Drug testing is becoming more and more common in sports. But, just two weeks ago, we found it right here in our own backyard as Northcentral Wisconsin was home to the World Ice Fishing Championships.
After more than five days of scouting the ice at the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir in Mosinee, anglers from 11 different countries took part in the world ice fishing championships. In the end, it was the Russian team that took home the gold.
But, before the celebration could begin, something came up that was never before found in the world of ice fishing. Several winners were ordered to take a drug test.
"Just like any other athlete, we want to send the message out there that drugs are not ok," Joel McDearmon, President of USF3 said.
But, in a sport where physical strength isn't always key, many have wondered why an ice fisherman would even need to use performance enhancing drugs.
"Drilling that hand auger through the ice is tough work, do that fifty times for three hours and I'd imagine it would be easier to get it through the ice, a lot less painful," U.S. Ice Team Director Mike McNett said.
The international and national Olympic committees have rules in place that require all athletes to take drug tests. Since the World Fishing Federation falls under the direction of those committees, it now must comply with the new rules.
"It will now be implemented in every competition, no matter where it takes place," McDearmon explained.
Fishing leaders say the drug tests are also in an effort to push them one step closer to becoming a winter Olympic event.
"If they see we are serious about this and follow the rules, than maybe they'll take a chance on us," McNett said.
The drug tests are designed to detect steroids, growth hormones or other illegal substances. Regardless, athletes say it's not that type of drug they're worried about.
"If they tested for beer, we'd all fail."
Luckily for them, everyone passed.
Ice fishing is not the only sport in pursuit of Olympic acceptance. Darts, miniature golf, and tug-of-war have adopted drug testing in recent years.