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The PGA Drug Testing Scam

by Coach Stephen on

pga drug testing

The PGA drug testing procedures, have you heard about them?

Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) have been getting a lot of attention lately, and with good reason.  The Summer Olympics and the whole Lance Armstrong drama… just be glad this isn’t an issue in golf.

But wait a minute, Tour Professionals, take a piss in this cup… right NOW!

Many avid golf fans aren’t aware that the PGA started random drug testing for players back in 2008.  Since the policy has been implemented four years ago, there have been very few positive tests. That must mean that the Tours are “clean” and ensures a “level playing field”, right?

Not really.

In this post I’d like to share my insights into the world of PEDs, not from actual usage, but from numerous accounts from world class coaches who train world class athletes.  I’ll cover a few areas you may find interesting:

1) The shocking number of high level athletes that use some form of PEDs

2)  The different benefits of PEDs, and why golfers can benefit from using them in specific protocols

3) The absurdity of the way drug tests are conducted, and why a “clean” test only proves that you and your coaches aren’t idiots

I’ve had the privilege to intern with some of the greatest strength and conditioning coaches in the world.  These are the guys who have  Olympic medal totals from their athletes that number in the dozens.  I learned a lot from these experiences, including that I was totally naive to the widespread use of PEDs in elite competition, in almost every sport.  That was the real shocker, that a sport like tennis would have most of the professionals doping in some form or another (according to these coaches, who monitored the drug protocols closely with the “team pharmacist”, as it was relevant to the volume and intensity of  their training programs).

Why Would Tour Players Need Drugs?

You may be wondering why athletes like tennis players (or our favorite PGA Tour players) would use PEDs.  What would be the benefit to them?  This is the same question I asked these coaches.

After giving me a “you are so naive” eye-roll, they explained at length, how and why elite athletes use different types of PEDs.  I’ll spare you the eye-rolling and the lengthy monologue… here are the highlights:

There are a vast number of different PEDs, and athletes can use them for several reasons.  In tennis, there is real no off-season (this is the same reality for professional golf).

Also the sport has become far more “aggressive” in the past decade.  The players now use their entire body in every groundstroke, and their ability to sprint, stop and start has created substantial forces and stress on their bodies.  Of course, you have probably noticed the same trend in golf… nearly year-round play, and far more powerful swings.  So the number one way that certain PEDs would benefit these athletes is RECOVERY.

Yep, a golfer’s ability to recover from week after week of tournament play (which involves tremendous, repeated rotational power, and therefore stress on both the spinal and muscular systems of the body) is a major issue with the PGA Tour players.    That is not even taking into account the numerous other stressors these guys and gals face – traveling across time zones and the mental/emotional stress of competing at the highest level. Expediting your ability to recover from these stresses is a major advantage, meaning that you can train and compete more frequently.

But golfers don’t look like jacked up Bodybuilders, so how can they be doping with similar substances?

pga drug testing

Good question.

The answer:  It all depends on the amount of the PED used, and the type of training the athlete performs.  For example, a PGA Tour Player  may indeed use a testosterone substance similar to an NFL Player.  Because the goals are different (golfer wants to enhance recovery and get stronger/more powerful, without putting on a lot of muscle mass; while the football player needs to add 25 pounds of muscle in the off season), the amount of PEDs and type of training will be different.

Most of these drugs alone will not make you “bigger”.  It takes an intentional increase in  caloric consumption and specific forms of weight lifting that induce hypertrophy (bigger muscles).  When you combine those elements, you can indeed put on muscle size and strength.  But it is also possible to gain strength, and therefore power, without looking like a football player.  This is what a PGA Tour Player would do, if he were so inclined.

Let’s go back to the Olympics for a moment, because they use what are considered by most organizations to be the most strict and reliable drug tests for their athletes.  According to my numerous inside sources, this is nothing more than a brilliant marketing campaign.  The Olympic Committee wants you to believe that the games are clean, but in reality they need it to remain “dirty”.

Why?

Because if the Olympics were legitimately drug-free, you would rarely, if ever, see another Olympic or World record broken.  I know this sounds cynical.  I’m not making these statements just to get a rise out of some of you.  Rather, I’m just sharing what I have learned from numerous people “in the know”.  Most of the current records were set by athletes who were doping. To see them broken by truly drug-free athletes would be extremely unlikely.

So how do these coaches know that the Olympic Committee actually wants all athletes to have access to PEDs?

Another good question.

The answer:  They set it up to look like strenuous testing and enforcement,  but in reality only idiots get caught.  This is because they use what is called a “Stallion Sample”.  That simply means that they have a list of banned substances, and they test your blood to see if one of those substances is present.

But here’s the deal – it only takes a “team pharmacist” to slightly modify the molecular structure of the substance, and the athlete tests clean. All of the teams know the specific substances that are banned.  In fact, the Olympic Committee actually notifies them 8 years ahead of time, when they are going to add a substance to the banned list.  This is quite a buffer, and more than enough time to alter the PEDs enough to not show up.

Although it doesn’t happen often, there is one recent case where a world class athlete passed dozens of drug tests over many years, and later admitted to using PEDs to enhance her performance. Female sprinter Marion Jones won five medals in the 2000 Olympic Games, but forfeited them after her confession. Her team knew exactly how to use PEDs without getting caught, even with the gold standard testing procedures.  And in reality, so can any athlete with financial means.

 

OK, so how does this apply to our beloved sport?

The PGA Drug Testing Is A Scam

IN MY OPINION:

There are absolutely professional golfers on Tour now who are intentionally using PEDs to gain an advantage.  Heck, I wish Jim Furyk would have had access to some simple beta-blockers instead of that toxic 5-Hour sludge – he might have been able to close all three tournaments late in the season, including the Ryder Cup!  Just joking… sort of.

The fact that the PGA Tour chooses to use urine samples (by far the easiest to pass) is an indication that they only want a clean image, and are not at all serious about drug testing.

Most fans will believe the sport is clean because 1) they don’t understand how the drugs would benefit the golfers 2) Tour players don’t look like professional wrestlers and 3) they are led to believe that the low-level drug testing procedures the PGA has chosen to use are stringent.  One of my coaches commented on urine testing by saying “They should just ASK the athletes if  they are using drugs, it would be just as effective and save tons of money”.

Of course, we like to think of golf being a few honest steps above most other sports.  After all, we call penalties on ourselves, for crying out loud!

On the other hand, let’s get real.  This game creates multi-millionaires.  I’m sure there are some players who would never intentionally use PEDs.  But I would bet everything I own that the number of players who are willing to cross that line is getting larger every year.

So my big question for you – Does it really matter?  Should REAL steps be taken to create a drug-free Tour (not entirely possible, but the testing can be improved from the joke it is now)?

Do you want your favorite golfers to be drug-free, or would you be happy just semi-believing they are?

Or should should doping be allowed, for any athlete 18 years old and up?

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below, and Get After Old Man Par!

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