What It’s Like To Be A Professional Triathlete

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Jul 29, 2013
  • Updated Jul 21, 2015 at 3:36 PM UTC
Illustrations by Leigh Guldig.

On doping:

“The scary part is now age groupers are getting tested and the results are showing up positive. It is usually money that influences an individual to start doping. If age groupers are doing it, pride and gaining a competitive advantage is the sole culprit, meaning money is not even a factor. This is a slippery slope we are now treading where the push for athletic recognition will only continue to get stronger, and the pressure to cheat and get away with it will continue to be one step ahead of the testing organizations. Cheating to get ahead is becoming ingrained in human nature, which is frightening.”

“Because triathlon is a newer sport, the culture is ‘cleaner.’ I also think there’s less money in the sport because it’s a minority sport, and that makes the sport cleaner. However, as we found by the revelation of some athletes who have been doping, it tends to be the athletes who are on the cusp of making it, rather than those who are higher up or who have made it. I think drug testing is pretty stringent if you’re in the real top tier, but the ones who are trying to make it to the top-tier level, it seems that that’s where most of the doping might be happening. But then again, I don’t know if I’m incredibly naïve. In my experience, I’ve never been offered anything and I’ve never heard or been aware of anyone around or in my circles. I feel like it’s the up-and-comers who don’t have any money—because, let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of money in this sport anyway. If you’re an up-and-coming professional, where do you get your income? If you’re not winning races or getting any sort of exposure, you’re not getting any support. There’s none whatsoever. That doesn’t justify taking drugs; I just see that as a motivation.”

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FILED UNDER: Features / InsideTri

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a contributor for Triathlete magazine, a six-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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