Nightmare time for dream world tour
THE Association of Surfing Professional's 'Dream Tour' woke up to a couple of bad nightmares last week with the cancellation of one of the 12 events and then it suffered it's first doping scandal.
While the Billabong Pro at South Africa's J-Bay was on hold waiting for the next swell, after some excellent waves for round one and two of the sixth event on the World Championship Tour, the news broke that the Spanish break Mundaka had lost its fable sandbanks, leaving organisers and sponsors with no option other than to cancel the Billabong Pro, originally scheduled to be held in October, until next year.
Mother Nature had taken the sand bottom left-hand point and left a huge gaping hole in the bank and unable to live up to its famous reputation as one of the best left sandbars on the planet.
No sooner had everyone digested that piece of disappointing news that three days into the waiting period of the J-Bay event came the ASP's biggest bombshell.
Brazilian Neco Padaratz had failed a dope test taken at Hossegor, France last year where he tested positive for anabolic steroids.
The Brazilian firebrand, noted for his intense psyching up before a heat and who had won his round two heat at J-Bay convincingly against new wave Californian Chris Ward, was down for the count.
He was consequently banned from one year of ASP competition and effectively losing all his WCT/WQS points and seedings which could end his promising career.
Neco, 29 next month, was having a reasonably good year rated 27th on the CT; he had taken the scalp of Mick Fanning in round three of the Globe Pro at Fiji and was on target to requalify.
In 2003 and 2004, he had successfully claimed the number one spot on the WQS ratings, winning the Salomon Masters at Margaret River, WA.
A popular and passionate professional surfer, Neco helped underprivileged kids in Brazil. He co-operated fully with the investigation which hung over his head for almost a year before reaching its final conclusion at the end of last week.
He said he used steroids to fix a chronic lower back problem although that didn't sway the authorities who were left with no choice but to ban the surfing athlete as steroids are considered performance enhancing and their use deemed illegal.
It's a cruel reminder to anyone in sport who tries to flirt with the guidelines but Percy 'Neco' Padaratz is a hell of a fighter and will have to wait until mid 2006 to resurrect his pro career via the WQS and with a couple of big QS events in Brazil, I don't think we have seen the last of this Brazilian warrior.
THE Sunny Coasters virtually rolled the Gold Coasters at last week's Billabong Queensland Championship Circuit Winter Classic held in marginal waist-high waves at D-Bah.
Noosa's Blake Wilson scored his maiden victory to lead the Sunshine Coast trifecta in first from Maroochydore boys, 'Brady Bunch' Dean Brady in second and Leigh 'Seds' Sedley in third.
It was left to veteran campaigner Mark 'Richo' Richardson to salvage some Goldie pride and wave the flag in fourth place.
Richo, whose wife Bianca is expecting next month, was more than happy with his finals appearance pocketing $500 and taking down some of the young guns.
Damon Harvey, who was eliminated in the semis, is leading the QCC ratings.
The next Billabong QCC (event No.5) is the North Shore Classic at Maroochydore on September 9-10.