Stricter Drug Use Tests Planned for Skaters
Complying with new Olympic standards, organizers of the European Figure Skating Championships today announced tighter drug use controls covering the sport’s compulsory figures as well as the free skating program.
For the first time at a major International Skating Union event, competitors in Birmingham are being selected to undergo drug tests at the end of the men’s and women’s compulsory figures in addition to being tested on completion of the entire tournament.
The practice was introduced at last year’s Calgary Olympics but has not previously been implemented at an ISU event.
“As a responsible governing body, we have to demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee and to the public at large that we mean business about the misuse of medication,” said Dr. Franklin Nelson, chairman of the medical advisers to the ISU. “The kids should know that if they take any banned substances, they now run a greater risk of getting caught.”
Before the European Championships, which began today, only the three medalists, the fourth-placed finisher and one other skater selected at random were sent for testing in men’s and women’s events at major ISU tournaments. This week, four more skaters will be tested after the men’s and women’s compulsories, all at random.
Drug testing procedures in the pairs and ice dancing competitions remain unchanged, with the leading four competitors, including all medalists, automatically tested.
According to Nelson, only one skater, a woman, has ever been caught for taking drugs. That occurred at the 1982 World Junior Championships in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
Although he declined to identify the culprit, sources said she was a member of the French ice dance team that was stripped of the bronze medal and replaced by an American couple.
“The person involved was caught for taking a banned weight-loss drug,” Nelson said. “It was an unfortunate case because she had been prescribed the medication.”