Stallings suspended by Tour for violating drug policy

By Rex HoggardJuly 7, 2015, 7:45 pm

Scott Stallings has become the third player suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the circuit’s anti-doping policy and he began serving a 90-day suspension on Tuesday.

The three-time Tour winner never failed a drug test, but after suffering from fatigue and being advised by his doctor to take DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour, he realized he’d violated the policy and turned himself in which is tantamount to a positive test under the anti-doping program.

 “Whether I intended to or not, I took something that wasn’t allowed. I called a penalty on myself, that’s the best way to look at it,” Stallings told “I did it immediately, so much so it took [the Tour official] by surprise.”

The Tour released a statement on Tuesday announcing only the violation, the length of the suspension and that he self-reported the infraction and released a joint statement, which is the circuit’s policy when it comes to violations involving performance-enhancing drugs.

DHEA can be purchased over the counter at most health food stores and can lead to elevated testosterone levels, a “red flag” used by testers to detect doping.

But Stallings took a drug test at the Humana Challenge while he was still taking DHEA and did not produce a positive test, according to a letter sent to Stallings from Andy Levinson, the Tour’s vice president of tournament administration and anti-doping.

In September 2014, Stallings’ doctor Raye-Anne Ayo administered multiple blood tests and, according to a statement provided to the Tour, found his testosterone levels “sub-optimal.” Dr. Ayo recommended Stallings start taking 25 mg of DHEA each day “if it was permissible by the Tour.”

“I’d been feeling like crap for two months, I have a 2-year-old son and I was sleeping as much as he was,” Stallings said.

The 30-year-old said he never checked the Tour’s prohibited substance list beforehand and took the supplement for about two months.

At a player meeting at the Farmers Insurance Open in early February officials outlined the Tour’s anti-doping policy and the need for continued vigilance as golf moves closer to inclusion in the 2016 Olympics. After that meeting, Stallings became concerned he may have violated the policy and called the Tour.

“I turned myself in immediately [Feb. 10],” he said.

On March 23, the Tour notified Stallings that he had violated the anti-doping program, which the circuit initiated in 2008.

Doug Barron was suspended for one year in 2009 after testing positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor.

In 2013, Vijay Singh was originally suspended by the Tour after admitting to using deer-antler spray, which contains IGF-1 and is banned by the anti-doping policy. But the Tour reversed its decision after the World Anti-Doping Agency refined its ruling on the use of IGF-1.

In January, Bhavik Patel, a Tour player, also received a one-year suspension for taking an undisclosed substance and said in a statement he made a “lapse of judgment” to recover from an injury.

Stallings’ suspension – which will not include any other sanctions or fines – will end on Oct. 4, a day before Patel’s one-year ban concludes, and will make him eligible to play the 2015-16 season-opening Open (Oct. 15-18).

Stallings has 19 starts this season on Tour, including a tie for 67th place at last week’s Greenbrier Classic, and is currently 101st on the FedEx Cup point list. He is fully exempt to play the Tour next season via his 2014 victory at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Stallings said doctors continue to administer tests to discover the cause for his lack of energy and he plans to be busy the next three months despite the suspension.

“Get healthy,” he said, noting he has four doctor’s appointments this week. “I’m going to really try to make the rest of my life and the rest of my body work as best it can. I’m never going to get this time again in my career, so I’m just going to enjoy this time with my friends and family.”

Stallings said he didn’t intend to gain a competitive advantage by using DHEA and admitted that the issue has been a distraction on the course this season.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently,” he said, “but I made a mistake and I owned up to it.”

Here is a timeline of events:

  • Sept. 23, 2014: Scott Stallings’ doctor, Raye-Anne Ayo, recommends the three-time PGA Tour winner take 25mg of DHEA a day to help combat fatigue, which was possibly caused by a testosterone level that was “sub-optimal”
  • Dec. 15, 2014: Stallings begins taking DHEA
  • Jan. 23, 2015: Stallings is administered a drug test while playing the Humana Challenge, which produces no positive results
  • Feb. 10, 2015: After a player meeting at the Farmers Insurance Open, Stallings informs Tour officials he has been taking DHEA
  • March 23, 2015: The Tour notifies Stallings he has violated the circuit’s anti-doping program
  • July 7, 2015: The Tour announces Stallings has been suspended for 90 days for violating the anti-doping program
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.