Doping in Go

    Keywords: Rules

This is not a fun page!
Sadly this page has some dead links (,, but the topic is serious! RueLue

Table of contents

The austrian case, voluntary agreements, testing pool

Tapir: Well, I regard it as misusing doping controls if they are applicated to police the amateur population (regarding doping as well as information about current residence, time schedule, drug consumption etc.). Especially, when informed by the same olympic/national/... sport bureaucrats who are the major responsibilities for the whole doping race in body sports by often starting it, belittling it, encouraging it and finally depending on it (where shall ever increased performance come from?).
Herman: I have argued this extensively at godiscussions, but to repeat: The national doping committee (ie: not WADA) performed a doping test on a national top player (3rd place in Women's Championship 2005) who had signed a doping agreement and was on her association's official list of top players. If this had been a doping check on a 3rd place finishing top female tennis player, would anyone have deemed it noteworthy?
tapir: As if signing a doping agreement is voluntary. You won't be banned if you don't sign, will you? In a country like Switzerland, that is where i live, the same arrangement in Go means essentially at least half the player population (all potential WAGC candidates that is everyone from 4d to 2k with a swiss passport, additionally nearly all Women player, everyone daring to start Pair Go) may "benefit" from 1) residence control (by national doping committee), 2) drug tests, 3) questioning on time schedules - at least it is what they do in body sports afaik. (PS Please excuse my reluctance to use godiscussions, I'm much more used to SL.)
Herman: Signing the doping agreement is voluntary, but if you don't, I assume you are not allowed to be on the national team (as this chess player was), and you may not be allowed to participate in the national championship. As I understand the rules (and from my knowledge of the Dutch doping rules concerning go), I would say that any Swiss player that plays the national championship could be picked for a random doping test at the event, what is called "in competition testing". To be selected for "out of competition testing" (as this Austrian chess player was), you have to be in the "registered testing pool". In Switzerland, which has about half the active playing population that the Netherlands have, I would expect perhaps 5 people to be on such a list (in the Netherlands, AFAIK, it is all active 6d players and up). There is, by the way, also a choice for your national go association not to accept these doping rules, but that means they well have to cancel their membership to the NOC (National Olympic Committee). I also know that in the Netherlands, if we do that, we lose at least 20,000 euro's in subsidies annually. Now money isn't everything, but I can understand the NOC saying "You want our money? You play by our rules". The godiscussion thread about this can be found at: [ext] where Robert Jasiek also points to the article about the Austrian chess case on page 4. BTW: Perhaps this should be copied over to the forum?
tapir: I don't mind copying. But only such a summary please: "Switzerland has send 1k players to international event several times, the current champion officially started as 2k in the championship (so 2k upwards seems a fair guess for the top group). Add top 5 women, add top 5 pair, add top 5 youth and you have more than half of the local go playing population being potentially tested out-of-tournament..." But since I have an account now, I well can do it myself.
Herman: Well, I think it would be a very strange choice to make for the Swiss Go Association to put so many people in the registered testing pool. Why would they do that?
Tapir: Well, I wanted to make a point! (And I somewhat dislike the argument, that it won't be relevant to most players, that you brought up.) When putting the 3rd placed Austrian female player to the pool seems reasonable, putting the recent and potential future international representatives in the pool seems only natural - this logic applicated to a small playing population + unambitious participation rules for international tournaments means nearly everyone will be policed. PS The argument was not meant to imply that Switzerland has such rules only what absurd consequences similar rules would have e.g. here.
Herman: I think that doping rules for go are pretty ridiculous, and that out of competition testing should not be used. What I object to is the way everyone is pointing to the article on the Austrian female chess player as if it is a ridiculous case. If a national association with 23000 members (number of chess players on the Austrian rating list, including 1700 women) agrees to those rules, and they give their national anti doping committee a list of players in the registered testing pool, and then the anti doping committee perform a test as indicated, what is so ridiculous about that? All associations have all sorts of choices in this matter, including which players they put in their registered testing pool. The smaller the association, the fewer players you put in that pool. In the Netherlands, there is no separate "top female go players" list, because the female playing population is so small that there are no "top players".
Tapir: Despite separate competitions in WMSG and presumably in Asian Games etc. they are happy to have a few male players on the list? Well, seems i don't grasp the logic.
Herman: In the Netherlands, all of this is coupled with subsidies. Players that are on the "top player" list have to spend at least 60 days per year training or competing (there is also a "professional athlete" category, which requires 225 day per year training/competing, the equivalent of a full-time job, but no Dutch go players are on that list). Money given by the NOC for "top sport" purposes should only be spent on this group. Maybe the rules in Switzerland are not the same, but qualifiying for the WMSG does not seem to be a criterion in the Netherlands (of course, participants to a WMSG event may be subject to in competition testing).
isd: Just thought that I would revisit this topic. So all EGF member countries are signed up now (I guess?) - so how many people does each country have on their doping list? Ireland has 0.
tapir: At least they should control you. You are Irish Champion, aren't you? Whereabout, regular blood tests, coffein-level, secret training sessions in Korea etc.

What is doping in Go? And why should it be forbidden?

Ian?: In order to gain entry to events like the Asian Games, the IGF adopted the rules necessary to join WADA. They, along with other mind sports bodies, appear to be successfully negotiating the removal of rules which do not apply to mind sports. It does occur to me that certain drugs may improve your Go. I hear that people take ritalin now during exams to improve their concentration. [ext] suggests something similar. So it doesn't seem to me to be irrational to desire in-competition testing for some drugs (undoubtedly drugs not on the current list).

Tapir: Is there anything wrong in giving Nie Weiping some extra oxygen?
Ian: It's cheating
Tapir: Is it? It allows more breathing in limited thinking time, relaxed time limits would do the same. If his assumption is true, he would do extremely well in say correspondence games.
Ian: This is using an external source to gain an unfair advantage
Tapir: Well, it is essentially equivalent to longer time limits or at maximum correspondence games. It was argued often that it is mostly shorter time-limits that keep older players out of competition. It may be available to both players, so I don't see the point. This thread may not be serious at all, but I obviously wanted to make the point that taking oxygen - unimaginable - in say 100m sprint is sth. completely different in say a go or bridge competition. And as it may be obvious til now, I don't share the olympic - eh - fever.
thnatos13?: When you hyperventilate, you take in too much oxygen, feeling faint and dizzy, so is getting high really improving your playing strength? It looks more like giving a handicap.

You too can take in more oxygen, deep breath in, breathe out. CHEATER!

This was related to a comment by Bill in the GoDiscussion-thread, Nie Weiping seems to have commented with enough oxygen he ll still be competitive.

tapir: later comments on godiscussions seem to indicate that nie weiping is indeed taking oxygene in matches once in a while.

Bob McGuigan: Probably the issue of caffeine and nicotine as drugs has been brought up somewhere or other. Whether you agree that they are drugs or not they do have effects on the body which might be related to go playing. Here's another one. The amino acid theanine, commonly found in tea, crosses the blood-brain barrier and has stress reduction and mood and cognition imptovement effects. For more info see [ext] this link to a Wikipedia article. Theanine would definitely, in my opinion, relate to go performance due to stress reduction and mood and cognition improvement.

Herman: Although I agree that there are some substances that might improve concentration, or reduce stress, and that those might be benificial, I do think that a second criterion for whether something is doping should be whether it is bad for you. Otherwise water would definitely count as a performance enhancing drug :-)


(from )

This report was made by Thomas Hsiang. In September last year, IGF President Mr. Okabe signed up with the World Anti-Doping Agency. Subsequently, the IGF Anti-Doping regulations were reviewed in accordance with WADAs 2009 revision of its regulations. The latest version of the IGF anti-doping regulations and a list of prohibited drugs, and FAQ and other related materials were put up on our web site and made known to IGF general members. The IGF anti-doping plan was approved at the previous days DM. This plan follows WADAs guidance and calls for carrying out two kinds of doping tests: out of competition and in competition.
The subjects of out-of-competition tests will be 10~15 persons over a period of a year. Its necessary to carry out doping tests on about 70% of this pool. It will be necessary to inform the IGF Medical Committee where one can be contacted for a set hour every day for a period of three months.
In-competition tests will be carried out only at IGF-related international events. Subjects will be top players, who will be tested within 24 hours after conclusion of competition. General member are required to include a passage in their statutes clearly agreeing with the IGF anti-doping regulations.

(later in the same document)

Question 1. 1. How about making the IGF anti-doping regulations compulsory for new general members of the IGF? 2. The nonparticipation of the DPR Korea is a pity. It there a plan for enabling all general membersto take part?
Answers by Eduardo Lopez:
To 1: The matter has not yet been examined. We will do so by the next GM.
To 2: This is a difficult problem. The DPR Korea can take part if it complies with the directives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To 2, Thomas Hsiang added: This problem probably wont arise next year when the tournament is held in China.
Question 2: You say that the IGF anti-doping statutes have been revised. What are the changes?
Thomas Hsiang : There has been no change since our regulations were approved by WADA, but the plan for carrying out tests has changed.

What happens if...?

tapir: The obvious threat is ban from international tournaments etc. but what about substance abuse (cannabinoids are prohibited e.g.) in a wider sense. Will results be published and thus be shared with state authorities?


Links in sept.2012

Dead links

  • (LINK DEAD) Anti-Doping news thread by Robert Jasiek

Other links:

Doping in Go last edited by on January 27, 2015 - 04:55
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