Major tours set to announce drug testing policy

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LOS ANGELES, Sep 20 (Reuters) The US PGA Tour, the Royal&Ancient and other leading golf organisations are expected to outline a comprehensive anti-doping policy for the sport today.

A World Golf Federation (WGF) teleconference will be held from 1730 IST to ''make an announcement significant to global golf'', organisers said in a statement yesterday.

No further details of the teleconference were available from the PGA Tour.

The Tour has worked closely with its counterparts around the world for the last two years, primarily to agree on a list of banned substances, and plans to have a drug-testing policy ready for implementation in 2008.

Although Tour commissioner Tim Finchem believes golf has one of the cleanest reputations in professional sport, he accepts steps have to be taken to retain the confidence of the fans.

''We believe that we'll complete work on a policy this year and the elements of the policy could very well be executed during '08,'' Finchem said last month.

''I'll have more to say about that only after we've had a completion of the rule which says you can't use certain substances and an adequate period of time to fully inform players as to how those things get in your body.

''We've done a lot of work on testing, testing protocols, but it's premature for me to talk about specifics at this point. There will be a combination of substances on the agreed-upon list when we finish our work.'' WIDESPREAD CALLS Although golf appears to be unaffected by performance-enhancing drugs, there have been widespread calls for the governing bodies to put testing policies in place.

World number one Tiger Woods said last year he thought the use of performance-enhancing drugs could become a problem and encouraged a proactive stance instead of a reactive one.

Finchem, who initially had appeared to drag his heels on the issue, now agrees.

''I think we're at a point where, to maintain confidence in the public and the fans, we have to take this step,'' he said.

''Whether we like it or not, or whether we think 98 per cent of the public of our fan base has confidence in our players, we still have to take steps.'' The (women's) LPGA Tour left the game's other major tours lagging behind when it announced plans in November last year to start drug testing players in 2008.

The Royal&Ancient, which governs golf in all countries except the U.S. and Mexico, introduced anti-doping policy measures for the first time at last year's world amateur team championship in Cape Town, South Africa.

The WGF is a non-profit organisation created in 1994 to unite the golf industry and those who love the game. It supports initiatives that promote and enhance the growth of the game while preserving its traditional values.

REUTERS BJR AS1003

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