EVER since I took my meds this morning, I’ve felt strangely qualified to serve up some expert opinion on drugs in sports. Of course, that might just be the drugs talking, but it seems to me that for centuries, some of our greatest minds (and apparently bodies) have been influenced by the kinds of herbs and vices that make human growth hormone look like a vitamin supplement. Thou dost take issue with that view? Perhaps thou hast forgotten that Shakespeare, Byron and Shelley were opium fiends, Charlie Parker chased more dragons than St. George, and Elvis went tits-up on the growler because narcotics make you feel like there’s a 50-pound pineapple stuck in your doggie-door.
She Who Must Be Obeyed says I have no business commenting on drug use in sports because when I was playing I was usually so hungover that they’d have had to jackhammer the floor around the toilet to get enough urine for a sample. That woman is a hoot, but it’s clear a decision must be made on drug testing in golf, and the trick will be isolating the substances that do actually enhance a golfer’s performance (let me know if you find one). The last thing we need is to bundle in some of the stuff that’ll get you and your pole vaulted out of the Olympics, like cough medicine and bum ointment. Though now that I think of it, the simple ball diameter ring used by the Tour could be adapted to check for steroid use. Every player would be measured at the start of the season, and if at any time they slipped through on a random field-check, out they’d go. If nothing else, TV numbers would soar. “OK, Tiger, turn your head and cough.”
Moving right along, the idea of drug testing is a conundrum, the solution to which I am clearly not smart enough to know. However, I do test positive for knowledge that we shouldn’t involve the World Anti-Doping Agency, which I shall henceforth refer to as the WAD of A.
The head of the WAD of A is a guy named — and I swear I’m not making this up — Dick Pound. You’d think as the head of such an organization, Dick could his keep his sausage-hole puckered until an athlete has been found either innocent or guilty, but this Dick is for hanging before the trial. He has even cast aspersions in the direction of Lance Armstrong, who with one plum (and who has never definitively tested positive for anything other than courage and character) is clearly a man worth a thousand Dicks.
The code of the WAD of A states that in order to be illegal, a substance must meet two of the following three criteria: (1) It is performance-enhancing; (2) It is a health risk; (3) It is against the “spirit” of t h e sport. Well, my tiny brain is having difficulty separating one and three, to the extent that nipping off No. 2 seems like it would help. Alcohol and tobacco are a much more terrifying health risk than some of the substances prohibited, yet in the Tour de France Lance Armstrong could have filled his water bottle with Chateau Latour and crossed the finish line smoking a massive stogie and still have been legal.
H.G. Wells once said that moral indignation is jealousy with a halo. In an interview with Wired magazine, Dick Pound recalled Floyd Landis’s nickname as “Roid Floyd,” and then covered his slime track with, “I repeat it as hearsay only.” Landis’s case is pending as I write, but whether he’s guilty or innocent, I can’t help but wonder if Pound isn’t compensating for something? Most critics have one thing in common — they weren’t good enough to do it themselves. Turns out Dick Pound was a swimmer who competed for Canada at the 1960 Rome Olympics and finished just out of the medals twice. Word was he didn’t have the right stuff (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Of course, I repeat that as hearsay only. Golf needs to be protected from cheats, and, just as importantly, from people like Dick Pound.