Pernice: Drug Testing "for the future of the sport"

Paul Newberry follows up on the drug testing story with some interesting comments from Tom Pernice, followed by Tim Finchem doing his best impersonation of Bud Selig circa 1998.

But mindful of the scandals that have bedeviled baseball, cycling and track, Tom Pernice Jr. said he believes golf needs to send a clear signal that performance enhancers won't be tolerated. He said a detailed testing program, complete with a list of banned substances, is the only way to deliver that message.

"I think so, for the future of the sport more so than what's going on today," Pernice said. "We need to do it for the college and high-school kids."

He worries that many up-and-coming players will turn to drugs as a way to compete in a sport increasingly ruled by bigger, longer-hitting players, who often spend as much time in the weight room as on the driving range.

"The young people out there can see how important power has become," Pernice said. "The top five or 10 players are all long hitters who don't necessarily hit it very straight. Of course, they do other things very well, but the kids see the power."

Pernice conceded there are whispers in the locker room every time a player bulks up during the offseason.

"When people get bigger in a short period of time, it makes you wonder," Pernice said.

And this from Lance Armstrong's good buddy:
Dick Pound, leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he has heard it all before.

"It sounds like baseball, doesn't it?" he said when reached on his cell phone Wednesday. "If you look around golf, the shapes are changing from what they used to be. I'm not sure all this stuff is due to technology. Guys are working in gyms, and someone comes along and says, 'You should try this. It will build you up and make you get better faster.'"

Dawson said the R&A - which governs golf everywhere in the world except the United States - supports drug testing to put the sport in line with WADA's code and to keep performance-enhancing substances from creeping into the game.

Pound said he has discussed the issue with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who was reticent about a drug-testing program.

Since steroids are illegal without a prescription, Finchem doubts few players would take the risks inherent in using them.
Oh lordy. And I thought I was naive. 

But, he added, "I have authority from my board to require a test of any player who I have reason to believe, or our team has reason to believe, is using illegal steroids."

Finchem apparently bases that power on a broadly worded introduction to the players' handbook that governs conduct. It mentions situations from passing bad checks to maintaining a neat appearance - but nothing about drugs.

"In golf, a player is charged with following the rules," Finchem insisted. "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 our tour over the years, many players have, to their significant financial detriment.

"That," he added, "is the culture of the sport."