The PGA Tour announced June 20 it will be making significant improvements and changes to its Anti-Doping Program for the 2018-19 season to make the 10-year-old program more comprehensive and more transparent.
The biggest change to the program administration is that players will now be subject to blood testing, which will allow program officials to identify a broader list of performance-enhancing drugs that could not be identified alone with the current method of only capturing urine samples from players at randomized intervals. This could potentially identify substance like human-growth hormone (HGH) or IGF-1, the active ingredient in deer-antler spray, which was the main substance at the core of Vijay Singh’s five-year-long lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour will also be more transparent in announcing program violations, particularly for recreational drugs. Under the current Anti-Doping Program rules, the PGA Tour only announces positive drug tests for what are deemed performance-enhancing drugs. That will no longer be the case, now including potential test failures for drugs like marijuana and cocaine in the case of a related suspension or sanction. However, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan still has the discretion to not announce positive drug tests for recreational drugs if they don’t result in a suspension.
Further, the Tour will expand the list of substances that it considers performance-enhancing drugs, adopting the full list as put forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This means adding three categories of banned substances: asthma medications, allergy and anti-inflammatory medications, as well pseudoephedrine over a certain threshold.
This move would have been seen as a way to appease the International Olympic Committee ahead of a potential vote later in the year to keep golf in the Olympic program beyond 2020. However, with golf now included through at least 2024, this move can only bolster the sport’s chances beyond the next two Olympics.