This week's Tour Confidential got me to read Pete Madden's excellent piece about Scott Stallings' PGA Tour drug policy violation.
Needless to say the breathtaking hypocrisy of Commissioner Tim Finchem, once opposed to drug testing, now personally notifying Stallings of his suspension in a weird New Orleans hearing, stands out. But so does the oddity of Stallings self-reporting instead of being caught by the tour lab, yet earning no special consideration. And there's the secrecy of violations such as Dustin Johnson's alleged suspension for use of recreational drugs, while a Stallings' case is made public.
This part is just creepy and pathetic that Finchem--vehemently opposed to drug testing at one time--personally dishing out the punishment that does not fit the crime:
The golfer reviewed his talking points in his head. He had made a mistake, but he also had immediately reported himself, as golfers are supposed to do, and apologized. Surely, the Tour would forgive him for acting hastily when his health was on the line. Finchem, he thought, would understand.
"I walk into a room, Finchem is there with a few other guys, and before my butt hits the seat, I'm handed a piece of paper telling me I was suspended for three months," Stallings recalled. "I was very much in shock."
The decision to make Stallings the newest member of the most exclusive club in golf had already been made. He joined Doug Barron, Vijay Singh and Bhavik Patel as the only players known to have run afoul of the Tour's Anti-Doping Program since its inception in 2008, his name forever etched on a public naughty list in perhaps the only sport that prizes integrity over success. That culture is so strong that golfers routinely add strokes to their scores for missteps both real and imagined rather than risk the perception that unfair advantages were gained over the field.
Gary Van Sickle summed up the reporting by Madden this way:
DHEA is a hormonal supplement you can buy off the rack at CVS. The fact that it is somehow illegal is ridiculous. It is not a PED. I took it for several years with the understanding that it helped middle-aged guys have the energy to keep moving and maybe lose weight. Not sure that worked. The Stallings case, like Shaun Micheel’s, shows how much the tour just can’t wait to crack down to prove how effective its drug policy is, even if it is unrelated to reality. Stallings got hosed; Micheel got hosed. The guys who went to rehab over the years—whoever they were—for substance abuse, they got nothing. It’s just not a level playing field.