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US PGA Tour to begin blood tests for doping next season

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Doug Barron is one of three players to have ever been suspended from the PGA Tour for performance-enhancing drugs

Tuesday morning, the PGA Tour announced multiple changes to its drug testing program, with one being of major significance.

The PGA Tour is beefing up its anti-doping policy by adding blood testing and bringing its list of banned substances in line with the World Anti-Doping Association.

Blood testing will allow the tour to detect any use of human growth hormone, which is on the list of banned substances but can not be detected through urine.

While not signing onto the WADA code or required to consult with WADA on a list of prohibited substances, the tour said consistency with WADA allows golfers only one global list to follow for Olympic and other worldwide competitions. Golfers were subject to the Olympic protocols for blood testing and Levinson said, "we saw no impact".

Since the inception of the Tour's program, its prohibited list has differed from WADA in three areas: asthma medications; allergy and anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids; and pseudoephedrine over a designated threshold level.

The TOUR has maintained a comprehensive Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) program, which enables players with legitimate medical conditions to use prohibited substances as prescribed by their physicians and under the advisement of the TUE Committee.

That, of course, never happened when Dustin Johnson, now the world No 1, took a six-month break from the game in 2014 amid allegations in the United States of a positive test for cocaine, claims which he has always strenuously denied.

The changes, which follow golf's return to the Olympics past year after more than a century, were also welcomed by Russell Knox.

Currently, violations for drugs of abuse are handled under the PGA TOUR Tournament Regulations as Conduct Unbecoming a Professional. The tour implemented an extremely flawed system that easily allowed players to circumvent. The Tour, which now makes public only suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, will also begin reporting suspensions for recreational drugs.

"So we felt for consistency's sake, it was time to move our list to the current WADA list", he said.

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