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Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Rory McIlroy feels golf is clean of PEDs


MARANA, Ariz. -- Rory McIlroy doesn't believe that golf has a doping problem or that players gain much advantage from performance-enhancing drugs.

"I don't see how any real performance-enhancing drugs can actually help, because if you take steroids or you take growth hormone or anything like that in golf, OK, you're going to get strong and you're going to get big, but you might lose your feel," McIlroy said on Tuesday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play.

"Maybe some [PEDS] help some certain individuals with some problems, but I think golf is clean," he added. "If someone does take something wrong, I think it's an honest mistake."

The 23-year-old No. 1 player in the world also said that he has never been drug-tested at an event.

McIlroy's comments come after Vijay Singh's recent admission that he used a deer-antler spray, which contains a banned substance.  The PGA Tour has not made a ruling on Singh's case.

McIlroy's feelings are shared by many of his colleagues around the tour. Yet his comments also showcase a naivete and casualness on the matter that might not serve the best interests of the game.

McIlroy could be right that PEDS don't ultimately help players shoot lower scores. But if drugs can ensnare other major sports, why can't it do the same with golf?

On Tuesday, McIlroy explained away golf as a hotbed for doping by leaning on the time-honored notion that the game is built on "integrity."

I hope that every sport is built on integrity. That's what I was told by every coach I ever had in soccer, football, baseball, golf and basketball.

Integrity might be the bedrock of golf, but the game isn't above reproach. It's a good thing that players have confidence in each other as arbiters of integrity and decency in a game where players routinely call penalties on themselves in competition.

But we shouldn't let this aura around golf obscure our responsibility to guard it from doping.

Singh might have made an honest mistake, and perhaps the tour should take his honesty into consideration in their decision on the matter, but it should never relax its vigilance on the issue simply because the best players in the world don't believe a problem exists.

Players can look the other way or take seriously what is a very real problem in sports.