Pros advice

Greg Norman wants golf to introduce biological passports

One of the longest-running and successful relationships between player and caddie is over.

Greg Norman is calling for golf to introduce biological passports to eradicate drug cheats from the sport. But would it be a good idea?

Norman, a two-time British Open champion, has spoken out in the wake of the US PGA Tour’s Monday announcement of an overhaul of its anti-doping program, to be rolled out in October for the 2018 season.

The Tour aims to introduce blood tests, the most effective way to detect certain substances in the body, including Human Growth Hormone, to be used alongside existing urine tests. They will also publicly disclose suspensions for recreational drug violations. Currently, the Tour only discloses suspension information for violations related to performance-enhancing drugs.

Norman was quick to praise the Tour’s stance, but the 62 -year-old believes the World Anti-Doping Agency’s biological passport program is the way forward for golf and other such sports.

The passports monitor selected biological variables over time, including blood and steroid modules, which indirectly reveal the effects of doping rather than attempting to detect the doping substance, or method, itself.

“The addition of blood testing to the Tour’s anti-doping program to comply with WADA is finally a positive move to ensure golf is clean,” Norman told AAP. “Golf is a pure sport and the Tour has to be firm with a zero-tolerance policy. I have worked with WADA over the years and the next step is biological passports for all athletes — amateurs and pros. I am a big proponent of these passports.”

If Norman’s hopes are realised, it would bring golf in line with cycling, which introduced the passports in 2008, as well as track and field. Football’s governing body FIFA also tested players prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with the intention of creating blood and urine profiles.

“With the potential to revolutionise anti-doping, these biological passports should start at the high school level worldwide and continue for an athlete’s entire career,” Norman said.

“This would ensure consistent monitoring and screening with a zero-tolerance policy and a lifetime ban for any athlete caught cheating or doping.”

The PGA Tour will also revise its list of banned substances to include “all of the substances and methods” currently prohibited by WADA while adding three new categories of medication to its “therapeutic use exemption” list. The Tour’s current anti-doping program was created in 2008.

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