Bezuidenhout banned for drug used to stop stutter

SOUTH Africa’s top-ranked amateur golfer last season has been suspended for a doping violation during the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s failed test carried a maximum two-year ban, but the International Golf Federation ruled that he had not taken the substance to gain a competitive advantage.

The 20-year-old was taking beta-blockers on a medical prescription to combat the anxiety of a stutter.

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“Mr Christiaan Bezuidenhout has been found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the 2014 International Golf Federation Anti-Doping Policy,” said the IGF in a statement on its website.

“The IGF Anti-Doping Hearing Panel concluded that an appropriate sanction would be a period of nine months. Subject to 10.9.1 of the Policy, the Panel found that Mr Bezuidenhout’s sanction shall start on 16 June 2014, the date of the sample collection. Mr Bezuidenhout shall receive credit against his ineligibility period from 16 June 2014 to 30 January 2015, the date of the decision made by the Panel.

“Mr Bezuidenhout shall continue to be ineligible from 30 January 2015, the date of the Panel’s decision, until 16 March 2015. The results, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes, from any competition that Mr Bezuidenhout participated in, from 16 June 2014 to 1 September 2014 shall be disqualified.”

It is believed that Bezuidenhout, from Ekurhuleni, has been using the medication that contained the Beta Blockers since childhood. However, it is being reported that neither he nor his parents thought to list it under “chronic mediation” when he entered the Amateur Championship won by Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil.

Bezuidenhout failed to qualify for the match-play phase after rounds of 78 and 73, having also played in the St Andrews Links Trophy around the same time.

Meanwhile, Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson is still in with a chance of victory heading into the final round of the South African Open Stroke-Play Championship in Port Elizabeth.

The 2013 British Boys’ champion, who led after the opening round, is fifth on nine under par, three shots behind home hope Rupert Kaminski. Irishman Gavin Moynihan, winner of the Scottish equivalent at Panmure last summer, is a further two shots behind Ferguson.

Colin Montgomerie will begin his bid to knock Bernhard Langer off the Champions Tour’s top spot when The Allianz Championship, the tour’s first full-field event of the year, starts today on The Old Course at Broken Sound Golf Club in Boca Raton, Florida.

Langer lives 15 minutes from the course, and has used home comforts to finish in the top three in five of the last six years.