Tuesday, July 1, 2008

PGA Tour Drug Testing Starts This Week

It begins this week with the AT&T National, incidentally the event hosted by the guy that first said, "We should start drug testing tomorrow." Now, it's time to rehash player complaints that are stale. Bob Harig talks about them.

For the first time, players in the field at the PGA Tour event this week -- the AT&T National -- will be subject to random tests as part of the tour's Anti-Doping Program. Urine samples will be taken to determine if players are taking steroids or other performance-enhancing substances, as well as illegal recreational drugs. A positive test can result in suspension for a year for a first offense and a lifetime ban for multiple violations.
Rocco gets in his thoughts:

"It's the biggest joke in the history of the world," said PGA Tour veteran Rocco Mediate. "You could sit in the parking lot and drink a fifth of vodka, and you might get a fine. But if you take Vick's Vapor Rub, you've got to go through the whole system. There are all kinds of things. If you drink a protein shake, and it metabolizes wrong, you're done. It's stupid. There is nothing we can take to help you in golf.

"We're not Olympians here. If I take steroids, I'm not going to shoot better scores. I can assure you of that. … I don't have a problem with drug testing, just the way it's being done. Why don't we do our own deal? And they follow you in [to a restroom] to take a piss? C'mon, it's bull----. Everybody can cheat all day out here if they want. We can move our ball, and nobody does it. We police ourselves."

I will agree with him that following guys into the bathroom to watch them pee in a cup is a bit much. But, then again, after the Ontarrio Smith-Whizzinator incident...

Still, I will argue with him forever that there are no drugs that can help golfers.

A lot of players, though, are under the impression that only false positives will be found - not legit steroid or other drug abuses.
"I think the first time somebody tests positive for something, it'll be something like Vick's cough syrup," said Brandt Snedeker, who as a college golfer at Vanderbilt was subject to random drug testing by the NCAA. "We've all turned into label readers in the last few months. Guys take supplements, and there are certain things you can't have."

Said Billy Mayfair: "They spent a lot of money on this stuff, made it very easy for players to ask questions. They've got some great doctors here. They've been out here every single week. If a player tests positive, there has to be something funny. These guys aren't going to cheat. If you test positive, it's taking something you didn't know you were taking."
But Tom Pernice really seems to get it - even if he isn't playing all that well:

"If you're going to drug test," former policy board member Tom Pernice said, "you should do it as sophisticated, as tough and with as much credibility as football, baseball or anybody. Then nobody can say you didn't do this. Guys are upset about the fact that they have to go pee in a cup and somebody has to watch them do it. It's just the way it is. Some of the guys take it personal. It's not about that. We have to do it the right way and the most credible way."

Pernice offers another reason for testing.

"We need to set a precedent; we need to send a message to the young people playing golf in high school and college," Pernice said. "The game has become such a power game. Young kids look at the No. 1 player in the world [Woods] and how big he is and how hard he's worked out. They might take short cuts or try anything. I'm sure Tiger is as clean as he could possibly be. And that's a big plus for him to go through testing."

We'll see what happens...

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