Last week, we saw the Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River — an event meant to educate Western Australia’s youth about the perils of drug abuse. Michel Bourez won and the kids all learned a valuable life lesson: steal your father's carve, not your grandfather's prescriptions. Awareness was spread. The folks at the ASP, however, were already very aware of drugs. In fact, they’ve been drug testing their athletes lately. There’s a policy in effect that ensures your favorite surfers dare to resist drugs. A policy that’ll protect us from having some bastard pick up Lance’s syringe and delegitimize an entire sport. A policy that will keep the world’s best surfers safe and healthy. Dope has no place in the ASP locker room, not even as an adjective.
The ASP’s VP of Communications, Dave Prodan, is an elegant man with a very diplomatic tone. We inquired about the drug testing policy and Dave was kind enough to dot our i’s, cross our t’s and maybe even sample our pees. —Brendan Buckley
SURFING MAGAZINE: Is this the first year that the ASP is drug testing?
DAVE PRODAN: The drug testing policy was introduced in 2011 and has been in place ever since. But with ZoSea’s acquisition of the ASP, we now have a better resource team and have been able to institute more funds into the program this year.
Did the death of Andy Irons have anything to do with the policy’s introduction?
Instituting an anti-doping policy was always something that the board of directors wanted to do. But I think it's safe to say that someone like Andy passing away expedites that. We're going back to a time where the ASP didn't have a huge amount of resources, but the board of directors felt it was necessary to activate a policy at that time. Everyone including the surfers were unanimously supportive of it.
Can you guarantee that every surfer will be tested this year?
Athletes, coaches, trainers, judges, media and staff can and will be tested, but selections are entirely random. Part of the injection of funding means that more people will be tested. It's not a cheap exercise, but it's part of the ASP’s commitment to make the policy more robust and package it into a comprehensive athlete service program.
In terms of disciplinary action, is there a difference between recreational drugs and performance enhancing drugs?
We have a two-fold approach. Anyone who tests positive for PEDs will immediately be suspended for however long the disciplinary committee rules. And it would be publicly announced immediately. For recreational drugs, it's sort of a three strike rule. The ASP is focused on education and rehabilitation if a surfer tests positive for those substances. Our policy is consistent with a lot of other sports out there.
So if somebody gets one strike, would we hear about it?
You would hear about it on the third strike. The third strike warrants suspension and a ruling, just like the PEDs. We feel it’s important to protect the surfers and their privacy and focus on getting them the help they need. The policy is important for the surfers in that regard. And it adds legitimacy to surfing. We feel as though it’s an effective way to safeguard both the surfers and the sport.