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Controversy over FIDE doping check

10/27/2002 – For the first time there will be rigorous doping controls at the Olympiad. This is been done in a futile attempt to make chess an Olympic discipline. The result is that a number of players have protested, vigorously. Some have even cancelled their participation, like top German players Artur Jussupov and Robert Hübner. They fear the $100,000 fines that may be suddenly imposed on first-time "offenders". More
 

Top German player GM Artur Jussupow

Germany's top player GM Artur Jussupow, who led his team to the spectacular silver medal at the Olympiad in Istanbul in 2000, has retired from the German national team. The reason Jussupow gave was the unjustified doping controls introduced by the world chess federation. "You are at the mercy of the FIDE," he said. "It reminds me of the Stalin methods during the thirties."

FIDE, he continued, has introduced doping controls without clear difinitions of what can be interpreted as doping in chess. At the same time the threat is of disqualification and high fines. "Doping is a complicated subject, which only medical experts can understand fully. In chess we do not have a team doctor to advise us." GM Jussupov, who originally hails from Russia, said bitterly: "I no longer have any confidence in FIDE. It is currently not a democratic organisation."

Drugs to enhance performance are unknown in chess. Research carried out by the Dutch Chess Federation has not produced a single substance that could be considered performance enhancing. "Both mentally stimulating and mentally calming medication have too many negative side effects," says Dr Helmut Pfleger, who has been conducting experiments for around twenty years.

In an open letter Alexander Baburin also criticises FIDE's decision. "Basically, players in Bled will be asked to sign a contract that they agree with these anti-doping rules. If one does not sign, he or she might not be allowed to play. The document is all 'lawyer and doctor talk' – an ordinary person won't understand it and almost none can read it till the end (I gave up after oneminute!). So, it is tempting just to sign. But there is a danger – if you eat or drink too much of something and your test is positive, you could be fined $100,000!" In another open letter to FIDE over 50 players have appealed to president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to "at the very least undertake that ... in the unfortunate event of a positive test, the potentially ruinous fines will not be levied.

Artur Jussupow says he knows only one illegal method to help a chess player to improve his play: "The use of a computer during the game." Apart from Jussupow one of the other top German players, Dr Robert Hübner, has cancelled his participation at the Olympiad. The German team now consists of the players Lutz (2655), Graf (2624), Dautow (2617), Hickl (2602), Bischoff (2554) and Luther (2551).

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