"I'm not a monster." - Tony Turski
“I”m not a monster.”
Those were the first words out of his mouth when Tony Turski answered my phone call last week.
“I don’t think you’re a monster,” I replied genuinely sympathetically, but was also secretly thinking, ‘You’re not a monster, but you are a bit of a cheater.’
Turski was second at this summer’s CrossFit Games in the men’s 55-59-year-old division, but was recently disqualified after testing positive for the banned drug Anastrozole. From what I understand, if you’re taking Testosterone, you also take Anastrozole to suppress estrogen production.
From a health and lifestyle standpoint, I understand Turski’s story: He had been taking Testosterone in cream form since 2015. His doctor prescribed it to him and it immediately helped him sleep better, feel better, live better, which helped reduce the stress and anxiety he was suffering from, he explained. And as a 56-year-old ageing man who has been married for 30 years…(you finish that thought). All understandable reasons.
But from an ethical standpoint, as Turski said himself: “I’ve got nothing.”
“I should have never competed. It’s black and white.”
But is he a monster to be demonized all over the Internet like he was? I don’t think so. He’s just an average, flawed man who shouldn’t have competed at a competition this summer. I could hear the hurt in his voice as we spoke. He’s a mess. He’s living in a nightmare; you’d have to be heartless not to feel for the man.
But I digress: I’m not writing this to either demonize or defend Turski’s actions. I’m writing it to address a couple food for thought issues that arise when we consider CrossFit Games disqualifications.
One: If you’re an affiliate owner running a throwdown, do you let anyone who was disqualified by CrossFit Inc. compete at your competition? Or do you write them off as cheaters and administer a 4-year ban from your event, as well?
Turski, who is registered to compete at the Cascade Classic and has athletes competing there as well, reached out to organizer Jordan Holland telling him what had happened and whether he was still able to compete at the Seattle event.
“At first, he said he was on the fence. Then he sent me back an email three or four days later and said, ‘Dude, just come do your thing and compete,’” Turski said.
Holland explained why he came to this conclusion: “I think it’s unfair to ban a competitor from our event based on information provided by another entity, especially when we aren’t testing anyone else. Basically, we ned to test everyone or test no one. For now we choose the latter,” Holland said.
I had to ask Turski why he would even want to compete knowing damn well people will be looking at him thinking he’s a cheater?
He explained: “Because I want (my competitors) to have every opportunity to ask me any questions that they feel appropriate of my actions. I think they deserve that from me. I wanna face the people I have let down and move on with my life.”
“I want to continue to do what I do. I love the community. I love CrossFit.”
If you’re hosting a throwdown this year, would you allow Turski and others compete who have tested positive at another event? Why or why not?
Two: From an athlete’s standpoint, at what point should you bow out of the race if you’re taking a banned substance?
Hundreds of thousands of people compete in the CrossFit Games Open each year. One can only assume within that group there are many people taking various drugs on the banned substance list for legitimate medical conditions and otherwise.
Should those people not be allowed to do the worldwide Open?
Or do people even care if you’re cheating if you place 80,000th in the world?
Had Tony Turski done the Open workouts, but then bowed out before either the Master’s Qualifier or the CrossFit Games, would he be any less a cheater?
Would love to hear some thoughts.