Sunday, July 22, 2007

Feet Dragging on Drug Testing

Gary Player's comments regarding illegal drug use in the golf world received predictable reactions in the golf community, from the typical this couldn't happen in golf (David Howell):
I was amazed by the comments. If there was one person in the world [taking drugs] I would be amazed. I'm shocked by his comments, but maybe I am naive. It's not even on the radar. I could be absolutely wrong, but of the people I know, no chance. I don't think we have a problem."

to lets shoot the messengeer (Reteif Goosen):
I don't know what Gary was trying to prove saying what he said. I'm actually very shocked at his comments. I don't know if he is trying to damage the sport, damage golf. He mustn't come and say 'I know of 10 guys taking drugs out there' and not say what it is. He might as well not have said anything.

Someone else noticed Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, who doesn't miss an opportunity to interject himself into any issue where drugs and athletes intersect:
It comes from one of the icons of golf who has no particular ax to grind out there now, other than to try to maintain the integrity of the sport. It's a wake-up call that has not come in such stark terms to date from the golf community. I don't know how widespread it is because there is no testing.
I have said: 'Look, this is your opportunity to lead, not to be forced to follow, so get on with it. The time is now. You should do this while you still have the initiative, rather than being forced into it as the result of a scandal. Then you are going to have the whole of golf regarded with suspicion. Do it now before there's a big public problem.

I am no fan of Dick Pound. I think his dream scenario is WADA officials being allowed to burst into any athlete's home at any time and take as much blood as they can. Due process is an obstacle to his goals. In short, he is an asshole. What the golf establishment is doing with their slow dance towards any type of drug testing is allowing an asshole to be right.

Imagine if the name of J.B. Holmes (because he hits the ball really far) or Fred Funk (because he is able to compete on a high level at an age where other players are on the Championship Tour) or David Duval (once elite player who has suddenly lost his way) comes up in a Balco-type investigation. The public opinion will turn from 'these guys aren't on the juice like the baseball players' to 'the WWE has a stronger testing regiment than the PGA Tour. Then, as baseball is learning currently, it is harder to gain the public trust back.

I'm sure Gary Player is right and someone playing golf somewhere in the world is using performance enhancers. It is in the golf establishments best interest to get off their inherent arrogance of how honest and true their players are and be the organizing party that catches that person, and not a member of the Orlando Sentinel or the FBI.

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