Another post to be filed in the category “you can’t make this stuff up.” There is an article today on the front page of the New York Times titled, “Dope Tests in Ice Fishing? No, Beer Doesn’t Count.” It reports that after spending a week on a frozen lake, the competitors in the World Ice Fishing Championship all had to provide urine samples to the United States Anti-Doping Agency so that the agency could run tests to detect steroids and growth hormones. As noted by the Times, there are “drugs not normally associated with the quiet solitude of ice fishing.” Unlike in many other sports, competitive cycling comes immediately to mind, the drugs are not likely to help ice fishermen. “Fishing officials puzzled over whether doping would even help anglers jigging for panfish, roughfish and crappie.” The obvious question is why?
Apparently, ice fishing is angling for a spot in future Winter Olympics and as such the competitive ice fishermen have to follow the same rules as all other potential Olympic competitors from sprinters to weight lifters. Ice fishing is not the only fringe sport in pursuit of the great white whale of Olympic acceptance. Darts, miniature golf, chess and tug of war have all adopted drug testing in recent years.
The 2013 World Ice Fishing Championship attracted fishermen from 11 countries, including, for the first time, some from Mongolia and Japan. This year the the Russian team won first prize.