Drug Testing Begins for Tour Players

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

With much of the talk at Congressional Country Club still centering on the impact of Tiger Woods's absence from the AT&T National and the remainder of the golf season, yesterday quietly marked the first day the PGA Tour can test players for drugs.

Concerns regarding drug use and testing in golf have not been as intense as with baseball or football. In this case, creating an anti-doping program was a product of societal pressure.

"We recognize the possibility we could be wrong, but nothing has led us to believe we have an issue," Ty Votaw, an executive vice president of the tour, said in a telephone interview. "We are doing this more in response to the feelings the public, the media believe that unless you are testing for performance-enhancing drugs, there's no way you can know that you have a problem or don't."

The policy outlines that players will be randomly selected at tournament events or practice rounds, and sanctions for positive samples can include ineligibility for up to one year for a first violation, up to five years for a second violation and up to a lifetime ban for multiple violations.

"I think it's necessary, just to keep us up with the other sports in the world," PGA Tour player Steve Stricker said at a news conference. "I'm not concerned about it."

Tour veteran Fred Funk said players will have to be vigilant they are not taking supplements conflicting with the new regulations. As for performance-enhancing drugs, he does not expect many issues.

"I'd love to be accused of somebody that has been enhanced because I'm driving it so far all of the sudden," Funk said, "but that will never be the case."

A Special Day

During a week when the AT&T National will command attention locally, a small but significant outing took place at Chevy Chase Club yesterday.

Former tour pro and CBS golf analyst David Feherty hosted about 30 wounded war veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda for a day on the course -- "Feherty's Improvised Explosive Day of Golf."

Participants included golfer Tom Watson, comedian George Lopez and model Leeann Tweeden. High-ranking military officials, such as Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and retired Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caddied for the soldiers, many of whom wore prosthetic limbs.

Odierno, who will be taking over for Gen. David H. Petraeus as top U.S. commander in Iraq, caddied for his 29-year-old son, Anthony, an Army captain who lost his left arm Aug. 21, 2004, in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Baghdad.

Before heading to the first tee, Odierno said he wasn't sure how much help he would be reading greens or determining yardages. He said caddying was more about enjoying the father-son day, and to illustrate the point, he pulled from his pocket two cigars to be enjoyed later in the afternoon.

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