The United States Olympic Committee, in conjunction with the International Triathlon Union, have announced that master level triathlete Michael Meacham has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids and will be suspended for a year.
In accordance with the standard protocols for anti-doping, Meacham was requested to give out of competition urine sample on August 19, 2017. This sample later tested positive for both methenolone and boldenone, with both of his samples – the primary sample and the follow-up sample – conclusively proving this positive test.
Whilst methenolone (Proviron) wont have much of a performance enhancer benefit as its not anabolic in human skeletal muscle tissue, boldenone is different. Boldenone, otherwise known widely as Equipoise, is known to increase the users red blood count. This will therefore boost aerobic ability, something that would prove useful to a triathlete or endurance athlete.
The USOC and the ITU wanted to be 100% certain that the Meacham test results were accurate. They took advantage of a new and specialized carbon isotope ratio analysis to conclusively determine that Meacham had in fact been supplementing with performance-enhancing drugs.
The results of the carbon isotope ratio analysis proved that the only way Meacham would have been able to have the elevated levels of testosterone in his body were if he had used an external source of testosterone – including injectable solutions, pills, or transdermal gels.
For his part, after being notified of the positive performance-enhancing drug results Meacham did not go out of his way to knowingly deny using any performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, he openly admitted that he had begun using methenolone and boldenone as far back as November 2013 – and that he had been using them as a performance-enhancing “stack” the very beginning.
At first blush, outsiders were more than a little bit taken aback at the idea that a triathlete could have evaded popping positive for a performance-enhancing drug test more than five years. This is especially stunning considering the fact that the USOC and the ITU had taken advantage of new testing protocols and technology they consider to be 100% foolproof, something that this five-year evasion would seem to undermine significantly.
However, Meacham isn’t a professional athlete on the triathlon circuit. Instead, he was a recreational master level competitive triathlete. While he participated on the same competition circuits that professionals competed at over this five-year block of time, Meacham wasn’t subjected to the same amount of performance-enhancing drug tests simply because of his recreational status.
According to the USOC, Meacham had only been tested a single time over that five-year block of time between 2013 and 2018. This test occurred in 2017 and showed no signs of either methenolone or boldenone, which he admitted to using at that particular time.
Compared to other elite athletes on the triathlon circuit that he competed directly with, Meacham may as well have never been tested. Olympic athlete Sarah True was tested 10 times in 2017 alone, with Ironman Champion Matt Charbot being tested nine times in that same year. Most top-performing athletes are going to be tested at least a handful of times every single year, and for Meacham to have flown completely under the radar while still competing at the same level as something worth looking into further.
According to information released by the USOC, Meacham will have become eligible to begin competing on August 19 of 2018. The suspension that he received was retroactively applied to the date of his actual sample collection, reaching all the way back to August 19 of 2017.
Meacham was able to receive such a small suspension because he provided “substantial assistance” to the anti-doping authorities that were investigating his specific case. Meacham was able to give investigators information that ended up bringing down a significant steroid distribution ring the United States, giving police and criminal prosecutors the opportunity to bring those individuals forward on criminal steroid trafficking charges.