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LPGA to start drugs testing

Cristie Kerr's eyes lit up when she considered how her emotions would react if given the chance to win $1 million at the ADT Championship.

"You'd be not human or on beta-blockers to not react to that -- which they're going to test for now," Kerr said.

Indeed, drug testing is coming to pro golf.

The LPGA Tour said it will begin testing players for performance-enhancers in 2008, a move that makes it the first major golf tour to announce a drug-testing program.

Specifics of the testing plan will be worked up over the next six to nine months, said LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens. The tour plans to announce the program details, including testing methods and banned substances, in the second half of the 2007 season.

"While we have no evidence to date that any of our players are using performance-enhancing drugs, we need to have a very clear policy and a program in place," Bivens said. "We want to take a proactive role."

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour said Wednesday that its board this week authorized the tour to develop a list of prohibited substances and to create an education program that would inform players about banned substances, how they might get into the body, the health risks, the nature of any potential testing and possible penalties.

Currently, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has the authority to impose drug testing at his discretion, but he has said there has not been any evidence of drug use that would cause him to do that.

"We need more than somebody just saying, 'Why don't you go test and make sure?"' he said in August.

Tiger Woods is among PGA Tour players who believe there should be drug testing.

Annika Sorenstam, the top-ranked women's player, said she had no problem with the LPGA's plan, yet added that it's "sad that we have to have testing."

"Golf is not like other sports," said Sorenstam, who was tested as a college player. "I believe in this sport. I believe in the people out here. ... I don't think you're going to see anything out here, so it might be a waste of time. But if it's peace of mind for people and if we need to prove that the LPGA's clean, then let's do it."

Kerr added that testing would protect "the honor of the game."

"If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about," Kerr said.

The European Tour is working on a policy that chief executive George O'Grady said will be effective "in the near future." Players at last month's World Amateur Team Championships in South Africa were tested, and other tests have been held at events in France and Portugal, O'Grady said.

The LPGA will work to develop the new policy with the National Center for Drug Free Sport, which also manages testing programs for the NCAA and other organizations.

"We recognize the concerns regarding drug use in sport and the need to have a clear policy and program in place," Bivens said.

November 21, 2006

 




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