Is there a plumber in the house?

Is there a plumber in the house?

The underappreciated skill of peeing in a cup

By Sultana Frizell for CBC Sports
April 10, 2018

For years I have been trying to master the little-known art of peeing on demand.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news about the anti-doping protocols put in place by WADA, then you need to know that we, as athletes must provide a urine sample whenever they come a knockin’ for it.

After her gold-medal win at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Canadian hammer thrower Sultana Frizell was whisked to the testing lap. (Canadian Press) After her gold-medal win at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Canadian hammer thrower Sultana Frizell was whisked to the testing lap. (Canadian Press)

Let’s just say, “I pee fair to play fair.” Unofficially, I have the quickest time in this particular event, usually clocking in somewhere under the 20-minute mark.

My first Commonwealth Games team in New Delhi was no exception to the WADA rule. After winning my first international hammer throw title, with a meet record of 68.57 metres, I was over the moon. What an amazing honour to represent my country and bring back some hardware.

Once I stepped out from the limelight, a chaperon ushered me to the testing lab. The chaperon is appointed by the doping officials to keep an eye on you until you are checked into the lab. It is not okay to play hide and seek with this person, even inadvertently. They really don’t like it. I found that out the hard way.


When an athlete dreams about being on top of the podium, what they fail to foresee alongside their medal is the long walk down to the bowels of a stadium. It’s a winding trip through an intricate maze of hallways, doors, and smells that lurk underneath the stands. From the highest high to the lowest low.


Dark and scary

On this day, it is my turn. I am the chosen one. My chaperon leads me to this place. It is dark, a little scary, and the whole time I am wondering if this is the yellow brick road? Am I Dorothy? Where is Toto? We are off to see the whizzer, the wonderful whizzer of OZ.

The anticipation of the inevitable is slowly sinking in — I am in full GO mode as we enter the laboratory. I am given refreshment to coax out a 90-milimetre sample, but I am already well hydrated and ready to party. In this situation I tend to come in like a wrecking ball. With my usual flare, “where is the cup? I need to go.”

This is often met with a twinkle of an eye from the doping control officer — I choose the cup and we are off to the races. However, on this occasion, I am not met with the same gusto.
“Ma’am: there is currently no female doping officer ready to view your lady bits. Please take a seat.”



I gather my thoughts and calmly sit and try to not think about waterfalls, leaky faucets, or sprinklers (dear lord, I hope I am next, otherwise that one time in kindergarten might happen all over again and I do not have an extra pair of pants). Time moves at a snail’s pace. I have now resorted to crossing my everything. I try positive self-talk, “you’re better than this … you’re better than this — hold on.” Dang it, why am I cursed with a tiny bladder?


After what seemed like hours of pleading to not have an accident in public, I am finally called to the room where the magic happens. My tester is not into funny business, and is firmly fixated on the job at hand. Insisting that I hover so she could have a clear line of vision (to my lady bits)…

Me: “Listen lady, I was just competing for two hours out in that heat, hovering is not an option. Can you please move to where you can see, instead?”

Tester: Epic frown face, scowl, poop emoji.

For Frizell, the job at hand is not always fun. (Canadian Press) For Frizell, the job at hand is not always fun. (Canadian Press)

She finally obliges me by turning on the tap, but I am still not able to produce a sample. I am vexed by this. And to make matters worse, my hover is not holding anymore — I need to sit. Down I go, and the flood gates open immediately.

There’s no getting around this…there was pee everywhere. Imagine if you will that old shower head you desperately need to CLR! Yah, that cup was getting the spray of a lifetime. 

Tester: MISS! STAND! I cannot see!

OK, ok…up I go again, still holding the cup. I place my hand on the back of the tank to manage my weight. I think I got it this time. Pure bliss washes over my face as I am finally able to empty my bladder, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting for Miss Grouchy pants. Maybe I would be grouchy too if I had to stare at the no-no zone all day. Whatever, I am on a mission.


This cup needs filling… CRASH, BOOM, BANG! I nearly topple backwards. Ummmmm, what was that? Focus Sultana. Must fill cup. Must not spill, because we are not doing this all over again. With one firm grip on my most prized possession, I looked behind me.

Water is spraying and bubbling up from everywhere. The toilet has collapsed. I had knocked the back of the tank right off the bowl. I turn to the testy tester and say, “I think we need a plumber.”

(Large photos by The Canadian Press)

10 quick answers from Sultana Frizell

Q: The best book you've ever read? 
A: A is for Apple, a childhood go to.

Q: Must-listen Podcast? 
A: The podcast featuring Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher.

Q: Best advice you ever received? 
A: "Don't suck"... told to me by an eight-year old little girl.

Q: If your life was a movie, what would it be called? 
A: Sulty bag of nuts.

Q: What word or phrase do you overuse? 
A: Giddy up.

Q: What is a skill you wish you had? 
A: To sing like Anne Murray does in the song Snowbird.

Q: What's something no one would guess about you? 
A: That I prefer animals over people.

Q: If you could have the ultimate influential dinner party, who are the six people you'd invite? 
A: The Golden Girls (Betty White, Bee Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty) Ruth Westheimer (Dr.Ruth), Dame Maggie Smith. 

Q: What makes you cry, every time? 
A: When I stub my toe or pluck out a nose hair.

Q: What's the next goal you want to accomplish? 
A: May 1 I will be entering my first year of massage school. I am very excited to add this skill to my bag of life tricks.

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