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European Tour respond to drug claims

A top European Tour golf official said today there were no plans to have drug tests for players at upcoming events in Britain despite claims in two Spanish newspapers that some players were taking beta blockers.

The newspapers, which included Spain's well-respected daily El Pais, reported this week that a rash of withdrawals ahead of last week's French Open followed a letter from the European Tour advising of random drug tests at the tournament.

The papers said the withdrawals -- 150 players began the tournament instead of the 166 signed up -- indicated that some players were taking beta blockers and feared detection.

Beta blockers work by blocking the body's response to the high levels of stress-related hormones and could be helpful to steady the hands of golfers stroking crucial putts.

David Probyn, assistant director of tour operations and tournament director at this week's Benson and Hedges International, on Saturday said the list of withdrawals last week was not unusual.

Testing at the French Open were not carried out and Probyn said the intention to implement them stemmed from the French government's approach to drug testing in all sports following the 1998 Tour de France cycling scandal.

"I don't expect we'll be doing testing in Britain,'' Probyn said.





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