Drugs no help in surfing, says world champ
Surfing’s image has always been clouded by images of wild lifestyles, of cashed-up athletes treading a fine line between partying and performing.
While the modern professional surfer is a super-fit athlete, the Association of Surfing Professionals still wants to clean up the sport for good.
Slater, speaking at the launch of a world surfing tour that will have its first series of formalised drug testing this year involving standards prescribed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said he had no problem with the tests.
“Doesn’t bother me,” Slater told Reuters. “I actually don’t know that the performance-enhancing issue applies to us so much. Surfing is a lot of decision making and skill. It’s not just based on speed and it’s not just based on strength.
“I don’t know that if someone takes a drug it’s going to make them win a heat, whereas if a guy is running round a track and he wants to go as fast as he possibly can, a drug probably can make him go faster. I think he probably can cheat. Surfing is a little different.”
The new ASP Anti-Doping Policy will test for both illicit and performance-enhancing substances. Offenders face a minimum one-year ban from the tour.
Slater was also confused about marijuana being regarded as performance enhancing.
“Anyone going to get busted on tour? Maybe,” Slater said before the season-opening Quiksilver Pro. “It would be kind of funny. I mean, it would be a bummer for that person, it would be embarrassing.
“Obviously there has been no shortage of drug insinuations in surfing, the lifestyle and travel and everything, but as far as affecting competition, I can’t say with any authority that it does.
“But there are standards we are expected to rise to as a professional sport so the drug testing, it’s totally viable for us to have it.
The 40-year-old is undecided about whether he will compete full-time this year. The 11-times world champion said he hoped his longevity inspired other elite athletes to ignore the notion they should retire in their early-to-mid 30s.
“Maybe some of the best athletes we’ve ever seen have quit too early,” he said.
The Quiksilver Pro begins on Saturday.
PHOTO: Ten-time ASP World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater of the U.S. surfs during the men’s Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Billabong Rio Pro championship on Barra da Tijuca beach in Rio de Janeiro May 19, 2011. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes