June 22, 2017 / 7:24 AM / 3 months ago

McIlroy backs PGA Tour drug testing reforms

Jun 16, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Rory McIlroy walks off the 18th green during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy has voiced support for the PGA Tour’s drug-testing reforms that introduce blood screening and revise the list of banned substances to match the World Anti-Doping Agency’s directory for the 2017-18 season.

Last July, the 28-year-old Briton expressed concern over the lack of regular drug testing in golf compared with other Olympic sports and advocated the introduction of blood testing.

The PGA tour said on Tuesday that urine tests would still make up a bulk of examinations but blood screening would be introduced to detect human growth hormone.

Policies regarding player suspensions for illegal drugs use will also be made more transparent.

“If we’re not blood testing we’re not doing all we can to make sure that golf is a clean sport, so I obviously welcome the news,” McIlroy was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph ahead of Thursday’s first round of the Travelers Championship.

”If golf wants to be a sport in the Olympics, it needs to get on board with everything that all the other sports do as well.

“I really don’t think anyone should be fearful as I don’t think that golf has any sort of drug problem at all. You have to be so careful about what you take, but that’s part and parcel about being an athlete.”

McIlroy, who has battled a recurring rib injury since January, has not won a tournament this year and missed the cut at the U.S. Open earlier this month, but hopes he can still finish the season on a strong note.

”I always felt 2017 was going to be a bit of a transitional year...,“ he added. ”It’s still got two majors (left) and I’d like to finish it well.

“But if I look back over my first 10 years as a pro, am I happy with where my career’s at? I would say, ‘yes, I guess’. But I definitely feel like in the next 10 years, that I can do better.”

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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