Gary Player created waves at the British Open Wednesday when the South African legend said he had personal knowledge that performance-enhancing drugs were in use on the PGA Tour.
Player said "it would not surprise me" if golfers tested positive for steroids. "I know there are golfers, some of them are doing [them]."
Player declined to name names, but his comments quickly made the rounds at Carnoustie.
Asked to comment, Tiger Woods said, "I haven't seen anything. This is the first I've heard of it."
Irish golfer Paul McGinley said he welcomed drug testing on the PGA Tour to reinforce to the world "just how clean our sport is."
Player's remarks come as PGA Tour officials have been slow to address the growing call for random drug testing on tour.
The LPGA Tour announced recently that it would soon institute a drug-testing policy, with a first-time violation of a drug test punished with nearly a year's suspension. The European PGA Tour has also announced that next year would usher in a new drug-testing policy.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has signaled that he too is considering implementing drug tests, but so far details are unclear.
Steroid scandals have rocked other sports in recent months. Germany has been dealing with a nearly three-month long scandal involving its top cycling team, Deutsche Telekom, which has had many members admit to using performance-enhancing drugs in the past (a DT rider tested positive for drugs at this year's Tour de France).
Here is what Player had to say to reporters.
Q. Going back to what you said about fitness, how would you compare the average Tour player's awareness about fitness now compared to when you started? As a follow-up to that, when the Tour starts testing for steroids next year, would it surprise you if a player tested positive?
GARY PLAYER: No, not at all. First of all, let me say that that's a wonderful question. This is a very interesting question because people only remember what's happening today. Unfortunately I've been through the mill, so I can make comparisons. One golf manufacturer said they're hitting the ball further today. He didn't want to admit the ball and the clubs hit the ball further. It's a fact that the ball goes 50 yards further today than when we played. It's a fact. He was reluctant to say it. He said, the reason they hit it further today is because they're stronger.
That is not true. If you take George Bayer, there isn't a man playing the Tour today that was stronger than George Bayer. Mike Souchak, there isn't a man stronger than him. I could give you players that are definitely stronger than the guys today, but the guys today are fitter.
Now, there's a vast difference between being strong and fit. I can name very few -- you know that Arnold Palmer, if he had an arm wrestle with Tiger Woods, I can tell you Arnold would put him down. He's the only man who picked up a gold bar in the history of our country. They told him, anybody who can pick up this gold bar can have it, and Arnold did it.
How about Jack Nicklaus? How about JC Snead? I can go through guys that were so strong, they were unbelievably strong. But today you're doing more aerobic exercises and they are fitter. The last part of your question --
Q. When the Tour tests for steroids, would it surprise you to find there are players who are using them?
GARY PLAYER:No, not surprise me because I know, I know that there are golfers, some of them are doing -- whether it's HGH, whether it's creatine or whether it's steroids, I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it.
And the greatest thing that The R&A, the USGA and the PGA can do is have tests at random. It's absolutely essential that we do that. We're dreaming if we think it's not going to come into golf.
You look at these rugby teams today, and I followed rugby all my life, it's so obvious what is happening. It would be interesting, they asked me last night, what percentage of athletes, men and women in the world are using one of those three enhancements. Let's put the word as enhancement. And I said I think 40 percent of athletes in the world.
I've changed my mind overnight; I think it's almost 50 to 60 percent of athletes in the world today. I'm not saying golfers, I'm saying just across the board with all sports.
Q. What do you think the number is in golf?
GARY PLAYER: Well, I'd be guessing. I'd be guessing. But I think it would be -- you want me to take a guess?
Q. A guess.
GARY PLAYER: I would say in the World Tour today, golfers around the world playing Tour, I would say there's ten guys taking something. I might be way out. Definitely not going to be lower, but might be a hell of a lot more. And I'm delighted to see that they're going to start having tests at random, if that's what they officially have decided.
Q. How do you know for a fact that there are people using enhancements, as you say?
GARY PLAYER: Because one guy told me. One guy told me and I took an oath prior to him telling me, and he told me and I won't tell you where, but he told me what he did and I could see this massive change in him and then -- and somebody else told me something that I also promised I wouldn't tell that verified others had done it.
Q. What enhancement do you think would help somebody in golf and how, just pure strength?
GARY PLAYER: You see, we don't know -- nobody really knows that. People like to profess that they know that. Every doctor that I go to, every single doctor that I go to says, Gary, you're shrinking. I said, I'm aware of that. It's an interesting thing, I went back, I did a Rolex day here about a month ago, and I went to the 14th -- I stopped on the 13th, but I went to the 14th and I hit this 3-wood and I said, how the hell did I ever reach that green into the wind? Because this is 40 years later.
And it made me realise how much stronger I was. And every doctor I go to, without fail, says, Gary, you must take HGH, human growth hormones, every single doctor. He said it will make your stronger, your skin will be thicker, because your skin starts to get scaly, your hair is stronger, your complexion will be better, you'll be more supple. How could I be more supple than I am, I'm very supple. He said you'll start hitting the ball 20 to 30 yards further.
I said really I've done everything I wanted to do in golf. I've got 20 grandchildren, I want to enjoy my life with them and I don't want to take it because I'm not sure what it will do to me.
Now yesterday, a friend of mine's son in America, his best friend, the coach told him to get on the stuff, human growth hormones. He got on to it, he says that this young man was having rages, he was irritable, he wanted to punch the wall. He said you could never see such a change in a human being's mannerisms.
It affects everybody differently. Who knows what it does.
If you look at Ben Johnson when he won the Olympics, if you saw the color of his eyes, we don't really know. It's all very well for someone to say get on that. We know what happened in Eastern Europe in the Olympics. We know what happened in cycling; they're admitting it now. They're admitting it. So what is it going to do to your health? But they all said in a survey, not so long ago, they said to athletes, if you could win a gold medal in the Olympic Games and you can live ten years or you didn't win a medal and you have the rest of your life, 80 percent said I'll take the gold medal and die in ten years.
I understand that because if you want something bad enough and dedicate your life to it, you want to achieve it. It's hard for a person on the street to understand that point of view. Me, I'd take the life. But I can look at the other side and I understand that.
We have to be careful about what is it doing to your health and what is it like down the road? Nobody knows. But that doesn't matter.
These guys, these athletes want to do so well. It's not prevalent in golf yet. It's prevalent in other sports, as we all know for a fact. But every doctor, that's the scary thing is that every doctor I go, it isn't one that says I think you should take it. It's every one, I would say in the last five years, nine different doctors, I've spoken to them and sat down on the subject and everyone said take it. They even take it in college now.
Transcripts provided by ASAP Sports.
July 18, 2007
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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