Deterrence has always been secondary to the principal objective of drug-testing programs, which is to expose scofflaws, but its importance cannot be overstated.
How can tour players who might be considering a chemical assist to their cause not be deterred in the aftermath of the PGA Tour's revelation on Monday that it had found its first scofflaw, Doug Barron?
Obscurity probably does not accurately portray his standing in professional golf in recent years, so invisible had he become. He last made a cut on the PGA Tour in 2006. He played four Nationwide Tour events in 2009 and missed the cut in all four. He's never won a tour event.
Yet when the PGA Tour announced that he had failed a drug test and had been suspended for a year, his obscurity instantly gave way to notoriety. A check of his name on Google News, which prior to Monday would have turned up zero mentions, revealed 545 mentions, including these from international news sites:
"American Barron banned for doping by PGA Tour" -- Reuters.
"PGA Tour player banned for doping" -- CNN.
Imagine the reaction had an established, known player failed a drug test and received a suspension. If that isn't a deterrence, nothing is.
-- John Strege