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Golf sees no need for drug testing policy

Major League Baseball players began facing sanctions last year if they tested positive for illegal steroids. The NFL bans steroids and randomly tests its players. NBA rookies are tested up to four times a year, while veterans are subject to one random test during training camp.

The PGA Tour has no policy on steroids.

Nothing is in the works, because no one has found anything that would help a golfer's performance.

In fact, the only substance abuse policy on the PGA Tour books is a two-page statement from former commissioner Deane Beman in January 1992 that deals with recreational drugs, and alcohol as it relates to players' conduct.

"There is a lot of power involved in golf, but more so feel and touch," U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen said. "I don't know if somebody took steroids how that would affect the game. I don't think golf is that much a power sport as it is in other sports, like athletics or things like that, where there is such a small margin between the athletes."

The only thing golf has tested lately is hot drivers, and that lasted about a month.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he is comfortable with the tour's 13-year-old policy that makes no mention of performance-enhancing drugs. Not only has there been no evidence that steroids are an issue in golf, he said there has been nothing to indicate that the tour should waste time or money looking for such a drug.

"Some say we ought to test for drugs because all sports test and you want to know you're clean," Finchem said. "In a vacuum, I see how you can make that argument. But honestly ... I don't know what we'd be testing for."

And even if anyone discovered a steroid that would allow someone to hit the ball farther or make more putts, random testing would not be the first step.

Golf is built around honor, and that would apply to steroids.

Finchem said if research found there were performance-enhancing drugs for golf, the board would conduct research and decide whether to ban them. Even then, it would be up to the players not to use them.

"People talk about testing, but that's not the question. That might be a subsequent question," Finchem said. "The way you run golf is to pass a rule, and then you expect everyone to adhere to the rule. If we had reason to believe there was a violation, then we could resort to testing."

 

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