Bivens and Annikas Agent - COPIED

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Annika Sorenstam is busy these days with the details and final preparations for her wedding this month. One of the last things on her mind is the random drug test she had to take last November at the ADT Championship after the final round of her LPGA career.
 
But she was not happy about the test at the time. And the subsequent fall-out from the ensuing controversy raised several issues about the LPGAs testing policy
 
GolfChannel.com has since learned details of a long and pointed post-round conversation that took place later that same day between LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens and Sorenstams agent, Mark Steinberg.
 
Steinberg wasnt as upset as Sorenstams fianc, Mike McGee, who called the timing of the test pathetic, adding, I dont know what they (the LPGA) were trying to prove.
 
But Steinberg had a problem with the fact that Sorenstam was close to making the 36-hole cut at the season-ending ADT. There was an outside chance she could have landed in a playoff that day to determine the 16 players that advanced to the third round. And Steinberg made it clear to Bivens that the LPGA needed to reconsider at least one aspect of its drug policy: Forcing a player to produce a sample when that player might have more golf to play that day.
 
Drug testing has to have integrity, said Steinberg, who heads up the powerful golf division at IMG and also serves as Tiger Woods agent. But he communicated strongly to Bivens the need to exclude players from the testing area until it is clear their golf is done for the day.
 
Steinberg labeled his talks with Bivens constructive and said he was confident that the LPGA would at least take a look at this situation.
 
Any ADT testing the first two days of that event, Steinberg said, should have been done on Thursday (where there was no cut and no playoff) not Friday. Sorenstam wound up missing a playoff by two shots.
 
Steinberg is primarily a behind-the-scenes guy. He doesnt seek publicity. And he generally doesnt like being quoted. The latter is just one of the reasons why hes a perfect fit to represent Sorenstam and Woods, both of whom demand their private space.
 
But Steinbergs influence in the power corridors of mens and womens golf is immense. It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the LPGA wouldnt listen to Steinbergs suggestions.
 
If the LPGA does revise its testing policy in this regard, it could mean an end to random testing on Sundays. There is, after all, always the possibility of a playoff on the final day of any stroke-play event.
 
Im one who believes that its best to go by the system when it comes to drug testing, said Steinberg, who is on record as supporting random tests. Just dont test players, he said, who may need to play more on the day of a test.
 
Bivens, chose not to speak with GolfChannel.com for this story, deciding instead to let attorney Jill Pilgrim, who administrates the LPGAs drug-testing, answer questions.
 
Pilgrim said Wednesday the LPGAs drug-testing protocol already allows for discretion. For example, if a player finishes her round two hours before a playoff might begin, that player must agree, if asked, to be tested if her random number comes up. On the other hand, Pilgrim said, if a player is in the second-to-last group and the start of a playoff is just minutes away, that player would not be asked to be tested until the end of the competition.
 
We would never make a decision to delay a competition to wait for a drug test, Pilgrim said. We are reasonable people. We will always error on the side of being flexible.
 
But, she said, any athlete, given enough time, can flush illegal substances out of his or her system within hours. Pilgrims background is in track and field. And, she said, there were instances when sprinters were drug-tested between heats of sprints in order to protect the field and the integrity of the competition.
 
The 2008 season was the first in which random drug-testing was implemented on the LPGA. Many players were frustrated and/or confused by the policies.
 
Any feedback we get from players or persons like Mark (Steinberg) we evaluate on a weekly or annual basis, Pilgrim said. We welcome any feedback.
 

 
DALY FOLLOW-UP: As reported here earlier this week, John Dalys suspension has left the Transitions Championship (Mar. 19-22 in the Tampa area) without a marquee player who had already accepted a sponsors exemption.
 
The Bob Hope Chrysler Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer is about to announce its sponsors exemptions. And tournament director Mike Milthorpe told GolfChannel.com he hadnt received a request for an exemption from Daly and he hadnt decided yet whether to extend an exemption to Daly.
 
Now its a moot point. Dalys suspension isnt expected to be lifted until May at the earliest. Daly played the Hope last year on a sponsors exemption and Milthorpe said tournament officials were disappointed when Daly withdrew Saturday after opening rounds of 71-70-71.
 
In all, Daly either withdrew or missed the cut in 12 of the 17 events he entered on the PGA Tour last year. The question of whether he will be in demand when the suspension lifts is still unanswered. Transitions tournament director Gerald Goodman said earlier this week that Daly is still very popular and very much a draw at his event.
 
He may, Milthorpe said of Daly, be the cat with nine lives.
 
Or he may have worn out too many welcomes.
 

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