No Lance Armstrongs in golf, say top trio

ABU DHABI Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:25pm IST

Henrik Stenson of Sweden hits his tee shot on the eighth hole during first round play in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 5, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files

Henrik Stenson of Sweden hits his tee shot on the eighth hole during first round play in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble/Files

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Thomas Bjorn, Henrik Stenson and Richard Green, three leading figures on the European Tour, are united in their view that golf is free of doping.

The trio, speaking after this week's admission by American cyclist Lance Armstrong that he cheated his way to his seven Tour de France wins, believe their own sport is clean when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs.

"I would find it very surprising if we encountered any enhancing drugs in golf," twice former Ryder Cup player Stenson told Reuters in an interview on Sunday, the final day of the Abu Dhabi Championship.

"I don't know what you could take to help you perform better in golf. Viagra maybe - to hit it long and straight," he said with a cheeky grin.

"I am happy I am in a sport where (doping) seems to be very, very rare," Stenson added on a more serious note.

The Swede, who ended his Abu Dhabi campaign well with a 67 giving him a five-under 283 total, said he had been unhappy to hear of Armstrong's confession to chat-show host Oprah Winfrey to using banned substances to establish himself as one of the biggest names in cycling.

"It's obviously sad in any sport when the great heroes you expect to be clean, aren't," said Stenson. "Cycling's had a lot of problems with this issue but thankfully golf is in a different situation.

"There have been certain sports we've known about for years where people have been caught taking illegal stuff...he is just another one in that category.

"It makes it even sadder when it is one of the greats who gets caught cheating. There's not much I can do about it myself except stay clean and hope most people (in golf) think the same way," said the 36-year-old Stenson.

An official said the European Tour had introduced random drug checks in July 2008 and there have been no positive tests since.

Golf is renowned for its fair play and integrity, with players often calling penalties on themselves for rule infringements.

Bjorn, chairman of the European Tour's Players Committee, echoed Stenson's view.

"In golf we do our drug-testing and it seems to be a very clean sport," the 41-year-old Dane told Reuters after carding a closing 71 for 288, level par. "We can be proud of that.

OLYMPIC GAMES

"Being part of the Olympics again in 2016, there is going to be more focus and attention on it but we believe ours is a clean sport and we don't seem to have any big issues with stuff like that."

Bjorn, who has won 13 European Tour titles in his career and played in two Ryder Cups, used to follow cycling when he was younger but said the proliferation of doping issues had diminished his interest in the sport.

"I grew up with Lance Armstrong and you couldn't help but be amazed by his achievements," said the Dane.

"It's disappointing when it comes to this but cycling's had its issues over the years and you can't say it comes as a massive surprise. I followed it a bit in the past but it kind of wears off a bit when stuff like this happens."

Australian Green said he did not believe there were any substances available that could help golfers perform better on the course.

"Golf's not like cycling," said the former world number 29 after returning a 67 for 283. "I just don't think there is anything the guys can take to improve their performances.

"It is just down to hard work, hard practice, good technique and the right equipment...and I think that's what the guys are doing out here.

"In my opinion it (Armstrong's case) was human nature's way of crossing the line. Everyone's trying to look for an easier way to do just about anything.

"Whether it's digging a hole, rather than using a shovel people use a big digger instead. Cyclists have just found an easier way to do it."

Green, winner of three European Tour events, blamed cycling officials for not taking a firm enough stance over doping.

"Where the responsibilty lies is with the governing body of cycling," said the 41-year-old left-hander. "They probably haven't policed the issue enough."

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Tennis

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Athletics Champ Dead

Athletics Champ Dead

Ex-world champion Mulaudzi killed in car crash.  Full Article 

Fired Over Statements

Fired Over Statements

PGA president fired for 'insensitive' remarks.  Full Article 

Showing Admiration

Showing Admiration

Mourinho is a very Special One, says Van Gaal.  Full Article 

Assault Probe

Assault Probe

ISL probes allegation of assault on Pires.  Full Article 

Controversial Balotelli

Controversial Balotelli

Why always me? Balotelli might have a point.  Full Article 

Formula One

Formula One

Caterham F1 team set to miss next two races.  Full Article 

La Liga Clasico

La Liga Clasico

Suarez to return in clasico, says Barca coach.  Full Article 

Premier League

Premier League

Best is yet to come from Aguero, says Pellegrini.  Full Article 

NBA Preview

NBA Preview

LeBron's Cavs help bring focus back to the hardwood.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage