DRUGS AND FIDE THUGS
By Larry Parr
"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." – Jim Eade, USCF Zonal President
"Theirs not to reason why,/Theirs but to do and die."—Tennyson,
The Charge of the Light Brigade
"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."—Ayn Rand, The
Screw reason. Screw privacy. That sums up the ethos behind and the agitation for the FIDE Anti-Doping Code.
I hereby call for the formation of a national committee to reject drug testing in chess. One hopes that several grandmasters will consent to join this committee and lend their prestige as chess artists to the battle against preening, overweening chess bureaucrats.
Since Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a murderous Oriental despot condemned by every Russian human rights organization, became president of FIDE, we have witnessed an assault upon the culture of chess competition that is without parallel. Time controls have been proposed that will destroy chess art as we have known it. Such a game as Bronstein-Panno (Petropolis, 1973), given at the end of this posting, will simply never be played again. Never, ever. A drug-testing regime has been promulgated that, if adopted, will create a new layer of chess bureaucrats who will leave no ploy unturned to increase their numbers and power.
The members of the FIDE Medical Commission, a corpus of body police created at the FIDE Congress in Istanbul this past November, are not well-intentioned men interested in the betterment of the chess world. They are ill-intentioned, self-important would-be Medical Mussolinis and, in the case of Nigerian Emanuel Omuku and Filipino Casto Abundo, outright thugs who are intent on the subjugation of the chess world to serve their political and financial agendas.
Is Casto Abundo, the right-hand man of Florencio Campomanes at the time the latter lifted the FIDE treasury in 1995, really the secretary of this medical commission? Yes, he is. Does anyone seriously imagine that this character has attached himself to our Schach Doktors so that grandmasters can win gold medals in the Olympic Games?
Before examining the brainlessness behind the agitation for drug testing in chess, I urge every reader of this forum to visit www.worldfide.com and click on the section for the Medical Commission. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the material there. Take the time to compare the detailed bureaucratic impositions already envisioned with the anodynic, analgesic, and, yes, dopey assurances of USCF zonal president Jim Eade on this forum that at the very worst, we will merely be back where we started if chess lands up next to existential navel-gazing in the Olympics.
Don’t believe it. Bureaucracies thrive on failure so that they can claim ever large problems. If we open the doors of our toilet stalls and the skin of our veins to the Schach Doktors, we shan’t get the Doks and the FIDE medocrats out so easily.
The Fidecrats intend permanent drug-testing so as to extend their control over players. The Olympics is an excuse to wedge their foot into the door of our toilet stall, and when chess does not make it into the Olympics and when the USCF does not gain U. S. International Olympic Committee membership, the Schach Doks will still be with us.
For those of you who have never read Senator Joseph McCarthy’s 72,000-word speech on General George Marshall, which he delivered in June 1951, let me assure you that it is the intellectual low point of the man’s career. Even Arthur Herman in his recent revisionist look at McCarthy calls the speech "an isolated event in McCarthy’s career" that "was going too far, even for regular McCarthy supporters." Senator Robert Taft called the speech "bunk."
Yet, yet .... McCarthy did at least allege that there was a problem (Marshall serving Communist interests) and advocated solutions (investigations, security checks) that one could relate to an asserted problem. He assembled thousands of words of evidence, albeit as Richard Rovere has written "tendentiously chosen" and "meanly slanted," to limn the problem. He assumed, quite rightly, that even his own supporters would expect an assertion of and evidentiary support for an extant problem before considering possible solutions.
McCarthy understood that he had to offer pro forma compliance with the intellectual standards of American public discourse. Those standards are less the product of disinterested men thirsting for the nectar of sweet reason than the necessary armor donned by political gladiators facing armed opponents. Wrote James Madison, "This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs."
My argument here is that McCarthy’s advocacy (at its bottom-of-the-barrel worst) is better than the utter mindlessness of the FIDE drug-testing partisans at its best.
WHERE IS THE PROBLEM?
Where is the beef? Nowhere. I have not seen a posting by a drug-testing advocate that has provided a single instance of a player benefiting from drug ingestion in an American tournament. Millions of games have been played in what Fideista Jerry Bibuld calls "UghmeriKKKa," and I know of not one single complaint ever lodged that someone won or drew a game because of drug use.
Millions of games. Not one complaint. Millions of games. Not one complaint. Millions of games. Not one complaint.
Rational men would conclude that there is no problem. Rational men would conclude that the real purposes behind establishing an international medical chess bureaucracy are to create a problem, to provide political perks to appointees and to extend control over chess players. Above all else, rational men would oppose the creation of a bureaucracy when there is absolutely no demonstrated problem.
EMBARRASSED SCHACH DOKS
Let us return to Joe McCarthy’s low point – his attack on General of the Army George Catlett Marshall, the man whom Winston Churchill called the "organizer of victory" in World War II. Did McCarthy allege a problem with and give specific examples of Marshall’s political conduct?
Yes. McCarthy levelled specific charges, which included Marshall favoring a second front in France in 1942; support for concessions to Stalin at Yalta; willingness to offer Marshall Plan monies to Stalin’s Russia and its satellites; agitation to cut off aid to Chiang Kai-shek; and so on.
Now make what you will of the above laundry list. One could argue that Stalin himself nixed Marshall Plan aid, fearing contact with the West among his slave populations. One may argue that Marshall had a deeper insight into how to undermine the Soviet regime than McCarthy did. My point is merely to note that unlike our arrogant FIDEcrats, McCarthy felt constrained not only to claim a problem but to provide specific examples of said problem.
Before turning to Jim Eade’s advocacy on this forum concerning drug-testing and amphetamines, here is what New Jersey physician Dr. Stephen Press, the vice-chairman of the FIDE Medical Commission, finds himself having to "admit": "At the moment, I would have to freely admit that although there are drugs such as caffeine, and nicotine (which is NOT at present illegal) which theoretically COULD affect cognitive performance, we have NO real [as opposed to unreal?] scientific proof that anything else can positively affect cognitive performance and consequently, chess."
G-g-g-great. Bee-you-tee-ful! Not only is there not a single example among the millions of chess games played in these United States of any one ever claiming that an opponent won or drew a game of chess because of drug usage, there is not even any evidence – "real" or unreal – that drugs can enhance chess performance.
Once again, I strongly urge every reader to turn to www.worldfide.com. There is a statement issued by the Medical Commission, quite possibly penned by Schach Dok Press, that strongly suggests a kind of intellectual embarrassment that one wishes American FIDE guy Eade would also evince:
Please understand [rhetorical pleading 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 with 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 [sic!]
etc., etc., etc. In other words, society as a whole.
Love that phrase, "society as a whole." A bunch of governmental agencies (including something called the "Czar’s Office") and numerous semi-governmental sports federations – that is "society as a whole." Only a bureaucrat down to the warp and woof of his very soul – the quintessence of Eric Johnson essence – could write such vicious totalitarian nonsense.
Then there is this rancid plea by the FIDE Medical Commission for what can be called extenuating circumstances: "[W]e believe 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." Translation: We Schach Doktors cannot intellectually defend our Orwellian body police snooping, but we can appeal to force majeure in the hope that demoralized good men will allow our fourth-rate little evil to triumph.
Hannah Arendt’s phrase, "the banality of evil," has always seemed too pat to me. For there is plenty of enormous evil that is far from banal, but if she had applied the phrase, "banality of evil," to the Minor Mussolinis in our chess world, then she would have been spot on. Take the way these people award each other grandiose titles. Dr. Press is called – now get this bit of pomposity! – the "Director-General Commission of the Secretariat" of the FIDE Medical Commission. And how these generals enjoy making themselves sound portentous as in this evaluation of the Canadian Olympic Committee List of Prohibited Substances:
This is a VERY good list of products and prescriptions which contain banned
Substances – (but be warned ... NO list is absolutely complete!).
No list is absolutely complete. No indeed! These would-be chess medical bureaucrats are telling us that their work will NEVER come to an end even if they are unable to demonstrate a drug problem of any kind in chess. Once they get their political toes inside the door of our toilet stall and their needles into our veins, we will never get them out.
JIM EADE vs. SENATOR JOE McCARTHY
Enter Jim Eade’s advocacy. Let us see how it stacks up against Joe McCarthy’s buncombe at his rock-bottom worst.
If Senator McCarthy contended that there was a problem, Mr. Eade not only refuses to show a problem, he regards the issue as irrelevant. He favors solutions without demonstrated problems. Not for him the intellectual niceties of a McCarthy. Writes Mr. Eade, "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."
"Until such time" may, of course, mean never. Or a decade. Or two decades. But most probably never. Herr Doktor Press is far more candid than Mr. Eade. "We have NO [his emphasis] real scientific proof that anything else can positively affect cognitive performance and consequently, chess," he writes. "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 [my emphasis]."
The far, far, far distant future. Because the real point here is to peddle intellectual dope about modifying the drug rules for chess at some unspecified point in the future so that the USCF Delegates will permit the Schach Doktors to get their foot into our toilet doors NOW.
But the really interesting point here is that unlike Senator Joe McCarthy, who argued that his bugaboo of communism WAS or IS a problem, Mr. Eade says that the issue is not whether a drug problem actually exists, for which the suggested solution of drug testing is aimed, but whether we can get chess into the Olympics, which is utterly extraneous to Dok Press getting a chance to watch Igor Ivanov pee in a bottle. That is scraping the bottom of the intellectual barrel.
The closest that Mr. Eade has come to suggesting that a problem exists is NOT that it exists but that it MIGHT or COULD exist. In a response to GM Larry Evans, he wrote, "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 "again"? In the entire history of chess in the United States, has anyone ever charged that an opponent won or drew a game because of drug use? Millions and millions of games have been played in tens of thousands of tournaments "From California to the New York island,/From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters"—yes, yes, yes, millions of games and not a single complaint. But Mr. Eade tells us that on the basis of what seems plausible to him, we should create an international chess medical bureaucracy to probe any portion of our anatomy that this body eventually deems necessary.
Still, the balance of Mr. Eade’s advocacy has been that there is, in truth, no problem. But nonetheless, we must seek a solution because it is plausible that there could be a problem or might be a problem or will be a problem or even if there is no problem, then do it anyway so that chess can get into the Olympics.
Mr. Eade is fond of using the word "Duh" to suggest that his adversaries have missed his point. His point, given what he has written, is that, in truth, no problem exists and that we must nonetheless snoop wherever and whenever the medical bureaucrats so decide. If that means no Gingko Bilboa, then so be it. If that means intrusive blood testing, then so be it. If that means urination or defecation in front of Dr. Press, then so be it.
Now, the suggested solutions. Give Senator McCarthy this much credit: he argued that a problem existed and he designed solutions that were at least related to the problem. He argued that we had Reds in government and that we needed far stricter security checks. Once again, many of the arguments, though vindicated to some degree by the release of NSA Venona documents and KGB files, were expressed in simpleminded terms. When he was right, he was right almost by accident. Yet, yet, yet, his suggested solutions were aimed at claimed problems.
Now, then, what solution is Mr. Eade advocating and for what problem? The solution is drug testing; the problem is drugs? Ah, no. The problem is keeping Olympic Committee accreditation. Never mind that there is no demonstrated problem in drugs, we must still have a drug-related solution. Senator McCarthy never sank this low, if only because he knew that even his own supporters demanded that a purported problem and a suggested solution have something to do with each other.
Once again, give Doktor Press some credit for frankness. He is less egregious than Mr. Eade in trying to dope our sensibilities by pulling political wool over our eyes. Writes the Dok, "Anti-Doping is not a ‘likely imposition,’ only if the IOC accepts chess for the Games, but a current reality, in effect NOW, caused by our acceptance as an ‘IOC recognized sport.’ Fait accompli!! If we are accepted into the games, or not, we MUST have anti-doping now, or we can never get into them later .... And we would LOSE the recognized status we currently enjoy."
Note the disconnect between drug-testing and Olympic participation. We are to have such testing even if chess never, ever appears in the Olympics.
No demonstrated drug problem. Suggested solution involving drug-testing. Such is the intellectual standard of Mr. Eade.
TRUSTING FIDE’S BUREAUCRACY?
Rigged ratings, bought titles, corrupt bidding practices, bribery for votes, strong-arm tactics, theft of FIDE funds – in every major area of FIDE endeavor, we have witnessed abuses and corruption. Often open and always arrogant.
If Mr. Eade and the FIDE crowd wish to dispute this statement, then we can revisit all of the luscious old specifics such as, say, Florencio Campomanes unilaterally declaring a pension for himself and lifting 60 percent of the FIDE treasury back in 1995. When he committed that act, he also took USCF dues monies. To this date, our FIDE "team" has never taken legal action to secure return of these funds, thereby violating their fiduciary responsibilities to the dues-paying membership.
No matter, never mind – as was said of the philosophical dispute between Bishop Berkeley and David Hume. Because we are now going to be asked to believe that the FIDE Medical Commission will not become the corrupt monstrosity that the FIDE General Assembly happens to be. Oh, sure, its secretary will be Casto Abundo, and its chairman is the notorious Dr. Pedro Barrera. Still, this time it will be different.
Bribes? Oh, no, not FIDE! Every test will be fairly administered and impartially judged. Constant flips and flops on crucial issues? Oh, no, not FIDE! Every policy will be scrupulously aired before the public. Drug-testing firms owned, say, by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? Oh, no, not FIDE! (That’s FIDE Commerce which is different from FIDE, though 70-percent owned by Khan Kirsan.) Ever greater impositions by medical bureaucrats? Oh, no, not FIDE! FIDE would never think of unilaterally declaring new drug controls or time controls to affect competitions. Threats discreetly issued to dissident players? Oh, no, not FIDE! FIDE stands for the highest sporting standards such as sanctioning a match in which challenger Viktor Korchnoi’s family was held hostage.
So, then, who are the first proposed victims of this drug-testing who will lose their privacy? Once again, for the third time, I beg every reader to click on www.worldfide.com. Diabetics on insulin, asthmatics on whatever, cardiac patients on beta blockers – they are for starters. Writes the Schach Doks, "Documentary evidence provided, should include at a MINIMUM [my emphasis], records of tests taken, affidavits from prescribing physicians, consultants’ reports, etc."
You gotta love that phrase "at a minimum." What is the, ah, maximum? Would FIDE arbitrarily declare incredibly onerous testing requirements shortly before an event to alter the probable outcome by targeting unfriendly grandmasters? Oh, no, not FIDE! It has never altered its rating lists or created unplayers or unpeople by removing them from rating lists. It has never falsely claimed non-existent prize funds such as in Karpov-Timman 1993. It has never accepted as its president a man who runs Soviet-era mental institutions in which patients are tortured. Oh, no, not FIDE!
So, then, the FIDE Medical Commission is already attempting to mandate records of test, affidavits, consultants’ reports (perhaps requiring players to hire expensive consultants as a method of preventing unwanted GMs from participating). Anyone who imagines that there will not be ever more elaborate and costly impositions and that there will not be corruption from the top down in this FIDE Medical Commission is someone who has yet to twig to why the Schach Doks are already demanding $300 for tests and getting ready to demand a whole lot more for tests and treatments that go beyond those required "at a minimum." Besides, Casto Abundo is going to require a fat salary to continue to fill those bulging suspenders so prominently pictured on the FIDE web page.
The would-be chess drug law of planet earth is currently: "As of 1st January, 2001 all host organizing committees shall include a budget for anti-doping tests for an average of 10% of competitors including the top four placements."
The good news is that this is a phrase as yet without organizational substance. The world is largely ignoring this ukase from the Khan. The bad news is that unless we organize NOW to defeat the body gestapo, they will triumph because of our default.
USCF President Tim Redman has given us all fair warning. Herr Doktor Press will be guest speaker at this year’s U. S. Open awards luncheon. He will be beating the body police drums in FIDE workshops and in conferences with delegates. Our Fideistas sense opposition among the Delegates, just as they were right to sense trouble last year in St. Paul. Emanuel Omuku turned up in St. Paul. Now it will be a Schach Dok in Framingham.
Someone lamented that I will not be in Framingham to debate with Dok Press. Forget it. I would not be allowed to speak at the only important forum: the Delegates’ meeting. I do not qualify for being among our "best and brightest," who will most likely ratify a drug-testing solution for a problem that, in the tradition of pure double think, they will admit does not exist. UNLESS, unless – we organize against the body police now.
THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Gene Venable is one of the more eloquent voices against chess drug-testing on this forum. Good for him.
But as usual, he and I part company not on our conclusions, which are usually the same, but on our premises for reaching those conclusions. He talks about one side having all the good arguments against American participation in the war in Vietnam, and I think that history has vindicated America’s cold war enterprise. And, too, Mr. Venable has dragged the question of "human rights" into this discussion.
My view is that drug-testing in chess is not a violation of any specific human right such as, say, the murder of a journalist or the banning of free speech in Khan Kirsan’s Kalmykia. In its ultimate implications, drug-testing is about social control by largely non-governmental means. It is about whether we wish to live in a snoop society in which privacy is sacrificed to the demands of bureaucratic tribalism.
For the Schach Doks and their bureaucratic pilot fish to be violating my human rights, they must be acting beyond their own rights. I concede the right of Doktor Press and Secretary Abundo to get their needles into our veins, if we are willing to be tested for drugs. What I do not concede is the inevitability of the snoop society that they and others wish to foist upon us.
Dok Press is using private means to pursue his initial goal of $300-a-pop medical tests. We equally have the right to employ private means to defeat this touch of evil by organizing against it.
WHERE TO START?
Right here, on this forum! The first order of business is to put together a committee and name a chairman. I would imagine that the next step would be to poll our grandmasters about whether they support or oppose drug testing. A petition should be put together and signatures obtained for presentation to the Delegates.
"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy," wrote Ayn Rand. I believe that. The dividing line is between those who wish to set man free from men and those who think in terms of endless "necessary" social regulations.
There are those who believe that markets exist for smack, coke, ice and so on because law enforcement is lax and those who believe that markets exist for these substances because people want them. The former think in terms of endless wars on drugs, create drug czardoms, countenance astonishing violations of basic constitutional liberties and favor virtually every kind of private social control. The latter think in terms of social and moral renovation as the only possible answer short of a totalitarian police state or an Orwellian snoop society.
The one good thing about this brouhaha over drug-testing in, of all things, chess is that the awful Dok Press and his FIDE medocrats will force every chess person to declare on which side of the great social and political divide that he stands. Or, to be sure, it will force the probable majority to declare that they stand nowhere and wish to understand nothing.
Dok Press is counting on that.
Editor's comment: Why would a USCF representative support required drug testing at chess tournaments? Only, I feel, in the belief that this is necessary to satisfy the IOC and achieve great things for chess by making it part of the winter Olympic Games. This goal is assumed to be so worthy that it justifies cooperation with the corrupt FIDE leadership, which has long maintained its power through bribes and whose top man has been implicated in the murder of an opposition reporter. And corruption is no stranger to the IOC either, though I'm not aware that its leaders have had any critics liquidated.
Generally I believe that plans to profit by allying with evil are not only immoral, but also often fail to produce the expected benefits. If chess ever becomes an olympic sport, how will the game benefit? Will we turn on network coverage and hear, "Coming up next, skating, skiing and chess?" Hardly. Far more likely, we will follow the show in vain without ever hearing of our beloved game. If we know where to look on the net or in the newspaper, perhaps we will eventually find the chess results, sandwiched in between basket weaving and dog sledding. The assumption that becoming an olympic activity will significantly popularize chess is totally unproven, and I suspect is about as valid as the Executive Board's belief that if they throw away enough money providing USCF members with free online play on Games Parlor, federation membership will increase. It sounds good in theory, but hasn't worked in practice.
And for this "benefit," we will probably eventually be expected to have a "budget for anti-doping tests" at every FIDE-rated tournament in the world. At every 40/75, G/15 event with a 30 second increment, which uses FIDE rules and FIDE pairings only, starts rounds at the official FIDE times, uses only FIDE hotels, submits prize money to FIDE so that organization can deduct its cut and pay the players with checks that hopefully will clear. As a grand climax, perhaps at the closing ceremony 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?
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 events 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.
FIDE is a good idea gone bad. It's hard to see how it can be reformed because so many of the national Delegates are well paid to be loyal to its corrupt leadership. This system was originated by Campomanes, and it is no accident that he is now a strong ally of Iljumzinov, who has learned well how to manipulate the chess world from the old master. Please, isn't there anyone else out there who will set up a competing world chess federation?