Wednesday, June 27, 2007

PGA needs drug-testing

Last week, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the PGA Tour intends to adopt a drug-testing plan to alleviate any concerns about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional golf.


And why has it taken so long? For the record, let me admit that stories and chatter about drug-testing makes my eyes glaze over. To borrow a line from a Dan Jenkins book, put the words steroids, deficit or committee in a
headline and it's guaranteed to make me read something else.

But since we live in a justifiably skeptical sports world, there's no reason the PGA Tour shoudln't adopt a drug-testing policy. I understand it's not as easy as just saying you're going to do it and having it done but the tour has been slow to act, believing -- probably correctly -- that it doesn't have a signfiicant problem.

Still, when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and others say the tour should be pro-active, they're right. The LPGA tour will begin drug-testing next year as will the European Tour, though the details on the whats and hows and whys are still vague.

David Fay, executive director of the USGA, said Wednesday that drug testing is "inevitiable" but he couldn't say exactly when it will arrive. He put the onus on the professional tours to take the lead but said the major golf organizations, including the USGA, need to be involved.

Most of golf's testing has been directed at equipment, aimed at identifying non-conforming drivers. The PGA Tour needs to get a strong plan -- with strong penalties -- in place and eliminate any questions about what players may or may not be using. Golf does not lend itself to the kinds of abuses we've heard about in other sports but it would be naive to think golf hasn't had guys who have experimented with performance-enhancing drugs.

There are gray areas with golf. Do beta-blockers count? I have a friend who's a sports psychologist who has worked with tour players for years and when the subject of having a couple of beers on the golf course came up one day, he said they probably help allevate tension by working as beta blockers.

John Daly, however, proves that's not always an effective way to deal with your demons.

It's time for the PGA Tour to get on with its drug-testing plan. Make it as tough as Oakmont and no one will dare test it.


Anonymous said...

Sure, but what exactly are they going to test for? To play golf at PGA Tour level, muscles aren't what you need, so it seems unlikely any of them are using steroids to build muscle mass - perhaps to recover from injury quicker.

So, sure, - for appearances sake, test golfers. But I hope they don't go overboard and test for recreational drugs and things like amphetamines which are prescribed for ADD, etc. The Bush administration has already gone Orwellian on us by implementing a variety of invasive programs to spy on U.S. citizens, but if at all possible let's leave the insanity to the government and employ reason elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

If any organization needs drug testing, it would be The Observer

Anonymous said...

The biggest performance enhancing drug used is pot to keep them calm. Beta Blocker type meds are also popular.

Anonymous said...

So if they start drug testing will they test for nicotine which is a very powerful drug which helps calm the nerves of many a Tour player? This is such a slippery slope because something that is beneficial to one player may be just as detrimental to another. I want to watch great golf and could care less if they take something to help them with their nerves. We're all born differently and some people's genetics allow them to feel less nervous than others. Is that fair?