Reader Poll: Do Celebrity-Athletes Deserve Privacy?

If former world champion surfer Andy Irons’ sudden death in a hotel room near Dallas last November was a shock, reports that prescription drugs were found in his room and the possibility that he died of a methadone overdose were even more shocking. Within weeks, however, Outside magazine published a story that chronicled persistent chemical abuse by Irons and a binge-drinking incident on his 21st birthday in which he had to be resuscitated with electrical paddles twice after his heart stopped.

The medical examiner in Tarrant County, Texas, where Irons died, conducted an autopsy and toxicology tests that determined the cause of death, and results were expected to be made public by New Year’s. A few days before Christmas, however, Irons’ wife Lyndie petitioned a Texas court to block the release of the results, arguing that making them public would damage Irons’ reputation and her ability to be financially supported by it. Her request, which was granted to stay the release until May 20, argued that the autopsy is incomplete and should investigate further whether he died of dengue fever, as had been initially reported.

“Based upon ‘leaks’ that have already occurred within the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office and the press reaction to those leaks, the branding of Andy Irons’ company will be immediately, irreparably and severely tarnished if the official autopsy report is released at this time, when the coverage of this event by the press is at a frenzy,” she said.

To many, Lyndie’s move suggested confirmation that AI died of a drug overdose. But what Andy Irons actually died from isn’t the point of this poll; rather, it’s to address the issue of privacy for celebrity-athletes.

How much privacy do top athletes deserve? Superstars such as Tiger Woods know that constant scrutiny comes with the territory, and some of the sting is taken away by the financial rewards. Should it be any different for athletes who reach the highest levels in sports that aren’t as seductive to the public eye, and where the rewards are substantial but not astronomical? Are action-sports athletes “citizen athletes” who should be exempt from the intrusive spotlight?

Or should we accept that fact that in the narcissistic Facebook century, where privacy has “settings,” achievement of any sort carries the price of openness?

There are more angles to the issue than can be addressed in a single poll, so we’ll restrict the question to that of Irons’ autopsy results and let your comments tackle the knottier questions.

Tell us what you think and get a chance to win one of the world’s best adventure photos! Each week, Adventure Journal will give away one photographic print from the AJ print store to a reader poll respondent. If you win, you get to select any photo in the print store in a size up to 12×18 inches.

Here are the rules:

1. You must “like” the Adventure Journal Facebook page.
2. You must be a subscriber to the free Adventure Journal email newsletter. (Sign up here.)
3. You must vote in the poll and leave a comment telling us which picture you want.

Readers will be picked randomly, one each week.

[Last week’s poll: Should Ski/Board Helmets Be Mandatory?]

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