German chess federation joins anti-doping fight
Doping scandals have rocked plenty of sports recently – but the cerebral world of chess? As absurd as it may seem, the German Chess Federation (DSV) decided to join the fight against perfomance-enhancing substances this week.
“We are doing this because we belong to the German Olympic Sports Confederation, which requires that all members adhere to doping rules,” DSV spokesperson Klaus Jörg Lais told The Local on Thursday.
Lais said the DSV tested their first crop of players some 6 weeks ago with the help of the national anti-doping agency (NADA) at four national tournaments, making Germany part of a growing number countries that comply with international doping standards for chess.
For now, only players in top-level competitions will be subject to checks, though younger players are already being conditioned for the new rules – evidenced by the new brochure admonishing parents, youth players and trainers to be aware of doping dangers and regulations.
“Though no one has tested positive and there’s no concrete problem, it’s known that some players have tried beta blockers, which apparently help concentration and prevent anxiety in competition,” Lais told The Local.
Along with beta blockers, the new brochure focuses on preventing the use of amphetamines, and perhaps surprising to some, cannabis.
“You must be aware of what you do in your free time and think of yourselves as competitive athletes - and you are, when you play at a championship level with lots of training and ambition,” it reads. “Just one quick joint when you want to be ‘in’ and ‘cool’ at a party is doping.”
Whether there is a chess doping problem or not, the DSV, which has 99,000 members in Germany, says the new regulations are just good sportsmanship.
“It’s bad for your health, and athletes should take care of their bodies,” Lais said.
The DSV warns players to make sure their doctors are aware of regulations, and while keeping up with the long list of possible doping violations will likely be taxing, at least coffee is no longer forbidden.
“Yes! It was banned for about two years,” Lais said. “But it can be such a help for fatigue and confidence. It’s become an absolute necessity for us.”