#AskLav: Drugs are bad ... so is the Tour's testing policy


Maybe Greg Norman was being kind when he called the PGA Tour's drug-testing policy 'disgraceful.'

Because just a few days after blasting the circuit's anti-doping practices, Vijay Singh was exonerated by the Tour even though the Big Fijian admitted to using a substance that at the time was on the banned list, which is no longer considered prohibited, which is still not to be used by any player, which has no reliable test for detection.

So, in other words, continue using the sprays and chips and beam rays and powder additives. They're legal but illegal. A peculiar precedent has been set, indeed.

The irony is rich in this case. Never overly chatty in front of a camera or recorder, Singh was expansive in January when asked by an SI reporter about a then-banned substance. The only words he's uttered since have been 'no comment.' Now, at age 50 and with only a few competitive seasons left on the big Tour, it wouldn't surprise if he never talked to the media again.

Fear not, there never is a dearth of words in this space, and not just because IGF-1 is approved for use. This week's #AskLav mailbag covers all the hot-button issues from a busy news week:

It's dangerously close to the embarrassing threshold. Basically, Singh escaped suspension because the product he was using was deemed to have little or noeffect by the World Anti-Doping Agency and has since been removed from its prohibited list. But clearly, the Big Fijian didn't agree. Why else would he say that he was 'looking forward to some change in my body,' according to the original SI report? Virtually nothing is stopping Tour players or mad scientists, holed up in some chemistry lab from seeking out the next great PED that can go largely undetected.

There's no reason he won't be a factor in the next two majors. Tiger may not even have to use driver at Merion, meaning he can bludgeon the 6,900-yard classic with long irons and fairway woods, a la Hoylake in '06. If he putts like did at Doral and Bay Hill or, put another way, unlike he did at Augusta then he should win at Merion. (If nothing else, he's the pre-tournament favorite.) Fortunately, he won't need to be as precise on the greens at Muirfield, where a superior ball-striking performance could give him the edge.

Unless Jim Justice makes it worthwhile for Woods you know, monetarily then it doesn't look promising for a return trip to West Virginia, especially after last year's MC. The AT&T likely will be his only event between the two Opens.

Different cases, all of them. DJ cited an irritated left wrist, which certainly seemsplausible, if you consider his (painful-looking) position at the top of theswing. Tiger's agent said that Woods merely wanted another week off after the Masters, per his usual schedule, but the chopped-up greens at Quail Hollow certainly helped make his decision easier. Poulter WD'd because of 'personal reasons,' which can be interpreted as his personal disdain for the putting surfaces in Charlotte.

Not if the players qualify on their own merit, as was the case with 12-year-old Ye Wocheng at this week's Volvo China Open. He shot 2 under in an open qualifier and earned one of the available spots. Good for him. Sponsor exemptions areanother story potentially, the pre-teens are taking a spot from another player who is trying to make a living. But that's the beauty of unrestricted sponsor exemptions. The tournament can invite whomever it wants. And besides, the 14-year-old Guan Tianlang has held up pretty admirably against his older, wiser and 'more talented' peers, no?

Great question. Only twice (2003, '11) in the last 12 years has the winning score at the U.S. Open been lower than 4 under. But the weather will play more of a factor at Merion than at most venues. At 6,996 yards, the East Course's biggest defense is the precision it requires. And if it plays soft for four days, that challenge is markedly easier. Mike Davis went so far as to suggest that there could be an 18- to 20-shot difference between firm and soft condition. Yes,there will were be birdies lots of them. And Webb Simpson estimated there were nine wedge opportunities in the first 13 holes. But if it's firm and fast and crusty, the winning score could be around 4 under par. If not, the best guess here is around 10 under.