Joe Frans, the second for Wayne Middaugh's Ontario rink, has been suspended for two years
because he tested positive for cocaine use. [h/t to Brian Ferguson
for the link; also, see here
for more coverage]
Joe Frans, 29, ... is the first Canadian to be punished for drug-testing violations in a sport whose athletes are generally thought to consume substances no more illicit than a few post-bonspiel beers.
"I'm totally caught by surprise, 100%," said Middaugh, who has since formed a new team. "We had no clue."
Frans, who won back-to-back Canadian junior championships as a skip, could not be reached for comment last night. He will not be allowed to compete in any events that lead to the Brier or the Olympic Trials over the next two years. He is also permanently ineligible to receive government funding.
What effect does use of cocaine have on someone's curling?
"We wouldn't call curling a high-risk sport," said Joseph de Pencier, director of sport services for the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
... "Cocaine is a stimulant, and it is on the list [of banned substances] as a stimulant, but in most cases that we're aware of it tends to be a recreational issue," de Pencier said.
In other words, it is a moral issue imposed by the sport that has nothing to do with cheating or trying to gain a competitive edge in the bonspiels.
While agreeing that curlers are less likely to seek a competitive advantage through banned substances than, for example, sprinters, and that cocaine is less likely to provide such an advantage than a steroid, de Pencier said the doping agency cannot apply standards on a piecemeal basis.
"The list [of banned substances] is the list," he said. "We are obliged to test for the entire list, whatever the individual case may be."
I guess so. But to tell the truth, I don't much care if some curler wants to use cocaine; I don't think it's very smart, but I don't much care.
Query: who will Middaugh select to replace Frans [and McCarel
, it turns out]?
Frans, a 29-year-old from Grimsby, Ont., was Middaugh's second as Ontario finished 6-5 in the Brier at Rexall Place.
But he and long-time third Graeme McCarrel were let go in April by Middaugh, who was unaware of Fran's positive urine sample.
How will he replace them? Will various curlers be invited to audition for the team? Or will Middaugh and his remaining team member put together a short list based on their own estimates of player quality? What criteria will they use, implicitly or explicitly?