Skateboarding legend says drug testing would sink sport at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

An Australian skateboarding great has raised doubts over the inclusion of the sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying drug testing could prove a problem.

The International Olympic Committee has announced five sports will be added for the Tokyo games.

One of the sports added will be skateboarding, with 80 athletes set to make their Olympic debut.

Australian skateboarding legend Tas Pappas become number one in the world at the 1996 World Championships.

He has raised doubts over drug testing and how it might affect athletes' performances at the Olympics.

"I'm wondering how it's going to work as far as the drug testing is concerned, because some guys skate really well on weed and if they have to stop smoking for one competition (the Olympics) it might really affect their performance," he said.

"I truly believe you do better sober, but I've known guys who couldn't skate unless they were stoned, so I don't know how it's really going to work," Pappas said.

The X Games is the most mainstream competition for skateboarders, but unlike in the Olympics competitors at the X Games are not drug tested, which has drawn criticism from the IOC president Thomas Bach.

Pappas believes the Olympics could turn a lot of athletes off competing.

"As far as the skate community is concerned, for a lot of people it will seem cheesy. This country verses that country is not the unified skate culture," he said.

"When you meet a bunch of skaters you don't feel like it's us verses them, it's just a bunch of guys getting together and want to have a skate."

Those concerns were echoed by the Director of Skateboarding WA, Ben Bowring.

"There will definitely be some skateboarders that are keen to go to an Olympics, but as a majority the Olympics will not be a pinnacle for skateboarding; skateboarding is the pinnacle for skateboarding," he said.

Skateboarding medal hopes

The US has dominated the skateboarding scene in recent years thanks to the construction of elite skate parks and Summer X-Games competitions taking place there.

However, Mr Bowring suggested Australia could do quite well in skateboarding at the Olympics.

"We've got some extremely amazing skateboarders that have come out of Australia," Mr Bowring said.

The rich skateboarding history is evident in the regional city of Albany on Western Australia's south coast.

Albany claims to have the second oldest skate park in the world, the Snake Run, which was built in 1976 and recently received state heritage listing.

"Australia's skateboarding culture is really positive, it's very creative, free and open," Mr Bowring said.

But despite the rich history, Pappas said that in order to be competitive with the Americans, Australian governments needed to start investing in proper skate parks and facilities.

"How many countries actually even have access to the proper skate parks? It's going to be pretty unfair for quite some time if you have skateboarding at the Olympics when America is the one with all the facilities," he said.

ABC Australia