PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Golf begrudgingly joined the new world of sport Thursday when leaders from its most influential organizations signed off on an anti-doping policy with hopes of proving its players are clean.
Drug testing could begin as early as next spring, although details such as when to test and any penalties are still being worked out.
"But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a conference call with the leaders of six major golf organizations. "We are where we are given the way of the world. And I think it's a positive day for golf because we are together (and) we are spending a lot of energy to do it right."
It was a universal effort from the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association, Royal & Ancient Golf Club, Augusta National Golf Club and the PGA of America, meaning the policy ultimately would cover golf at the highest level all over the world, including the four major championships.
Drug testing at the Masters likely would not start next year. Augusta National executive director Jim Armstrong said the Masters would watch what the other tours do before deciding how to proceed. Likewise, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said the British Open would be treated like any other week on the European Tour.
Finchem said the other major golf tours, such as South Africa and Japan, have signed off on the list of banned substances and have agreed to go along with the second phase of the policy, which will include medical waivers, testing, punishment and making sure that any player caught cheating on one tour would face penalties on all of them.
The LPGA Tour was the first to announce a drug policy in professional golf, which begins next year.
In amateur golf, the R&A and USGA did a sample test at the World Amateur Team Championship in South Africa late last year, and all 12 golfers came back clean.
"The R&A has no reason to believe that golf is anything other than a clean sport," Dawson said. "But we've been supportive of a coordinated international effort in golf to test for drugs so that we can demonstrate that our sport is clean and we can keep it that way."
The policy will be coordinated by the World Golf Foundation, comprised of leaders from major golf organizations.
Officials released a list of 10 classes of drugs that will be banned, which range from anabolic steroids to hormones to narcotics to beta blockers. PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said HGH was on the banned list. He said the entire list of banned drugs would not be released until the tour showed it to the players.