It was the single most Instagram’d shot of the 2012 event: The announcement twelve months ago that BOP 2013 would introduce anti-doping tests. We haven’t heard much about it since then but today it all became official, with organisers providing details of how the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will be overseeing the testing for performance enhancing drugs at this year’s race.
The decision, a first for the Battle, has received a very positive response (no pun intended) from the paddling community, as having USADA on the beach will greatly increase the professionalism of the world’s biggest SUP race as well as the sport of Stand Up Paddling in general.
In a parallel announcement, the Battle of the Paddle will also be sanctioned by the International Surfing Association (ISA), as being aligned with an IOC-recognised world governing body is a basic requirement for the Anti-Doping Agency’s involvement at any sporting event. For now the ISA’s involvement is a one-off agreement designed purely to get USADA on board. The sanctioning doesn’t cover anything beyond that, at least not this year (i.e. the Battle won’t be a qualifier for the 2014 ISA World Champs), however in the future the BOP and ISA may work more closely together to develop the sport.
It should also be noted that the Battle of the Paddle will not be managing the testing, it is to be independently run by USADA. The Anti-Doping Agency is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation aligned to the Olympic movement and is responsible in the USA for implementing the World Anti-Doping Code, largely considered the strongest and toughest regime for testing of performance enhancing drugs in sport.
The testing process on the day will be somewhat random; basically anyone entering the Elite Race could be required to provide a urine and/or blood sample straight after the event (this only impacts the Elite Race – none of the other races will be targeted). Not every single athlete in the Elite Race will be tested and while USADA won’t reveal exactly who they will target in advance, it’s safe to assume that both the men’s and women’s winners will be on their list.
The BOP organisers (Rainbow Sandals) chose to work with USADA because they wanted to strengthen the sport of SUP and help make it a more legitimate and professional endeavour. The Battle of the Paddle is a trend-setter in the world of SUP racing, something the organisers are keenly aware of and want to use to help develop Stand Up Paddleboarding in general. Having a stringent anti-doping platform in place is definitely one way to do that, as it sends a message to athletes, coaches and administrators around the world that SUP is a serious pursuit. Organisers have also stated that this sort of thing is one major step in the pathway to eventual Olympic acceptance of any sport.
While this is a huge development, the Battle of the Paddle isn’t actually the first SUP race to introduce drug testing – that honour goes to the ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship in Peru last year. The ISA is also the only organisation in the world of SUP to be recognised by the International Olympic Committee and, as part of their goal of having stand up and surfing accepted into the Olympics, have their own stringent anti-doping guidelines that are implemented at every ISA event. All this makes their sanctioning of the BOP even more relevant.
Battle of the Paddle organisers wanted to implement a super credible anti-doping program to not only bolster their own event but to strengthen the sport of stand up paddling in general. By having USADA involved in the BOP that’s exactly what they’re going to achieve, so this is an awesome move that should be applauded by the SUP community.
16 days and counting. Things just got serious…
And remember: SUPracer.com and Starboard have partnered to deliver complete coverage of 2013′s biggest race. We’re giving you daily insights right throughout September leading up to 24/7 live updates on race weekend. Yew!
Tags: Battle of the Paddle