THE CASE AGAINST DRUG-TESTING IN U. S. CHESS
By Larry Parr and GM Larry Evans
“At the moment, I would have to freely admit that although there are drugs such
-- Dr. Stephen Press, vice-chairman of the FIDE Medical Commission
“FIDE has made its decision, and players who do not accept it will not be
able to play
-- Dr. Stephen Press, vice-chairman of the FIDE Medical Commission
“FIDE must have total management and control of all activities related
to chess.” –
-- FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, in a memo to member nations
Screw reason. Screw privacy. Screw the USCF, if necessary.
Such are the imperatives of those few upper-rung chess politicians who are laboring to impose drug-testing on American and other chess players and who are so evidently smitten with Lucy-in-the-Sky-with- Diamonds dreams of becoming Olympic quasi-diplomats consorting with the grand panjandrums of this world.
The decision about whether to support or to oppose drug-testing is not a question to be resolved by specialists exchanging discrete bits of arcana. This paper assumes that the decision is a political one, which must be grounded in strong policy considerations about what best serves the interests of the United States Chess Federation. This paper also assumes that the interests of the USCF are generally congruent with the development of chess in the United States.
Are USCF interests best served by accepting and promoting drug testing in chess tournaments in the hope that chess will one day become not only an Olympic event but that such status will result in tangible gains for the game in American society? Or are USCF interests best served in making policy based on reason, on respect for personal privacy and on a shrewd understanding of its business interests, given the passionate and widespread opposition to drug testing among its American chess customers of all strengths?
We answer the first question in the negative and the second in the
We hold that not only is there no demonstrable drug problem in chess, there is not even a CLAIMED drug problem in chess. We hold that creating bureaucracies to solve non-existent problems is an affront to reason and an open door for predictable problems that will bedevil the USCF. We hold that violations of privacy by third-rate, arrogant chess politicians without grounding in mainstream refinements of behavior will end in lawsuits and outrages that will drive Americans from chess. We hold that extending the surveillance society and snoopism to chess with unaccountable FIDE officials holding open the doors of toilet stalls and conducting numerous intrusive tests is both immoral and an invitation to assorted forms of blackmail. We hold that in this Internet age, the inevitable horror stories about drug-testing will spread quickly to the USCF membership in spite of attempted news blackouts in Chess Life. We hold that the USCF will suffer the loss of several thousand financially beloved “regular” members once the bad news circulates sufficiently. We hold that there is no benefit from drug testing posited by even the most enthusiastic pro-surveillance chess politician that will justify the entirely predictable consequences of player disaffection, of customer dissatisfaction and of FIDE abuses. We hold that if drug snooping triumphs, then one day a grandmaster will win the U. S. Championship over the board and have his title revoked and be banned for years from international play because he took a home cold remedy. We hold that a chess politician from a much-diminished USCF, who owes his livelihood in some form to FIDE, will write in 2020 to the 15,000 readers of Chess Life that the ban is “regrettable, but inevitable if chess is ever to make it into the Olympics.”
We hold, in the words of Ayn Rand, “Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” We hold that Caissa’s precious realm has been historically amicable to individuals leading free chess lives without a mammoth caste of bureaucrats and that this freedom is more precious than the pipedream of chess reaching the Olympic Games one of these many coming decades.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, shall we?
There is no demonstrable drug problem in American chess. There is not even a claimed drug problem in American chess. THERE IS NOT EVEN – as we shall see – A CLAIM THAT THERE could BE A DRUG PROBLEM IN AMERICAN CHESS. There is only a claim that IF there might be a drug that affects cognition, then there COULD possibly be a drug problem in American chess.
We have a “could” conditioned on an “if.” Wow!
Millions of games have been played in tens of thousands of tournaments “From California to the New York Island,/From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters” – yes, yes, millions of games, and there has not been a single complaint – even a bogus complaint – that someone won or drew a game because drugs were ingested.
Millions of games. Not one complaint. Millions of games. Not one complaint. Millions of games. Not one complaint.
Reasonable men will conclude that there is no problem.
Reasonable men will argue that catastrophes occur when solutions for non-existent problems are forced upon unwilling players and USCF customers. Reasonable men will conclude that human and financial resources should not be lavished upon FIDE’s unaccountable Medical Commission – an international bureaucracy that exists to create a problem rather than to unsolve a non-existent problem. Reasonable men of prudent disposition will suspect that the not-so-hidden FIDE agenda is to funnel political and financial perks to appointees and to officials of national federations so as to corrupt further the decision-making processes of these federations and to exert greater control over players and tournament organizers. Reasonable men will conclude that a vague promise of Olympic recognition is being used as a lever to open the doors or our toilet stalls and the skin of our veins to a permanent FIDE medical bureaucracy. Reasonable men will take note of FIDE’s proposal to rate players down to 1000. Reasonable men will conclude that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov means what he wrote, “FIDE must have total management and control of all activities related to chess.” Finally, reasonable men will conclude that FIDE hopes one day to pose a mortal threat to USCF business interests.
In a memo to FIDE member nations, Ilyumzhinov added meat to the bones of his dream of world chess control. He called for all tournaments being required to receive prior approval from FIDE (defiant organizers would be blackballed), all prize money flowing to a bank chosen by FIDE, establishing “Press Commissars in all FIDE countries” (he wrote it, not us!), issuing a FIDE-VISA credit card, and as mentioned, rating players starting at 1000 and having them pay membership dues directly to FIDE to receive ratings.
To deny FIDE’s designs against the USCF and other national federations is an affront to reason.
Dr. Stephen Press is – now get this pompous and ever-so-telling title – “Director-General Commission of the Secretariat” of the FIDE Medical Commission. Writes this would-be Schach-doc, “We have NO [his emphasis] real scientific proof that anything else can positively affect cognitive performance and consequently, chess.”
Writes U. S. Zonal President Jim Eade in an e-mail response to GM Larry Evans:
I do think it plausible to suggest that some people think amphetamines [or a bottle of fresh orange juice] might enhance chess performance over the short term. I think it plausible to suggest that people actually used them in the highest levels of competition. I think it plausible to suggest that it is reasonable to test for them so that nobody does that ever again.
Does what “ever again”? In the entire history of chess in these United States, nobody has ever documented an instance of a single game won or drawn because of drug use. And what if such a single instance actually existed, would this micro-niggling difficulty justify the kinds of impositions and inquisitions and prohibitions that will bedevil U. S. chess if we fail to oppose drug-testing vigorously?
Notice the Zonal president’s statement, that he “thinks” it “plausible” to “suggest” (though not insist) that “some people” might “think” that amphetamines “might” enhance chess performance over the short term. What we have here is an argument for a permanent FIDE medical bureaucracy on the basis of what he thinks is a plausible suggestion about what others might think about what might or might not be the case IF there were a drug that could affect chess cognition positively. The really bee-you-tee-full bit of irony is that there is not even a claim that drugs – developed or yet to be developed – can affect chess cognition positively.
What we do not have is a demonstrated problem or even a claimed problem or even a claim that there could be a problem. But, of course, we have a solution.
“Drug testing in chess,” writes Dutch GM Hans Ree, “is a perfect example of officialdom drumming up a problem that did not exist before their intervention.” Wrong! The situation is still more absurd: officialdom is not even claiming that there COULD be a problem. Only, rather, that there COULD be a problem “IF” this and that were that or this.
Utterly astonishing. And, yes, an affront to reason.
The U. S. Zonal president writes, “Whether illegal substances or legal ones enhance performance at chess is hardly the issue. The issue is abiding by the rules of the IOC until such time as they can be modified to make more sense in terms of chess competitions.” TRANSLATION, with respect to Tennyson: “Theirs not to reason why,/Theirs but to do and die.”
Note the Zonal president’s phrase, “until such time.” This may mean never. Or a decade. Or two decades. But most probably never. Dr. Press, as always, is candid in a grisly way, “We are at present still classified as a sport, not separated as a mind sport, and that, i.e. the idea of presenting to the IOC to create a separate category, is fraught with all sorts of potential minefields for FIDE at the moment. It IS something being considered FOR THE FUTURE [our emphasis].”
If chess were reclassified and if drug testing were disallowed, then there would be no public justification for a permanent FIDE Medical Commission and for handing business to the Schach-docs at a minimum of $300 a pop. At a “minimum”? More anon about “minimum” requirements and undefined maximum requirements.
We believe that our Zonal president was trying to peddle intellectual dope about modifying the drug rules for chess at some unspecified point in the future so that the chess community will permit the Schach-docs to get their foot into our toilet doors now, today. Dr. Press tells us that there are “all sort of potential minefields ... at the moment” and that any initiative must wait “for the future.”
To imagine that the Schach-docs and the non-medical bureaucrats at the FIDE Medical Commission will try to become unemployed by convincing the IOC to reclassify chess is, yes, another affront to reason.
What does Dr. Press mean when he writes that reclassifying chess as “a mind sport” is “fraught with all sorts of potential minefields for FIDE”? Could he possibly mean that basic vitamin supplements and herbal helpers such as Gingko Biloba (thought to make Alzheimer’s less likely) would be outlawed? Could he possibly be suggesting that substances that aid human health would be proscribed and that chess players who wish to promote their health will face lengthy playing bans? Could he possibly be implying that American chess players will be told not to fortify themselves with health-giving substances if they wish to fulfill whatever dreams they may have in chess? Could the rationale behind drug-testing in a mind sport become this perversely subversive of both human well-being and USCF financial health?
Oh, yes. Writes Dr. Press:
However, be aware that it [chess classified as a mind sport] will open up the field of drugs for which we have to test to then include nicotine, and may make presently [sic] legal substances like Ginko [sic] Biloba, commonly used by chess players for an advantage perceived by them, to first be studied, and if it actually works, it may then have to be first banned due to our new status, and consequent new banned list....
We have to carefully think if we are placing ourselves in a bigger problem if we open this can of worms.
The principle, as clearly framed by Dr. Press, is that if the functioning of a brain is improved by a given substance and even if this substance is not detrimental to health or even if it aids general health, it might be banned according to the destructive logic behind the move to make chess an Olympic sport.
Notice the reference to nicotine. Many smokers continue to play in USCF tournaments even though they must leave the tournament room to smoke. Drug-testing for nicotine will finally drive them from rated USCF play. One doubts that many would bother to renew their membership in this age of Internet chess news and play.
Banning health-giving substances and waging war against USCF customers is NOT an affront to reason. It is the rape of reason.
One of the most insidious arguments used by drug-testing advocates is the appeal to inevitability based on force majeure. “[W]e believe,” writes someone from the FIDE Medical Commission on FIDE’s web page, “that the governments of the World will ultimately hold us to conform to these or similar rules at some point in the near future anyway.” Nonsense – at least in the United States and many free Western countries. But the argument amounts to “Let’s do it anyway because it is inevitable.” This idea is allied with a certain intellectual embarrassment that can also be found in a statement issued by the FIDE Medical Commission and quite possibly written by Dr. Press:
Please understand [a rhetorical plea for intellectual immunity] that this Commission does not create the rules under which FIDE is required to perform doping controls.
That is the function of the World’s Sports Community, in association will all the agency’s and under pressures caused by the problems in our society today. The rules are the result of a collaboration of the UN, the IOC, the WHO, the Council of Europe, the US Drug Czar’s Office, every International Sports Federation, every National Olympic Committee, and etc., etc., etc. In other words, society as a whole.
TRANSLATION: We may not be able to defend our practices with reason, but we can appeal to the argument that everybody’s doing it. As for “society as a whole,” the list given includes a bunch of government agencies and numerous semi-governmental sports federations. Only a bureaucrat down to the warp and woof of his soul would confound society with an alphabet soup of agencies.
In other words, another affront to reason.
“1.5 Notwithstanding the foregoing, the FIDE Medical Commission shall have the right to request, without justifying the reason therefore, that any competitor undergo a doping control at any time during the relevant competition.”
-- From FIDE’s anti-doping disciplinary regulations
“1.1 The procedures
which follow are those applicable to FIDE Competitions.
In other competitions, as well
as in out-of-competition testing, if the FIDE Medical
Commission shall determine that out-of-competition testing shall be
introduced, the same procedures shall apply, mutatis mutandis.” –
-- From FIDE’s anti-doping disciplinary regulations
“Anyone with a material condition requiring use of any prohibited substance, should contact the FIDE Medical Commission Secretariat office ASAP, to obtain a waiver from the IOC Medical Commission. Documentary evidence provided, should include AT A MINIMUM [our emphasis], records of tests taken, affidavits from prescribing physicians, consultants’ reports, etc.” – From the web page of the FIDE Medical Commission, probably written by Dr. Press
Part of the soft-soap peddled by drug-testing advocates in the United States is that intrusive knocks on the toilet door are meant only for those who will compete in the Olympiad and that, in any event, there is no intention on the part of the honorable men of FIDE – including the widely reputed killer Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the shadowy Armenian Artyom Tarasov – to abuse any power by engaging in medical and financial blackmail of unruly players.
FIDE’s anti-doping regulations grant the FIDE Medical Commission the power to test every single player at the U. S. Open, if it so decides. Section or paragraph 1.1 is a blank check. Read it.
“The procedures which follow are those applicable to FIDE Competitions,” 1.1 begins. But, “In other [unspecified, undefined] competitions, as well as in out-of-competition testing [a knock on your door at home], if the FIDE Medical Commission shall determine that out-of competition testing shall be introduced, the same procedures [more about the procedures in a moment] shall apply.” Moreover, the Commission need not provide any reason for demanding testing at, say, the U. S. Open. “[T]he FIDE Medical Commission,” states 1.5, “shall have the right to request, without justifying the reason therefore, that any competitor undergo a doping control at any time during the relevant competition.” Further, “without justifying the reason,” the Commission may require blood and urine tests “on more than one occasion during the competition” (1.6).
An unfavored grandmaster may find himself tested at ruinous expense on multiple occasions, including having blood drawn repeatedly during a tournament if the Commission, “without justifying the reason therefore,” so decides. An unfavored organizer, given contracts with participating players, may have to pay for an enormous number of drug tests at a minimum of $300 a pop.
In paragraph 1.1, we quoted the phrase “the same procedures” that could apply to all national and local tournaments, if the FIDE Medical Commission so decides “without justifying the reason.” What do these procedures, which are stated to be applicable to ALL FIDE events and which could be applicable to non-FIDE events, encompass?
In paragraph 1.2, the FIDE Medical Commission will decide the number of competitors to be subjected to doping control per day in each competition, subject only to “available capacity of the laboratory.” National federation officials (who may or may not get a cut of the swag from medical testing) and tournament organizers have no veto here. Their role is only one of “co-operation” or facilitation.
In paragraph 1.3, the FIDE Medical Commission and a representative of the national chess federation (who may or may not draw pay from the FIDE medicrats) shall determine the number of competitors in each competition to be tested “in accordance with the total number agreed upon under paragraph 1.2.”
These regulations, as written, grant the FIDE Medical Commission unlimited power to intervene in any tournament on earth – a power only limited by available resources and the amount of resistance arrayed against these regulations. These regulations permit any interference by the FIDE Medical Commission on behalf of one national organizer against another national organizer, allowing FIDE a foothold in political and business struggles within national federations.
The above is the ANTI-SOFT SOAP analysis.
Against this hard soap analysis, we have assurances that none of the above will happen because none of the above is meant to happen. Testing will only be at the highest levels.
Which is why, of course, it has begun at one of the lowest of levels – a world youth tournament in Argentina. As of this writing, we do not know whether male FIDE officials violated the privacy of young girls. We do not know whether children below the age of 16 were tested. What we DO know is that parents and participants arrived in Argentina without any prior notification that there would be drug testing – an example of the kind of wooden arrogance that will eventually embroil the USCF in ruinous legal actions if we permit drug-testing a toehold in the United States.
Still, we are told that children will be exempt.
Nonsense. The following addendum to FIDE’s anti-doping code provides no guarantees of any kind: “d.- FIDE will NOT, for the time being, and subject to IOC/WADA regulations, test competitors under 16 years of age.” The phrase, “for the time being,” is clear enough.
Will one’s eight-year-old daughter have to undergo intrusive, humiliating, perhaps psychologically damaging public urination, defecation or emotionally grinding blood testing? The FIDE Medical Commission may so decide, given its stated procedures, “without justifying the reason” if it shall also decide that “for the time being” no longer applies.
The above is what the regulations say.
But are these regulations to be taken seriously? Or are they window-dressing for the International Olympic Committee? The answer is that the regulations will be taken as seriously as an unaccountable FIDE executive headed by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and an unaccountable FIDE Medical Commission, a bureaucracy hungry to grow by increasing its “area of competence,” to employ a standard bureaucratic formula, wish them to be.
Logic, prudence and any reading of history leave no rational doubt that the FIDE executive and its arms will wish to increase their “area of competence” so as to extend their control over national federations and rebellious players.
Certainly, FIDE’s public statements leave no room for doubt. “The Board also resolved,” reads one recent release, “to fully adopt the IOC Medical Code as the only basis for the FIDE Anti-Doping Code with effect from 1 July 2001.” We have already read that the procedures for implementation grant the FIDE Medical Commission unlimited power to destroy the careers of professional and amateur players – a power that need not even justify itself.
Another aspect of the IOC Medical Code is that Draconian punishments are de rigeuer to ensure that athletes or, as FIDE would have it, grandmasters may be smashed to professional smithereens if they refuse compliance. A key weapon here is that “presumption” may substitute for proof. “Presumption” may, if the FIDE Medical Commission so decides, end the career of any unwanted player.
Once again, let’s look at the regs.
Article 3 of FIDE’s anti-doping regulations covers penalties for both unintentional and intentional violations. The penalties are – not so surprisingly, if one understands bureaucratic logic – quite similar. The penalty for a first, mayhap, unintentional offense ranges from a warning up to “a fine of up to US $100,000.” Given the limited economic wherewithal of our chess world, a fine of 100Gs is, in effect, a career-ender. It is no different than a formal lifetime time ban for intentional doping. A player – perhaps an unwanted Karl Robatsch or a much-hated Miguel Quinteros – is being told to find something else to do with his life.
In the event of a second, mayhap, unintentional or intentional offense, a lifetime ban on chess competition may be levied. Dr. Stephen Press or a Casto Abundo or another like him may, therefore, decide that a Yevgeny Sveshnikov of Sicilian-Variation fame must leave chess. Just like that.
Intentional doping or refusing to take a drug test may result in a fine of up to $100,000 and suspension from two to eight years. Both penalties are effective career-enders in the highly competitive arena of international chess.
Is it possible for a FIDE medical official, after an unexpected midnight tap on the door, to demand testing of a top player and his GM analytical entourage during the middle of a coffee-laced night of opening analysis? Here, the regulation is unambiguous (Article 3.5):
The penalty for an offence committed by a competitor and detected on the occasion of an out-of-competition test if the FIDE Medical Commission shall determine that out-of-competition testing shall be introduced as determined by the FIDE Medical Commission shall be the same, mutatis mutandis, and shall take effect from the date the positive result was recorded or the date on which the final judgement further to an appeal is pronounced, whichever is the more recent.
Is FIDE a body with a long tradition of obeying its regulations and of operating under a strict rule of law? Or is FIDE a body likely to plot obvious entrapment set-ups and prejudicial use of it powers to test at any time or in any place? We believe that the answers to both questions are self-evident, given the sad record of this lawless organization. We note that this anti-doping code went into effect on July 1, yet intrusive, unannounced testing began in Argentina in May. FIDE is an organization that was so anxious to establish a precedent for testing anyone – right down to young girls, possibly humiliated in front of male officials – that it jumped the gun contained in its own regulations by instituting mandatory testing without official regulations.
Lawless? FIDE cannot even stay within its own Draconian edicts.
Lest anyone imagine that an Ilyumzhinov or an Abundo will have to prove a case before ruining the lives of unwanted players, there is Article 4.1. “Intentional doping can be proved,” reads this paragraph, “by any means whatsoever, including presumption.” TRANSLATION: If an Abundo and his FIDE Medical Commission say so, a Joel Benjamin or a Yasser Seirawan will not play international chess again. “Presumption” is sufficient.
Is there a role for USCF officials, a possible way to cut themselves in on the drug-testing swag? Indeed. Article 5.4 reads:
At all other events (except where doping control is carried out under the rules of another sporting body) the NCF [National Chess Federation] conducting the controls or in whose territory an event is held shall be responsible for conducting doping control and shall adopt the procedures set forth in these Regulations and shall report the results thereof to the FIDE Medical Commission.
Among the “procedures” set forth in the FIDE regulations is the power to test during out-of-competition moments and the power to demand extensive medical documentation and the power to demand both blood and urine tests of any competitor. Hated political opponents at the U. S. Open may be presented with ruinous testing bills or be forced to withdraw from a competition and face permanent ban from play for refusing to take drug tests.
Have there ever been USCF politicians who would have attempted to exercise such power against, say, a much-hated Lev Alburt back in 1985 or 1986? Did several such USCF politicians attempt to connive with anti-Semitic Soviet officials to keep GM Alburt off the American team in a contemplated USA-USSR “Summit Match”? Would these politicians have used the power of drug-testing to wage a war of publicity against GM Alburt so as to discredit him at that unhappy time?
Even if one answers these questions with a vigorous “No!” – in, we believe, dishonest denial – such power should not reside in any chess political figure.
Against the backdrop of these regulations, we have assurances that the good men of FIDE, including the Medical Commission secretary Casto Abundo, would never exercise such power, given that they would be restrained by – well – whom? Kalmykian el presidente Ilyumzhinov, who proudly boasts a one-party state without opposition newspapers? Kalmykian dictator Ilyumzhinov, whose associates murdered dissident journalist Larisa Yudina and whose brother Vyacheslav was sighted at the murder scene by a witness who has since perished in an automobile “accident”?
In the March 2001 Chess Life, American FIDE representative Bill Kelleher gave readers the anodynic “probably” analysis. American local tournaments will “probably” be exempt. Urine rather than blood tests will “probably” be sufficient. Drug testing will “probably” not have a great effect on the players.
Since then, we have learned, given the FIDE anti-doping regulations of July 1, that the Medical Commission is free to enforce testing at any tournament it wishes – subject, once again, only to availability of resources and the degree of resistance offered.
Mr. Kelleher also wrote soothingly with a view to reassure and, perhaps, to blunt budding opposition, “Beta-blockers are also on the list of proscribed drugs. Players who take them for medical reasons will need a letter from their doctor.”
Just a “letter” from the good ol’ family GP. Innocent and fuzzy enough, right?
Wrong! The small print on the web page of the FIDE Medical Commission is far franker. The Schach-docs will not find a “letter” from the good ol’ family GP or even a “letter” from a highly expensive unfamily specialist to be anywhere near compliance:
Anyone else with a material condition requiring use of any prohibited substance, should contact the FIDE Medical Commisson Secretariat office ASAP, to obtain a waiver from the IOC Medical Commission. Documentary evidence provided, should include, AT A MINIMUM [our emphasis], records of tests taken, affidavits from prescribing physicians, consultants’ reports, etc.”
THAT is “at a minimum.” The maximum?
We have no idea. The FIDE Medical Commission may bar unwanted grandmasters from competitions without ever making a finding that doping has occurred through the bureaucratic device of demanding endless expensive expert medical reports.
SCREW THE USCF, IF NECESSARY
The most striking aspect of the politician-led campaign for drug testing in chess is neither the attack on reason nor the attack on privacy. After all, power and money have always trumped reason and privacy among politicians. Getting gain by producing pain is to be found in politics everywhere, though Third World despots such as Ilyumzhinov have a freer hand than politicians leashed by Western constitutional protections and traditions.
For us, the most striking aspect of the campaign is the enormous dangers that the advocates of drug testing are willing to visit upon the U. S. Chess Federation in exchange for insinuating chess into the Olympic Games – somewhere, alphabetically, between bobsledding and curling – during one of the coming decades. The sheer disproportion between the enormous damage created and the unlikely benefit to be produced is thought-provoking, if nothing else.
Assaults on reason, violations of sexual and health privacy, permanent bureaucracies, unrestrained power in the hands of unaccountable international officials, and entirely predictable USCF customer disaffection and later legal actions weigh no more in the minds of these drug-testing advocates than a diaphanous tail feather of a hummingbird. Their lead weight on the scales is the vague dream of Olympic participation at some level during some future decade.
Clearly, an interesting and hitherto recondite process is at work here.
In the view of certain USCF leaders for whom chess has long been a resume- and social-enhancer as well as an avocational income supplement, the Federation is either on its last legs as the leading force in American chess or on its last legs period. Indeed, few would deny that the Federation is shrinking as a company and that numerous Internet chess businesses are occupying a market vacuum.
The smart idea is to use the cachet of USCF office as a bridge to other chess endeavors in the future. The condition of the USCF bridge, so long as it still spans the necessary legal river below, is relatively unimportant. The important point for those who dream of quasi-diplomatic glory as Olympic officials hobnobbing among those who have favors to dispense is that there be a chess umbrella organization that will protect their status as accredited Olympic chess officials.
If the USCF were to designate a separate chess entity as having official relations with the U. S. Olympic Council (which we believe to be the plan), then even the collapse of the USCF itself would leave the positions of American Olympic chess officials unaffected. If true, the USCF’s health is unimportant. What becomes important for these would-be Olympic oficials is getting chess recognized as some kind of sport no matter what the cost to the USCF and to grandmasters and amateurs.
What will be the reaction of American chess organizers to the imposition of costly drug testing and to the prospect of losing tens of thousands of tournament entrants who wish to have nothing to do with signing commitments to take whatever drug tests that the FIDE Medical Commission may elect to impose? What will those players, who look forward to certain major tournaments as annual vacations, decide to do if even their hope to recoup a portion of their expenditure by winning a class prize becomes dependent on passing a drug test or, mayhap, several drug tests during a single competiton? Will they continue to attend tournaments in which they could forfeit class prizes or have to pay for expensive drug tests if they are to receive prize money?
Writes Bill Goichberg, America’s largest tournament organizer:
When FIDE issued its startling pronouncement at the end of 2000 that, with about one week notice, all FIDE rated tournaments were required to use the “new FIDE time control,” I received several emails from players asking if CCA tournaments advertised as FIDE rated would use the new control. I replied that I didn’t think it was really required and that if it was, we still wouldn’t use it. Likewise, let me assure everyone that there will never be “anti-doping tests” at any CCA tournament. We will hold our tournaments as we always have, and submit them to FIDE for ratings and sometimes title norms because there is nowhere else for players to go who wish to become GMs or IMs, but we fully expect our events to be rejected by FIDE within a year or two because we will not accept their control.
Under FIDE regulations, the USCF could face penalties for continuing to do business with Mr. Goichberg and other tournament organizers, who understand that fast time limits and drug testing spell business death for them. We do not believe that these organizers will pass quietly into the sweet night of income oblivion. They will establish a competing rating system instead.
There will be numerous absurdities. “As a grand climax,” writes Mr. Goichberg without (in truth) much necessary foresight, “perhaps at the closing ceremony [of a given tournament] the official FIDE anti-doping service will announce that the GM who apparently won the event has been disqualified for puffing on his asthma steroid inhaler.”
Yah, it will happen.
Lawsuits? Numerous American anti-discrimination laws are there to be violated. “Any competitor,” says the fine print on the FIDE Medical Commission site, “who is a Diabetic using Insulin, those with Exercise Induced Bronchospasm (Asthma), or a Cardiac condition requiring Beta-Blocker medications, should file the following form PRIOR to competition with the FIDE Medical Secretariat Office.” Tournament directors will need to have legally vetted legal disclaimers for all players to sign and will require legal advice to establish elaborate procedures for guarding against legal actions from outraged tournament customers.
What will happen if one of the tournament assistants at, say, the U. S. Open fails to cover a legal base involving an asthmatic, who suffers an attack after an intrusive, nerve-wracking blood test – say, a second or third such test during a given competition? Impossible? Read Article 1.6 of FIDE’s anti-doping regulations.
Lawyers, forms, tests – tournament costs will skyrocket and so will entry fees. As for the truly vicious Soviet absurdity of press “Commissars” – this self-discrediting idea could only come from FIDE and its dictator-president.
Screw the USCF?
WHAT IN THE NAME OF FIDE IS OUR POLICY?!!
“Our desire to have the opportunity to raise the stature of chess to an Olympic sport outweighs our aversion to drug testing. It’s not that we’re for drug testing for the sake of testing, but if it’s required as part of the game of chess becoming an Olympic sport, then we see it as a necessary evil.” – George De Feis, USCF Press Release No. 38 of 2001
“The Delegates believe that drug testing is unnecessary in chess and urge FIDE to limit testing only to events where it is absolutely essential for qualification into the Olympic games.” – ADM passed by USCF Delegates at the 2001 U. S. Open
“USCF’s FIDE representatives are instructed to actively campaign at all FIDE meetings against the practice of requiring drug testing at any chess tournament or match.”—ADM-64 passed by USCF Delegates at the 2001 U. S. Open
USCF Executive Director George De Feis claims that “we” see drug testing as a “necessary” evil. The USCF Delegates, the controlling legal body of the Federation, claims that “we” see drug testing as “unnecessary.” The Delegates have also ordered our FIDE representatives to campaign “actively” at “all” FIDE “meetings” against “requiring drug testing” in “any” chess tournament or match.
We believe that the Delegates are on record as saying the following: Drug testing must, at the very least, be radically limited and that our representatives are to formulate and implement a campaign to stamp out such testing completely. Moreover, the campaign is to be “active” and to be pursued at “all” FIDE meetings.
The reaction of our Zonal president is that he intends to do as he will without such campaigning at “all” meetings and then submit his record to the Delegates. The political calculation is that the Delegates will ratify even bald defiance of their clearly stated policy.
Larry Parr, one of the authors of this paper presenting the case against raping reason, violating privacy and further undermining the USCF through drug testing, recalls a time in the mid-1980s when Policy Board members seriously attempted to understand policy as directed by the Delegates and to follow it. Some of this soul-searching was, of course, boilerplate for the spectators. Still, the point is that there was a time when USCF leaders felt obliged to put on an act.
The lawless spirit of FIDE has been one of the corrupting influences in USCF governance. Numerous American officials in FIDE have banked on their political clout to overcome resistance from Delegates, who often understood perfectly well that their resolutions were being flouted. An enormous amount of cynicism has undermined the vigor of governance and the morale of those Delegates involved.
We object to the Zonal president’s frank avowal that a Delegate policy, which is ever so clearly stated and even demanded, will not be followed. We object to the notion that healthy governance is deliberately disobeying a policy in the expectation that a majority of one can be assembled to sustain such a violation. We argue that the perceived necessity by numerous American FIDE representatives to flout what they understand to be the will of the Delegates and of the USCF members at large has been a pernicious virus undermining the governance process.
OUR POLICY PROPOSALS
The purpose of this Committee is to present ideas and recommend policies to the USCF Executive Board. We propose that the Committee adopt the following resolutions for transmission to the EB:
1. Resolved: FIDE’s anti-doping regulations issued on July 1, 2001, are fatally flawed, and the USCF is to dispatch a circular letter to FIDE and all its member nations stating our opposition to the regulations and our intention not to implement them.
2. Resolved: the USCF finds proof of guilt by “presumption” to be completely unacceptable, and the USCF is to dispatch a circular letter to FIDE and all its member nations stating our rejection of this regulation and our intention never to implement it.
3. Resolved: the USCF believes that “all” means entire or every one rather than “not” all and that the USCF is to dispatch a circular letter to FIDE and all its member nations announcing our intention to campaign actively at all FIDE meetings against drug testing and our intention to seek out aggressively other national federations as allies in this struggle.
4. Resolved: the USCF values reason, privacy and its own financial health more highly than potential inclusion in the Olympics at some undefined point in the future.
5. Resolved: the USCF calls on FIDE to disestablish its Medical Commission forthwith and to use its human resources to advance the game of chess.
6. Resolved: the USCF regards healthy relations with America’s tournament organizers as more important than the prospect of chess being included in the Olympic Games.
7. Resolved: the USCF regards membership retention and growth as more important than the prospect of chess being included in the Olympic Games.
RULE OR RUIN
The advocates of drug testing are openly contemptuous of the views of the USCF membership and of this nation’s chess greats. Theirs is a strategy of rule or ruin.
Our would-be Olympic chess officials are prepared to drive customers away from the USCF and to create an organizational schism in American chess to achieve their status as Olympic officials for chess.
We urge this committee to advise the USCF Executive Board that drug testing in chess involves paying a price in terms of human decency and privacy and disaffection with the USCF that is wildly disproportionate to any claimed gain.