Endorphinrelease.com spoke with triathlete Jason Smith and his wife Adrienne in a 70-minute interview and another six-minute addition on October 19. Later that day, the couple provided this reporter with several pages of documents, including health records, blood test results, letters from health care professionals and documents from IRONMAN acknowledging the findings and sanctions levied upon him. In the days that followed, several emails were exchanged between myself and the couple, as well as phone calls and email exchanges with Kate Mittlestadt director of the IRONMAN Anti-Doping Program, Ryan Madden, the communications manager of the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), well-known anti-doping expert Oliver Catlin, and Montecito pharmacist Steve Hoyt. In addition, a scientist and elite level cyclist who is not from the Santa Barbara area and does not know the Smiths, was granted anonymity while performing research on banned performance enhancing drugs for this story. -Michael Goro Takeuchi
Little did Jason Smith know at the time, that by trying to improve his quality of life, he was also on the verge of inadvertently destroying his own livelihood. While the jury is still out on whether Smith will be able to overcome a decade-long period of health issues, the court of sport recently swung a heavy gavel down upon his athletic career.
Via a press release dated September 28, the IRONMAN announced that Smith received a four-year competition suspension for an anti-doping rule violation that occurred at IRONMAN Texas on May 14, 2016. The release stated that via Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) analysis, Smith’s sample “tested positive for the presence of an exogenous testosterone and/or its metabolites”.
In addition to his results for that race and other subsequent sanctioned races including both the 2016 long and sprint-distance races of the Santa Barbara Triathlon (source:rankings.usatriathlon.org) being expunged, Smith gave up a qualifying spot in the October 8 IRONMAN World Championships held in Hawaii. Worst of all for the 37-year-old, is that since IRONMAN is a World Anti Doping Authority (WADA) signatory, the ban extends to all Olympic sports according to USADA’s Madden. This includes but is not limited to sanctioned triathlons, running events and any sport under the umbrella of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
“It was like a punch in the gut,” Smith acknowledged.
The triathlete related that the impetus of the ordeal stemmed from an orchiectomy to remove a cancerous testicle in 2006. Although he said he did not require any radiation or any other kind of treatment other than monthly CT scans, he was prescribed testosterone and informed that he would most likely need this for the rest of his life. Shortly after his recovery, the-then competitive cyclist won a bicycle race.
“I don’t know if it helped or not, I think it was because I was rested,” Smith said. “Regardless, I stopped taking it because I knew that without health insurance, I couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars that it cost me every year.”
In the middle of an eight-year period of fluctuating health levels, Smith said that he underwent a physical examination in 2010 that revealed the need for a testosterone supplement. The triathlete who later turned professional in 2012, again declined to go that route due to the high cost. Instead, he opted to try on his own by taking extra iron and Vitamin D supplements as well as a change in diet. Still, he said he didn’t perform up to his standards and other factors in his life, including a marriage to Adrienne in 2013, suffered.
“I was really fatigued, tired all the time, low libido,” Smith said.
“I was training a lot as well, but I was never as exhausted or run down and as tired as he was,” Adrienne Smith, “This was not the super lively, spunky person I met. To be honest, I was worried that his cancer had returned. But he said he didn’t want to go to the doctor.”
In 2014, Smith attended a talk for endurance athletes in Montecito lead by the San Ysidro Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Steve Hoyt (R.Ph.). Amongst the topics that he and the dietician and hormone therapy specialist, Robin Marzi, touched on was hormonal imbalance as well as the use of bioidentical or natural testosterone to combat it.
“I saw the symptoms on the screen, constant fatigue, moodiness, constant sweatiness, fainting spells, not being able to sleep, and I’m thinking, this is Jason,” Adrienne Smith said during the interview. “There’s something hormonal going on.”
According to Adrienne Smith, the talk resonated with her husband enough where he consulted with Hoyt, an accredited pharmacist who for over 20 years has specialized in compounding, a technique where the pharmacist collaborates with a physician to create a customized medication made from raw natural materials that is specifically tailored to the individual’s need.
After extensive evaluation over the course of time (on exact dates that this writer was unable to get verification), Hoyt prescribed Smith topically applied bioidentical testosterone. It was something that the athlete admittedly did not utilize on a regular basis. In 2015, while working on getting his personal training business off the ground, Smith switched from being a professional triathlete back to amateur racing and completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run IRONMAN Boulder race in 10 hours, 51 minutes and 52 seconds as an age-grouper. That high-elevation race included a bike course that began at 5,201-feet and had 4,044 feet of climbing. Among his other races, he also placed third overall in the 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon in 2:55:08.
Because 2015 also represented a less than optimal year health wise for Smith, he began to consider other options.
“Working with Steve alone wasn’t really working, that’s why we decided to go see a family doctor,” Smith said.
His wife was much more blunt.
“I told him, you need to go to the doctor, or we’re not going to stay married,” Adrienne Smith said voice rising. “If you aren’t willing to look at this as two people in this picture and realize that it’s not just you in your life anymore…I really want you to do these things.”
A family medical doctor at Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara diagnosed him with an iron and Vitamin D deficiency as well as something that he long knew-low testosterone level. A normal ratio of testosterone for males is on a vast scale between 280 to 1100 nanograms per deciliter. Smith’s was 143, according to a Pacific Diagnostic Lab blood test dated February 11, 2016. Taking doctor prescribed supplements to boost his iron and Vitamin D levels, Smith recommitted to taking the topical testosterone along with oral troches or lozenges that Hoyt created. (*While the family physician will remain publicly anonymous for this story because he did not obtain permission from Sansum to do so, the Smiths provided this reporter with blood test results and diagnosis records for strictly verification purposes.)
“I put both of them on the same email and we worked together,” Smith said. “I would get regular blood work with the doctor once a week where he worked on his own time to help me get it into the normal range. There was one week where we exceeded the higher levels, but then backed off-the second week in February. But within a few weeks we had it figured out.”
“I didn’t notice any difference in performance,” he said. “But I did notice that I didn’t feel like a hermit. I felt I could actually go to a cookout after a six-hour workout instead of going home to crash.”
Adrienne Smith chimed in – “Being around him the most, there wasn’t a huge difference and he wasn’t jumping up and down all the time. He’d still want to fall asleep on the couch and lay low instead of going out. But the one thing was that he was more joyous and lively, personality-wise.”
At the same time, the couple expressed concern about the usage of testosterone.
“Jason said, ‘I can’t take this stuff because testosterone is on the banned list and will show up on any drug test’,” said the business owner of Power of Your Om, a yoga studio in Santa Barbara. “Steve is a really great person who helped Jason a lot, but I was worried about testosterone showing up on a drug test even if it was completely natural and for health reasons. I am not versed enough to know what they are testing for, what levels he is at, or what is in his system.”
“But since it was bioidentical and my blood markers were low, we thought we were safe,” Jason Smith said.
Jason Smith contacted USADA in February and was instructed to apply online for a Therapeutic Use Exemption or TUE. He would need to prove to the organization that he had a medical need. After taking several weeks to ensure that his numbers were in order, he learned that his testosterone rate was 212 and that (according to his health chart) he was diagnosed with hypogonadism. He felt confident that he would be given a TUE and be able to race at at the IRONMAN North American Championships in Texas on May 14.
According to USADA officials, Smith’s TUE application was received on Monday, May 9. That same morning, the Smith’s said that two USADA officials showed up for an out-of-competition urine test. (*Note endorphinrelease.com sought USADA officials to verify the timing and other factors of this visit reported by the Smiths, via three follow-up emails, but was unsuccessful.)
“My father had passed away and my sister was staying at our place and she answers the door at 6:15 a.m.,” Adrienne said. “She comes upstairs and told me that there’s someone downstairs to give Jason a drug test. I go down and there are two guys asking me if Jason Smith lives here because they were there to give him a drug test. I told them that he was swimming. They said that they were obligated to wait outside for an hour and then leave. I texted Jason but since he was in the pool and I knew that he wasn’t going to answer right away.”
“So on my way back home, I’m thinking ‘Really? Is this how it’s going to go?’” Smith said. “It’s like I shot myself in the foot by admitting to them (in February). I came home and nobody was in our driveway. When we were leaving to drive out to Texas we agreed that they’ll probably pull me at the end of the race.”
(* In the interview Smith said via an online search that age-group athletes weren’t subject to home visits and that he thought that his call to USADA in February may have instigated the test, a practice that the agency stated that they do not do because it would deter athletes from reaching out for information. Amateur athletes have been submitted to out-of-competition testing at their homes according to this December 23, 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/doping-cops-take-aim-at-amateur-athletes-1450913174 .)
Smith further complicated matters for himself with one action that he was aware of and another that he said that he wasn’t aware of at the time.
“Two days before the race I was feeling down so I gave myself two clicks of the cream on my forearm. As I did that I was thinking that this might be a bad idea. But I was also thinking ‘Well, the doctor’s said I would be fine.’ So I did it. That’s where I screwed up.”
Despite not having an approved TUE (which in its application states this section: “I understand that using any prohibited substance is at my own risk of committing a doping violation until my request has been approved and I receive approval in writing from USADA and/or my IF (if applicable) in hand). Smith raced and finished the flat course race that doubled as the North American Championships in 8:32:10 to place fourth in the 35-39 age group-earning him a slot in the IRONMAN World Championships held on October 8.
But his joy was very short-lived.
“Right away I saw two people, a higher up or manager pointing me out to another guy who worked for USADA-saying ‘that’s the guy, that’s the guy’,” Smith said. “I thought ‘geez.’ I just thought that this was odd. The one guy left and the other one shadowed me for like an hour. Literally five feet after the finish line, they grabbed me, told me that they were with USADA and that I couldn’t leave or I’d be disqualified. I needed to take a urine sample now or get an automatic disqualification.”
“Honestly, I was a little concerned,” Smith said. “Because it was just two days ago (that he took the testosterone), but the doctors said I would be fine because it was natural.”
“I got to talk to him while he walked around and drink water to produce enough to (urinate), which took forever because it was after an IRONMAN,” Adrienne Smith said. “He was concerned but I said that however it is supposed to work out, it will work out.”
As he would unfortunately find out in the coming months, it didn’t work out the way Jason Smith had hoped for.
“It’s been all downhill since,” Jason Smith said with a wry smile.
On September 28, a release from IRONMAN declared triathlete Jason Smith suspended from competition for four years due to a positive performance-enhancing drug test performed by the United States Anti Doping Authority after the IRONMAN North American Championships on May 14, 2016. Despite two attempts at obtaining a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) with the assistance of medical professionals, the ban was upheld on October 12. On October 25, two days before the first installment of this story was posted, all five of Smith’s race results from this year were disqualified and he is now ineligible to compete in any sanctioned sporting events.
In interviews and emails with Jason Smith and his wife Adrienne, as well as with officials from IRONMAN and USADA, in addition to anti-doping experts, scientists and a pharmacist, endorphinrelease.com pieced together a story about the triathlete’s ordeal. While Part 1 covered events leading up to the initial doping test, the conclusion covers what happened next. -Michael Goro Takeuchi
Jason Smith just had one of his best races as a triathlete, but instead of celebrating, he was answering probing questions about his medical history. Earlier in the week, he filled out an online application on the USADA website to request for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) due to his usage of bioidentical testosterone. On reportedly the same day, Smith said that while he was at a swim workout, anti-doping officials unexpectedly arrived at his door to collect a urine sample.
Despite not having a TUE in place and after rubbing two 25mg “clicks” of testosterone on his arms, he raced at the IRONMAN North American Championships in Austin, Texas-a direct violation of rules stated on the TUE application that he signed. Smith finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run IRONMAN distance race to place in 8 hours, 32 minutes and 10 second to place fourth in the 35-39 age division and earn a qualifying spot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Long considered the Super Bowl, World Series and Holy Grail of the sport, getting to race in THE IRONMAN, which was held on October 8, was the dream of many, including Smith. It was supposed to be a moment of triumph for a testicular cancer survivor who endured an orchiectomy 10 years ago.
Only he never got there.
Shortly after the race, Smith and his wife Adrienne said that USADA officials pulled him aside to take a urine test shortly after crossing the finish line. While being tested in the anti-doping tent, Smith reiterated to officials what he stated on his TUE – he was taking what he thought was bioidentical testosterone.
“I knew what I was taking was banned but because of my hypogonadism, my doctors said I would qualify for this supplementation and that from the information that we had, I would be okay,” Smith said. “We thought we presented a clear case of hypogonadism so that’s all I needed to know. I think we felt we were fine.”
Smith felt confident enough that things would work out in his favor as he completed the IRONMAN Hawaii 70.3 (half-ironman distance) three weeks later on June 4 while finishing second (out of 50) in his age group in 4:30:54 to earn a slot in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Australia. He also placed third overall (out of 293 finishers) in the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run) at the USAT sanctioned Breath of Life Triathlon in Ventura on June 26 in a time of 1:56:39.
“I was not aware that getting a TUE approved took so long,” Smith said in an email response on October 24. “At the time of submissions and competition, I was also unaware that regardless, my results would be sanctioned for competing with a banned substance.”
In the original interview on October 19, Smith said that he was confident that he would “pass with flying colors” because his testosterone levels were at 250. Little did he and his wife know that the blood markers were irrelevant when it came to anti-doping tests.
The hammer fell via a hard copy letter and a copy cc’ed to his email account from USADA (dated June 24) denying his TUE stating that the diagnosis of primary hypogonadism could not be established. The letter went on to state that “To qualify for a TUE hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, the athlete must undergo a thorough evaluation for cause including seller imaging, iron studies and clinical assessment for Cushing syndrome.”
“I didn’t even know what (these things) were, I was just going off of what the doctors told me I had,” Smith said. “It’s my fault, I knew what I was taking, but I thought we were in the clear because of my diagnosis, my t-levels and that the testosterone was bioidentical.”
“We recognize that in some situations an athlete may have a legitimate medical condition that requires the use of medication listed on the WADA Prohibited List,” USADA spokesman Madden said in a statement. “In these cases, athletes are encouraged to apply for what’s known as a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). If an athlete can provide the proper medical documentation, their application is then processed by an independent panel of medical experts. If those experts decide, based on the supporting diagnostic evidence, that the athlete’s TUE application should be approved according to strict WADA criteria then the applicant is allowed to use that prescribed substance and compete under the rules. In this case, however; the panel clearly did not believe that there was sufficient evidence presented in the medical documentation to warrant a TUE approval.”
Although Smith’s testosterone level, which started at 143 (normal testosterone levels are between 280 and 1100 nanograms per deciliter) in February and crept up to to 212 when hypogonadism was entered on his medical record by a doctor in April.
As it turned out, it didn’t matter what Smith’s testosterone level was. On July 11, Smith was notified by IRONMAN via The Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah that via Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) testing, his system was found to contain ” S1.1B Endogenous AAS/The GC/C/IRMS result for S1. 1B 5a-androstane-3a, 17b-diol (5aAdiol) and 5b androstane-3a,17b-diol (5bAdiol)”, a substance that is “consistent with an exogenous origin.”
The scientist that assisted in researching this story, said that the class of substances is Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), with a subclass of “Endogenous** AAS when administered exogenously. “S1.1B” refers to WADA’s “Section 1.1B of banned substances that can be located by clicking on this link: http://list.wada-ama.org/list/s1-anabolic-agents/ .
When asked to address Smith’s situation in terms of bioidentical vs. synthetic, Madden, a Santa Barbara native, responded.
“Testosterone – whether bioidentical or otherwise – is a potent anabolic steroid that has been scientifically and medically proven to increase muscle strength, and aid recovery, which ultimately translates into athletic performance benefits,” Madden said. “It is perhaps the most well-known performance enhancer on the market and under the WADA Prohibited List as an anabolic androgenic steroid, it is prohibited at all times without a valid therapeutic use exemption (TUE).”
For verification purposes, Endorphinrelease.com turned to anti-doping expert Oliver Catlin to clarify how a bioidentical testosterone can show up as an exogenous source. Along with his father Dr. Don Catlin, Oliver Catlin is the co-founder of the Anti Doping Research Institute (http://www.antidopingresearch.org), an NGO whose mission is “to help rid sport of performance-enhancing drugs by uncovering new drugs being used in competition and developing the tests to detect them”. Don Catlin is universally known as the father of drug testing. In addition to overseeing the drug testing at countless sporting events including the 1984 Olympics, Dr. Catlin first discovered the usage of Erythropoietin or EPO as a performance enhancer in 2003 and was a key figure into creating the IRMS testing itself, a process that has become the universal anti-doping standard to see whether a substance came from within the body or outside of it. (http://www.antidopingresearch.org/about-don-catlin-m-d/).
“Bioidentical testosterone has been rumored to be around in one way, shape, or form for a while,” Oliver Catlin said in a phone interview. “As for how exactly bioidentical (the testosterone administered to Smith) is, and whether it would be considered natural in the course of an IRMS test or not, I’m not aware of any research studies of any particular things that are focused on that.
“But in this particular situation, the result is based off of IRMS testing-which means that they found presence of exogenous testosterone. Whatever it is that they found was distinguishable in some fashion through the IRMS testing and was suggestive of exogenous or synthetic testosterone in some fashion being present. Whether that is possible or not based off the use of “bioidentical testosterone”, I am not schooled enough to answer that or am not sure if there is research out there that would answer that, either.”
“(IRMS) has been used for many, many years, – my father created the test years ago. It looks at the amount of carbon 13 vs. 12 in particular. In this case it looks at diols and distinguishes the presences of these diols in a certain fashion. That’s what was distinguishing the presence of exogenous vs. endogenous testosterone. This is a tried and true method that’s worked for a long, long time and that has been employed for 10 to 15 years.”
Adrienne Smith said that following the notification, her husband was given the option of flying out to Colorado to observe the testing of the “B” sample, but declined. When contacted to see how this affected Smith after signing the document, IRONMAN anti-doping director Kate Middlestadt repeated via email to endorphinrelease.com what her test-accompanying July 11 letter and email to Smith said.
“As provided for in Article 7 of the IRONMAN Anti-Doping Rules, consistent with Article 7.9 of the Code, a Provisional Suspension was imposed following notification of the Adverse Analytical Finding. Under a provisional suspension, athletes are no loner eligible to participate in any IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 competition or event under the jurisdiction of WTC.”
But even before this correspondence, the Smith’s had an idea that Jason Smith’s goal to race in Hawaii this year might already be over.
“We found out later that if you do not have an approved TUE before competition, your results will automatically be disqualified from the race,” Adrienne Smith said. “We’re like, oh great.”
With seemingly no other recourse, Jason Smith signed an “Acceptance of Laboratory Findings Waiver of Right to B Sample Analysis and Waiver of Right to Contest Laboratory Findings” put forth by IRONMAN’s parent company World Triathlon Corporation (a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group) on July 19.
While that document closed the book on Ironman for the year, the Smiths still had hope that USADA would reconsider Jason Smith’s case and began planning to refile for another TUE. They also looked into filing for the little-known and much maligned Recreational Competitor Therapeutic Use Exemption or RCTUE (http://www.wsj.com/articles/prescription-steroids-get-a-quiet-exemption-1461365753). But a September 16, 2016 email from a USADA official informed Jason Smith that his past professional status and results showed that he was not a recreational athlete and that the medical evidence he submitted did not meet the criteria of Section 5.e.3 of USADA’s TUE Policy concerning RCTUE’s.
Not giving up, the couple marshaled their forces one last time, gathering medical statements from Hoyt and the physician and other documents to file another TUE. Around the same time, Smith placed third in both the Santa Barbara Triathlon long course and sprint distance races on the weekend of August 27. In an email on October 24, the reporter sought out the reason why Smith raced knowing that he signed the “Acceptance of Findings” on July 19 and was facing an impending ban.
“I did not have a clue what was coming,” Smith wrote back. I believe, from the medical advice based on my condition, I thought I had more than enough evidence to allow me to use supplementation and that this ban would go away. Therefore, I felt comfortable racing. Because of my confidence, it was an irresponsible action on my part. Signing the acceptance in Laboratory finding (I assumed) was evident of being honest, truthful, and openness. Why didn’t I eliminate myself from awards or let (race director) Joe (Coito) know? Based on my response above I didn’t feel the need to. If I was caught intentionally cheating I would have never signed up for another event no matter how big or small. Now, after the fact, I understand I should not have been competing during this whole process. I apologize for the competitors behind me because I took away their position and joy.”
“I’ve realized that I don’t race for myself anymore. I race for things much bigger than me. Charities, fundraisers, sponsors, people who are sick, people who are dying, etc. That said, when I compete its to raise money, tag sponsors, to support my community and because training and racing is just fun. My intentions were never otherwise. That’s why I competed. “
As it turned out, barring a dramatic change of heart by anti-doping officials, those races were the last triathlons that Smith will compete in for four years. His second TUE was not approved on October 12 for the same reasons as the first-not enough medical evidence of “chronic disease” provided and goes further in stating that “per the WADA Guidelines, testosterone TUE’s cannot be approved for functional androgen deficiency/hypogonadism”-something that the Smiths and Steve Hoyt, the pharmacist who compounded the testosterone, disagree with.
“I can understand why the committee would rule this and how difficult it would be to make an exception, but Jason has a very legitimate case for an exception,” Hoyt said. “He needs testosterone not for performance, but needs it just to function. Testosterone provides you the strength to do things. If you don’t have testosterone, then you rely on the adrenals to provide that energy to say, move a 50-pound weight across the room. It takes an incredible amount of strength and puts a tremendous tax on your adrenal system to do that. This is where the committee failed to see any insight into this situation.”
“They’re still not mature enough to state these things more clearly, which would lead to a reasonable decision about his situation. These people have to look at more than the numbers. Here is someone who clearly needs to be supplemented to just reach a level playing field, but they cannot figure out the dynamics in how to do so. So their decision is simple, black and white. If you’re using any testosterone, even if you have a definite need, you’re a no go.”
Now Smith faces public scrutiny not only around town, but on running and triathlon message boards, often from people who have never met him.
“I don’t worry about the people I don’t know and I won’t look at the message boards,” Smith said. “If someone I don’t know sends me something, I just hit delete. You don’t know me or the situation. I’m not going to put any energy into it and will just sweep it under the rug. To people who know me and think I am a doper, that will probably bother me. People like Peter Park, the guys I respect and care what they think, because I don’t want them to think that I am. Our friends are different, supportive and have been checking in now and then to see if I am okay.”
Looking back on the ordeal, I asked Jason Smith if he had any regrets about his decisions over the past year.
“I wouldn’t say regrets. But I would have asked a lot more questions from people in the industry instead of just assuming everything would work itself out,” he said. “I had great doctors that I worked with to get a handle on this, but they’re not athletes and aren’t expected to know the fine lines of the USADA and what I can take to pass and what I can’t. “
“If someone has the same issues that we ran into, I encourage them to figure it out beforehand,” Adrienne Smith said. “It’s a long process, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s such a small time in your life. And if they are in our situation, they need to ask themselves, ‘so are you going to race and not take anything or take stuff but not race?’ This is a lesson someone else can take. But if they have to go through this, make sure they check all the boxes.”
While head deep in all of this, even the immediate future is something that the Smiths have not figured out yet. Jason Smith recently ran in a cross country race not sanctioned by the USATF, but wondered what else he could participate in. He was told that since IRONMAN is a designated WADA signatory, virtually any sport with a governing body he would not be able to enter for the next four years. Despite decidedly different circumstances surrounding each of them, Smith found himself with the same consequences as another testicle cancer survivor who was banned from competing in all sanctioned races, Lance Armstrong.
“Since I was six, my life was structured around sports,” Smith said. “Now I’m thinking, what’s the point in doing this. When reality hit, it took all the wind out of my sails. The other day at swim practice, the only bright spot to a dreary reality was Tina Hill. She’s my swim partner at workout who is competing for SBCC and pushed me through the workout. After, I texted her telling her that she was the only reason why I got through this workout.”
“I would hate for Jason not to be able to show up at these local races without being judged,” Adrienne Smith said. “He’s always had such a goal for ironman and had trouble getting there. Now even that might be taken away from him. Now I guess it’s a different chapter.”
The future will be different without triathlon and other sports for a man who coaches others for a living.
“We talked about this before I even got letters for the ban,” Jason Smith said. “And how I need to be prepared for future issues. I have stuff on the backburner that I didn’t try to do because I was racing. Thought of before all this starting a business, but didn’t because there’s really no time with racing. I probably need that.”
“Maybe we’ll get a Mario Cart PlayStation,” Adrienne Smith joked. “I think that precisely what we have wanted for our marriage, for ourselves and for our contribution to something bigger feels lost at the moment – we met doing triathlons so it feels like what connected us to begin with, we can no longer do together – not by choice, but rather because of rules. That being said, Jason and I have connected and have had more meaningful, supportive conversations over the last few months than we ever have in the past. I wouldn’t have chosen this for him or for us and at the same time, I would. While it feels as though all of his freedom to do what he wants has been stripped, I really feel like he is touching the surface of finding it again in a new way that he would never have explored should this not have happened. Jason has been playing some sort of competitive sports since he could walk – he played collegiate football, track and cycling and jumped right into triathlon after those days. As long as he has been alive and we have been together – this is all we have known – that in and of itself started out as fun and life-giving and more recently, for me has felt restricting. He says “no” to so many things because he’s been training for a race. I have too… and now we are starting to say “yes” to other things – dinners with friends, adventures in the back country, stair workouts with clients, afternoons at the brew-pubs – all things that would cause our training to suffer. There is a silver lining in all of this and I’m not going to lie, it sucks knowing that it could have turned out different. But I know Jason would never have chosen to simply stop training or racing. It almost had to happen to him. I see the beginning of a different life together, new freedom and new vitality – and typically that has to happen when we have a death of something else.”