Pro golf tours need to test for steroids, other drugs
Posted: Tuesday August 15, 2006 11:58AM; Updated: Tuesday August 15, 2006 5:12PM
PGA commissioner Tim Finchem thinks every Tour player would submit to drug testing -- if there was a plan in place.
One of the most ridiculous quotes I've seen in a while appeared Monday in The New York Times, when PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, after acknowledging that his sport doesn't test for performance-enhancing drugs, went on to brag, "If we did test, we would not fool around. We would test aggressively and effectively.... There would be no hesitation on the part of the players. I would predict 100 percent participation."
Would you? Want to bet, Mr. Commish? You're already fooling around by having no drug-testing policy in place. Finchem sounds like the dictator of a banana republic, assuring a skeptical world that if his country held elections he'd win in a landslide. Why not back up those self-serving words?
It reminded me of an interview I conducted late last summer with then-LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw. Like the PGA Tour, the LPGA doesn't test for performance-enhancing drugs, a laissez-faire position that puts golf at odds with the rest of the professional sports world.
"We're looking into whether or not we should have a drug-testing policy, but nothing is imminent," Votaw told me. "Our players want more research done. Which, if any, performance-enhancing drugs are golf-related? What else do you test for? Hard drugs? What's the overall purpose of testing? How intrusive should it be? It's a matter of degree. Cost is another issue. The more comprehensive the testing, the greater the cost. How do you pay for it? And do we even have a problem?"
Other sports addressed those questions years ago. Those that didn't -- baseball, take a bow -- suffered terrible public-relations consequences. Why professional golf has escaped the congressional scrutiny that professional team sports endured in the spring of 2005 is a mystery.