Los Angeles: Spain’s Sergio Garcia says doping is not a big problem in professional golf because performance-enhancing drugs are not as helpful in the game as in other sports.
The world No 14, who counts Spain’s 11-time Grand Slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal among his friends, was asked on Thursday at the US PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open what he thought of current calls in the tennis world for more stringent testing to keep their sport clean.
“Obviously, you can’t control everyone, but I feel like golf has always been in a good state when it comes down to that,” Garcia said. “It’s not the kind of sport that needs so much when it comes to enhancing drugs.”
Debate on how to counter doping has intensified in the wake of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s long-delayed admission last month that he used performance-enhancing drugs in all seven of his Tour de France victories.
Swiss great Roger Federer and Scotland’s Andy Murray are among the elite tennis players who have called for more blood doping tests in the sport.
Meanwhile, Nadal said this month that the names of those implicated in the ongoing ‘Operation Puerto’ trial into blood doping must be provided to clear the reputation of Spanish sport.
Garcia insisted the lure of doping remains greater in sports other than golf.
“Tennis is so much harder on the body than golf,” he said. “Tennis, I have the pleasure of playing tennis, obviously not professionally but even like that, if I play two or three times in a week I can feel it.”
But golf’s demands to hit the ball hard and accurately and maintain mental focus over four-hour rounds, with massive rewards at stake, could tempt some.
In 2007, nine-time major-winner Gary Player said he knew ‘for a fact’ that golfers were taking human growth hormone, creatine and steroids, and called for random drug-testing.
In November 2009, after urine testing was introduced on the PGA and European tours, America’s Doug Barron became the first golfer to be banned for taking a performance-enhancing drug.
Last month, Fiji’s Vijay Singh admitted using a deer antler spray that contains IGF-1, a hormone that can boost muscle growth that is banned by the PGA Tour.
Singh insisted he did not know the spray contained anything that contravened the tour’s anti-doping regulations and said he was cooperating with the tour’s investigation.