The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile race and the four other road races in its elite pro circuit will begin drug-testing money winners next year.
"The races on the circuit wanted to take a position," said Cherry Blossom race director Phil Stewart. He said the move was in part prompted by controversy over Moroccan runner Asmae Leghzaoui, who won a string of top races this spring upon returning from a two-year suspension for using EPO.
"That whole episode simply brought up that there wasn't a lot of testing going on in road races," Stewart said. Few road races other than major marathons regularly test winners.
The Cherry Blossom has never tested runners before.
Each race will pay for its own testing -- Stewart expects to allot about $4,000 -- but testing in all five races will be done by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency according to Olympic and international standards.
The circuit, called the Professional Road Running Organization, includes four other prestigious distance races: the Peachtree Road Race 10K in Atlanta, the Boilermaker in Utica, N.Y., the Lilac Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, Wash., and the World's Best 10K in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The races offer substantial prize purses and attract many of the world's top runners.
-- Bonnie Berkowitz