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Education the key to drugs testing policy

Kenny Perry is starting his 20th year on the PGA Tour and has seen just about everything. He has won nine times, played on four Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams and lost a playoff in a major in his home state.

Tuesday might have been the first time he really got nervous.

Perry and the rest of the players at the Buick Invitational spent part of their day in a mandatory meeting with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and administrators of the tour's new anti-doping policy. Testing begins July 8.

"It scared me a little bit, not knowing what's in some of that stuff," Perry said.

The tour has made drug experts available at every tournament starting with the Sony Open to educate players on the drug testing procedure and penalties, and everyone was sent a 40-page manual that includes seven pages of what is prohibited.

The message some players took from the meeting was to be careful with supplements.

Finchem has resisted an anti-doping policy for the last seven years, but golf finally agreed to a program as it became prevalent in other sports, with baseball getting most of the attention the past couple of years.

"But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point," Finchem said last fall when the plan was announced.

Tiger Woods, who said two years ago the tour should begin testing immediately, was in the morning session, but left without comment. Finchem also was not available to speak until Wednesday.

"Tim doesn't think someone is going to test positive for a performance-enhancing drug," Kevin Sutherland said. "I think he's more concerned about someone testing positive because he made a mistake. They really stressed supplements, knowing what's in them."

That's what got Perry's attention.

He said all he's ever taken are vitamins, and he'll give those a closer look. He also talked about a diet program he tried last year.

"I was taking protein shakes and a lot of vitamin B supplements," he said. "I've got to see what's in that stuff."

Sutherland and Perry said the tour's new cut policy that caused such a stink at the Sony Open never came up in the morning meeting, with the attention squarely on drug testing.

"He said it's something we have to do to comply with other sports," Perry said. "It's a shame the tour has got to spend $1.5 million for something I don't think we really need."

 

January 23, 2008




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