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Fitness centre chain withdraws drug test language from membership agreements

Elixia's country director in Finland says the company made a mistake by threatening customers with drug tests in updated membership terms and conditions.

Elixian maajohtaja Jussi Raita.
SATS Elixia country manager Jussi Raita Image: Juha Laukkanen

One of Finland's largest fitness centre chains, Elixia, will remove language from its customer contracts requiring its customers to forgo drugs and performance enhancers under threat of taking a drug test. The country manager of Finland's Elixia branch Jussi Raita says the mention of drug tests was a mistake.

The wording was flagged by several legal experts before the company decided to remove the language from its membership agreements.

Updated terms and conditions for Elixia membership would have threatened members with potential drug tests and required members to vow not to take drugs or performance enhancing substances.

Refusing to take a drug test would have been interpreted as a material breach of the membership agreement, and would have lead to a membership in the fitness centre chain being freezed or terminated with immediate effect.

The new terms and conditions for membership would have come into force this week for new members and in May for existing members.

No right to administer tests

Jussi Raita, the fitness centre chain's country director, admits that Elixia made a mistake in updating the membership agreement.

"It should have read that our members undertake to not use intoxicants, drugs or substances classified as doping in Elixia centre premises. We have added this line to our updated membership agreement and removed the reference to drug testing," he said.

Emeritus professor of law Seppo Koskinen had commented on the illegality of obligatory drug testing when news of the contractual wording change broke. In an earlier Yle interview, Raita had maintained that his company had every right to conduct the tests.

"We had no intent to test our members with regard to the substances listed, nor did we have the right to do it. We apologize for our error. We will be more careful in our updates of our membership terms and conditions and the associated communications in future," Raita says.

The country director explains that Elixia first included the wording prohibiting substance use to promote a clean fitness culture and safeguard the safety of its members.

Elixia is one of Finland's largest fitness centre chains. It operates close to 30 locations in Finland's largest cities.

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