Tuesday 21 January 2020

I'd be happy to take doping tests - Rory

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy believes the PGA Tour were right to clear Vijay Singh of a doping offence and insists he will be happy to undergo the type of out-of-competition testing experienced by his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.

Singh admitted in January to using deer antler spray, which contains small amounts of IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1), a growth hormone on the World Anti-Doping Agency and PGA Tour list of prohibited substances.

The three-time major winner told Sports Illustrated he used the spray "every couple of hours...every day" and was "looking forward to some change in my body."

Although he had not failed a test - and no test even exists - that was treated as a violation of the Tour's anti-doping program and Singh was sanctioned on February 19, but after he appealed the Tour contacted WADA and said in a statement yesterday that: "At that time, WADA clarified that it no longer considers the use of deer antler spray to be prohibited unless a positive test results."

Speaking at a press conference today ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy said: "WADA made a decision which said that deer antler spray was no longer on the prohibited list so there isn't really much they can do about it.

"My stance on it is that Vijay didn't know he was doing anything wrong, and if there is no intention there I don't see any reason to unfairly punish him."

McIlroy was with former world tennis number one Wozniacki in Monaco last month when they were woken at 6am by drugs testers, a situation golfers will have to get used to when the sport falls under Olympic jurisdiction from 2016.

"Most other professional athletes have to fill out a whereabouts form that is three months in advance," McIlroy added. "If we are going to be part of the Olympics it's something we're going to have to do too and I completely don't mind that at all."

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem - who admitted the "vast majority" of urine testing in golf is done at tournaments - had earlier conceded the status of deer antler spray was "kind of silly."

He said: "With respect to IGF, there is no test currently available in a normal blood test, and the difficulty with IGF, in addition to doing a test, is identifying a reasonable level which if you exceed, you're considered doping. We all have IGF in our systems all the time.

"We're talking about a determination that was made by scientists at WADA that relates to the consumption through deer antler spray of a technically violative substance, IGF-1, but in looking at it, the scientists concluded it resulted in infinitesimal amounts actually being taken into the recipient's body.

"Amounts that couldn't be distinguished, even if you had an accurate test, with the amounts that you might take into your body from milk etc; versus the question of what would happen in a case where, for whatever reason, you managed to take in enough IGF-1 so that it did trigger a positive reading.

"A positive reading means that you're surpassing a certain level. There hasn't been any level ever set. So I view it as kind of cross-checking the box language.

"We're going to say that it's not on the list for purposes of consumption. But just know that we're not liable here if for some reason or another you managed to trigger a positive test, even though there is no test out there. So it is kind of silly, but it is what it is."

Finchem added: "We follow WADA on this stuff. We follow, with a few exceptions, the entire list of substances that are banned. We refer to them and defer to them really on the science of these issues as to what's on the list.

"The fact of the matter here is, as some people in the medical community pointed out when this matter came up and now WADA has looked into it and concluded on their own, it's just not worth having it on the list in that context.

"I don't know of a substance or a transfer mechanism out there that can load a person to IGF levels that would get the attention of the WADA science people.

"It's not a violation of the Doping Code for you to use deer antler spray. Now, however, if we get a test and there is a level set and we test for it....but we'll be very aggressive in letting people know when that test comes around.

PA Media

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