February 22, 2013
CrossFit Spokane Valley: Road to Redemption
By Sarah Richards

“What drives me the most this year is the taste of victory that was so close to being ours. We stuck together through the situation and are stronger than ever before.” ~Andrea Scalici


Wearing the “Proven” T-shirt and standing on the 2012 North West Regional winners’ podium was a sweet moment for team CrossFit Spokane Valley.

The elation would quickly turn to anger, sadness and disbelief, however, as the team was later informed that one team member had tested positive for taking a banned substance. They were subsequently disqualified from competing at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.

“The 2012 North West Regionals was the first time any of us punched a ticket to the Games, so we basically went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows,” recalls Dan Staton, co-owner of CrossFit Spokane Valley and 2012 team captain.

Staton, whose test came up positive, first broke the news on the CrossFit Spokane Valley’s website with a detailed apology and explanation for consuming ACG3, a pre-workout drink he didn’t know contained the banned substance, methylhexaneamine.

“Disqualification was bittersweet,” team member Salem Giampietro says. “It was disappointing not being able to go to the Games, but I do not hold any grudges against Dan. I know he did not intentionally take banned stimulants. “

Amidst all that was going on last year, Giampietro was fighting a more personal battle. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2011 and was taken from her all too soon in June of last year.

“It doesn’t matter whether I feel like (disqualification) was fair or not,” she says. “What matters, is that it happened for a reason … and from my view I can certainly see some silver lining.”

She continues: “I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend with her the last few months she was here. Being able to take a step back from training for that time and spend it with my mom was a gift from God that I will never regret.”

Get educated

Other professional, collegiate and amateur athletes have fallen victim to similar circumstances. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), supplements do not need approval from the FDA before they are marketed. Many dietary supplements or ergogenic aids contain banned substances. Oftentimes, the labeling of dietary supplements is inaccurate and misleading.

Label reading aside, individuals competing in the Games season are responsible for what they put in their body. The team had to learn this lesson the hard way, but have taken steps to ensure the same mistake isn’t made twice. Their entire team is required to read through the CrossFit Games list of banned substances and avoid any supplement that falls in the gray area.

Prove it again

Though the fall from third place at Regionals was a hard one, the team of athletes are dusting themselves off and working hard to prove they belong at this year’s Games.

“What drives me the most this year is the taste of victory that was so close to being ours,” Andrea Scalici says. “We stuck together through the situation and are stronger than ever before.”

Scalici, a Spokane Valley team member, says they are ready for the 2013 season.

“We have trained harder this year than in any other time,” she says. “We are determined to show the CrossFit community that we’re worthy of being one of the fittest teams in the world.”

Giampietro says competing is her outlet.

“Since my mom’s passing, training for this year’s Games has given me an outlet for grief and the support from my team has been great,” she explains. “I want us to do our best and compete against the best. If other teams beat us, I want it to be because they were superior, not because of a fumble on our part. I am confident that our hard work will pay off. We want to return a sense of respect to our affiliate and we want to earn it, so we’re prepared to bring it for the 2013 season.”

Changing the team line-up

Joining this year’s team is Kevin Longmeier. Longmeier was virtually an unknown athlete until last year’s Open when he tied for third place in the North West Region. He was unable to attend the North West Regionals due to a prior commitment he had as full-time pastor. This year, Longmeier has cleared his calendar and is ready to make a go at getting to Regionals and beyond as a team member.

“I am really excited for the Games this year,” Longmeier says. “I’m competing as a member of the Spokane Valley team because I really enjoy the people and consider them good friends of mine. I grew up playing on a competitive traveling soccer team and have always gravitated toward team sports. I am humbled to be a part of this team and hope that I can help the team achieve its goals.”

Longmeier will replace CrossFit Spokane Valley co-owner Kenton Clairmont. Clairmont will train as an individual and be a team coach this year as he and his wife Heidi are expecting twins in May. Clairmont took fourth as an individual in the 2010 North West Regional. While he’s been training hard, he is prepared to stay home with his new family edition if need be.

CrossFit Spokane Valley will register two teams this year and hopes to have broad participation from their box. The returning team would like nothing less than to finish in the top three at Regionals and go on to the Games.

“It would be a great gift of validation,” Staton says. “All the time and energy invested, coupled with last year’s emotional rollercoaster … it would mean a lot. Our team is comprised of balanced individuals. CrossFit helps us to be healthier people and together we reach new levels, but at the end of the day we are all just husbands, wives, pastors, teachers, policeman, trainers and coaches. Having balance in our lives is key to us, and helps us gain perspective on what truly matters.”

Half of the team’s athletes have consecutively competed in Regionals since 2009. Now in their fifth year of Games participation, perhaps this breakdown will lead to building back up into something better, faster and stronger.