(Reuters) - The PGA Tour said on Tuesday it will begin blood testing next season and revise its list of banned substances to reflect those prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency as part of a more stringent anti-doping policy.
Urine samples will still be used for the bulk of drug testing but, starting with the 2017-18 season that begins in October, blood testing will allow for the detection of human growth hormone, the PGA Tour said in a statement.
As part of the changes, the PGA Tour will be adding three categories currently prohibited by WADA: asthma medications, allergy and anti-inflammatory medications, and pseudoephedrine over a designated threshold.
While not a signatory of the WADA code, the PGA Tour said that “given the global nature of professional golf, consistency with the WADA list ensures professional golfers need to comply with just one list in competition around the world as well as in Olympic competition.”
Another key change to a policy critics have long considered too opaque will see the PGA Tour, which currently only discloses suspension information for violations related to performance-enhancing drugs, move away from keeping certain player suspensions confidential.
Starting next season, the PGA Tour will issue a statement once an adjudication process has been completed that will state the player’s name, length of suspension and whether it came from a performance enhancing substance or recreational drugs.
The PGA Tour, which organizes the main professional golf tours in North America, established its anti-doping program in 2008 after liaising with the other major golf tours and governing bodies around the world.
But the PGA Tour and its advisors determined that a policy more specifically catered to golf was appropriate, which is why it differed in certain areas from the WADA Code that governs activities such as the Olympic Games.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis