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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brandi Chastain: Hope Solo’s drug test was distraction team didn’t need

LBS spoke with former gold medal and World Cup winning soccer player Brandi Chastain recently to preview Team USA’s chances at the Summer Games in London. Chastain spoke with me on behalf of the Capital One Cup, which was won by Stanford and Florida in 2012, and for whom she is a spokesperson. We discussed Hope Solo’s positive drug test, compared the World Cup to the Olympics, and talked about Team USA.

Chastain felt Solo’s positive drug test was an unnecessary distraction for the team ahead of the Games.

“It’s news that they don’t need,” Chastain told Larry Brown Sports. “As athletes, we have to be more careful. Whether you’ve been told one time something is OK, it’s always good to double and triple and quadruple check. Something as innocuous as a cold medication to clear up the sniffles could derail not only you as an individual, but perhaps a whole team.

“I was disappointed that it came up because for as careful as I think everybody is, I think we could all go without some medication for a short amount of time and not suffer too greatly,” she said. “The good thing about this news is that it’s at a time when we can still be able to talk about it, discuss it, get over it, and move on. There’s enough time before the start of the Olympics to put it behind them once they’ve taken care of it.”

Chastain says the drug testing process is a nuisance, but necessary.

“[The drug testing] is really difficult,” Chastain told me. “You have to submit weeks and months of schedules — where you’ll be every day so that at random, somebody at USADA can test you. It’s pretty involved and I think the job is necessary. Obviously there are people who have cheated. For those who haven’t, unfortunately you have to suffer through [the testing] but I think most athletes are concerned with having a game that is free of drugs, and I’m one of them.”

Do soccer players use performance-enhancing drugs?

“I have never seen it or heard of it and I can’t make any more comments than that,” Chastain answered.

As someone who has won both a gold medal at the Olympics and a World Cup, I wanted to know what Chastain felt was more valuable. She seemed to be leaning toward the World Cup.

“It’s a tough one,” she said. “They exist in two different phases. As a soccer player you’re ultimate goal is to win the World Cup. It’s a standalone soccer event, and just the sheer number of fans that fill the stadiums, that’s really special. To win the World Cup trophy is what you want as a soccer player.”

Chastain still believes that winning a gold medal for your country is special.

“Being part of the Olympic Games is what we all as Americans grow up watching. It’s the greatest spectacle of sports in an non-specific sport way. Every great athlete that exists participates in the Olympics. To live in that family, go to the arenas, and hear your national anthem played as you stand on the podium is something you never forget.”

Chastain is confident in Team USA’s ability to rebound from losing the World Cup to Japan. She feels Brazil and France can be the two main contenders along with the US and Japan, and she’s expecting big things from goal scorers Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. Chastain also mentioned Sydney Leroux as someone who could have a surprising impact on the team.



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