Norman says 'lots of guys' were using beta blockers


In the wake of Charlie Beljan overcoming an apparent panic attack en route to winning last week at Disney, two-time major champion Greg Norman shared insight on steps players took to calm their nerves during his playing career.

'In my day, lots of guys were on beta blockers,' Norman explained in an interview with the New York Times at this year's PGA Championship. 'It wasn't openly acknowledged, but it was obvious to the rest of us. A guy's personality would change.'

Often prescribed to treat panic attacks or stage fright, beta blockers can provide other benefits to those in high-pressure situations - benefits to which Norman, 57, alluded in the interview, which was part of a report published Wednesday.

'In practice rounds or friendly matches, we'd see the real guy under stress. Then in competition, he was like a different, calmer person,' he explained. 'Those guys were trying to take the nerves out of the game.'

While constructing its anti-drug policy in 2008, the PGA Tour followed the examples of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and World Anti-Doping Agency, both of which include beta blockers on their list of banned substances for major sporting events like the Olympics. Beta blockers are similarly banned on the LPGA Tour.

'One of the many pharmacological uses of beta blockers is the steadying of hand tremors,' Andy Levinson, executive director of the PGA Tour's anti-doping program, explained in the report. 'Anything requiring fine motor skills could be affected, something necessary in sports like archery or golf.'

Following his victory at the season's final event, Beljan indicated that he would consult with physicians and could possibly receive medication to prevent future panic attacks, according to the report. He likely would not be allowed to take those medications during competition next year without applying for a therapeutic use exemption from the PGA Tour, which would require a review by an independent panel of doctors.