World golf officials defend anti-doping policy

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MONTREAL, Sep 27 (Reuters) The world's leading golf associations have defended their new policy on drugs after criticism from the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The policy does not come into effect until next season but the reverberations are already being felt with WADA chief Dick Pound asking why golf had its own list of banned substances and penalties rather than applying the world anti-doping code.

The failure to adopt the code has also thrown up another roadblock in amateur golf's long-term goal of one day returning to the Olympic programme.

''We have stated the reasons why we did not include two categories of substances that are on the WADA list,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters yesterday following a World Golf Foundation board meeting at the Presidents Cup.

''The two main reasons are they are substances which are very common in the marketplace and that as a consequence create significant administrative burdens with granting therapeutic use permits or exemptions.

''They are also questionable in terms of their impact from a performance-enhancing standpoint.

''We have met with WADA officials here this week and the WADA people seemed comfortable with the direction that we are going and not objecting in any significant way to the exclusion of those two areas of substances.'' Finchem's comments run counter to Pound's, who last week blasted professional golf for not following the world anti-doping code that all sports and countries must adopt to take part in the Olympics.

''It's very disappointing to us they would not use the list that has been developed under the code,'' said Pound.

Royal&Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said the Olympics was not a top priority on the World Golf Foundation agenda but conceded that without a robust anti-doping policy there was no chance of golf again becoming part of the Games.

''It (returning to the Olympic Games) is a constant dialogue but it's not high on the list of priorities at the moment,'' said Dawson. ''But one thing is certain, if you don't have a drug policy you're not even at the base point.'' REUTERS BJR VC1450

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