x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Time for golf officials to step up PED prevention

US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem must either bench Vijay Singh or underscore the policy as the public relations window dressing, observes Steve Elling.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem resisted efforts for PED testing in professional golf until many of the sport's top players, such as Tiger Woods, said measures needed to be enacted.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem resisted efforts for PED testing in professional golf until many of the sport's top players, such as Tiger Woods, said measures needed to be enacted.

Talk about irony. Spotting dozens of deer running wild on the three courses used at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am is about as rare as spotting a seagull overhead or a sea lion frolicking in the Pacific.

As in, not at all.

According to reports, the US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was set to meet Vijay Singh, the former world No 1, yesterday at the famed California venue, where Singh is entered this week.

The substance of the discussion is a substance under discussion - the banned deer-antler spray Singh admitted to using, which by the broad protocols of Finchem's own doping policy, could result in a one-year ban for the 49-year-old Fijian.

However, underscoring both the holes in the testing and dictatorial latitude enjoyed by Finchem, he can commute any sentence as he sees fit. Unilaterally.

Finchem, who publicly decried the need for drug testing until a groundswell of players, led by Tiger Woods, suggested the sport's credibility needed it, finds himself at a crossroads. Already, unlike some other sports, the tour issues separate (and completely private) punishment for players testing positive for recreational drug use, which is debatable enough.

Worse, the tour's urine tests do not screen for many PEDs.

In the eyes of many, Finchem must either bench Singh and prove he has the fortitude to uphold the testing strictures, or underscore the policy as the public relations window dressing many believe it to be in the first place.

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