Thanks to a post at the Waggle Room last Friday, I got word of the penalty structure in the LPGA’s developing drug testing policy. There doesn’t appear to have been an official announcement but some players have been talking about it, hence the lack of info at lpga.com Here are some other articles on the penalties from Yahoo! Sports and Golf Today. In both of these articles, Kelli Kuehne is quoted as saying that 10-15 players take over-the-counter supplements which could be on the banned list. If that is true, those players have about six months to remove those supplements from their regimen.
The penalties are simple: One positive test gets the player a 25-tournament suspension (that’s tournaments, not weeks). A second positive test costs them 50 more tournaments, and three positives earn the player a lifetime ban.
Speaking as a supporter of the new policy, I admit the penalties are harsh. Since the LPGA schedule currently consists of 31 events, 25 is a huge penalty for a first-timer. I expected something along the lines of 10-25-life. Until I see an official statement, I will have to assume that while a player is suspended they are also not eligible to play the Futures, European, Japanese or Korean Tours (since they are affiliated in different degrees with the LPGA) but could play another unaffiliated circuit. Despite (and also because of) the harshness of the "sentences", I am going to go on record as supporting this penalty structure.
At least until the first false positive test gets taken to court, anyway. If the Tour has decided to start chopping heads off with this policy, they had better be double-damn sure the testing is accurate.