Believe it or not, even in chess there is dope testing. For the first time dope testing has be conducted at a World Championship Match when both Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen provided samples on Tuesday. They were collected in the presence of FIDE Medical commission Dr Jana Bellin.
Whether chess players dope or not, but FIDE, in its endeavour to get the sport in Olympics, has accepted the WADA Code. Rapid Chess is already a part of the Asian Games (2006, 2010). Under International Olympic Council rules, all sport that is part of the Olympic movement must adhere to the WADA Code. Interestingly, Magnus Carlsen is part of the FIDE’s pilot project against doping.
“I think its not so much point of drugs testing in chess, I must admit. However, if I must, then I must,” he has told a Norwegian website couple of years ago. Though the general notion is chess players don’t use performance-enhancing drugs, yet 103 samples were collected in the last season — 92 during competitions. WGM Meenakshi from Chennai was the first Indian to be tested positive for doping in a random pick during the 2002 Bled Olympiad.
Former head of the department of sports medicine and science in National Institute of Sports, Patiala, Ashoka Ahuja, explained the necessity of such a test. “When the topic came up in a meeting around 2002, there were lot of questions raised if there is any need to include chess in WADA Code because chess players don’t really need performance-enhancing drugs. But the truth is, physical strength is so important in chess. Apart from mental fitness, physical strength is very crucial to a chess player because he needs to sit at a place for say to hours to five. Even a chess manual will say two hours of physical exercise is needed for the players, especially in modern day games,” Ahuja said.
Though there are no medicines or drugs that helps to sharpen our brains, but Ahuja, in fact, pointed out that stimulants can help chess players. “Stimulants, for instance, can enhance how the mind works and can increase the concentration and alertness level. It can also increase the cognitive faculty of the brain. It’s something the pilots sometimes use for alertness and concentration. Even dopamine increases the level of transmission of signals to the brain,” Ahuja added.
Ahuja, who now works as a consultant with the Indian cricket Board (BCCI), stated some substances allow the players to calm their nerves. “Certain substances (beta blockers) help reduce heart rates in times of anxiety so that they can think properly. They can’t use it often because the side effects can cause blurring and dizziness,” he said.