Diggin’ Deeper Into Doug Barron’s Drug Suspension

More than ten years into his career as a professional golfer, Doug Barron has become a household name. Too bad it’s because he was the first player to fail a PGA Tour drug test! But following the initial announcement, new information has been slow to come to light… until now.

First, it looks like Barron’s going to be sitting idle for a while one way or another. Barron’s lawyers submitted a request in federal court that would have allowed Barron to compete in a qualifying tournament in Houston, but the magistrate denied that motion.

Next was the revelation that Barron had twice asked the PGA for a therapeutic exemption and been denied. It seems Barron has suffered from low testosterone levels and may have had some issues with his heart, both of which required prescriptions for the male hormone testosterone and beta blockers to keep his conditions in check.

Unfortunately for Doug, both of those substances are banned by the PGA because they can increase strength, speed recovery, and reduce nervousness – all obviously able to assist a competitive golfer.

The PGA’s drug policy is matter-of-fact: each golfer is solely responsible for their own body and what substances go into it, so a positive test means a suspension. But now the question seems to be how serious was Barron’s situation, and should the PGA have granted the medical exemption for his prescribed treatment?

Before you make up your mind, let this Caveman cast your mind back to 2001 when certifiably disabled golfer Casey Martin had to fight his way all the way to the US Supreme Court before being allowed to ride in a golf cart. (Martin was diagnosed with a degenerative circulatory disorder of his right leg.) The PGA stood by its statement that using a cart would “fundamentally alter the game,” but the Supreme Court sided with Martin.

No doubt there will be even more evidence to consider in Barron’s case before too long, and this Caveman will do his best to keep you posted!


PS: Since I dusted off the Casey Martin case, I’d love to hear your opinion: Does walking fundamentally change the game of golf? And I wanna know if you walk or ride, especially if you’ve found you play much better doing one versus the other!

BONUS: Should Pros Have To Carry Their Own Clubs?

11 thoughts on “Diggin’ Deeper Into Doug Barron’s Drug Suspension

  • November 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Commit the crime, do the time. He knowingly put banned substances in his body and got caught. He asked for the exemption and they didn’t grant it. Suspension sounds about right. Harsh maybe, but rules are in place for a reason.

    And yes, I’ve found I play better when I walk. Keeps my muscles loose and gives me more time between shots to think about my next play, club selection. When we ride it seems like we’re always waiting on the tee box, anyway.

  • November 20, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I walk and pull a cart as often as possible for the exercise but do notice that my scores fail somewhat on the back nine especially when the terrain is real up and down. There must be something legal that this golfer could use that would take care of his problem. When the courts have to decide then it is involving government, and that just don’t work for anything i have ever seen.
    I’m sure that Casey could find another job as well that might now be exactly what he wants but then there are a lot of jobs i would take as well but might not be up to physically.
    Keep the courts off the courts

  • November 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Good for Mr. Barron! Right minded individuals have always been needed to right the flawed thinking of so called guardians of justice.
    Of course he ought to have been granted and exemption for the beta blockers if for no other reason than he was grandfathered in after 20 years!
    The testosterone “levels” ought have been the only consideration – not the substance itself – if the levels were higher than theraputical (normal) then he ought to be suspended – if the levels were in fact at a theraputical level then the PGA has done itself, it’s members, it’s fans and Mr.Barron an injustice in the name of “fair play”.
    That is what we are talking about by the way, just fair play.
    His fellow tour pros seem to feel that he ought to have an exemption or they are afraid to be critical of the “PGA” and pussyfoot around the question.
    There is an interesting situation too – the pros are afraid of the PGA – so much so that they cannot exercise free speech when it comes to PGA policy.
    Who ya gonna believe?

    Re: walking – carts are horrible cuz most riders are ignorant go-cart’ers – and carts destroy parts of the course over time with traffic or paved pathways.

  • November 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    As far a drugs go, I think anyone who can show proof that they are taking a prescription for life threating problems, should be exempt. The doctors should be checked out and if one is blowing smoke, they should be off limits to any player. I think this should apply to all sports. People take insulin and that’s not a problem. How can taking medicine for a heart problem be off limits. One cannot help that it might lend a little strength. Heck, if you have heart problems, you need a little extra strength to get through the day. What is really important is that each player needs to contact the PGA and tell them what is happening so everyone is on board. There has got to be a way that health issues can be handled correctly. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that when Tigers knee was worked on, had he taken something off limits, everyone would have discussed it and all would have been well. I wonder if Paul Azinger, you remember the guy who had cancer but wasn’t mentioned near as much as players with arm and leg boo boos, would be off the tour for drugs he had to take to save his life. Common sense is all that’s needed. Just everyday Common sense.
    Thank you,
    Steve Taylor

  • November 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Lets see, I think Fred Couples was quoted in John Feinsteins book, “it is easier to ride a cart then it is to walk 5 miles on hot sunny day. Personally, I try to walk as much as possible. Only ride when I play in an event where everyone rides. And I carry my bag as well. It is great mind clearing zen time that helps me play my best.”

  • November 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Jimbo, it shouldn’t be a crime for someone to do what he needs to do to maintain his health. Barron wasn’t looking for an advantage. He was just looking to be somewhat normal. Just because Barron (or Casey Martin, for that matter) wasn’t blessed with perfect health doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be able to pursue his livelihood. Low testosterone causes premature aging and poor sexual function. Put yourself in that position and see how you’d feel.

    Franklin, I have similar health issues, and there is no treatment other than what Barron is doing. It can be easily monitored to make sure the player isn’t using more than he should. The Tour gave Shaun Michael an exemption to use testosterone. Why couldn’t they grant one to Barron?

    As far as riding versus walking, the game is much better walking, as I have found out from being forced to ride due to health issues. The biggest problem is with the short game, as one is often forced to choose what one is going to chip with from the vantage point of the cart path, which often means grab the same wedge all the time and improvise.

  • November 21, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I ride or and I have walked my game seems the same except I finish quicker when I ride and I have to bad knees so riding is preferred my doctor has me on viacodin till I’m old enough for knee replacement. so if these drugs he took gives him a better quality of life so be it. But I wonder did he disclosed the drugs before hand.

  • November 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    you can bet if tiger had a medical problem that required the same meds the pga would look the other way.

  • November 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I love to walk with a foursome. We can all talk and have good time. You get to see the whole golf course, stay loose, & visualize your next shot better. I think we all score better walking but on those 105 degree July & August days it does take a little out of you on the back nine. Where do you draw the line on prescribed drugs that are legal. If they are not illegal by law then they should be allowed by all sports.


  • November 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I take ace inhibitors and my wife takes Beta blockers for heart issues. If his doctor prescribed it, and he had requested an exemption why wasn’t it granted? Others have requested and received exemptions (GolfWorld’s recent GolfSpin online article). Given he has been taking these drugs for several years it doesn’t have seemed to increase his winning abilities. I think the golf god wanna be’s at the PGA have picked a player to pull the NCAA’s trick of penalizing a middle/lower echelon team/player to put the fear of God in the rest of them…… my 2 cents……

    Walking doesn’t change the game that much for me. In my group it actually reduces the conversation and camaraderie most of the time since we seem to hit it fairly far apart…….and we’re 60 to 90 yards apart on our next attempt…….

  • July 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    sometimes, gambling problem is very very difficult to solve.;-*


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