The Loop

Players Concerned After Drug-Testing Meeting

January 30, 2008

In preparation for its first foray into drug testing beginning July 1, the PGA Tour held two separate meetings last week before the Buick Invitational. Players were informed about details, prohibited substances and procedures. Several golfers voiced objections to the possible scenario of being examined in their homes, even during off-weeks. Inasmuch as the tour's policy was not collectively bargained, because golfers do not have a union, some think the scope of the system could constitute a violation of privacy.

"There is no question in my mind what they've done is not right," said Frank Lickliter II. "Not only did the tour ram this thing down our throats, they're telling us they can come knocking on my door on Christmas Eve and ask me for a urine sample. Are they kidding? They're passing that off as legal? I can tell you one thing for sure, if some inspector guy comes around with a cup in his hand, he's going to have a hard time getting on my property. And then he's going to have an even harder time getting off my property after I'm done with him."

Lickliter aired his complaint during the afternoon seminar attended by several dozen fellow pros. He said that later on, commissioner Tim Finchem told him not to worry. "Tim said even though it's written in the policy that they can test us anytime, anywhere, nobody will be coming to our houses," Lickliter went on. "Well, that's nice of Tim to tell me that while I'm still hot. Meanwhile, it's still there in black and white on a piece of paper that they can do whatever they want. This isn't like baseball, where the players have to approve whatever measures management tries to impose on them. They just threw this at us and told us, 'This is the new law.'"

Finchem said that drug testing is not his favorite pursuit, but "it unfortunately can't be avoided. This is part of the world of sports today. Testing by definition is a process that speaks to the notion that you don't believe a player when he says he's following the rule."

Finchem rued that such a mindset is "counter to the culture" of golf, where participants call penalties on themselves and therefore "something that's troubled me for a long time." Finchem concluded that drug testing as such will be "difficult for the players, and difficult for all of us as we get into that arena."

-- Bob Verdi