Yesterday, CrossFit announced that Danijela Hodges received a 4-year sanction for violating CrossFit’s Drug Testing Policy. The violation, however, was not for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but for failing to submit a drug test when notified.
Hodges, an athlete in the women’s 50-54 year-old age group division, had finished 20th in the 2023 CrossFit Open and was going to advance to the Age Group Quarterfinals. However, Hodges did not sign up for Quarterfinals because she was told by CrossFit that she was not allowed to sign up until CrossFit determined how to handle her situation.
So what happened?
Following CrossFit’s announcement, The Barbell Spin reached out to Danijela to get more details about what happened (and Andrew Hiller did the same – see his video below).
In discussing what happened back on March 19, 2023, Danijella told The Barbell Spin that she did not refuse to take a drug test. Instead, she said she was away with her family in the mountains. As a family rule, Danijella said non one is on their phone on the weekends “because our relationship needs full attention.”
She added, “I didn’t see the mail and listened to my missed calls until Monday and obviously found it randomly strange why they choose me for an out of comp drug test?”
When asked if she attempted to appeal her decision, she said she did. “Yes. I explained it all…not sure why they didn’t just say for me to do a test instead of giving me a 4-year ban.”
Why was Danijela selected for an out-of-competition drug test?
Right now, that is unclear. There is a section on the CrossFit Games website that allows anyone to anonymously report an athlete, affiliate or team that is violating the drug policy. However, Danijela could also have been randomly selected per the Drug Testing Program itself.
CrossFit told Danijela that by registering for the Open she agreed to the Drug Testing policy as part of the registration process. That is confirmed by the 2023 CrossFit Games Drug Testing Program.
Section 4 states, “Out-of-Competition Drug Testing: This refers to any testing that occurs outside an in-competition drug testing period. All registered athletes, having electronically signed the drug testing consent form as part of the Open registration process, are subject to unannounced, directed, or random testing outside competition, 365 days a year, at any time and in any place. Directed selections will be made solely at the discretion of CrossFit, LLC. Random selections may be generated electronically from a pool of athletes selected by CrossFit, LLC.
How does a drug test notification and administration of that test work?
According to Section 8 of the Drug Testing Program, “Any athlete selected for out-of-competition drug testing will be notified by a contracted collection agent from Drug Free Sport. Notification may occur through a phone call, email, or text message, which will set up a face-to-face meeting between the athlete and collection agent for the purpose of conducting the drug test.”
It continues, “If an athlete fails to comply with the sample-collection procedure or refuses or fails to provide a sample, the athlete will be charged with refusing to provide a sample and subject to the same sanctions applied for a positive drug test.
“If a collection agent is unable to contact an athlete or the athlete fails to meet with the collection agent within an acceptable amount of time to conduct the drug test, the athlete will be held responsible for the missed test and may be sanctioned.”
Danijela questioned this by saying, “If I was aware prior, I would have said I was busy this weekend, but I didn’t know. Also it was no comp on either. Does it mean that all athletes currently on a vacation can get a 4 year ban if they signed up for open this year and get randomly selected like me?”
It’s a good question. And it’s something we don’t have a lot of transparency on from CrossFit. We don’t know why CrossFit selected to conduct an out-of-competition drug test on Danijela between the Open and Age Group Quarterfinals. Could someone have submitted an allegation anonymously or did CrossFit randomly select her?
There have been examples in the past where an anonymous tip has led to a drug test and subsequent sanction. And to our knowledge, CrossFit has not randomly selected athletes just by registering for the Open. Of those tested out-of-competition the past two seasons, almost all were Games veterans or those who had at least competition in a Semifinal competition previously.
So for Danijela, her appeal was denied and a four-year sanction is in place. She vehemently denies taking any substances banned by CrossFit’s drug testing policy. “I’m not on drugs. I’m happy to do a drug test now if you asked me. I’m just a hard working masters athlete struggling with menopause and injuries, trying my best,” Danijella told The Barbell Spin.