EKG & Health Screening Requirement
Sudden death is the #1 cause of death in endurance athletes, such as rowers, and 90% of these sudden deaths are related to pre-existing, undiagnosed cardiac abnormalities. While a patient’s history and physical examination may detect some cardiac abnormalities, the inclusion of an electrocardiogram – abbreviated as EKG or ECG – will increase the effectiveness of screening to over 90%.
The International Olympic Committee has strongly recommended, in the Lausanne recommendations regarding sudden cardiovascular death in sport, the inclusion of an EKG in the pre-participation cardiovascular screening of endurance athletes. FISA has taken a leadership role in protecting the health of rowing athletes and has mandated that all international rowing participants have a pre-participation cardiac screening and an EKG prior to participating in FISA sponsored activities. USRowing must certify to FISA that all athletes competing in FISA events have had this screening performed.
The Sports Medicine Commission of USRowing has examined this issue in great detail and has unanimously recommended that all athletes participating in a USRowing sponsored selection camp, selection regatta, or trials undergo a pre-participation medical exam and EKG as a requirement for participation.
USRowing has contracted with a sports cardiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School who specializes in dealing with the athletic heart and who will read the EKGs of ALL of the USRowing athletes participating in a USRowing sponsored camp, selection regatta, or trials. Costs associated with the reading by this Cardiologist will be covered by USRowing.
Starting in 2015, athletes who would like to participate in National Team selection will need to complete the following in order to be Selection Eligible prior to their first point of entry to National Team Selection. A point of entry refers to the first point in time that an athlete participates in a selection camp or selection event in a calendar year.
- Have a current USRowing Championship or Regatta Package Membership & signed waiver
- Have completed a USRowing Anti-Doping Acknowledgement
- Submit a scanned copy of your American Passport to USRowing  (See below)
- Complete the Medical History questions included in the submission form below
- Submit a copy of a 12-lead EKG recorded in 2015 or later for athletes 23 and older, or 2017 or later for athletes under 23 (via the submission portal at the bottom of this page).
- Obtain a completed physical form, signed by a doctor, dated in 2019  (See below)
The above items can only be submitted to USRowing through the Selection Eligible form, posted at the bottom of this page.
The above items must be submitted to USRowing by the following deadlines. Athletes must submit the above items by the deadline corresponding to their earliest point of entry. Submissions are valid through the year that the EKG expires.
EKG’s will be valid for up to five calendar years (or three if the athlete is under 23) from the year of completion, with the first year of submission counting as the first year of the term, regardless of the actual date of submission. For example, if you submit an EKG on October 21st, 2015, the form will be valid for calendar years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. This period may change if FISA changes its current requirements.
Annual physicals will be valid for only the calendar year that it was performed in, regardless of the actual date of submission. For example, if you submit a physical form on October 21st, 2018, the form will be valid for calendar year 2018 only. This period may change if FISA changes its current requirements. Please note that athletes do not need to resubmit the form below annually, unless accompanied by a new EKG.
 If an athlete’s passport is expired or expiring, an athlete must at least hold United States citizenship and a current and valid United States passport by the date of selection to the team. FISA will not accept entries without a valid passport.
 Athletes are required to get a new physical every year on the provided physical form prior to participating in selection, and will need to acknowledge doing so prior to participating in selection. Athletes may be asked to submit this form to the team doctor if they are selected to a National Team, or prior to. A physical dated within one year of selection must be submitted via the online submission form with each new EKG.
Deadline 1 – March 1, 2019
- Senior Trials I
Deadline 2 – April 12, 2019
- World Cup I
- Senior Trials II / Para NSR & Speed Order
- World Cup II
- Para Selection Camp
Deadline 3 – May 17, 2019
- Selection Camps – U19, U23 and Senior
Deadline 4 – June 7, 2019
- World Cup III
- National Teams (U19, U23, Senior, Para) Trials III, IV, V, VI
A cardiologist selected by the USRowing Medical Committee will review all EKGs. Submitted EKGs do not need to be reviewed by your physician in advance of submission. By submitting the above medical documentation to USRowing, the Athlete is agreeing to share this information with the USRowing Medical Committee, and the cardiologist chosen by USRowing to review the EKG.
Athletes who are having difficulty scheduling an EKG, whose insurance does not cover an EKG, or who are in a situation of financial hardship, may contact the USRowing Medical Committee for assistance. Please email Wendy Wilbur at Wendy.Wilbur@usrowing.org for more information.
In the case of an abnormal EKG, the USRowing Medical Committee may request additional testing on that athlete prior to their participation in National Team Selection. The USRowing Medical Committee may advise the athlete not to compete. As noted in the Selection Procedures, a USRowing-selected doctor, after consultation with the athlete and the coach of that boat, may advise an athlete that he or she is medically unable to compete because the athlete’s physical condition would inhibit the performance of the boat per the doctor’s diagnosis, and if the athlete still chooses to compete, he or she must sign a waiver provided by USRowing.
On occasion, an athlete will become involved in selection after one of the above registration deadlines has passed. If an athlete meets all of the above selection eligible requirements, USRowing will consider late regatta entries (provided that the progression of racing does not change) and late camp acceptances according to the procedure set forth below.
If an athlete did not complete the selection eligible form by the deadline corresponding to their desired point of entry, they will still have the opportunity to submit their form for a $75 administrative fee. Because the same cardiologist selected by the USRowing Medical Committee is reading all EKGs, we cannot guarantee that EKGs submitted after the deadline will be read prior to a selection event. If it is read in time, the athlete will be required to pay a $75 reading fee in addition to the administrative fee. If it is not read and cleared before the event/camp, that athlete will be unable to participate in that particular event/camp. If this is the case, the athlete will only be responsible for the $75 administrative fee. If an athlete has a valid reason for missing the deadline, they may request an exemption to the administrative and reading fees by submitting a request to Matt Imes, the High Performance Director, at Matt.Imes@usrowing.org; USRowing may grant or deny such request in its reasonable discretion.
In Summary – Any athlete who has a potential interest in attending a selection event or who would like to attend any level of National Team Camp should fulfill all Selection Eligible requirements as soon as possible in order to maintain their ability to be selected to the Team.