MIAMI: Blood tests for doping will begin next season on the US PGA Tour, commissioner Jay Monahan said with the circuit adopting World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned lists and methods.
Monahan detailed revisions to the tour anti-doping program that was established in 2008, changes that will start in October when the new 2017-18 campaign starts.
Revisions approved by the tour policy board adopt WADA protocols and blood tests and include the reporting of suspensions related to recreational drug use.
“While we are extremely pleased with the implementation and results of the PGA Tour anti-doping program to date, we believe these changes to our program 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,” Monahan said.
The tour will also launch a comprehensive education program to ensure that all players understand changes to the testing procedures, the banned substance list and the adjudication process before next season.
Blood tests will be added to protocol but urine tests will remain the predominant method to obtain samples. Some banned substances are best detected by blood tests, including Human Growth Hormone, which had been banned even though no blood test program was in place.
Golfers who competed in last year’s Rio Olympics underwent blood testing with no issues.
The PGA Tour banned substance list had been slightly different from WADA’s list, mainly in areas of asthma medications, allergy and anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids and pseudoephedrine over a designated threshold level.
While not signing onto the WADA code or required to consult with WADA on a list of prohibited substances, the tour said consistency with WADA allows golfers only one global list to follow for Olympic and other international competitions.
The tour has had a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) program, allowing players with medical conditions to use banned substances as prescribed by physicians and under the advisement of the TUE committee.
Three new categories of medication will be implemented for the TUE program beginning with the 2017-2018 season to allow for the adoption of the WADA list.
Starting next season, any suspension for recreational or performance-enhancing drugs will be made public. Once the process is complete, the tour will issue a statement naming the player, the length of the ban and whether or not the suspension is for a performance-enhancing substance or recreational drug.
Under the current system, violations for recreational drugs, or drugs of abuse, are handled under tour regulations for conduct unbecoming a professional with such matters not being made public. That has kept such violations confidential but raised suspicions over certain absences by players for lengthy periods of time.