Making Sport Civilized Again Doping Agency Lifts Alcohol Ban for Pétanque

Devotees of the French sport of pétanque will now be able to enjoy a glass of pastis before a match again: The World Anti-Doping Agency is to remove alcohol from its list of prohibited substances for competitions.

Only the French, those masters of civilized living, could have invented the sport of pétanque. The game, a form of boules, involves throwing metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden jack, and can easily be played while smoking a Gauloise and drinking a glass of pastis.

Now competition pétanque players, who were previously banned from drinking during matches, can enjoy a glass too. The World Anti-Doping Agency, which coordinates the fight against doping in sport, has cut alcohol from its list of illegal substances for boules competitions.

The agency was responding to a petition by the World Boules Federation (CMSB), the French newspaper Libération reported Tuesday. "Let's be sensible," CMSB president Romolo Rizzoli told the newspaper. "You can drive a car after drinking two glasses of wine, but you can't play boules?" Rizzoli then wrote a letter to WADA, which heard his plea.

Boules will be taken off the list of sports for 2008 in which alcohol is prohibited. The list is now reduced to seven, including archery, billiards and powerboating, among others.

Boules players still have a long list of substances to avoid in competition, however. As well as the usual suspects of anabolic steroids, growth hormones, and beta-blockers, players are specifically instructed to abstain from cocaine, hashish, and heroin.

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