The PGA Tour is to introduce blood testing next season and will begin reporting suspensions related to abuse of recreational drugs after revising its anti-doping programme.
Another change will see the tour’s prohibited list relating to substances and methods aligned with that of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
“While we are extremely pleased with the implementation and results of the PGA Tour anti-doping programme to date, we believe that these changes to our programme are prudent in that they further our objectives of protecting the well-being of our members and better substantiate the integrity of golf as a clean sport,” said commissioner Jay Monahan.
The introduction of blood testing – in order to detect substances like Human Growth Hormone – and adopting WADA’s prohibited list have long been called for, as the PGA Tour’s own list has differed in three categories relating to asthma medications, allergy and anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids and pseudoephedrine over a designated threshold level.
Although the PGA Tour is not a signatory of the WADA code, a statement said “given the global nature of professional golf, consistency with the WADA list ensures professional golfers need to comply with just one list in competition around the world as well as in Olympic competition”.
The Tour will maintain a comprehensive Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) programme, which enables players with legitimate medical conditions to use prohibited substances as prescribed by their doctors and under the advisement of the TUE Committee.
Reporting of suspensions relating to performance enhancing substances have been part of the Tour’s protocol since the inception of the programme in 2008, but the addition of recreational drugs will see any guilty players, following an adjudication process, named along with the substance responsible for the violation and the length of their suspension.
Currently violations for drugs of abuse are handled under the PGA Tour tournament regulations as “conduct unbecoming a professional” and are confidential.