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PGA Tour Creates Anti-doping Policy

It took two years, but finally Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour have capitulated and come up with a drug testing policy. But it appears this is more wide-ranging than initially anticipated, with even organizations like the Canadian Tour signing on:

An Anti-Doping office of the World Golf Foundation will be created in 2008, and will, among duties, coordinate and share information with golf organizations with respect to medical waiver procedures and therapeutic use exemptions under the Policy. Disciplinary procedures and penalties for violations of the Policy will be controlled and administered by the signatories to the Policy, and disclosed to other signatory organizations for consistency and coordination purposes. Testing protocols will also be within the purview of the individual signatory organizations and will be developed and approved by each organization on an individual basis. It is anticipated that signatories who will be testing under the Policy will commence and activate their testing programs in 2008.

The organizations signing on include (I assume in alphebetical order):

Augusta National Golf Club

European Tour

Ladies Professional Golf Association

PGA of America

PGA TOUR

The R&A for The Open Championship

United States Golf Association for the U.S. Open, the U.S. Womens Open and the U.S. Senior Open

And other organizations that are apparently secondary:

Asian Tour

Australasian Tour

Canadian Tour

Japan Professional Golf Tour

Sunshine Tour

Tour de Las Americas

So what does this mean? Professional golf has trailed most other major sports in instituting any sort of policy. A lot of that has been due to the fact PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem simply didn’t want to acknowledge there was any chance someone in pro golf could be using performance enhancing drugs of any sort. Two years ago in Hamilton he chastised a reporter for even bringing up the issue. But once Tiger Woods came out in support of testing, it was hard to determine how Finchem could continue to say it didn’t need to be done:

“I don’t know when we could get that implemented,” Woods said. “Tomorrow would be fine with me. I think we should be proactive instead of reactive.”

But truthfully one wonders how proactive the tour has been. After all, Woods made those comments morethan a year ago and the PGA Tour is just now getting this together.

However, it must have taken some time to get all of golf’s main professional bodies to agree to one drug testing structure, so perhaps we should cut Finchem some slack there. Getting all of those organizations together must have been like herding cats.

One thing that is not mentioned directly in the press release is the penalty for those that fail the testing. The PGA Tour, for example, never discloses the terms of disciplinary actions it takes against its members. Will this continue to be the policy in terms of performance enhancing drugs? Will a player simply have to take six months off without anyone being told why?

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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