with Robert Bicknell
The US PGA Tour hit Scott Stallings with a three-month doping suspension on Tuesday after he told officials he had inadvertently taken a supplement that was on the banned list. Stallings became only the third player punished since the tour adopted the anti-doping policy in 2008 and the 30-year-old is the first tournament winner to receive a suspension, of course, his win was four years ago.
Stallings, ranked 154th in the world, has missed the cut in seven of 12 events and finished outside the top 60 in four others since losing in a playoff at Torrey Pines in February while defending his most recent career title.
It wasn't intentional doping. He wasn't shooting himself in the butt with a hundred milligrams of testosterone every other day. Nope… He took a supplement on the recommendation of his physician due to chronic fatigue he had felt over a period of time, not in any way for performance enhancement, which contained a banned substance and didn't realize it.
He took the supplement for two months during which time he missed cuts.
Being a golfer who plays by the rules and calls penalties on himself, he turned himself in despite never failing a drug test and got whacked with a three month suspension.
Has it really come to this?
With all the controversy in sports regarding banned substances, it just stands to reason that eventually golf would come under the microscope. While testing has been going on since 2008, very few players have actually turned up a positive finding.
In a nutshell, professional golfers are partial to Cognac, cigars, fine wine, beer, whiskey and fine dining. They are family guys with kids anywhere from newborn to adult with kids of their own.
The only "Performance Enhancing Drugs" the older guys might take is Viagra, because, well...you know. Most golfers have a bad back…
Chances are, if a golfer runs afoul of the banned list, it was either inadvertent. He was smoking bananas or snorting his cornflakes. Yes, a few players got nailed for this one rather than PEDs.
In fact, if you look at a list of the Top 10 Steroid cheaters, you'd see the list is primarily baseball players, Track and Field athletes and cyclists. Not one golfer on the list.
Due to the popularity of Protein shakes, protein bars and other over the counter supplements available on the market, it seems that not all are created equal and some actually include items on the "banned list".
For example, if you get a protein powder "smoothie" from a gym, there is a good chance it contains DHEA, which is on the banned list, despite it being available over the counter at almost every health supplement store.
The problem isn't so much that professional golfers will stick their butt with 100mg of testosterone every three days, or shoot HGH (Human Growth Hormone) like a bodybuilder, professional football or baseball player. It's not like they are Jose Canseco or Barry Bonds or Hulk Hogan.
However, low doses of anabolic steroids do allow muscles to recover from stress faster. But by the same token, so does Creatine Monohydrate or L-Glutamine, both of which are available at your favorite gym or health food store and are perfectly legal.
Heck, a good bowl of pho will also help, as will fish, nuts, berries, fruits and carbohydrates. There is an entire medicine cabinet available in your refrigerator if you know what to look for.
So, what does the PGA Tour gain by subjecting the players to random testing? Golf is a game where you are required to call penalties on yourselves. Has the world become so cynical that they believe any top athlete must have cheated to get to the top in the first place?
In my view, leave the players alone unless someone shows up one year with 20kg of added muscle weight and veins popping out of his ears. On second thought, if someone shows up like that, forget it. He couldn't swing a club well enough to kill a fly, much less hit precision shots.
Bottom line, if you want to improve, take lessons and practice more. If you want better health, eat better and hit the gym. It's that simple.
If you want to see the list for yourself: