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Thursday, November 10, 2011
Pro surfing gets drug testing

By Jake Howard
ESPN.com

ASP influencers (left to right): Randy Rarick, Graham Stapelberg, Doug Palladini, Rod Brooks

The Association of Surfing Professionals has confirmed plans to implement a drug testing and enforcement policy for the 2012 World Tour season.

"The ASP is in the process of working towards a concrete and effective drug policy for the start of the 2012 World Tour season," ASP Media Director Dave Prodan told ESPN on Thursday. "We are still in the process of figuring out exactly how that is going to work, and more details will be forthcoming next week."

The news comes at the end of a whirlwind week for competitive surfing's governing body, which began with the premature awarding of the 2011 World Title to Kelly Slater, followed by Wednesday's resignation of ASP CEO Brodie Carr.

News of the possibility of drug testing ASP World Tour surfers was first reported Wednesday by The Australian, when Vans Triple Crown Director Randy Rarick went on record, saying, "It's been a long time coming."

The policy was reportedly spurred by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) board of directors, of which major surf labels Billabong, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Hurley and Vans are represented (brands that also sponsor all of the World Tour events).

SIMA president and Vans vice president of marketing Doug Palladini confirmed, "[SIMA] sent a letter to the ASP Board recommending drug testing via the WADA code for all World Tour events beginning in 2012 prior to the meeting."

"We have been speaking with the ASP and members of our organization for months to make sure we fully understand the issues around drug testing. It was only last week that the letter was agreed to by our board and sent to the ASP in time for their SF board meeting ... Apparently, we were on the same page," he said.

There were few details about what was approved or rules and policy-enforcement.

But Palladini asserted that "SIMA believes enforcement in and of itself is not a complete solution. Therefore, we intend to participate in the education of rookies on the frontend and in creating a 'safety net' for athletes who need help on the backend."

When asked about claims that surfing has a reputation of being affiliated with drug culture and whether the new policy was a reaction to the passing of three-time world champ Andy Irons -- whose Nov. 2, 2010 death was determined to be caused by drug usage and heart disease, Palladini contended, "No. Reacting to any one event, no matter how tragic, is not the answer. The answer was for our organization, as the surf industry's trade association, to take a responsible position on drug testing of our professional athletes."

He continued, "We don't care if it's ready or not. It's the right thing to do and past time to do it. Surfers have a choice to make: compete at the highest levels of our sport, clean from drugs, or don't compete. I have a hard time believing anyone serious about competitive surfing would choose the latter, but I applaud the pro surfers on the ASP Board who voted for and support the drug testing initiative."