Are PEDs a Problem in Ultrarunning?


Are performance-enhancing drugs a problem in ultrarunning? It depends on who you ask but 13 percent of respondents in an anonymous online survey—three-quarters of which were male and almost half over 40—smoke, or ingest, weed.

“I’m far from convinced that it’s really helpful—at best, I suspect it’s highly individual and dependent on temperament,” Alex Hutchinson writes for Outside. “But these results bolster the anecdotal case that a non-negligible number of ultrarunners are toking.”

A couple things bothered me about this article: First, if an anonymous online survey distributed via Facebook passes as a “study,” consider me worried for the future of science and research. Second, as the article acknowledges, “the survey respondents appear to be mostly recreational ultrarunners,” which says nothing to whether or not there’s a performance-enhancing drug problem at the top level of the sport. And considering what we know about the performance-enhancing drug problems in other athletic domains, including ultrarunning’s closest cousins, track and road racing, and what happens when more money and prestige enter the equation, tokers should be the least of the sport’s concerns.

Like this post?

Join the 11,000+ readers who get the morning shakeout delivered directly to their inboxes every Tuesday morning.