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October 03, 2013

Snedeker says PGA Tour should eliminate drug testing

Posted at 2:12 PM by Golf.com | Categories: Drugs in golf

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If Brandt Snedeker were running the PGA Tour, he says he'd put a fork in the Tour's anti-doping program.

"I would do away with drug testing in a heartbeat," the six-time PGA Tour winner said in the November issue of Golf Magazine. "It's a complete waste of time and money. I don't know if steroids are really going to help you hit a golf ball."

The Tour's drug policy came under scrutiny earlier this year after Vijay Singh admitted to using deer-antler spray, which contains IGF-1, an insulin-like growth factor that, at the time, was on the Tour's list of banned substances. The Tour investigated Singh then dropped the case when the World Anti-Doping Agency said that deer-antler spray was no longer prohibited because it contains only miniscule amounts of IGF-1. Singh consequently sued the Tour, alleging it relied on WADA's list of banned substances and methods without conducting its own research.

The Singh episode has led critics, including Greg Norman, to call for more stringent anti-doping measures in golf, specifically blood testing. IGF-1 (and other substances such as human growth hormone) cannot be detected in urine samples.

"You only have to look at what happened to Vijay Singh to know the drugs issue is there," Norman said.

Snedeker doesn't buy in to that thinking.

"We've had drug testing for almost six years on the PGA Tour and we've had two cases of people getting caught doing it," Snedeker said in the interview. "One of them was Doug Barron, who had low testosterone, who didn't go through the proper channels and ended up testing positive [for anabolic steroid testosterone and propranolol, a beta-blocker that calms nerves]. The other was Vijay Singh, who took deer-antler spray, which may or may not be a performance-enhancing drug."

Snedeker said he also finds little merit in the argument that Tour pros might be tempted to take substances to help settle their nerves or accelerate recovery time between injuries.

"I don't think it's ever been a problem in golf," he said of PED use. "I don't think it ever will be a problem in golf. The PGA Tour is different from football and every other sport in that we call penalties on ourselves. The worst thing you can be called in golf is a cheater. Trust me, if there's a guy that gets caught doing anything a couple of times, whether it be bending a rule, we know about it, and we let him know about it. You don't want to be labeled 'that guy.' "

Players have had mixed feelings about the Tour's drug program since its inception in 2008.

Rocco Mediate called drug testing in golf "the biggest joke in the history of the world."

"If you drink a protein shake, and it metabolizes wrong, you're done," he said.

Earlier this year, Chris DiMarco said drug testing is "the dumbest thing we do on Tour."

Among the pros who have voiced support of the program are Padraig Harrington, Jerry Kelly, and Joe Ogilvie.

"I'd like to say we're a little different in golf, but testing is something that's a necessary evil," Ogilvie told the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch earlier this season. "If everybody was Jack Nicklaus, we wouldn't have to drug test everyone, but everyone isn't."

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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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