Surfers to get drug tests
LOCAL surfing identity, Andrew McKinnon, has welcomed the news that the Association of Surfing Professional will introduce a regular drug screening program on the ASP World Tour but firmly believes the sport's elite men and women have progressed well beyond the old recreational drug culture of previous generations.
"The days of surfers having a joint on the beach before going out to tackle the waves are long gone in this professional age," Mr McKinnon said.
"Today's professional surfers are supreme athletes and all realise they need to be in perfect condition right throughout the long season if they are to perform at their peaks.
"They know that by taking recreational drugs it will drag down their fitness and performance levels - anyone silly enough to do so will fall by the wayside and make way for any one of thousands of youngsters striving to get into big-time surfing."
As to so-called performance enhancing drugs such as steroids which build muscle weight and therefore strength, Mr McKinnon believes those drugs are "not on surfers' wavelengths".
"Surfers need to be superbly fit and not carrying any excess bodyweight. They get fit enough and strong enough with the constant surfing as well as workouts in the gymnasium which all of them do these days.
"There's a lot of money to be won on the tours and I'm confident that these tests will come up clean."
The 11-tournament men's tour this year will carry total prize money of $4,275,000 while the women will strive to get a share of the $771,000 on offer over their seven tournaments.
The 2012 World Tour for men and women kicks off at Snapper Rocks with the ($425,000) Quiksilver Roxy Pro for the men and the women's $110,000 Roxy Pro.
The world's best surfers will converge on Coolangatta for the events including three Australian girls vying for championship honours - Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fizgibbon and Tyler Wright.
ASP spokesman, Dave Prodan, says all its members are behind the move to introduce drug testing.
"Surfing's a unique sort of subculture but in regards to the surfers on tour, they're 100% behind the policy," Mr Dave Prodan said.
"The idea is to sort of randomly test athletes at each event (but) they've all volunteered to be tested at the opening event.
"That's how much they believe that they want to get this out in the open and they want to be tested and taken professionally.
"The ASP board of directors is working through the details of the policy right now and we're hoping to have something finalised in the next couple of weeks.
"Our first priority will obviously be to communicate to the surfers and the stakeholders in detail what the policy entails and then communicate it to the public
"This policy has been something the tour has been discussing for the last three years and they have been in discussion with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the last two years."