No opposition as PGA players back anti-doping
Random drug testing goes into effect July 1. "The players think it's fine," one said.
SAN DIEGO - The PGA Tour's new anti-doping drug-testing policy goes into effect July 1, after which players could be handed a Dixie cup and asked to, well, you know.
Are they worried?
"The players think it's fine," Mike Weir, a former Masters champion, said this week at the U.S. Open. "There is no opposition that I've heard. Might as well do it."
Weir joins a long list of players who support the drug-testing policy, even if they say pro golf is completely clean. At the top of the list is Tiger Woods.
"I think we should be proactive instead of reactive," Woods said before the tour's policy was even announced last fall. "I just think we should be ahead of it and keep our sport as pure as can be. This is a great sport, and it's always been clean."
Phil Mickelson is right with him. "It will be very good for the game," Mickelson said when the policy was announced. "I would be shocked if a single person ever tested positive for drugs in the game of golf, but by having drug testing now, it will only enhance our image our sport as a self-policing, quality, ethical game."
Other players, such as Sean O'Hair, said the whole thing is a non-issue, at least among the players he knows. He said that they don't talk about it and that he doesn't suspect anyone of doping.
"They can test me for anything they want as long as they don't stick me with a needle," O'Hair said last fall, laughing.
The plan to implement random drug testing in golf, which many said was long overdue, was announced last September as a part of a cooperative effort of the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the PGA of America, Augusta National Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association.
Banned are recreational drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, plus performance-enhancing drugs and even some medications.
Early on, a few players joked that they would be fine under the new policy as long as the Tour did not test for beer or vodka. But on a more serious note, concerns have been raised that some players could run afoul of the policy for taking certain medications.
Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel, for instance, takes testosterone to make up for a natural shortage in his body. Under the policy, those players can apply to the Tour for a therapeutic- use exemption.
Other players, such as Mark Calcavecchia, have been forced to change medications.
"From what I saw, the little booklet, I had to make a switch," Calcavecchia, who takes medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, said after one of the Tour's informational meetings for players.
"According to what my doctor just told me, everything was fine, but I needed to back off the ibuprofen and things like that," Calcavecchia said. "Don't take them on tournament days, don't take them for the hell of it. When you're standing out here on the putting green and your back hurts, you don't need to start taking painkillers."