Professional golf is the latest sport to begin regulating the use of performance-enhancing drugs, as leaders from most major golf organizations this week reached a mutual consensus on an anti-doping policy.
The agreement itself has two separate parts. The first part will include the creation of a list of substances that will be prohibited. The next part of the plan will include “general standards of the fundamental elements of the anti-doping program”. The plan will be designed to allow tours the ability to create their specific testing and procedures respective of each independent organization. The estimated completion of the second phase will be in 2008.
In recent years, virtually all of the major professional sports leagues have grappled with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs, but the move is a bit surprising in the genteel confines of golf, a sport with such a restrict honor code system that players are expected to report their own infractions during a match. But, as tour prize and sponsorship money continues to grow, it is understandable why professional golf would want to clamp down on potential offenders before they arise.
Golf remains a very popular sport for ticket brokers, many of whom sell week-long or weekend packages around certain tournaments, such as The Masters. Legendary golfer Gary Player drew attention to the issue earlier this year when he said he believed there were tour professionals using performance-enhancing drugs.
Currently there are six golf organizations in agreement for the anti-doping policy: The Ladies Professional Golf Association, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, the European Tour, British Open and the U.S. Open. The plan includes a nationwide education policy for players.
The second phase of the policy, which should be completed by the end of next year, is currently a work in progress. This phase will include general standards of the fundamental elements of the anti-doping program. These standards provide flexibility for the tours to develop specific policies and procedures for their respective organization.
There are also reports that an anti-doping office will be created as a central resource in information sharing. Golf organizations can utilize the office as a means for correct protocol and instructions pertaining to the new doping ban.
The following is a list of the banned substances used for performance enhancement:
Enhancement of Oxygen agents
Physical Manipulation agents