Garrigus: PGA Tour Should Remove Marijuana From Banned Substance List

After serving a three-month ban after going over the limit in his medical marijuana use, Robert Garrigus tells Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that the PGA Tour should consider removing marijuana from its banned substance list because it “doesn’t help you get the ball in the hole.”

Worth listening to if you have an interest in the Tour’s drug policy or the debate over what helps a player and what does not.

WADA Kills Rumors Of Positive Drug Test At The Ryder Cup

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Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch reports on the red-hot rumor mill that had players gossiping in recent weeks about a positive test result at the Ryder Cup. Lynch explains on the surprise (Bonjour!) test administered at the team hotels by France’s AFLD, still smarting from the Tour de France issues over the years.

Good news, everyone passed!

“All the results are in and there were no positive tests,” said Maggie Durand, a spokeswoman for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to which the French AFLD affiliate reported its findings. When asked about the method of testing, WADA confirmed it was urinalysis. And about the players tested?

In the event of a negative test, public disclosure is up to the athlete, WADA echoed.

But drug testing is golf’s third rail that no one wants to touch. That was apparent when I asked managers for every Ryder Cupper if their man had been tested. Even a clean slate of negative results didn’t encourage transparency among the tested.

But it was interesting to see who responded to Lynch about even being tested at all.

In the end, managers for just four of the 24 Ryder Cup players were willing to directly address the events of that Tuesday evening in Paris. Representatives for Tommy Fleetwood and Thorbjorn Olesen said that neither had been asked for a sample. Agents for Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter confirmed they were among the eight men tested.

Blood Testing (Finally) Comes To The PGA Tour

Rex Hoggard explains for GolfChannel.com how the PGA Tour's new blood testing will impact the players and perceptions of the sport.

 

Hoggard says most players he spoke to felt the time had arrived for this more complete program, an amazing shift compared to a decade ago when Tim Finchem was resisting testing and players generally declared golfers clean and therefore not needing testing of any kind.


This was interesting:

“Why can’t we do hair samples, because then you can actually trace further back?” asked Casey, who is also an amateur cyclist. “There are certain drugs that are flushed out of the system within a day or two days, hair actually holds that drug in the follicle longer.”

Golf’s return to the Olympics last year will ensure the game remains vigilant when it comes to testing and officials haven’t ruled out new tests as the science and doping evolves. But for now, the circuit is content with the new testing methods.
“There is a lot of alternative testing methods, including hair, but the efficiency of these tests is really not at a level that would warrant use in a sport anti-doping program at this time,” Levinson said. “Urine is the most effective method of detecting most of the substances we are looking for.”

Former WADA Chief On Golf: "There’s a problem there."

Moira Gordon quotes former WADA chief Dick Pound, hosting a lecture at Stirling University, explaining golf's attitude toward drug testing.

Long opposed by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, he recounted this conversation.

“We have all seen the shape changes in golfers and the distances they are hitting now and we know that the equipment is better and the balls are better but it isn’t just that,” said Pound, who recalled a conversation with the commissioner of the PGA Tour, Tim Finchem, stating that the sport which “has a great reputation for calling faults on yourself” could set an example to others by outing the cheats. But, the reply he received was disappointing. “He said: ‘Ah, but if I do that then they are all going to think my guys are just like those baseball players and football players and I don’t want that’. But if you follow some of the shape changes in the golfers and follow how, at a certain point, if they happen to come off them, you see how many more injuries they get. There’s a problem there.”

Vijay! "Singh's battle against the Tour comes into focus"

The lawyers are racking up big billable hours right now in Vijay vs The People Who Helped Make Me Rich, with the PGA Tour and the legendary golfer filing motions for a voluntary, non-binding dispute resolution hearing with a mediator.

As Rex Hoggard reports for GolfChannel.com, "the lawsuit reached a milestone last week with a flurry of filings," with over 130 filings posted to the public record with no shortage of redactions. Still, Hoggard was able to go through the filings to find some intriguing elements to the messy case brought by Singh.

There was this:

Some of the discovery offers a glimpse into the nuanced world of anti-doping, like an email exchange between Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications, and a golf writer from the Associated Press who asked, among other things, if deer antler spray was on the Tour’s list of banned substances.

Votaw responded that, yes, deer antler spray is on the Tour’s banned substances list, when in fact it is not. The substance IGF-1, an ingredient found in the spray, is on the banned list, but not the product itself. It’s a nuanced distinction but central to Singh’s claim that the Tour was negligent in its handling of his case.

And then in the TMI HOF files, there was this image of Jason Dufner in the men's room reading the tour's warning regarding use of deer antler spray.

“[Dufner] said it was accidental how he read it,” Singh said in the deposition. “He was sitting in a can having a you-know-what and it was laying on the floor so he picked it up, and he was surprised that it was on it.

“He said if he hadn’t been in the can at that moment in time, he’d have never known that it was [on the banned list].”

Many items were redacted according to Hoggard. Just not that one.

U.S. Anti Doping CEO: Tour Drug Policy Has Loopholes

As the world's top golfers are about to be subjected to more stringent drug testing in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Games, Rex Hoggard takes a comprehensive look at what players will experience.

The biggest changes: "Whereabouts Testing" that requires players to inform the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency where they will be for one hour a day, seven days a week.

USADA officials say a smartphone app will allow competitors to report their locations instantly, but the penalty for a missed test can be severe – three whereabouts testing “failures” will count as a positive test.

Also of note: blood testing. The only way to test HGH, the most likely substance that would be abused.

But regarding the PGA Tour's policy to date, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's Travis Tygart suggests the tour policy has loopholes.

“If you have the obligation to not give a sanction or to stick the file in the drawer and not go forward, I’m not in any way suggesting that’s what [the Tour] have done, but the policy allows for that. Without any accountability elsewhere it’s hard to know for sure,” Tygart told GolfChannel.com.

“We’ve certainly seen other high-profile sports, cycling in the past, where in ’99 with Lance Armstrong’s corticosteroid positive, that’s exactly what the sport did. After the report that just came out detailing that sad saga it was clear they did it because it was going to be harmful to them and to the sport.

“That’s the pressure and the tension that you have going back to the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s awfully difficult and in our experience impossible to both promote and police your sport because you have this inherent duty to make the brand look good and not have any bad news out there.”

Oh not our fox!