Former World Championship semi-finalist Co Stompe has controversially called for an alcohol ban to be implemented in darts after insisting that drinking before games is a form of doping. Stompe, who now works as an analyst for major Dutch broadcaster RTL7 Darts, made these comments in a recent interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Whilst the sport of darts has been transformed with the help of Barry Hearn and Matchroom Sport, world champion Gary Anderson stated last week. “I am just a pub player. We always claim it is a working class game. We are normal boys you meet down at your pub and fortunately for us, we are involved in a great sport and it takes us all over the planet.”
Nevertheless, Stompe adopts a different theory on alcohol within darts.”It’s just doping; we cannot deny that. You become calmer and you keep your nerves under control when you have a drink. I myself drank. But when I once drank no alcohol as a test, I was shaking like a leaf. You’re usually still in a certain intoxication. I struggled to keep my concentration and focus. “
“If you look at honesty, you have to eliminate alcohol. I would like to see them try a tournament without alcohol for the top 16 players. For each game purchase a breathalyzer and during the break they cannot leave the stage. I would like to see what the level is. The first time I expect a big difference. But that of course will never happen. It will remain an eternal debate. “
However, although alcohol is included on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances within certain sports, it is not prohibited in the sport of darts and testing does not take place for this substance.
Stompe isn’t the only high-profile Dutch darter to compare consuming alcohol to doping. Twelve months ago, former Lakeside world champion Jelle Klaasen was quoted saying: “Everything counts as doping, but alcohol is not. Weird, right? You become calmer.”
Klaasen was also critical of the hypocrisy within darts in relation to their stance on alcohol. All players are only permitted to drink water on the stage, but’The Cobra’ claimed that this created a false representation, alleging that only two or three of the top 32 don’t consume alcohol before a match.
The shock omission of Michael van Gerwen in the list of nominations for Netherlands’ Sportsman of the Year award earlier this month led many to question whether darts was taken seriously as a sport, and Stompe suggests the stigma surrounding darts and alcohol is the reason behind Van Gerwen being overlooked for his achievements in 2016.
“This discussion is of course a point that does not work in his favour. That could change if you could eliminate alcohol. I am very curious about the level of the players. You can always play a test tournament? Of course they are worried that the huge level then collapses. That’s not good for the ratings,” Stompe added.
Despite this, Netherlands’ Minister for Sport, Edith Schippers, visited the Alexandra Palace last weekend to support to the Dutch duo of Van Gerwen and Benito van de Pas and she insisted that Darts was taken seriously as a sport, stating: “I came here to end the discussion about darts being a sport or entertainment. It is a top sport.”
Stompe began his career in the BDO system in 1995, reaching the semi-finals in the 2000 BDO World Championship at the Lakeside. ‘The Matchstick Man’ then switched to the PDC in 2008, winning the World Cup of Darts alongside Raymond van Barneveld in 2010, whilst also reaching two World Championship quarter-finals at the Ally Pally.
However, the 53-year-old switched back to the BDO in January 2014, making his return in the Zuiderduin Masters. Despite his surprise departure from the PDC, Stompe remained an integral part of RTL7’s darts coverage on all major PDC events.
Nevertheless, back in 2001, Stompe ironically received a two-month ban himself for doping violations. The violation wasn’t alcohol related, but rather down to cannabis which he’d smoked at a party two weeks prior to a tournament. Stompe admitted: “A few weeks before a tournament in Belgium I had smoked hashish. That was still left in my blood.”
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC