News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

June 23, 2007

On and off the course: Golf close to instituting a drug-testing policy

TERRE HAUTE — Tim Finchem, commissioner of the PGA tour, said recently that the tour is getting close to instituting a drug-testing policy. This is a change of tune from what he said in March of 2006.

“We see no reason to jump into the testing arena at this point without having any credible information that we have issues,” Finchem was quoted in a recent column by espn.com’s Jason Sobel. “In golf, a player is charged with following the rules. He can’t kick his ball in the rough, and he can’t take steroids. We rely on the players to call rules on themselves, and if you look at out tour over the years, many players have, to their significant financial detriment. That’s the culture of the sport.”

With more emphasis on power in golf now, pro golf would be naive to think that no golfer would try using steroids to get that extra 20 yards. Both the LPGA and the European tours have instituted drug testing in an attempt to curtail a potential problem before it could affect scoring on the course. The PGA, though slower on the uptake, also wants to prevent any problems before they happen, but the main reason for the about-face on the issue is because of the support of the players. Joe Durant, who is one of four players on the tour’s policy board has a realistic outlook: “It’s obviously permeated every other sport. Right now, I don’t think it’s an issue, but you can’t just bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s going to go away.”

Stewart Cink wants to initiate testing in order to make sure that his sport keeps up with other professional leagues. “If other sports are testing and we want to consider ourselves to be one of the top professional leagues, which we are, then we have to test,” he said.

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