Are drugs in golf a problem or not?
In case you have been hiding under a rock it’s hard to miss all the headlines around the Lance Armstrong drug scandal in cycling.
So what does this have to do with golf?
Golf is a sport based on honesty, tradition, skill and history.
I like every golf lover around the world want to see the best golfers winning big tournaments fair and square.
Just the thought of any of the top players using drugs in golf sends a shiver down my spine.
Is the current testing enough
At present, drug testing in golf only tests players by taking urine samples. Urine samples do not detect performance enhancing drugs such as Erythropoietin (EPO), Growth Hormone (HGT) and Danazol.
No blood samples are tested as is the case with high profile Olympic and professional sports.
Are the measures in place really strong enough to ensure a level playing field?
I believe deep down that the top professional golfers are playing drug free. Most performance enhancing drugs would not be a great advantage in a sport such as golf.
Top level golf performance is achieved by golfers who are highly skilled and mentally tough. Brute strength and endurance would act more of a hindrance than a help to most golfers.
The key is ensuring the playing field is equal and every player has their chance of victory.
What Tiger Woods Said
I’m always interested to listen to what Tiger Woods has to say on larger issues as he is one of the most knowledgeable players in the game.
Tiger recently said golf is a sport based on honour and integrity where golfers turn themselves in on mistakes.
Players call penalties on themselves if they feel they have done the wrong thing. Such honesty and integrity is extremely rare in professional sport and is what sets golf apart.
Tiger feels with the commencement of urine sample testing in the last three years is a step in the right direction for the game.
He doesn’t believe drugs in golf is a big issue and is moving in the right direction.
What Craig Parry Said
In 2005 Australian golfing legend Craig Parry said he knew of at least three players that used beta blockers in the last decade to win majors.
Whilst the new drug measures would seem to have fixed this issue, it still leaves some of these victories a bit tainted.
Because drug testing was not used during that time the record books remain unchanged.
Nick Price has also said that he used beta blockers for his health. This is when the issue becomes messy and some clarity is needed.
What Advantage Are Drugs to Golfers
The types of drugs that concern me are the ones that calm the nerves.
I strongly believe these types of drugs provide an unfair advantage to the player over his fellow competitors.
It’s no secret in golf that when you get nervous or start getting butterflies, the impact on your golf swing can be very damaging. It can alter the speed and tempo of your golf swing and result in poorly executed shots.
Any drug that reduces these nerves would be some sort of an advantage.
The drugs in question are called “Beta Blockers”.
The good news is these are easily detectable by urine samples and have been for years.
As mentioned above the problem the golfing administrators will have is when players claim these drugs are needed for their health.
Such was the case with professional golfer Doug Barron who was the first player to be banned as part of the Drug Policy in 2009.
Doug has a history of heart problems and Beta Blockers were needed to raise his heart rate to a normal healthy level.
Barron’s suspension was lifted by the PGA in 2010 and he was granted a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone.
This will be a test case if when any future suspensions are handed out.
The Future of Golf
I think it’s important that golf’s administrators continue to move forward on drug testing in golf and don’t relax on the issue.
The sport must remain clean and we want the best golfers to earn their victory through talent, skill, mental toughness and good old fashioned hard work.
I would like to see blood testing at some point in the future. I don’t believe there are golfers out there trying to gain an unfair advantage.
However, I feel it would at least provide peace of mind to all professional and amateur golfers worldwide.
It would be a step in the right direction. What are your thoughts on drugs in golf?
Do you feel the sport of golf is clean, or do we need to increase our means of drug testing?
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