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PGA of America Unveils Drug Testing Strategy

Professional golf moved a step closer to the unanimity on drug testing it will need if next year's bid to become part of the 2016 Olympic Games is to be successful Wednesday when the PGA of America said it will follow the testing protocol adopted by the World Golf Foundation at this year's PGA Championship and Ryder Cup. At a meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on Monday the WGF discussed a strategic plan for a preliminary presentation it is going to make to the International Olympic Committee May 26 at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In its announcement Wednesday, the PGA said it has adopted the PGA Tour's Substance and Methods List, calling it the Prohibited Substance List, and will use it as a condition of competition for the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills GC and that it will be incorporated into the Captain's Agreement for the Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour and the European Tour plan to begin drug testing in July. The LPGA Tour began in February but it has had only one test, which the tour said after the fact was a trial run and then changed agencies running the testing program.

The most significant holdout on testing is the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which said last month it was delaying its planned drug testing at this year's British Open until next year. "We played a leading role in the development of a policy of which we are very proud," said the R&A's chief executive, Peter Dawson. "But it is very important that players understand what it is about and given that quite a number of players do not play on the PGA or European Tours we decided that it will not start at the Open this year." The British paper The Guardian said Dawson was concerned that the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour in Africa were not totally in line with the policies of the other tours. Dawson said testing will begin at next year's championship.

Proponents of efforts to get golf into the Olympics, which most everyone associated with the game feels would be the most significant grow-the-game initiative ever, point to three factors as reasons they are optimistic this bid will be successful: 1) With the PGA Tour now on board the IOC will feel there is no obstacle to prevent the best players in the world from participating; 2) The emergence of world-class players from traditionally non-golf countries like Mexico and India will make it easier to sell golf to the IOC; and 3) Bringing drug testing in line with the other sports will be absolutely necessary to get the game in the Olympics.

-- Ron Sirak