Doug Barron sues PGA Tour in federal court

By Rex HoggardNovember 13, 2009, 7:01 am

PGA TourDoug Barron, the first player to be suspended under the PGA Tour’s performance-enhancing drug policy on Nov. 2, has challenged his suspension and filed an immediate temporary restraining order that would allow him to play the second stage of Q-School next week and provide a possible legal avenue for him to play the Tour in 2010.

According to the complaint filed on Thursday in Shelby County Court in Memphis the prohibited substances Barron tested positive for under the circuit’s anti-doping policy, “were medications prescribed to him by his medical doctors for legitimate medical reasons.”

At the Tour’s request, the case has been moved to federal court in Memphis and will be heard at 9 a.m. (CT) on Friday.

Tour spokesman Ty Votaw was not immediately available for comment.

Doug Barron
Doug Barron was the first player suspended by the Tour under the doping policy. (Getty Images)

According to the 29-page complaint, Barron began taking beta blockers in 1987 when he was diagnosed at age 18 with mitral valve prolapse. In 2005, Barron was diagnosed with low testosterone and began taking monthly injections of testosterone. Both are prohibited substances under the circuit’s anti-doping policy which began in July 2008.

In October 2008, four months after the circuit began testing for PEDs, the Tour told Barron to begin weaning off the beta blockers and testosterone. On June 11 at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Barron’s only Tour event this year which he played on a sponsor exemption, he was selected for testing and tested positive for both substances.

A year before Barron was tested in Memphis he applied for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for both drugs, which the Tour denied in October 2008. Later that month commissioner Tim Finchem also denied Barron’s appeal.

One long-time official with the World Anti-Doping Agency who requested anonymity told TUEs for testosterone were extremely rare because the drug is considered, “the granddaddy of all performance-enhancing drugs.”

But according to Dr. Marco Pahor, a University of Florida researcher who studies the effects of low testosterone, normal levels of testosterone in males range from 300 to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter – although ranges vary from lab to lab based on statistical variations in the population and testing methodology – and Barron’s complaint maintains he tested as low as 78 nanograms per deciliter before beginning his injections.

Dr. Pahor also said when testosterone therapy is stopped normal symptoms – which include a drop in sex drive, changes in mood, an increase in body fat and a loss of muscle and bone strength – return within months.

Barron’s complaint maintains he began weaning off the beta blockers, dropping his doses from 160 milligrams to 40 milligrams in June, and he completely stopped taking them in July. He also stopped taking his monthly injections of testosterone in October 2008, although he told Tour officials he had a “single dose of exogenous (external) testosterone” in June 2009.

Barron’s doctors advised him it was not safe to stop taking the drugs “cold turkey” and he could suffer serious side effects as a result.

“He’s been taking (beta blockers) for 16 years,” said Art Horne, Barron’s agent. “His doctors tried to work through this with the Tour, but it’s dangerous to simply stop.”

The complaint also challenges the Tour’s contention Barron’s use of beta blockers and testosterone were performance enhancing.

Barron did not appeal his suspension, in part because the policy allows for a 45-day window to complete the appeal and that may have extended past next week’s Q-School and kept him from earning a 2010 Tour card.

The complaint also contends Finchem “made comments regarding the futility of an appeal . . . and that his punishment could be doubled if he appealed and lost.”

Barron is seeking unspecified “compensatory, punitive and other damages” for the suspension and last week’s press release which stated Barron had “violated the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy’s ban on the use of performance enhancing substances.”

“(The Tour) has unfairly singled (Barron) out and taken away his ability to support his family through his chosen profession for an entire year in an effort to show the world how tough it is on golfers who take banned substances,” the complaint reads.

Barron, who is in Houston preparing for the second stage of Q-School which begins Nov. 18, was not immediately available for comment.

Reaction to Barron’s suspension seemed to support the 40-year-old journeyman’s claim he was following doctors orders rather than trying to gain a competitive advantage through the use of PEDs.

“You could give me a list of 500 Tour players and I would not pick Doug Barron’s name off the list to be the first,” Brad Faxon said. “I was shocked.”

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.