Drug Tests and Skateboarders
Skateboarding: An Official Olympic Event in 2020
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will sport a new event: skateboarding. But the International Olympic Committee’s strict stance on marijuana and performance altering substances may keep star skateboarders from getting in the game. Skateboarding is one of five new sports that the Olympics will debut in the 2020 Games. But drug tests could prevent star skateboarders from participating, even if they wanted to.
Professional skateboarder and 1996 World Champion Tas Pappas explains:
It would take another 16 years for the IOC to loosen its strict thresholds for cannabinoids. For the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the IOC raised the threshold for cannabis ten times higher than it had been previously. That mark went from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150.
The change essentially made it okay for athletes to consume cannabis outside of the competition, but “smoking a fatty for Rebagliati,” as it came to be known in the Olympic world, was still strictly prohibited during the ‘Games.
A Performance Enhancing Drug?
It’s not that skateboarders can’t or don’t perform well sober, it’s just that many of them feel they can’t skate their best without being high. Tas Pappas agrees: “I truly believe you do better sober, but I’ve known guys who couldn’t skate unless they were stoned, so I don’t know how it’s really going to work.”
It’s an ounce of wisdom that the X-Games organizers have taken to heart. The X-Games represent the pinnacle of competition for skateboarders, and athletes who compete there don’t have to take any drug tests.
Even though the IOC has raised the limit of THC allowed in an athlete’s bloodstream, they and other sports organizations have criticized the X-Games lack of testing on the grounds that cannabis is a performance enhancing drug.
Tas Pappas and other skateboarders don’t disagree with that. They’re just arguing that if the IOC wants to have a solid Olympic skateboarding competition, they shouldn’t test skateboarders for cannabis.
Skateboarding, Like Cannabis, Is All About Togetherness
It’s not just the fact that drug testing could keep many skateboarders from becoming Olympians, it’s the whole idea of competition based on nationality.
Skateboarding culture is arguably about togetherness, not nationalism and competitiveness. Skateboarding competitions are really more about bringing people together than the “us versus them” mentality that characterizes the Olympic Games. Tas, for one, thinks other boarders would find the whole idea a bit tacky.
“As far as the skate community is concerned, for a lot of people it will seem cheesy. This country versus that country is not the unified skate culture,” he said.