Monday, January 25

The Troubling Case of Doug Barron

Doug Barron on Golf Channel in November.

I DIDN’T KNOW OF Doug Barron before he was suspended by the PGA Tour in November for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The 40-year-old journeyman hasn’t made much of a ripple on the Tour, especially in the last few years.

I was reminded of Barron when Ryan Ballengee of Waggle Room alerted me to his interview with Barron last week. Barron has an upcoming court date in his civil suit against the PGA Tour. He is suspended for one year from the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour and will compete on the eGolf Tour in 2010 to try to keep his game sharp.

Barron has been talking—to Ballengee and others, such as the Golf Channel early on. And what he says makes a lot of sense to me.

Barron tested positive for testosterone, something he has been taking for a few years because his testosterone levels are far below normal for a man his age. Barron has explained that, without treatments, it can be difficult to get out of bed. The treatments, according to Barron, weren’t to enhance performance. Rather, the testosterone injections were to bring him into a normal range so he could lead a healthy life.

If that’s true, then it sounds reasonable to me. Barron isn’t Mark McGwire jacking home runs with a beefed-up physique. He’s a journeyman who was making zero noise on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour. It’s hard for me to imagine how his testosterone treatments were giving him an advantage on the golf course.

Nor did Barron try to hide his testosterone usage. In fact, he twice applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption with the PGA Tour. He was turned down both times. PGA Tour player Shaun Micheel, however, was granted an exemption in 2005 for the same condition. Barron told Waggle Room that other players have also received an exemption from the Tour for treatments to reverse low testosterone levels, although he didn’t name names.

So, why Micheel and possibly others, but not Barron?

Don’t know. While Barron has been talking, the PGA Tour has been mostly silent. They’ll probably remain quiet with litigation pending. I don’t see how a civil suit and perception of unfairness can be good for anyone involved.

Barron did violate the policy. In his only PGA Tour appearance in 2009, the St. Jude Classic, he was subjected to random drug testing. Out of desperation, he received an injection a few weeks earlier, which produced a positive test result. Now he is paying the consequences.

In November, I wrote that I feel sorry for Doug Barron. I still feel sorry for him, and also can’t help but wonder if, in golf parlance, he got a bad ruling.

−The Armchair Golfer


Mike said...

Ironic, isn't it? The Tour supposedly started their drug program to prevent potential bad press about drug use.

Hasn't worked out quite the way they planned, has it? I'm sure this isn't the kind of drug problem they expected.

Average Golfer said...

Finchem's pariah.

George said...

Looks like another Casey Martin kind of case. You know, where in court it was proved that walking is an integral part of the game, except in those instances where the players would actually become fatigued from walking from a green to a next tee, and where therefore it really was an integral part of the game, and so the players were REQUIRED to ride in carts.

I say get rid of all those who use the advantages of modern science and technology to compete, and take away the records of those who did cheat in this way: Nicklaus, with a hip made of space-age metal; Micheel, who balanced his chemistry with man-made chemicals, and Tiger Woods, whose eyes were surgically altered so that his vision is better than human-perfect of 20/20.

Average Golfer said...

How about those that have had surgery with synthetic sutures George?

SnowBird said...

What ever happened to "for the love of the game"? High salaries and tournament winnings have made professional sports more about compensation then talent.

Miranda said...

I agree with most of what George said. I would add getting rid of high tech golf clubs and golf balls and golf shoes that give players an advantage in competition. Everyone said the new groove rules won't change anything because ball manufacturers have already improved the ball. Looks like a wholistic approach is needed to keep the game on the level and real.

And it really isn't right that Micheel got a pass and other people with the same condition didn't. That kind of ticks me off. Hope Barron wins millions in damages for being discriminated against.