Yesterday I noted Doug Barron's media mini-crusade and the ramifications for the PGA Tour in not responding. The talk continued today with a new piece filed by Tim Rosaforte, who addresses the miraculous coincidence that Barron, in a dispute with the tour over his condition, just happened to be tested the one week he got into a PGA Tour event.
Barron admits he did not tell the tour's testers in Memphis that he had taken a shot of testosterone two weeks before the tournament, but he says he did admit to being on Beta Blockers. "When I went in I didn't think it was a witch hunt. I thought I was being proactive," he said.
The St. Jude was his only PGA Tour event of the season, and he missed the cut. Five months later, there are questions as to, Why Doug Barron? Why was he tested at his only tour appearance of the year? But there are no simple answers. Meanwhile, Leslie wonders, "If one of the tour's top players tested positive, would they have zero tolerance for that?"
Rich Young, an attorney for the tour in the Barron case, said the tour wouldn't discriminate. "Once you get a positive test for a Beta Blocker or testosterone, you've got to go forward with it regardless of who it is," Young said. A tour spokesperson added that Barron was randomly selected for testing in Memphis.
This might be more believable if there was a transparent system tied to the drug testing. But as we know, positive tests for illegal stuff like marijuana remain private (you know, because it's not performance enhancing according to the tour).
Steve Elling touched on this earlier in the week:
Plenty of rumors have circulated this year about positive tests -- Barron's attorney offered no names or first-hand knowledge to support his claim -- but if the case continues in court, the tour could be asked to give an account. Earlier this season at the one-year anniversary of testing, tour commissioner Tim Finchem said that while no positive tests for steroids had turned up, he did not deny that players had tested positive for recreational drugs.
The tour has repeatedly declined to name those players and Finchem, in a jarring conflict of interest that has been decried several times, has complete latitude to dispense punishment for recreational-drug use as he sees fit. In other words, he can do next to nothing and nobody but the offending player would know the nature of the sanction. The tour has never announced fines for disciplinary actions, another frequent point of criticism.
Ironically the tour's credibility may be taking a from its own website coverage. They reported Barron's loss in court in a detail-rich 70-word story (that's almost Tweetable!), but the November archive page does not include a news report about his suit or request to play second stage of Q-school, prompting the AP's Doug Ferguson to Tweet:
And as I noted in not neutralizing this with some honest PGATour.com coverage or pushback to Barron's claims, questions like this from Rosaforte are going to keep Barron's story alive and well:
But now with Barron left out on an island, fending for himself, another familiar issue has been raised: Do tour players need a union? Some wonder if, at the end of this battle, the PGA Tour may wish it hadn't suspended Barron. They wonder if the Doug Barron case might not develop into a public relations debacle to rival the Casey Martin case.
And as with Martin, the tour may have underestimated the player in question. This is no John Daly.
Barron is resolute in taking this to the next legal level. Though he was denied the temporary restraining order, he and his legal team have taken enough positive signs from the ruling to believe they have a case. While he says tour commissioner Tim Finchem "couldn't have picked me out of a one-man lineup," he is decidedly more big picture than he is bitter.