ASP To Begin Drug Testing in 2012?

ASP To Begin Drug Testing in 2012?

Over the course of three weeks, the ASP has headlined a hodgepodge of events: Incorrectly crowning Kelly Slater 11X World Champion one heat too early at the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco, CEO Brodie Carr’s resignation (a direct result of that major blunder), rumors that the recently implemented ‘One World Ranking’ is being tossed out the window at the end of 2011—and now, that pro surfing’s governing body plans to drug test its athlete’s starting next year.

Says ASP media director Dave Prodan, “The ASP is currently working out the details on a drug-testing policy that could be implemented as early as 2012. We expect more details to be made public sometime next week.”

Is this the first step towards the mainstream legitimization that professional surfing so desperately longs for? If it happens, are we in jeopardy of losing any WT surfers?

According to C.J. Hobgood, the answer to the latter is no. In an interview with TransWorld SURF back in September, months before the ASP had released their statement, he touched on this very subject. When asked if pro surfing needs drug testing, this was his take…

“Honestly, I’m stoked this tour has so many standup guys,” he said. “This tour is filled with a bunch of rad characters. You can throw whatever you want at these guys, knock on their doors at 3 AM and drug test them and they’d be fine. Everyone has stepped up their game. The stakes have been raised and we all want surfing to grow. I feel like this group of surfers will pass drug tests with flying colors.”

And then, after a long pause, C.J. continued: “At the same time, people need to be accountable; Owen Wright just won 300,000 [at the Quiksilver Pro New York] and when you are on that type of pedestal I understand if the general public expects to know more. But look: I’m not saying this as a cop out, do whatever you want [to the athlete's]— I’m saying they are going to pass. There’s a lot of responsibility and they’ve grown up fast. You mess up and someone is going to tweet about it. One of my favorite athletes, Michael Jordan, what he used to get way with—it doesn’t happen anymore. You cannot be that person in this day and age. Look at Lebron James: he has a picture of his kids on his twitter and he’s acting like Dwayne Wade and getting in trouble—but Dwayne Wade did the same things without taking heat because things have changed. The stakes are high now. Everyone is in the public eye. Twitter is a drug test—just ask Michael Phelps. It’s the world we live in.”

At the moment, plenty of questions remain unanswered: What drugs are being tested for? What will the fines and suspensions be? Is it going to be as strict as baseball? For now, all we know is it appears a mandatory ASP drug testing regulation is forthcoming, and soon enough we’ll find out just how right C.J. is. —Zander Morton