would lead Betsy Andreu to become one of the most important truth teller's in the Lance Armstrong story. She came from humble beginnings growing up in a Slavic family there, but it gave her a foundation built on principle that has never wavered. She has always told the truth about what she heard and saw because it was the right thing to do. In this interview, Kara and Shanna begin by understanding Betsy's background and history built on principle. Then, they discuss her relationship with Frankie including how it began and how it survived the revelations about Lance as well as Frankie's own EPO use. Betsy tells the story of the moment when she knew Frankie himself was using PEDs as he led a climb in the Tour de France in 1999, the year of Lance's first Tour victory. Plus, she discusses the aftermath and an argument with Frankie at Lance's victory party which would ultimately lead to Frankie leaving the team, effectively ending his cycling career. Finally, Betsy discusses her journey as a truth teller including the reasons why she told the truth about what she heard in that hospital room and all of the very real personal pain and suffering she and Frankie have endured as a result of the backlash from Lance and his team. As a contributor to it, she also provides her perspective on part 1 of the Lance Armstrong 30 for 30 documentary on ESPN and what she is expecting from part 2. Betsy Andreu might be an unlikely hero in this story, but she is a hero indeed. We need more like her who are willing to stand on principle and tell the truth no matter the circumstances.
1 hr 15 min