Should golf be forced to comply with WADA doping regulations?

matthew-cohen
Subscriber

The 2016 Rio Olympics are still over a year away, but there are more and more calls for golf – which returns to the Games for the first time since 1904 – to become fully compliant with World Anti-Doping Agency standards.

Aerial view of 2016 Olympic village under construction, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 11, 2013.   AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOPHE SIMONCHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images

Count R&A chief Peter Dawson and IOC president Thomas Bach among those calling for the PGA Tour to fully comply with the World Anti Doping (WADA) drug policy leading up to and/or immediately following the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. President Bach also believes it’s best for a level playing field across all tours.

The PGA Tour’s current policy is to only disclose the player who’s violated the policy and the length of the suspension – not the banned substance that was used. Recreational drugs fall under the tour’s conduct code. The tour releases no information on that discipline.

WADA president Craig Reedie said that it would help if golf had just one policy – not a PGA Tour policy that all of a sudden changes for the 13 weeks leading into the Olympics, when players are subject to the Olympic drug code.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly good system that for 3 1/2 years you are under one system that isn’t seen to be compliant, and then for the last bit of the next year you are under a different system that is compliant,” Reedie said Saturday at St. Andrews. “I would really rather have people being compliant across the board so there is a completely level playing field. That is what we are trying to do.”

Only three players have been suspended under the anti-doping policy. The most recent was Scott Stallings, who told the tour he was unaware that an over-the-counter drug he was taking was on the banned substance list. Stallings is currently serving a three-month suspension.

How to adopt a uniform drug policy isn’t the only agenda item on the IOC’s to-do list. They’re also debating whether a team competition will be added for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Only individual medals will be awarded next year in Rio.

President Bach said whether a team competition is added for 2020 depends partly on the success of golf in Rio, and more on whether the IOC deems it worthy of adding golf medals.