The PGA Tour apparently could begin drug testing of its players as soon as July 2008.
Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said that testing could begin without notice, and that there was no limit on the number of times a year a player could be tested. Penalties range from a one-year suspension to a lifetime ban.
The use of recreational drugs—such as marijuana or cocaine—apparently would be treated differently. At the commissioner’s discretion, players could be required to seek treatment instead of, or in addition to, sanctions.
And, in a break from golf tradition, violations and sanctions would be made public. The PGA has a history of not revealing to the public the names of those who were disciplined by the Tour.
While they may find some recreational drugs, I can’t imagine that steroids turn out to be a problem. The reason is that what most of the performance enhancing drugs do would seem to be detrimental to golfers: the ones that make you stronger also bulk you up (slowing down swings); the ones that reduce fatigue can apparently leave you edgy (not good for the putting game); those that calm you down cause fuzzy thinking (not good for focus). I’ve said it before: the only reason that I can think of for golfers to use performance enhancing drugs is to get over injuries more quickly.
What I’d really like to do is to hear from an expert on this. What drugs could a golfer take that would enhance performance without causing equally detrimental side effects.
But George O’Grady—chief executive of the European Tour—has the best line on this. He says that there’s really only one golfer who needs to be tested: Tiger Woods.
“If he’s clean,” O’Grady said, “what does it matter what the rest of them are on?”