The Trainers View of Drug Testing

By Rich LernerSeptember 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
Civil liberties lose 3 and 2 to suspicion in the new century, so Commissioner Tim Finchem really had little choice but to establish a drug testing program for the sport thats long favored a good hamburger over HGH.
 
Jeff Handler trains Mike Weir, owns fitness centers in New England, and has worked with athletes from other professional leagues.
 
Its not an issue in golf, but lets make it a dead issue he told me, adding that hes not sure where Gary Player was coming from with his recent insinuation that several players were juiced. I spent more time on PGA TOUR than any other sport and just have not seen any evidence of it.
 
I think theyre doing it to tell the world, hey were an honorable sport and if its there well find it, added Joey Diovisalvi, the trainer who helped Vijay Singh become the most prolific winner over the age of 40. I understand the statement theyre making but I dont think it affects golf.
 
Diovisalvi spent considerable time in the world of bodybuilding, where steroid use was rampant. He explained that golfers are built differently, and not just physically They certainly dont understand the complexity of anabolic steroid use.
 
Handler stated bluntly, These are powerful substances. Theyre no joke. Theyre very dangerous. Any time you mess with human body chemistry youre flirting with disaster long term.
 
I dont think there are enough players who would be brave enough to take the risk, said Diovisalvi.
 
And yet Handler admits that from recovery to inflammation control to regeneration of tissue to strength and power, they work.
 
Weve seen the evidence of that in baseball, football, track and field and cycling. Its more widespread than the public knows, said Handler.
 
Most golfers, certainly not all, but most, prefer the range over the rigorous workout, the plate of Buffalo wings over Pilates.
 
I cant get half the guys to get on a proper nutrition plan, lamented Diovisalvi. We have the smallest number of guys taking advantage of what we have to offer. Were struggling to get them off the range.
 
Handler concedes that steroids could give a golfer much greater potential to drive the ball longer and the ability to recover more quickly from nagging aches and pains over the course of a grinding season. But in general he adds that its not like a lineman in football getting run over and he needs to be heavier and stronger to compete. Its not as cut and dried in golf.
 
Could they hit the ball further? asks Diovisalvi rhetorically. Sure they could. But they could also rip muscles right off the bone. I dont know that theres a real benefit. Its not like a guy doing the shot put or an NFL lineman where its all about strength. Golfs about flexibility and creating more length as it relates to your muscles. Were trying to get these guys as functionally strong but not explosively strong as possible.
 
Just because youre stronger and a bigger framed person doesnt mean youll play better golf, offered Handler. Theres not a correlation like in football.
 
It is, however, reasonable to suppose theres a closer correlation to baseball in terms of hitting it hard and taking it deep. Handler played plenty of baseball and countered with this: True, bat speed is the key in hitting a baseball a long way and steroids could help in that regard. In golf its not quite that simple. In baseball you swing a bat and you dont really care where it goes. You just hope it goes a long ways. You simply want to hit it hard. In golf theres still the matter of hitting a fairway or hitting a green. In other words while length certainly helps, accuracy and finesse are also factors. And with an increase in size you could potentially decrease in flexibility and a golfer cant risk that.
 
In any event, if someone was using steroids, what would be a red flag for Handler? Tremendous muscle growth and body fat reduction in a short amount of time, he said. If theres a golfer who doesnt spend an awful lot of time in the gym and suddenly he has a change in physique that would be a red flag.
 
You dont need a panel of judges to see that Tiger Woods owns the best physique in golf. In the last decade hes added 30 pounds of sculpted muscle that allows him to very confidently wear the kind of fitted athletic shirts that most of us wouldnt be caught dead in.
 
Tiger works his butt off and he should get credit for that, emphasized Handler. Thats appropriate growth for the amount of work he puts in.
 
And Barry Bonds? Thats a little different, he said. Certain things like increased hat size would lead people to believe that, while at this point nothings been proven, the growth wasnt natural. He meets the criteria.
 
Handler pointed out that Mike Weirs put on 15 pounds in some five years and I can promise you hes experienced appropriate growth for the work he put in.
 
On Tiger, Diovisalvi said, he wasnt afraid to take some advice from intelligent people as to how a high level of fitness could benefit his game.
 
Controlling anxiety also helps. Thats why beta blockers would likely turn up in testing before steroids. Cortisone, used to mask pain, is another possibility.
 
Players will need to be informed. Their doctors will need to be informed. Aches and pains from the knees to the back to the elbow to the shoulder are common in golf.
 
If guys do test positive, it might be that ignorance was the culprit.
 
Still, greed remains a powerful force.
 
If I were playing for a million dollars every week Id want to know that everyone else was playing by the rules, Handler said.
 
Ultimately, neither trainer expects much to come of the initiative, least of all a baseball style blowup.
 
I think the medias applied pressure through all the coverage and maybe the TOURs being proactive, said Diovisalvi.
 
What are they going to find? Very little if anything at all, other than to say look we have to do this because thats what you do in the modern times.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.