Drug Testing? In pro surfing? I’ve got three words.
Forget about it.
“That’s just not surfing,” is really the best answer. So what does that mean? Well, let’s look at what surfing is.
-Rebellion, an escape from society and all of its restricting rules.
-Connecting with mother Nature in her most dynamic moment – no that’s not a Laird Hamilton quote, but it might as well be.
-A party. Everyone loves good surf with good friends and a good party afterward.
Surfers don’t take very kindly to others telling them what to do. We like to go just about the opposite of the right direction.
Dane Reynolds once said something along the lines of, “Whenever someone (in the media) asks me a question I just like to give them the most far out answer.” He also recently vented on his blog about the seemingly ridiculous attention his knee surgery had obtained.
What does this have to do with drug testing? Dane doesn’t want people bothering him about his knee surgery the same way Andy didn’t want anyone to bother him about drugs.
It wasn’t our business. And really it still isn’t. It’s not like drugs helped Andy achieve his World Titles. In fact, it’s that much more impressive that he could party so hard and surf so well. Why would we remember him for anything less than his huge heart and how well he ripped? I never met him, but he certainly seems to deserve it.
Andy clearly wasn’t the only one who liked to party on the World Tour. As for the people who argue that the only way to find who the “best surfer” really would be to make sure no one was using illegal drugs, I have three responses:
First, just look at the drug testing mess in every other sporting arena. Baseball is still dealing with issues from years ago, while Lance Armstrong’s record was tainted by doping claims. Surfing doesn’t have the money, time, patience, or will to go on such witch-hunts.
Secondly, the “best surfer” is rarely the one who wins a WCT competition, but rather the surfer most adaptable to the day’s slop, and it’s hard to find the best surfer when the majority of the waves favor regular footed surfers. Strange that 10-time World Champ Kelly Slater is a regular footer…isn’t it? Submitting the decision of “World Champion” to a small panel of judges hardly strikes me as fair.
Finally, the more you “legitimize” pro surfing, the more you take away from the essence of what surfing really is. Half the guys on the tour were/are only there because that’s how they make money from sponsors. In a recent interview, Bobby Martinez told Channel Islands team manager Travis Lee in reference to finding a sponsor that won’t force him to do the tour, “I can travel, do trips; it’s not about contest results, it’s more about a lifestyle.” That’s what surfing is about. The Lifestyle.
Theoretically, yes, it would be great to know all of the top surfers on the World Tour were clean. But it’s not going to happen, not anywhere in the near future. For now, surfing is still basking in a youthful rebellious glow. It doesn’t care what Outside Magazine says, and it certainly doesn’t want to answer to anyone else either.