Surfing is getting quite the reputation as of late. The press has recently shed light on professional surfing’s illustrious recreational drug use as well as profane behavior between its top competitors within the sport. Are professional surfers in bad company?
Surfing has grown a great deal in the last couple of years, from women’s surfing to the evolution of the sport. Thus, ASP began its anti-doping brigade last year in an effort to foster the growth of surfing professionalism. After Lance Armstrong confessed his doping scandal to Oprah, the topic of anti-doping arose again within professional sports. The theory that surfers are using performance enhancing drugs to cheat seems absurd. But, the death of beloved surfer, Andy Irons was a wakeup call to the danger of recreational drug use within the surfing industry.
ASP launched random drug screenings at both the Roxy and Quiksilver Pro events. It is all done confidentially. If surfers are caught with cannabis or cocaine in their systems, they would receive a reprimand for the first couple of violations. The ASP enforces the list given by the World Anti-Doping Authority. If any performance enhancing drugs are in the professional athlete’s system, they are banned for a full year. The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast contest proved to be as fiery as the Aussies. On the Gold Coast were scorching sunsets, indiscriminate drug tests, an array of strange behavior, amazing surfing and even contest relocation from Snapper to Kirra.
Since Slater once surfed Kirra at 15 years old, it has always been one of his favorite surf spots. He even joked, “Haven’t surfed an event like Kirra since ’96 so I’m pretty frothin’, mate.” Guys like Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning grew up surfing Kirra. They both managed to rack up perfect 10s, too. It was barrels of barrels everywhere. Confusion came in the Finals. Parkinson (the current World Champion) and Slater were battling it out. Slater used priority in the heat rendering Parko’s ride obsolete. Dropping in on a local surfer (even when you are the only two out there) does not fall in line with surfing etiquette. So, when does one surfing rule override the other? While priority is a regulation for surfing heats, “don’t drop in on locals” is a notorious motto in the surf world. It is a sign of respect. Plus, Joel Parkinson is the current World Champion! On the other hand, it is a competition and sometimes that means pulling out whatever card you can play. More shock and awe came when the camera man caught these two adults “ridin’ dirty”.
After the incident, Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson took part in friendly, witty banter back and forth via Instagram posts. Three days ago, Joel Parkinson posted the following with the infamous photo: “Don’t drop in on locals @kellyslater.” Kelly Slater reposted the photo and responded with: “Don’t drop-in on locals, @joelparko? Quit f-ing paddling around everybody all the time! Haha.” A day later, Kelly added: “I should have done a look back with @joelparko yesterday like @mfanno did on me today. Looks like you’re going goofy, Mick." It is all in good fun. The fans got worked up firing back at one another, giving a range of opinions from foulmouthed name calling to inspirational words of encouragement.
Kieren Perrow, representative, recognizes that the ASP Anti-Doping Policy is a positive measure to enhance professionalism and send out a great message to the kids. In an era where kids have access to see what their role models are doing all the time via social media, there is a strong need for athletes to behave more professionally and to hold each other to higher standards. While it is a good lesson for kids to learn that even professional athletes can be human, it is also important to set a good example for them to aspire to. Professional surfers have often defied death, surfed paramount waves, and inspired crowds. Ironically, it is for the children that we are asking professional athletes simply not to cheat, say no to drugs, and play nice.