drug testing professional surfing

Will drug testing happen in professional surfing? Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The Inertia

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.

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.


  • Bert

    “-Rebellion, an escape from society and all of its restricting rules.”

    Well, it could have been, years ago, but professionnal surfing does not fit with rebellion. Those guys want to earn money, are dealing with their image and are usually pretty conservative. I can’t see what pro surfers are rebelling against, except the lack of prize money.

    Dane Reynolds is the perfect example of a fake rebel, he is playing his own game, but still plays the game. He sells clothes and boards, and despises his media coverage while earning his money with it.

    But I agree with you about drug testing. First, drug testing means nothing, as we see in other sports. Just a waste of time and money. Then, what kind of drug could help you surf better? Weed won’t help, coke sure helps to find guts, but won’t help you long…Steroids and else aren’t for surfing, of course they’ll give you strength and power, but we all know it won’t help you surf better.

    Drug is still a social and moral issue, but it’s not a surfing issue.

  • Richard

    Interesting article.. It seems to me that surfing is having somewhat of an identity crisis. On the one hand the big companies want to push surfing as a professional sport along the lines of golf, tennis etc. 

    On the other hand, surfing is too far removed from the restrictions, rules and regulations that comes with being a professional sport. surfers are rebellious by nature, making them professional ‘sportsmen’ just wont work. why try to fit a square into a round hole?

    the surf industry has to choose… is surfing a ‘sport’ or a ‘lifestyle’? 

  • Stu

    LOL.  Here’s what I got from this.  First, Slater really isn’t the best surfer out there, just the guy who’s most adaptable in slop.  Second, we’re somehow living in 1965 again and the surfing world doesn’t include impressionable groms, educated professionals, working moms and dads or stately elders but instead, only drunken, trouble-making rebels.  Spot on.

    • whitey

      “Just the guy who is most adaptable to slop”? That statement shows how foolish you are. Was Teahupo’o slop this year? Every contest that the waves are epic Slater is on top and DOMINATING! I’m not even a Kelly fan, just an obvious observation. To discredit 20 years of utter domination tells me you know nothing about surfing in general.

    • Pattiecannon

      Haha, well said Stu. Hey Marvin! Where are you mate? Your piece is a train wreck bro, you got some wise words from the cosmic potato cell to soothe out our ridiculous incredulity? Yeah, chopes SF NY Peniche France Pipe Bells were so lame this year bro. Stick it to da man MFr! Go Surfing!~

  • surferjoe

    Finally!!!
    Why do surfers get to be druggies?  There are so many of these guys who use the Surfer steroid…. Meth.  They have all been hiding behind surfing because it is supposed to be a subculture sport. Forget it and test these guys. Otherwise surfing will never be legit.
    Until these young groms learn from the pros that it “isn’t cool do do drugs”, then they will keep on getting sucked into the met addiction many of these surfers have.
    It needs to stop and it is the responsibility of the “Pro industry” do do something about it.
    No tolerance!

  • Al Baydough

    For a site claiming to be for thinking surfers that was one of the most incredibly stupid pieces I have ever read.

    Comparing knee surgery to a fatal drug addiction?!?Andy’s surfing suffered immensely from his addictions. That you didn’t notice this means you weren’t paying attention. No surprises here.Pro surfing as rebellion?!? Your “boy” Dane has repeatedly outed pro surfing as the most conformist (which it is) sport going. Target?!? Nike?!? And now Bethany Hamilton (an acolyte of the most conformist religion in the US – which is not to take anything away from her accomplishments) is courting WalMart?!? Rebelliousness my ass.”Strange” that Slater has cemented his reputation at Pipe, Teahupo’o, Tavarua, and every raging left he has attacked on this planet. Seriously, I can’t even believe you made that statement. You could pop balloons all day on that head of yours.Either this “article” is a joke or you are. Neither is even remotely funny. 

    And Bobby, amazing surfer that he is, has been gradually losing his mind over the past couple years. 
    There should absolutely be drug testing in pro surfing. But let the science speak: hard drugs and performance enhancers only should be banned. Pot, alcohol (which is ironically one of the most harmful substances you can put in your body regularly), and low grade psychs should be off the list.You need to seriously rethink your attitude(s) on these subjects. That was atrocious. 

    • Al Baydough

      I offer a quasi apology for letting the emotions choose the words but the sentiment stands.

      (And I didn’t mean to “like” my own post. But, whatever, I’m a “rebel,” right?)

    • Al Baydough

      I offer a quasi apology for letting the emotions choose the words but the sentiment stands.

      (And I didn’t mean to “like” my own post. But, whatever, I’m a “rebel,” right?)

  • Perry

    Very few rebels in surfing and surfing is hardly rebellion. There are several cultivated identities or sub cultures ‘surfers’ FOLLOW in their effort to be part of the ‘club’. These subcultures have been shaped by marketing powers – my god even the hippy ‘soul’ surfer has been made fashionable by the big surf companies. The goth surf punt is another sub tribe backed by the corporations. Most surfers are nothing more that sheepish followers of fashion. A situation set up by corporations to sell more fashion.  Sadly I am old enough to have been involved with surfing since before there was any corporate backing and the only people making money were our shaper’s and local surfboard  shop.  I am not complaining about the present scenario just stating that in the whole surfers are not rebels.

  • Stu

    BTW, where does this “surfer as rebel” thing come from and why is it that only guys from places like Sac-town seem to perpetuate this idea?  In all honestly, in the 25 years I’ve been surfing, I’ve never once paddled out thinking anything other than I like surfing because it’s fun.  It’s not a statement.  It’s not a lifestyle.  It wasn’t rebellion against my parents, teachers or society.  I just surf because it’s fun.

  • Seeger

    Al BayDough- you are clearly drawing lines where there weren’t meant to be any. this is an opinion piece so why should this kid change his? It’s food for thought and that your not open minded enough to consider any opinion but your own is “atrocious”. 

    • Jettison

      Agreed. I don’t support Marvin’s opinion. I feel quite strongly the other way, but I don’t see anything wrong with hearing a different perspective. makes things more interesting.

    • Al Baydough

      If I printed that kind of ignorant tripe I’d expect a spanking. But nowhere did I say he didn’t have a right to put it on display. I’m in agreement with Voltaire on the issue (though I doubt I’d be willing to die in defense of his piece).

      As for a “different perspective” (V), I’ve been hearing this commercially constructed pablum for decades. It isn’t new, unique, or original and it certainly isn’t even remotely rebellious.
      Apparently there’s quite a lot of confusion between rebellious vs. reactionary personalities. Rebels have a purpose driven by an intellectual/ideological platform built on concepts concerning social and political justice in defense of those so oppressed; surfers haven’t qualified under that description for many a moon. Reactive personalities (which is what most “rebel” surfers – and surfers and/or social drop-outs in general – sport) are merely fit-pitchers and brats unwilling – or incapable – of plumbing their own depths or taking any meaningful level of social/community responsibility, let alone launching a bona fide rebellion. The fact that relatively very few surfers bother to tackle even the most basic issues confronting the health of their oceans is testament to the reality that most surfers just plain don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. And there’s nothing rebellious about that. Not one bit.

      Bad pool. Needs more chalk. I suggest a trip to Dover.

    • Al Baydough

      If I printed that kind of ignorant tripe I’d expect a spanking. But nowhere did I say he didn’t have a right to put it on display. I’m in agreement with Voltaire on the issue (though I doubt I’d be willing to die in defense of his piece).

      As for a “different perspective” (V), I’ve been hearing this commercially constructed pablum for decades. It isn’t new, unique, or original and it certainly isn’t even remotely rebellious.
      Apparently there’s quite a lot of confusion between rebellious vs. reactionary personalities. Rebels have a purpose driven by an intellectual/ideological platform built on concepts concerning social and political justice in defense of those so oppressed; surfers haven’t qualified under that description for many a moon. Reactive personalities (which is what most “rebel” surfers – and surfers and/or social drop-outs in general – sport) are merely fit-pitchers and brats unwilling – or incapable – of plumbing their own depths or taking any meaningful level of social/community responsibility, let alone launching a bona fide rebellion. The fact that relatively very few surfers bother to tackle even the most basic issues confronting the health of their oceans is testament to the reality that most surfers just plain don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. And there’s nothing rebellious about that. Not one bit.

      Bad pool. Needs more chalk. I suggest a trip to Dover.

    • Al Baydough

      Adendum:

      “Al BayDough- you are clearly drawing lines where there weren’t meant to be any.”

      As a surfer I can only take that as a compliment. Thank you.

    • Dandaman

      More like food for the dogbowl. Al has considered this opinion and reacted  as he sees fit. 

    • Dandaman

      More like food for the dogbowl. Al has considered this opinion and reacted  as he sees fit. 

  • John Reb

    This subject of drug testing stirs up debate but has to be looked at from a common sense perspective.

    Drug tests are really effective at finding the metabolites of cannabis which are present in your system for 2-4 weeks.  Hard drugs such as Cocaine, Meth and Opiates like Heroin are flushed from your system in 2-4 days.  So someone could do meth everyday for a week, take 2-4 days off and pass a drug test while a marijuana user can be nabbed 25 days after taking one puff from a J.
    The drug testing industry is effective at discovering if someone smoked a little bit of grass but it’s quite ineffective at discovering the use of any REAL drugs.

    Not to mention that drug tests are a severe intrusion on privacy.  

     

  • Helen

    haha Marvin Green is totally spot on! He should write more articles more often because they’re so fantastic.
    N O T…go take a look around and observe the world. You might learn something, then actually might be able to write an article that has some truth and substance.

  • Al Baydough

    Forgive me for beating a dead horse but since my heated response [deservedly] took some flak I’d like to offer a calmer more collected dissection of this Op Ed:

    -”Rebellion”: As stated in a previous post, a rebellion is not an escape from society, it is a full on confrontation with it in an attempt to combat its imbalances in power. MLK was a rebel, Mother Mary Jones was a rebel, Che Guevara was a rebel. Miki Dora was NOT a rebel. Running away is not a rebellious act. Scurrying to the fringes of society is not a rebellious act. Rebels change things by actively engaging. Pro surfing (and most surfing in general) is doing all that it can to conform to preexisting societal structures. Just look at Nikurley’s “surfing” playbook for the Lowers Pro. Shameful in the extreme. Not in any way rebellious.-”Connecting with Mother Nature…”: In the over thirty years that I have been surfing I have met very few surfers who take the stewardship of our most precious resource, the oceans, with any meaningful level of seriousness. It’s a sad state of affairs. Rastovich should be the norm (in terms of his mission, not his style or dress), instead he is very much in the minority. To shame. 

    -”A party”: Indeed. Sadly, the party aspect gets infinitely more of the attention than the aforementioned by a massive margin. The hangover is going to be quite a bummer and almost no one is hanging around to help with the cleanup in the morning. 

    -”Surfers… like to go just about opposite of the right direction”: And it’s making surfing an increasingly unpleasant activity. Reactive behavior is debasing and infantile – as well as highly destructive.

    -Dane’s a good cat and an amazing surfer but his fashion sense was manufactured for him decades ago; he’s becoming far too jaded and hypocritical. Hopefully it’s just a phase. And if he doesn’t like the attention he should get a real job. He could use the reality check. Come to think of it, most surfers could. People with real jobs are the ones who make pro surfers’ salaries possible. 

    -Again, comparing knee surgery with fatal drug addiction? What follows is nothing but invertebrate apologetics. I’ve lost many people to drugs, none to knee surgery. Anything else I have to say on the subject would not be pretty.

    -The tour does not favor regulars over goofies. Eight of the eleven stops this year offer lefts, most of these offer better lefts than rights. Three events are exclusively left and three exclusively right. This stat has been fairly consistent nearly every year. The fact is that there are simply more regular footed surfers on the planet just like there are more right handed people. And many goofies took a pounding at Chopes this past week. They get worked at Pipe a lot, too. Go figure.

    The bottom line is that pro surfers’ biggest audience is very young and impressionable. Pro surfers also tend to have about the same level of maturity as the bulk of their adoring fans – despite any considerable differences in age; this has obviously been a very serious problem. Perhaps they should be required to attend some college first. It would make a difference.

    When you choose to be a celebrity who endorses products for a living you assume a far greater level of responsibility, period. OWN THAT. Or get out of the game and flip burgers, park cars, swing hammers, or really sack up and go to college… on your own dime. Even better, join the military. While you’re at it, volunteer at a local drug rehab facility and/or halfway home. It ain’t pretty, it isn’t a party, and no one there who matters is gonna give a shit about what a stud pro surfer you USED to be.Imagine if AI had ended up in Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. I’m willing to bet a lot of people would have preferred the fate he ended up with instead. A harsh statement for a harsh reality.

    Andy Irons should still be here. Mr. Green’s attitude is why he is not.Maturity: there is nothing more rebellious.

    • Dandaman

      Greetings Black Knight. Much like the chain mailed masochist I do detect a mercenary sensitivity running through your opinions on different subjects. It’s seems clear “the end justifies the means” is your doctrine.
      I think of Bobby at the end of your ‘Dane’ paragraph.
      However! Before you mount your steed and rage onto this thread sword flailing to cut down your enemy,
      your “rebellion” paragraph is about the best dam thing I’ve ever read on any blog and most of the rest of it comes a close second. Your heart and mind appear to be in good order mate. Consistency is the key to greatness………. 

    • Dandaman

      Greetings Black Knight. Much like the chain mailed masochist I do detect a mercenary sensitivity running through your opinions on different subjects. It’s seems clear “the end justifies the means” is your doctrine.
      I think of Bobby at the end of your ‘Dane’ paragraph.
      However! Before you mount your steed and rage onto this thread sword flailing to cut down your enemy,
      your “rebellion” paragraph is about the best dam thing I’ve ever read on any blog and most of the rest of it comes a close second. Your heart and mind appear to be in good order mate. Consistency is the key to greatness………. 

  • Sandycrois80

    Professional athletes are roles models and should lead by example. They SHOULD be drug tested and punished if caught. Drugs are a massive problem in society, just check out the Gold Coast these days.  Marvin Green’s experience with drugs probably goes as far as watching his mates smoke cones in his mummy’s basement. The real effect of drug addiction is confronting, self-abusive and a danger to our kids and their future. Surfing shouldn’t glorify it nor should websites like this condone it. Perhaps Marvin Green needs to “experience the real world” before writing about a topic he knows nothing about. 

  • Kevin Trevaskis

    Drugs are cool, but they will kill you! (Stephen Hamilton)
    I was a surfer, I was the ASP Head Judge in South Africa, Billabong Pro commentator, World Games commentator, Mr Price Pro judge and commentator, media and marketing guy for ASP Africa. I was alll of these things. Now I’m also a recovering cocaine addict.
     
    Is it possible to accept the death of a guy like Andy because surfers are too cool and alternative to qualify for drug testing? I’m not saying that he’d be alive if the ASP tested but I do know that facing consequences are a big part of deciding to come clean. Perhaps if his entire competitive career was on the line as a result of drug use, he would have thought twice before snorting a line.
     
    As an addict I know that for a long time in the downward spiral, the only thing that matters is the next line. Nothing else matters at all, ever. Eventually, as doors close due to drug use certain realities have to be confronted. homelesness, poverty, physical breakdown, divorce, jail time or worse.
     
    Then its time to choose. these are your choices. Life or Death. there are only two. Drugs will lead to your death as sure as cancer or jumping infront of a moving train.
     
    The less consequences there are to using drugs, the less motivation there is to give them up. If I was allowed to use drugs at work because my job was some kind of alternative industry and I kept getting paid for it, well then I guess I might still be snorting 5 grammes a day. The reality was I was accountable at work. I had to deliver and perform. Thats what was expected of me. I got paid to deliver, be accountable and perform my tasks as best I could. When I couldn’t fill my side of the deal I was rightfully shown the door.
     
    How is a pro surfer different? they are paid to surf. Should their side of the bargain not be to do it as well as they can? Should a sponsor or ASP region really accept that surfers can do as they wish? Bull shit. They are well paid pros. If they choose to do drugs they should accept the consequences of that choice. No contests and no sponsors. Drug testing should be compulsory in this sport. I can assure you that an addict will find it very difficult, if not impossible to go 4 days without chasing the dragon, smoking meth or chopping a line. They will be found out.
     
    There may be a case made for how a stimulant could aid a surfer in the water. Trust me on this though. Once the need for the drug becomes greater than the need to surf, your world will fall apart. If you use drugs this will happen. It may take some longer than others to hit the streets or the morgue but they will get there one way or another.
     
    I was involved in the professional side of surfing for 15yrs. I was a coke addict for 5. I’ve been clean for 4. Why should we turn a blind eye to drug use in our sport?
     
    Until ASP start a proper testing solution they are enabling young pros to use drugs.
     
    Drugs have no place in pro surfing. Doing drugs doesn’t make you cool or more rad or alternative. Drugs make you homeless, partnerless, poor and eventually dead.
     
    Of course Andy didn’t want anyone bothering him about drugs. Nor did I. I did learn that its not always about what I want. A few people did bother me about drugs. Thank God for that. It wasn’t comfortable about it but it saved my life. Thank God and thank Chantelle and thank Richard and thank Derek and thank Karen and thanks Mom and Dad. Thank you for bothering me about drugs. Thank you so much!
     
    If these guys didn’t bother me about drugs I would have beat Andy to the “Big Left In The Sky’ by four years.
     
    Kevin Trevaskis
     
     

  • Sydkneek

    Bit confused here ED, I thought the inertia was for thinking surfers? this article displays very little thought or maturity. Marvin might learn something (both about drugs and journalism) by reading this story I found on wavesmag.com

    http://wavesmag.com.au/features/2011/04/the-north-shore-ice-war/

  • Randy Bentley

    I have an idea for scoring contests: The one who catches the most waves is in the best position to win.  However make it so you can only get up to 4 points on a wave.  4 being like an A and a 3 being like a B.  The person with the highest grade point average wins.  It works in school maybe it will work in surfing.  This way the shitty rides they get will effect them and it will make them much more selective.  However, at the same time they are still going to want to get as many waves as they can to make up for those shitty ones that earn them a 2 or a 1.  It would make professional surfing much more objective I think.  It is way to subjective right now (it is only based on the stupid judges opinion and nothing else). 

  • Dandaman

    Marvin. Keep studying.

  • Dandaman

    Marvin. Keep studying.

  • Kaleonani

    I’m hoping you meant to say that drugs, rebellion, etc. is what happened to surfing once Californians in the 20th century got hold of and ruined the great Hawaiian past time. Although the first archeological evidence of a surfboard like craft were found in Peru…the sport as we know it today was invented here in my cherished homeland, HAWAI`I NEI.
    This article perfectly exemplifies every irritation I have with the modern representation of surfing in the professional ranks. Who are for the most part young ego maniacal drug addicted slobs, getting paid big bucks to parade around the world like jackasses, cheating on their wives/gfs with wannabe bikini models whores, and putting a terrible name and face on the pono ritual of surfing. To those who got dazzled by the monetary gains and have lost their way as they claw to the top. I hope you feel shame. But more importantly there’s plenty more surfers that would never dream of such disgrace. That are humbled by the sea, and grateful not only for every wave, but for the gift of knowing how to ride it. Being a waterman/woman is a gift. On behalf of the latter demographic I’d like to say Drug testing is the least that can be done to save such a pitiful cesspool of wasted gifts and disrespect perpetuated by corrupt and gluttonous sponsors and the ASP organization.

    • Al Baydough

      A little rough but a lot of truth. 

      • Kaleonani

        kala mai, Al. Sometimes, I let my fire get the best of me. Growing up in Paumalu (sunset beach) witnessing good kids turn bad, the land’s shift from country to suburbs, and the gradual desecration of the sport at the hands of fools…has made me a little jaded to say the least. At the risk of sounding like a naive hippie, I always liked to think of it the following way…
        We have been given a brilliant opportunity. My home is a pin prick unseen on most maps. Yet due to an immensely magical natural phenomenon we have been gifted wave energy and the knowledge and ability to access that energy. An energy that begins in great dissonance and volatility, that becomes focused after traveling great distances, to come ashore right here to the pin prick on the map. To come to me! to us! to ride! No two waves are exactly alike, and each one a gift. For a couple months a year people from all over the world descend upon us to compete. They bring with them different languages, world views, and customs of their homelands. Come together in my backyard, and during Makahiki no less! A time marked in ancient days by the quelling of animosity and forbiddance of war in observance of Lono’s passing and his gift of rain. There was peace and celebration through dance, music, and SURFING! Is it too much to wish it truly could be a peaceful time of cultural exchange and celebration??..instead of a time of dick measuring and other caveman like behavior. Sorry threw that last one in for biting wit’s sake. :) Take care Al, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts.

  • Al Baydough

    I’d like to say it’s time for Marvin to eat his foot in light of new events but we’ll have to wait and see just how serious the ASP gets about enforcing this. 

  • whitey

    This is the most ridiculous post I have ever read on this site, and is a complete joke. Who the heck is this guy Marvin, and why does anything he says matter to anyone? Recent events have shown just how out of touch this so called writer is. Drug testing is on Marvin! He tries to blend free-surfing and lifestyle in the same league as competitive surfing? WTF? Cruising around and surfing/partying with friends is one thing, but being part of an organization with rules and competitions is obviously different. Those guys are on tour because they want to be. They are dedicated ATHLETES and will be happy to take the drug tests. The beauty of surfing is it’s diversity. If you want to cruise and party and smoke weed and snort blow and surf, then awesome. Go for it. Who cares? But if you are competing on a supposedly level playing field then you need to be tested for performance enhancing drugs and recreational drugs as well.

  • whitey

    Oh yeah, this author is from SACRAMENTO!!! WTF is this guy writing about surfing for? Just another clueless surf “journalist” to add to the piles of opinions from “writers” that don’t know a damn thing about real surfing. Shame on you Inertia for this crap. I though this site was cool when I first started reading all the posts. Now, after the last several posts, I feel this is falling off the radar of relevance for me. Do us a damn favor and get rid of the amateur “3rd year writing majors” please.