Faire pipi in a cup

benen“You are lucky”, says soigneur Freddy to me as soon as I pass the finish line in the French town of Chauffailles. I haven’t even clicked out of my pedals yet. Freddy passes me a coke. “You may go to the doping control today.” I get off my bike while he waves at a woman in a UCI-vest, with ‘chaperone’ printed on it. She hurries towards us.

I feel that I really have to go, so I tell Freddy and he translates for the chaperone. We decide to go to the room where the controls take place immediately, instead of freshening up first.

My second doping control ever. It makes me a bit nervous. And I instantly think: maybe the French have heard me complain in the Dutch tv-show Avondetappe, about the fact that I – and a lot of my colleagues – get hardly tested. Bullshit of course. The winner usually always gets tested and all the other girls get picked randomly every once in a while. Today it appears to be my turn.

Of course I know I don’t do anything that is forbidden, but sometimes it really frightens me: what if I get caught, for something I don’t even know I have in my body. That happens. It must be a real nightmare.

As an athlete it’s your own responsibility to make sure everything you put in your mouth, or on your skin, doesn’t even contain a nanogram of banned substances. Therefore we can buy special supplements which are guaranteed doping free: they are produced on spotlessly clean machines – to make sure there will be no traces of banned substances in it, coming from other supplements or medicines for ‘normal people’ that are also produced on those machines.

But some things you just can’t know. The chicken we got the day before yesterday, for example, from the kitchen in the boarding school we spent the night in. It tasted of chlorine. And it looked so chemical I’m pretty sure it must have glowed in the dark. There could have been something forbidden in that chicken. They put so much rubbish in meat nowadays. You never know.

Sure there’s nothing forbidden in that echaniforce I took last week? And that pain killer, for a headache? Of course I know those things are not on the doping list. But all of a sudden I doubt everything. So I get even more nervous, while I walk with Freddy and the chaperone to a room close to the finish line.

A doctor and his female assistant greet me. “Please wash your hands”, says the assistant. The doctor disappears. I take off my racing gloves and wash the sweat and sticky remainders of the gels I ate during the race from my hands. On a table I see small measuring cups, sealed in plastic. “Please take one of them”, points the assistant. I take a cup and unwrap it.

The assistant shows me the way to the toilet. She opens the door for me and says I have to pee exactly 125 milliliters into the cup. I take off my sweaty bibs, while she doesn’t take her eyes of me for a second. I squat on the toilet, put the cup between my legs, block the thought of someone watching me and am happy to feel the wee comes immediately.

At home, I don’t even like it when my boyfriend is in the bathroom while I pee. Of course doping controls are for a higher cause, I think they are very important and that’s why I am happy to co-operate, but I still can’t get rid of the thought how big of an invasion of my privacy this is. Humiliating, in fact. You’re obliged to do something very intimate, something you never share with someone else, for the eyes of a total stranger. Deep down inside, to me even the standard-reply ‘you’ve chosen to be a cyclist, this is the consequence, so deal with it’ is not a valid reason to explain that invasion away.

Soon I’ve peed 125 milliliters, so I take the cup away and put it on the floor. I take some toilet paper, wipe off, put my bibs back on, take the cup filled with wee, push the lid on it and walk out of the toilet. Then I wash my hands again, because I accidently peed over my fingers.

Next to the table with the measuring cups, there’s a table with cardbord boxes wrapped in plastic. I have to pick one of them too. The assistant doesn’t touch anything, I have to do it all by myself – to make sure no one else but me touches my urine sample. The box contains two bottles, one with an A, the other one with a B written on it. I have to open them and divide the pee equally over the bottles. Meanwhile, the assistant puts a strip in the remainders of my urine to check if it’s not too watery. It appears to be okay.

The urine in the A-bottle will be tested for doping in the laboratory. The contents of bottle B are for an extra control, if necessary – the counter-expertise. I have to close the bottles with special buttons which can’t be opened once closed. Then I have to check the numbers on the bottles and make sure they are similar to the number on the box. I put the bottles in the box and seal it in plastic. This package will be sent to the lab.

The doctor comes in with a pile of paperwork. He checks all my data. I have to tell him if I take any medicine (yes, for my lungs), the name of my sports doctor, the name of my coach and what I think of the control (good).

After that I’m allowed to go. Freddy just walks into the room. “Finished already?”, he asks, surprised. “Very quick!” Cyclists who have to go to the doping control are routine for him. I think the hassle with the cups and bottles still seems pretty unreal, even after my second experience. Relieved, I step out of the room, into the bright sunlight.

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