DRUG TESTING MOTIONS SUBMITTED
Four motions in opposition to FIDE's drug testing policies have been submitted for the advance agenda of the August USCF Delegates meeting in Framingham, MA. They are as follows:
Mike Goodall, Northern CA:
Move that drug tests at chess tournaments be prohibited.
Mike Goodall, Northern CA and Eric Johnson, PA
on behalf of Sam Sloan, NY:
That the United States Chess Federation shall not require, participate in or be in any way involved in any program which involves the drug testing of chess players. No chess player shall ever be required to submit to any drug or anti-doping test as a condition for participating in or receiving a prize in any chess event rated, conducted or reported by the United States Chess Federation. No chess event held anywhere within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States of America shall require or be involved in the drug testing of chess players in any way whatever.
Bill Goichberg, NY and Joel Benjamin, NY:
Mandatory or random drug testing is prohibited at all USCF-rated events.
Bill Goichberg, NY and Joel Benjamin, NY:
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.
The first three ADMs all propose to do basically the same thing. I think the wording of the third motion is most precise, as the federation does not have the authority to legislate regarding chess events which are neither conducted nor rated by USCF.
U.S. Champion Joel Benjamin, cosponsor of two of the motions, reports that the other top American players he has spoken to are all opposed to drug testing at tournaments. Benjamin recently attended FIDE's World Youth Championships in Argentina as a coach, at which drug testing was required for the Under 18 division. Medal winners, girls as well as boys, were required to urinate in view of a male "anti-doping" official.
While the humiliation some players might suffer from taking the drug test is an issue, probably even more significant is the Pandora's box opened when chessplayers can be disqualified for drinking too much coffee, using asthma inhalers, taking certain vitamin supplements, or eating bagels with poppy seeds. There is no evidence that such substances, or even illegal drugs, give a player an unfair advantage at chess.
FIDE officials argue that accepting drug testing is necessary to make chess part of the Olympic games. But chess already has its own Olympiad, an exciting and prestigious event involving 1000 players, coaches and captains, that Benjamin fears will be abandoned in favor of something inferior run by IOC bureaucrats who know and care little about the game. I suspect that the belief that chess will benefit by becoming one of hundreds of minor sports at the Olympic games is no more valid than another popular assumption that now appears highly questionable, that USCF will benefit financially from providing free online play to its members.
And it is clear that the price for IOC approval of chess is far greater than just drug testing at the Olympiad itself. Testing at the World Youth and all events leading to the World Championship, such as the US Championship, will be required. The FIDE tactic to gain control is to start with these top events, then move on to all tournaments offering title norms, and finally to all FIDE rated events. We have seen similar efforts to require use of the "new FIDE time control," and to prohibit national chess federations from using their own rules if they differ slightly from FIDE rules.
There is also a financial issue involved. Drug testing is expensive, and FIDE rules require tournament organizers to pay. FIDE, on the other hand, may profit from the testing by authorizing official "anti-doping" squads, no doubt in return for the usual bribes which are a routine part of almost everything FIDE does. The IOC, of course, is no stranger to corruption either, so the two organizations should get along well together.
Dr. Stephen Press of New Jersey, chairman of "anti-doping" for FIDE, also attended the recent World Youth event. Benjamin reported the following about his meeting with Press:
1) Benjamin told Press that American Grandmasters would not accept FIDE's new drug testing requirements. Press responded to the effect that "FIDE has made its decision, and players who do not accept it will not be able to play chess."
2) Dr. Press is a chiropractor. He does not appear to have the medical training one would expect from the head of a drug testing program.
3) When Benjamin criticized FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, an autocrat who has been implicated in the murder of an opposition journalist, Press strongly disagreed. In ensuing discussion, Press admitted to being an "old family friend" of Ilyumzhinov.
Former USCF President Don Schultz, who recently participated in a FIDE meeting, reports that many in FIDE are angry at Dr. Press for demanding, and receiving, exorbitant "expense" reimbursements to attend FIDE meetings and events. Now USCF President Tim Redman, in an apparent attempt to convince the Delegates that drug testing is essential for the promotion of chess, has invited this "drug chiropractor" to address the Delegates at Framingham! Is FIDE paying for the doctor's lobbying effort? This hardly seems proper, but it's better than having USCF pay his "expenses."
If we must have "anti-doping" in chess, perhaps rather than testing our top players, it would be more appropriate to ask Dr. Press to watch a few Executive Board members urinate?