Thursday, December 17, 2009
Finchem: 'No reason to be concerned'
By Bob Harig
The commissioner of the PGA Tour on Thursday said he had no reason to believe that Tiger Woods has taken performance-enhancing drugs after reports linking the world's No. 1 golfer to a Canadian doctor who faces conspiracy charges.
Tim Finchem, in his first public comments since Woods' Nov. 27 auto accident that led to a bevy of unflattering reports about the golfer's personal life and a subsequent "indefinite" leave from the game, said, "I have no reason to be concerned."
Finchem said that plasma therapy reportedly used by Dr. Anthony Galea on Woods -- as well as several other prominent athletes -- is not in violation of the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy, which was first instituted July 1, 2008.
Of greater concern, however, is Galea's acknowledged use of HGH, a banned substance. Galea has said he has used the drug for himself and some patients, but not athletes.
"I have no reason to have a concern with respect to him [Woods] and a doctor who has used HGH with other patients," Finchem said. "There are a lot of doctors linked to HGH. ... We spent a year reaching out to players, working with them on the policy. And we got back virtually 100 percent support for those policies, including Tiger. They've taken it very seriously."
Before the policy was instituted, Woods was outspoken in his belief that the PGA Tour should begin testing its players. Finchem, who is in his 16th year as PGA Tour commissioner, was initially opposed to the idea before reluctantly going forward with the plan that so far has seen just one player, journeyman Doug Barron, suspended for testing positive.
Finchem said he has not spoken to Woods since the controversy first began the day after Thanksgiving and has continued with reports of marital infidelity that led to Woods announcing Dec. 11 that he would take an indefinite leave from professional golf.
"I've respected his privacy in this matter," Finchem said.
During a 50-minute conference call with reporters, Finchem spoke of all of the positives surrounding the PGA Tour, despite a difficult economy, and he even made light of a "Saturday Night Live" skit that poked fun at him and the predicament in which the tour finds itself during Woods' absence.
"The rumor that I keep a flask at my desk is not true," he said.
"I'm not saying everything is fine," Finchem said. "We're in a down economy and not having the No. 1 player in our sport playing is not a positive. ... I'm looking forward to him at the right time moving forward with our mutually beneficial relationship. We are going to be successful if Tiger is out for a couple of months, eight months, or a year.
"It won't be at the same level without our No. 1 player; no sport would be the same. But I think the doom and gloom needs to go away and I think it's misleading to our fans."
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com.