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Tim Finchem refuses to back drug testing

There is no evidence to warrant drug testing in golf, according to Tim Finchem, commissioner of America's PGA Tour.

Finchem was responding to reports that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club are working on a new drugs code, partly in response to Australian golfer Craig Parry's claims that there was widespread use of beta-blockers and partly because golf may soon become an Olympic sport. It had also been suggested that random testing of players, conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency, could begin later this year.

But Finchem said the matter had been raised twice in the past five or six years at meetings between the various heads of world golf though not recently.

"In neither case were we persuaded that the particular suggestions or comments that were made at those times indicated a need to make changes or policies," he said.

"We don't recognise a definable list of so-called performance enhancements in this sport. Nobody has yet to make a case that there is such an enhancement."

The theory is that Beta-blockers, a prescription drug that lowers the heart-rate and steadies the nerves, could help a player's putting stroke and have a general calming effect during high-pressure moments. Finchem said a number of players who had been prescribed Beta-blockers for various conditions had given them up because they impaired their performance rather than helped it.

"The conclusion was that it hurt their ability to play golf. The players who had prescriptions indicated they couldn't play very well with it and they discarded it," he said. "So we just haven't had any compelling data which tells us we should really spend a lot of energy and focus on it although, again, we keep our eyes open and wait for the medical community to continue to do their studies."

He said it was a different story with other sports. "It's different in the totally athletic endeavours of some of the other sports, I think, " he said. "But we do not feel at this juncture that this is a significant problem (for us)."


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