GREENSBORO — Not long ago, PGA Tour golfers would snarl at the sight of reporters wanting to discuss a poor round. That disdain is now directed at the tour’s drug testers.
On Thursday, after Ross Fisher shot a 64 to take a share of the Wyndham Championship lead, he was approached by tour officials. Before he addressed the media, he signed a waiver, then later gave a urine sample to comply with the tour’s drug-testing policy.
Chris DiMarco bogeyed his final hole Thursday for an even-par 70 and wasn’t really in a giving mood afterward.
"I had bogeyed 18, and I was a little frustrated,” DiMarco said of being chosen at random for a drug test. “I just think it’s the dumbest thing we do on tour. I think it’s the biggest waste of money ever.”
Even though tour officials say they will publicly reveal failed drug tests, DiMarco says that’s not the case.
"The problem with it is they test everybody, and if there’s a positive test they don’t tell anybody,” DiMarco said.
PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said by telephone from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., that there are on-going discussions about enhancing the accuracy of the testing.
The PGA Tour has performed random drug tests since July 2008, and the word random means just that. There’s no set number of golfers tested and no set schedule of tournaments at which the tests are performed.
"They come at any time after our rounds, so you don’t know,” DiMarco said.
Only Doug Barron has been penalized — he was suspended for a year in 2009 after testing positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker.
There also was some controversy earlier this year with the deer-antler spray that Vijay Singh admitted using, but Singh wasn’t punished.
Among the substances on the PGA Tour’s banned list are steroids, growth hormones, metabolic modulators, diuretics and other masking agents, stimulants, drugs of abuse and beta blockers.
DiMarco and another tour veteran, Scott Verplank, agree that the PGA Tour had no choice but to follow the lead of other major sports in testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
"It’s just kind of the way it is,” Verplank said. “To me, it’s sad that golf would have to drug-test. If there are guys that play professional golf and are taking stuff, then they shouldn’t be playing professional golf. It’s kind of a shame that we have to even do drug testing.”
But Verplank also said that because of advancements in the development of PEDs, a blood test is the best way to uncover cheating.
"If you are going to drug test, take blood,” Verplank said. “Don’t pee in a cup; let’s do it right…. It’s always a hassle, I know that.”
Votaw said there’s no proof that blood testing is as accurate for HGH, adding: "We feel comfortable right now with our testing process, but we will continue to look at it."