On Monday the PGA Tour announced the first player to get caught breaking its anti-doping policy. Doug Barron (aka Who?), a 40-year-old journeyman who competed full-time on the Nationwide Tour this year, has received a one-year suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Little information has been released (surprise), but Barron issued an apology:
I would like to apologize for any negative perception of the TOUR or its players resulting from my suspension. I want my fellow TOUR members and the fans to know that I did not intend to gain an unfair competitive advantage or enhance my performance while on TOUR.
So, he’s claiming it was unintentional? That’s a tough sell.
While this news might seem shocking, it was really inevitable. These days the stakes have gotten higher — there’s more money on the line, more talent and competition than ever before, and perhaps more notable, the course setups increasingly favor those that hit the long ball.
Damon Hack penned a piece in ‘06 questioning whether golf could stand the test against PEDs. He interviewed several players, including Joe Ogivlie. Here’s his take:
We market the long ball, We market the guys who hit it 300 yards. […] Golf is all about length, and the U.S.G.A., the P.G.A. of America and, to a certain extent, the PGA Tour are perpetuating it by blindly lengthening every golf course.
Barron averaged 277 yards off the tee this season — which would qualify him as one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour. The temptation to gain an edge is becoming tougher to resist — particularly for guys, like Barron, struggling to either keep or earn their cards.