Rory McIlroy has admitted that golf is trailing other sports when it comes to drug testing and is a strong supporter of that situation changing in the foreseeable future, even though he is confident that the Royal & Ancient game is clean, writes Martin Dempster.
“On average I probably get tested four to five times a year, which is very little compared to the rest of the Olympic sports,” said McIlroy in response to a topic that is routinely raised during the Open Championship and duly was once again in the build-up to golf’s return to the Games after an absence of more than 100 years.
“Obviously I’ve gotten to know a lot of athletes over the years and whether it be coming to their houses and doing blood and urine [tests] I think drug testing in golf is still quite far behind some of the other sports. I haven’t been blood-tested yet. I think blood testing is something that needs to happen in golf just to make sure that it is a clean sport going forward.”
McIlroy, who said he’d been tested on two other occasions on the PGA Tour this year, added: “I’d say the threat of doping in golf is pretty low. There’s a few guys that you would call athletic. But apart from that, we’re not trying to get on our bikes and cycle 200 kilometres every day.”
He continued: “You can’t really pick up HGH (human growth hormone) in a urine test [so] I could use HGH and get away with it. Physically, obviously, you can get stronger, recover faster. But I don’t really know of any drug that can give you an advantage all the way across the board. There are obviously drugs that can make you stronger. There are drugs that can help your concentration. But whether there’s something out there where it can make you an overall better player, I’m not sure.
“I think blood testing is something that needs to happen in golf just to make sure that it is a clean sport going forward. If golf is in the Olympics and golf wants to be seen as a mainstream sport as such, it has to get in line with the other sports that test more rigorously.”