Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drug Testing in Chess???

This is old news, but posted here to preserve the record.

On September 4, 2002, as Executive Director of the US Chess Federation I issued the following statement:


The "Official" position of the USCF hasn't changed. Neither has my personal position. I stated several months ago on RGCP that individual players should have the absolute right to determine whether or not they will submit to drug testing, and not some group of bureaucrats in Europe or New York. I thought I heard the same thing from Joel Benjamin, speaking for the players last year in Framingham. I also thought I heard the Delegates support Joel's position. Maybe I misunderstood.

The players have been asking me what my position is. The press, through Malcolm Pein, asked me the same. I gave them an honest answer.

Malcolm actually downplayed my response. I told him that I thought it was ludicrous for there to be drug testing in Bled in light of the fact that the EARLIEST possible time frame for inclusion of chess in the Summer Olympics is 2012 (10 years from now!...and even that is optimistic). And we don't even know what drugs to test for, not to mention the waste of $300 a test.

I also respect and acknowledge the hard work of the members of the FIDE Advisory Committee and the Olympic Participation Committee. I would like to see chess in the Olympics as much as anyone.

Nevertheless, I have an opinion and I will stick by it. I support the players. I trust the FIDE folks will be reasonable. If it helps that they understand how anyone in the US feels about the issue, all the better.

Frank Niro

Then Bill Goichberg responded:


By Bill Goichberg (

The idea that chessplayers should be subjected to drug testing in order for the game to become part of the Olympics appears to be fading fast. Earlier this year, the U.S. Olympic Committee rejected chess as a sport, delivering a blow to support for drug testing in the United States. Now the International Olympic Committee has likewise refused to accept chess and other "mind sports" as part of the Olympics. The IOC is reducing rather than increasing the number of Olympic sports, and even popular sports of a physical nature such as bowling, racquetball, water skiing and squash have now been rejected.

It should now be clear to even the drug testing diehards that the chances for chess to become part of the Olympics any time in the foreseeable future are nil. It is time to stop the debate and give up on FIDE's ridiculous idea that mandating drug testing now in various tournaments will lead to eventual recognition of chess as an Olympic sport.

Congratulations to Executive Director Frank Niro for being the first USCF representative to openly challenge FIDE's ridiculous drug testing policy. Hopefully our Executive Board and FIDE representatives will follow Niro's lead. It is long overdue for USCF to stand up for what is right at FIDE meetings, and I believe that the result is likely to be the end of the idea that drug testing is needed in chess.

Go here to see Jeremy Silman's take on the subject.