According to a press release from the PGA Tour, brand-new anti-doping policies are to be implemented before the start of the 2018 season and the PGA is going to be working directly with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to make sure that these protocols are as advanced as any elsewhere around the world.
While most don’t think of professional golf – or golf in general, for that matter – as a sport where performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) would come to play, the truth of the matter is that professional golfers today are more athletic than they’ve ever been before – and many of them could play multiple other sports at the professional level and they are always looking for an edge and a serious advantage.
The PGA Tour has been pretty quiet about why they are making the move to new testing protocols in conjunction with different international standards, but a number of well-respected journalists and reporters that follow professional golf have been talking about a PED epidemic sweeping through the PGA Tour for some time now and it’s likely that the governing body of the sport wants to get ahead of these issues before they have a Major League Baseball like scandal on their hands.
Again, because of the stodgy reputation that professional golf has had compared to the other major sports around the world – but especially in the United States – a lot of the athletes scandals that would have otherwise been splashed all over the front pages of newspapers across the globe have been covered up pretty well when it comes to the PGA.
Superstar athletes like Dustin Johnson, a first-time Major winner recently, are able to skate by with serious drug issues that are pretty much swept right under the rug because of this lower profile – but the new interjection of amazing talent and record prize money amounts are forcing the PGA Tour to get ahead of this issue before it becomes something much more disastrous to the sport.
Under the current testing protocols no major professional golfer has been banned for performance-enhancing drug related issues, and the PGA Tour continues to hope that this will be the case moving forward. This is obviously part of why they have decided to announce the new protocols at least one year in advance, giving plenty of their world-class athletes the opportunity to clean up if they aren’t playing clean right now so as to avoid major black eyes in the sport going forward.
Interestingly, however, the PGA Tour only has influence over the golfers that participate in events throughout the United States. Other governing bodies take care of the testing protocols in Europe and all over the rest of the world, and many of these governing bodies have already taken advantage of the help provided by WADA to improve the testing protocols in golf.
Because so many golfers play in events all over the world and not just in the United States is likely that many of the top athletes in the sport have already been exposed to these intense performance-enhancing drug anti-doping protocols. This is especially true of any athletes that competed at the recent 2016 Olympics where biological passports were required for competition, and while some of the top 20 golfers in the world didn’t compete in these Olympics many did – which means their records are on file.
Athletes in every sport – including golf – will always look for any advantage they can find, especially when the prize money and the prestige is so lucrative for winners. Anti-doping protocols like the new anticipated PGA Tour protocols will go a long way towards curbing performance-enhancing drug use, but this is an ever evolving practice that will need to be revisited regularly.