Newspaper article International New York Times

Golfers Adjust to Drug Tests for Olympics ; the Antidoping Program Is More Invasive Than What Golfers Face on Tour

Newspaper article International New York Times

Golfers Adjust to Drug Tests for Olympics ; the Antidoping Program Is More Invasive Than What Golfers Face on Tour

Article excerpt

In advance of golf's return to the Olympics next year in Rio de Janeiro, the antidoping program golfers are set to join is less predictable and more invasive.

After closing with a 62 at the Tournament of Champions this month, Chris Kirk showed up at the site of his next start and learned he had been randomly selected for out-of-competition testing as part of the PGA Tour's antidoping program.

The timing prompted Kirk, tongue in cheek, to post on Twitter: "Like clockwork, tie course record on Monday, drug test on Wednesday."

On Saturday, after his round at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., Kirk said he was happy with "any and all drug testing." All golfers with gold medal aspirations should feel that way, because the antidoping program they are set to join is considerably less predictable and more invasive.

In advance of golf's return to the Olympics next year in Rio de Janeiro, the golfers will be under the aegis of the World Anti- Doping Agency. The agency operates its testing program much differently from what golfers, especially those from the United States, have come to expect. Consider Kirk, whose first exposure to drug testing, he said, was during his freshman year at the University of Georgia. Describing the N.C.A.A. protocol, he said, "They'd notify you the afternoon before, and you had to be there the next morning at 6 a.m. to give a sample."

Kirk graduated to the program on the PGA Tour, in which players are targeted at tour sites. If they give urine samples on the Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of a normal tournament week, that is considered out-of-competition testing.

Once under the Olympic umbrella, the golfers will be subject to unannounced testing at any time, including their off weeks. Brandt Snedeker, who has been critical of the tour's antidoping program, said: "The tour used to say they'd do that. It never really came to fruition."

Speaking after his Saturday round at the Humana Challenge, Snedeker added, "I think it's something that every golfer is going to be a little shocked when it actually does happen."

As part of the Olympic antidoping program, golfers will have to provide the antidoping agency with a daily one-hour window of availability, listing when and where drug testers can find them, no matter where in the world they happen to be. …

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