SI.Com columnist EM Swift says that golf should stop kidding itself and start testing for performance enhancing. He speculates that they’re already thoroughly embedded on the PGA and LPGA Tours:
On the LPGA Tour I’ve seen enough visual evidence of steroid use—acne, dramatic changes in musculature, increased distance off the tee—to raise my suspicions. Likewise on the PGA Tour, where rumors about the use of beta blockers and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium, which are taken to control anxiety and steady the nerves, have swirled about for years.
Hmm. I’ve got a few random thoughts on this one:
Does that mean that Tiger is the prime suspect for steroid use? If there is any golfer who has had a change in body type, it’s the Striped One. He was a skinny youngster who now looks like a body builder. Just like Barry Bonds. (or maybe, it’s just that he’s matured and is now lifting weights).
Wait. There’s one other body change suspect. David Duvall was shaped like a penguin, became number one in the world, got a sculpted body, fell off the planet and now—making a comeback—is shaped like a penguin again. If he was taking drugs, they certainly weren’t performance enhancing.
The Stadlers are NOT using steroids. We can safely say that about a LOT of guys on Tour. And not just the fat ones. I don’t think Carmello is using them either—unless he’s using ones that take the weight OFF.
Anger issues also are supposed to be a sign of steroid use. I suppose that Tommy Bolt was taking them back in the 1950s. Anyone who doesn’t occasionally have anger issues on the course has never played golf.
The acne problem on the LPGA is probably due to the fact that so many of their players are teenagers. Or that the new imperative to wear more makeup has them clogging their pores when that stuff dissolves and melts in the sweat of 90 degree heat (Mrs. GolfBlogger confirms this as a surefire way to ruin your complexion).
I can’t imagine how steroids could help you play golf. Strength doesn’t equate to higher swing speed. And no steroid is going to help you sink a 15 foot putt. I’m a strong guy—stonger for my size than most—but it doesn’t help me hit the ball 300 yards (I can’t). It MIGHT help me dig it out of the rough—a place where I spend far too much time. (Strength, however, does help me humiliate the football players in my classes when I beat them arm wrestling. It sort of solidifies my position in the room as the Alpha Male.)
And as for the nerve-controlling drugs, I suppose that there are some out there that take them. I have a hard time, however, trying to figure out how this is different from the players who smoke or drink alcohol. If they are obtaining them illegally, that’s one thing … but if they have a prescription.
Beta blockers are used by 27 percent of symphony orchestra musicians. I think we should be testing them, too. A violinist on beta blockers may be illegally and immorally holding the first chair from a violinist not on beta blockers.
Male porn stars need to be tested for Viagra. We wouldn’t want one to have an advantage over another. Ditto female porn stars with silicon implants. Implants have, after all, been shown to be bad for you; and Viagra has side effects.
As a guy with libertarian sympathies, I don’t really have a problem with athletes using performance enhancing drugs. They are trading money for life expectancy and health and they are fully cognizant of the effects. The most dangerous job in the US is deep sea fisherman. The fishermen know this and are willing to trade life expectancy and health for the pay. Ditto miners, taxi drivers, convenience store clerks and other dangerous positions.