No Drug Testing

No Drugs

I was amazed to learn that there is no drug testing in professional golf!

As a newcomer to golf I just assumed that like most other international sports there would be random tests for performance enhancing substances – not so. Greg Norman the former world No1 recently brought the subject into the limelight insisting that the PGA should have a comprehensive drug testing program like any other sport. He accused PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem of having his head in the sand. Norman was quoted as saying “It’s been rumoured for over 20 years, players using outside substances to help their performances. If you’re playing for $5 million a week, you’ve got to take advantage of it the best you can” which quite honestly makes a lot of sense to me. It indicates that there is considerable scope for cheating (or is it cheating if there are no rules against it?).

In a recent interview Finchem dismissed the notion the Tour should institute drug testing to make sure performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids, are not being used. Not only that – but there is currently is no official tour list of banned performance-enhancing drugs! Again this is kind of mind blowing to me. The tour does forbid illegal drugs and prescription drugs used without a prescription but this means that you can legally use prescription beta blockers which help calm you nerves. Not to mention the fact that seeing as there is no testing regime you could be using a battery of steroids and designer drugs to improving your power driving…

Tiger Woods came out in favour of testing and said he was ready to be tested tomorrow. “Tomorrow would be fine with me,” Woods said. “I think we should be proactive rather than reactive. We should be out ahead of it and keep our sport as pure as can be.”

The counter arguement to testing that is being championed by golf purists such as Nick Faldo is that golf operates on a unique honour system. Players regularly penalise themselves for infringments of the rules (even when no one has witnessed the infringement). Therefore taking drugs to help enhance your performance would be the same as quietly kicking your ball out of the rough – which is simply not done. That appeals to me in a way, simply because there are so few things left in the world which are taken on honour. Mind you I’m not sure that this is a workable system. I suppose you could argue that testing would only lead to an escalation of the testing technology versus the illegal drug labs war that we see in most other pro sports.

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