On June 5, 2017, I was lucky enough to be the first person to interview champion ultrarunner and ski-mountaineer Kilian Jornet after he returned from Mount Everest. He was gracious, honest, and fun to talk to.
I've never heard Kilian speak about doping, which has increasingly become a preoccupation of mine, so I decided to ask him. I thought his answers were interesting enough to make my piece, but Men's Journal edited them out. This made sense, since the Q&A was supposed to be about his recent two summits of Mount Everest in a six day period. So, my questions about performance-enhancing drugs were, in fact, out of context with the rest of our interview. But his answers stuck with me and I knew that people would want to hear what he had to say on the topic.
Honestly, my heart was racing when I asked him for the same reason no one ever does—because it could have pissed him off (and angry subjects typically decline future access). But it didn't. There was no nervousness in his voice, no hesitation whatsoever, just this calm, measured response...
Did you use any Diamox [on Everest]?
Have you ever used any performance-enhancing drugs?
No, I have never used. I have been, for the last eight or nine years, in the WADA program, too. [On Everest] I have the medical kit with me, because I don’t want to die from an edema, but it’s only in case of emergency.
Are you worried about people cheating with PEDs in our sport of ultrarunning?
When I was younger I cared more, because I wanted to win races. So if I thought people were cheating I got angry. In ultrarunning I’m sure in some cases people are doping themselves. I have already achieved the goals I had with competition, so now I don’t care as much about the winning or not. I like to do the things I do and I think, in general, people are clean.
*edited for clarity.