Friday, September 21, 2007

The drug policy press conference

The players...

Jim Armstrong, Augusta National
Carolyn Bivens , LPGA
Peter Dawson, R&A
David Fay, USGA
Tim Finchem , PGA Tour
George O'Grady , European Tour
Joe Steranka. PGA of America

Q. So spring of 2008, is that a realistic chance that drug testing will take place, say, the Masters or even earlier than that?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, the question of testing protocols with regard to each of these organizations is a function of a determination by the individual organizations. What I mean by that is that we will be recommending testing protocols which we think will have credibility that will be over the course of the year, etc. Now, whether or not Augusta National at the Masters wishes to have testing at all, or testing using PGA TOUR doping agencies or whatever is a determination that they have to make. And you know, I can't answer that question yet. I suspect that having conversations with and certainly these organizations, the USGA, the R&A, the PGA and Augusta National can speak; they are all on the phone. But my sense is that they are waiting to see what the testing protocol plan will be for the PGA TOUR before they determine whether, A, if it's in any way necessary; or B, it's desirable to include any kind of testing protocols the week of their tournaments.

Q. I guess we'll pose that question to Augusta National if there's a representative on the call.

JIM ARMSTRONG: Yeah, this is Jim Armstrong. As Tim said, this is all in development, the protocols, and we'll be looking at the entire issue, we'll be watching what the PGA TOUR and the other Tours do before determining just how we'll proceed.

Q. Tim, you just said that you'd begun the process of deciding what penalties for the PGA TOUR; can I ask George if it's the same with Europe?

GEORGE O'GRADY: We are well down the line on the recommendations, but as I said in other press conferences at the end of last year, we will do if all the world agrees, is far better than one side going off on its own. I think this is still a work in progress.

Q. Is the plan for random testing, after competition testing, everything that other sports do?

GEORGE O'GRADY: It's the whole full-scale policy. As I said before, this isn't some quick move and thinking as we go. This is the whole basis, well thought out and what we've got today is all sides agreeing and working together to make sure this is really a fully thought-out policy that we will all be on the same side of. We haven't got all of the answers today, but we are well down the road.

Q. We saw during the FedExCup how a lot of players didn't really focus in on a lot of the details and the whole ins and outs of it until too late or certainly later than you guys had wished. How do you avoid that happening again with this drug testing policy to make sure that all of the players get involved and understand completely exactly what is going to happen here?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, first of all, this is a different kind of subject matter. This is a subject matter that does relate to rules of the game from the standpoint of performance-enhancing drugs and the violation of which can trigger -- will be able to trigger significant penalties. So I don't think there's going to be -- we don't have too much concern about players focusing on it. However, we are not going to leave anything to chance and we will be out with consultants and have a multiple number of player meetings and consultation sessions, probably six or eight in the first couple of three months of the year. We will probably have consultants out with us to answer questions. We'll have a 24-hour consultation line for questions from players, their agents, their fitness trainers, etc. And we will not just be talking about the rules, the substances. We will educate players on how these substances can get into your body; things that you need to watch out for; as well as, of course, bringing them up to speed on what they could expect if they get to a tournament and we are doing testing. So it's a comprehensive effort. We are not going to just have a player meeting and 30 players come and call it a day. We will be out sitting down with players aggressively and we will have a lot of people involved in that process. We're just not going to leave anything to chance.

Q. If you don't mind me paraphrasing, you've always said that there was no evidence of any performance-enhancing drug use, and the honor system of golf, etc. All that said and wherever you are today, do you consider this a landmark day for golf or a sad day for golf?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think that as everybody else has spoken, it's a day where we are going to be proactive in light of the realities of what's happening in sport. But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point. But certainly the problems in other sports have created a growing perception among fans that athletes generally in many cases, in the minds of many fans who utilize substances that in other sports are banned. Now we don't ban substances in our sport, but when you combine that in the reality that for example, in the case of The European Tour, they have to undergo testing protocols because governments are requiring that they do; as does the LPGA in some instances, all of these things argue for moving forward. I think it doesn't mean we like it and it does mean we are concerned about shifting the culture of the sport from one where you know the rules and you play by the rules, and if you violate the rules, you call a penalty on yourself; to if you engage in testing, perhaps creating the specter that an organization doesn't trust what the player says, which is certainly not the case. So we are going to have to work hard on that point, but we are where we are given the way of the world and I think it's a positive day for golf because we are, A, together; B, we are spending a lot of energy to do it right. We are learning from watching what the other sports have done that in some cases have not been perhaps the right thing to do. It's taken them awhile to get it right, and we've been quite deliberate about where we're headed. And all of these things I think are positive. I think that's a positive message for the game.

Q. I was wondering if Peter Dawson, David Fay and Joe Steranka could weigh in. Are you going to sit back and see how it plays out with the testing on tours in the Europe and the U.S. before deciding on whether you'll test individually? Because obviously you have the autonomy to do that.

PETER DAWSON: It's Peter Dawson here first. As far as The Open Championship is concerned, we've taken a policy decision that The Open will fall into line with whatever drug testing regime the tours and specifically in our case, The European Tour, develops. So The Open Championship will be just as another week on Tour.

JOE STERANKA: Same for the PGA of America. We see the PGA TOUR carrying the biggest load and we plan to coordinate our activities to fall in line. We're supportive generally of announced testing, so that would mean that no single event would be known in advance that it would be a sight for testing.

Q. David, you have obviously the Men and Women's Open.

DAVID FAY: That's right. We'll be following very carefully the PGA TOUR policy, The European Tour policy because players in the Open, Senior Open come from various tours. And of course, we'll be working very closely with the LPGA for the U.S. Women's Open.

Q. But no plans to do any testing of your own?

DAVID FAY: No, not at this point. I think that as Joe said, the professional organizations have been taking the lead on this, and this second stage which will include the medical waiver procedures, the testing protocols, penalties and the like will be developed and we'll be taking our cue from that.

Q. If I could, one final question for George and Tim, do you guys have any idea what the approximation on cost is going to be for something like this on an annual basis?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, there's two levels of cost really. One is the administration of the program, including testing. And then the other is no sport has gotten into testing without litigation arising in some fashion or form, and that's a whole other level of cost, but we're not worrying about that right now. We anticipate, I think we've said this, but we're going to spend a million to a million and a half dollars a year most likely in that range, and the first two or three years, we're looking to pass that right now with respect to administering the program; it's not an inexpensive situation to get involved in.

GEORGE O'GRADY: And from our side, we've made an announcement what we're going to compute what the cost of every individual test is going to be, and you multiply that around; that's an easy one that you can quantify. The thing is, if we haven't got everything thought through and the education program to our players really has gone straightaway, we have no desire to spend the rest of our life living in a courtroom. So this is an education ensuring that the game is as clean as

Q. Joe, you have the club pros; David, you will qualifiers who could be from almost any background and not a member of a tour or college player where there is testing of college athletics. Are there any plans on what to do in the cases of qualifiers for your events who are not members of a professional tour?

JOE STERANKA: On behalf of the PGA of America, we'll be reviewing that with our board. We conduct not only the Championships, but host a number of tournaments at the national section and chapter level, and some amateur competitions, our Junior PGA Championship Series and Junior Ryder Cup and McGladrey Team Championship. So we see this as the banned substance list to becoming almost another rule of golf in which we'll administer tournaments, and then the protocol that we'll have in administering that throughout all of our competitions is yet to be determined and is something that we'll spend the rest of the year focusing on.

DAVID FAY: And that's pretty much our position, and talking about it with our board, we expect close to 9,000 to 10,000 entrants in the U.S. Open, so it's a slightly different kettle of fish. And I think education is clearly going to be, as mentioned before, a very key component. Because getting past any possible performance benefits, the possible side effects of many of the substances, detrimental side effects are real, and players should be made aware of that.

TIM FINCHEM: Let me just chime in that I don't think that there is no set of testing protocols that will come forward that will create a situation will every single person that plays in one of our events will be tested because we have Monday qualifiers. We have sponsor exemptions, and candidly, I don't think the public or we are particularly concerned about a player that plays in one tournament a year, anyway. I think it's the people that are competing, really the core competitor group, in our case is a couple of hundred players on the PGA TOUR, and then more on the other two tours. But we'll be addressing all those kind of details downstream. Thank you for joining us today, and to those who asked questions, we appreciate it. Obviously each of our organizations are available to answer follow-up questions regarding our own situations or the collective focus. And I would say finally that there will be an opportunity during the Presidents Cup next week where a number of the directors from the World Golf Foundation will be together to make some comments about, not on this subject perhaps, although questions would be answered, but on the direction of the World Golf Foundation going forward, which we look forward to probably next Wednesday in Montréal. And to the media, we encourage you to come to Montréal. I know most of you are planning to be there, and to everybody else on the call, I look forward to seeing you next week. Have a good day.

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