The problem of drugs on the PGA Tour is bigger than you think
In casting blame for the PGA Tour’s lax and clandestine drug testing and reporting procedures, most seem to paint the Tour’s executives as lone bogeyman.
However, the problem runs deeper. We’ll start with the report from the mahogany-panelled locker rooms of the PGA Tour. Golf.com’s anonymous survey found that 84 percent of players aren’t concerned their peers are taking PEDs that are undetectable through a urine test. Not surprisingly based on this information, only 34 percent of players think the Tour should conduct blood testing.
And of course, only 40 percent of players think the Tour should publicize player disciplinary actions.
“They’ve got to protect our image,” one player said regarding the Tour’s policy of remaining mum.
What’s the takeaway here for players on the PGA Tour? In the immortal words of Scott Pollard, “Do drugs, kids!” But really, from a non-performance-enhancing standpoint, it’s pretty clear the Tour isn’t going to spill the beans if a player does test positive for a banned recreational substance.
Consider, of course, the absurdity surrounding Dustin Johnson’s “leave of absence,” widely believed to be necessitated by a failed drug test. And from a performance-enhancing perspective, when you have Gary Player saying things like he knows players are doping and Rory McIlroy saying he knows he could get away with it, you have a perception problem.
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The irony is, that in an effort to protect the integrity of the game, the PGA Tour actually undermines that very integrity by creating an environment where players could take drugs (perhaps undetected) without the public ever knowing.
How can it be the right move to assume people will assume there are no substance abusers simply because, what, that kind of thing doesn’t happen in golf? Without furnishing any evidence to the contrary, the Tour is banking on…the game’s glorious reputation?
Golf.com’s Pete Madden, after speaking with WADA Director General David Howman and USADA CEO Travis Tygart last year, wrote.
“The Tour’s drug-testing program was designed not so much to catch cheaters as to reassure sponsors that there are no cheaters to catch. The resulting program is too simple, too soft and too secretive to combat the increasingly sophisticated science of doping, according to top officials from WADA and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).”
This remains true. But as the recent anonymous survey shows, the bottleneck in policy reform isn’t just from the office dwellers in Ponte Vedra Beach. Plenty of resistance is coming from inside the ropes as well.