Editorial note: The below article is not meant to make a normative statement supporting the athlete’s actions. The athlete broke the rules within her sport and has accepted a ban. While we believe her post is a piece that warrants discussion, BarBend does not condone or endorse her actions.
Not every story that involves hard work and dedication from an athlete ends in a story book ending. This was the case for Natalie Newhart who had missed qualifying for the Reebok CrossFit® Games in 2015 by three spots (33 points), only to follow with a failed drug test less than a year later.
Newhart recently shared a post on her website/blog with a written explanation into why she did what she did. It’s never easy for an athlete to confront a situation such as hers, so whether you agree or disagree with her actions, it’s important to try and remain unbiased going into such a read.
To give background into the “why,” Newhart describes the life change and effort she put into her functional fitness career. She talks about always wanting to be number one in whatever she did – no matter the scenario. In this respect, I know a lot of athletes can relate. Once she started CrossFit in 2009, her goal soon became, “make it to the Games.”
In 2011 Newhart gave up her reliable government day job (Hydrologist) and moved to Veil, Colorado to open up a gym with a partner. After training for five hours a day, six days a week, Newhart qualified for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
When she left the Games she described feeling as though she didn’t belong, and that she lacked strength in respect to where it should be. Keep in mind, Newhart is 5′ 1″ and only 120 lbs, possibly the lightest ever female Games competitor, according to her speculation. When the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games season came around, Newhart ruptured two disks in her lower back days before the Open.
After being sidelined all of 2014, Newhart employed multiple coaches to improve her strength and Olympic lifting. She hired Louie Simmons to help her improve strength and moved to Ohio with her boyfriend for three months to train. After multiple training sessions ending in frustration and mental breakdowns, the time came to compete in the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games South Regionals.
The final event involved heavy cleans and muscle-ups, which led Newhart to missing qualification by three spots and a total of 33 points. After this miss, Newhart claims it was at this moment that one of her friends stepped in and started talking about her body’s inability to recover quick enough in-between sessions. She briefly talks about how she never saw herself taking any form of PED, but decided to go all in and try to “level” the playing field.
She describes how fitness finally started becoming more fun, and that max effort days became her favorite. Her strength and performance were both through the roof, but on the first day of the 2016 CrossFit Open, she received a call. It was a drug testing company, and they had randomly selected her to partake.
Newhart talks about how even after taking the test she fantasized about the result coming back negative, but that wasn’t the case. The results came back positive and she was given a 2-year ban (starting after 2016) from competition or make an appeal. Instead of trying to make an appeal, Newhart accepted the ban. Following the public announcement made on the CrossFit Games website, Newhart herself confronted the situation with a confession.
Since this all went down Newhart describes how low she fell, but is now entering a new athletic focus. She’s now realigning her focus into the Olympia Women’s Physique competition this September and has been making YouTube videos documenting her progress.
It’s never easy for an athlete to watch everything they’ve worked for get pulled out from under them. Regardless of your position on the topic of PEDs in strength sports, Newhart’s post is an interesting take into the mind of someone who broke the rules and now must live with the consequences — good, bad, or in between.
*Update: Original article shared on February 4th stated Newhart had missed qualifying for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games by one spot. This part of the article has since been edited and updated to the correct information, which was that Newhart missing the 2015 games by three spots and 33 points.
Feature image from @natalie.newhart on Instagram