Truth & Rumors: PGA Tour to ban Nicotine?

Tuesday September 20th, 2011

PEDs, or Performance Enhancing Drugs (steroids, human growth hormone, etc.), have made a major impact on a variety of professional and amateur sports in the last couple of decades (a very conservative estimate), including professional baseball, cycling, football, and the Olympics. But with the exception of the Doug Barron incident and an odd outburst by Gary Player, PEDs haven't really made a lot of news in golf as of yet. Regardless, the PGA Tour has taken serious steps to prevent the problems suffered by other sports by adopting testing for both recreational and performance enhancing substances (since '08) and accepting most of the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) list of banned substances and procedures. 
The newest and possibly most surprising development on the PED front is a probe by WADA into Nicotine as a potential peformance enhancing drug. The testing, which is based in WADA's laboratory in Switzerland, has examined use of tobacco products by athletes in over 40 different sports.

“It is not WADA’s intention to target smokers, rather to monitor the effects nicotine can have on performance when taken in oral tobacco products such as snus,” Terence O’Rorke, a spokesman for the WADA, wrote to Golfweek in an email. “The sole purpose (of including nicotine on the monitoring list) is to collect data on the potential abuse of nicotine as a performance enhancer.”
 Like baseball players and many other professional athletes, golfers are not shy about using tobacco products, both on and off the job, and a ban on such products would affect a significant number of Tour members, none of whom seem to excited about a potential ban. 
Former U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover is a regular user of smokeless tobacco and described the discussion as "crazy." 
“If you’re going to do that, you might as well outlaw drinking, too,” he said. “Alcohol is a drug, as is nicotine. I mean, if you really wanted to get down to it, caffeine is a stimulant, too.”
 Spencer Levine, who smokes on the course during tournaments, thinks a ban would be nearly impossible. 
“Half the guys out here dip,” Levin said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen because you can buy it in a store. I mean, if anybody else goes to work at a 9-to-5 job, they get a cigarette break, and guys chew in an office if they dip.”
The good news for the many smokers and dippers on Tour is that, according to Ty Votaw, the Tour's executive vp of communications and international affairs, a ban on tobacco products isn't likely to happen in the near future. 
“If WADA put nicotine on its anti-doping list, the PGA Tour would review the addition and determine if it warranted inclusion on the current PGA Tour banned list,” said Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications and international affairs. “However, we do not believe that such a change in imminent.”
FRED COUPLES COMPARES TIGER TO TOM BRADY, SORT OF Everyone loves Freddie for his style, swing, talent, and occasional Yogi-isms. Yet lately Couples has come under a bit of scrutiny for his decision, after waffling a bit, to give Tiger on of his President Cup captain's picks, regardless of the former no. 1 player in the world's lack of form and precipitous drop in the world rankings. In response to the seemingly well deserved criticism, Couples compared Tiger to Patirot's quarterback Tom Brady in a way that only he can understand
"At the end of the year, if [Woods is] the No. 1 quarterback for your team, and some other quarterback comes in there and leads you in the playoffs and you’re healthy, Tom Brady is the guy that is going to then take over after he’s been out six weeks with an injury," Couples told reporters on a conference call after Brady’s Pats had dispatched the San Diego Chargers, 35-21. "That’s the way I looked at it with Tiger."
OK, I guess we understand what Couples is saying - Tiger is still Tiger, he's just coming off an injury. And a huge sex scandal. And another injury. And a swing change. But clearly Freddie is trying, in his own way, to tell all the players vying for a President's Cup pick that there's only one spot open. 
"I'm picking [Tiger]...for sure, so I just decided to let everyone know that they were really playing for one spot," Couples said. "I felt it was justified to my team, also, that anyone outside of the Top‑10, they were fighting for one spot."
In regard to who Captain Couples is leaning toward for his second pick, it seems the the obvious young guns are at the top of his list. 
"I think Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas and probably Keegan Bradley are the three leaders in this three‑ring circus right now to be the 12th guy," Couples said. "Brandt Snedeker has [been] playing incredible golf and Bill Haas has, too. "And of course, Keegan Bradley has won twice this year, including a major," Couples noted. "He fought hard playing Saturday and Sunday here, and his name is right there." 
TWEETS OF THE DAY: 
 ParkerMcLachlin RT @TheDailyShow: Happy 15th anniversary to @FoxNews. Wait, @FoxNews is a 15-year-old? That explains so much!
 IanJamesPoulter Great win by @alexisthompson ! Now she’s trying to get her 2012 LPGA Tour Card, join @cobragolf campaign to #LetLexiPlay
IanJamesPoulter Work done on the range sone good testing. Lunch going down well hope it doesn't show it's face again. I'm in the gym in 20 minutes.

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