Golf will never be drug-free, says legend Gary Player as British Open starts blood testing

Gary Player said there were benefits of doping for a professional golfer.
Gary Player said there were benefits of doping for a professional golfer.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Golf will never be completely drug-free, according to retired South African golfer Gary Player, who has also questioned why it took so long for the British Open to implement blood testing as part of its anti-doping regulations.

The tournament, in its 147th edition, will introduce blood testing this week. The PGA Tour announced drug-testing changes last year, which introduced blood screening and revised the list of banned substances.

"Why so late? We are the last of all sports to do it," Player, a nine-time Major winner and three-time British Open champion, is quoted as saying by The Times.

"We have had players who have used performance-enhancing drugs. Are we ever going to be able to stop it? No. There's too much involved. That's the world we live in."

The 82-year-old said that while golf and tennis are probably among the cleanest sports, there were benefits of doping for a professional golfer.

"It makes you stronger," Player added. "You don't get injured so quickly, you can hit more balls and you can practise harder."

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy had also expressed drug-testing concerns earlier and backed the US PGA Tour's announcement last year.

Canadian Brad Fritsch was the most recent player to be banned for violating the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy, with the 40-year-old being handed a three-month suspension in January for taking a prohibited weight-loss drug.