A GOLF­ING IN­JUS­TICE

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Behind The Scenes - By Stu­art McLean, Ed­i­tor

It’s rare for a sports story to re­main se­cret and un­pub­lished for months, but lo­cal am­a­teur golf is a do­main where it can hap­pen. Golf Di­gest deputy ed­i­tor Barry Havenga, who cov­ers our Am­a­teur Scene, has been sit­ting since Septem­ber on a trou­bling story of one of the big­gest in­jus­tices I’ve en­coun­tered in golf. The full ac­count of how our No 1 am­a­teur, Chris­ti­aan Bezuiden­hout, a fu­ture star if ever there was one, has been given a two-year world­wide ban can be read on Page 92.

Bezuiden­hout’s world was turned up­side down in Septem­ber while ex­cit­edly pack­ing his bags for a trip which would be the pin­na­cle of his am­a­teur ca­reer – rep­re­sent­ing his coun­try in the World Am­a­teur Team Cham­pi­onships in Ja­pan. The SA Golf As­so­ci­a­tion re­ceived a let­ter from the In­ter­na­tional Golf Fed­er­a­tion stat­ing that Bezuiden­hout had tested pos­i­tive for a pro­hib­ited sub­stance fol­low­ing a urine sam­ple taken at the Bri­tish Am­a­teur. They had im­posed a two-year ban on him, and the SAGA had to with­draw him from the Eisen­hower Trophy team.

Bezuiden­hout was tak­ing beta block­ers on a med­i­cal pre­scrip­tion to com­bat the anx­i­ety of a stut­ter. Win­ning tour­na­ments came easy for the 20-year-old from Delmas, but mak­ing a speech af­ter­wards was tor­ture. The young­ster wasn’t aware that beta block­ers were a pro­hib­ited drug, and be­cause the SAGA doesn’t of­fer in­for­ma­tion about drug tests to their elite play­ers, he was un­aware that he was tread­ing in dan­ger­ous wa­ters.

The Bezuiden­hout fam­ily lawyer ap­pealed to the IGF to con­sider th­ese mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances, to no avail. A naïve young man’s ca­reer in golf has been heart­lessly shat­tered by face­less bu­reau­crats who want to show the IOC be­fore golf ’s en­try to the 2016 Olympics that the IGF is on top of any drug prob­lem in the game. Two years is the max­i­mum sus­pen­sion that can be im­posed. As an am­a­teur Bezuiden­hout should have been warned he would be sub­ject to reg­u­lar fu­ture test­ing and given a 3-month ban at most. That would have al­lowed him to com­pete in the Sun­shine Tour Qual­i­fy­ing School in Jan­uary. A two-year ban could ef­fec­tively kill his ca­reer.

Olympic ath­letes – sprinter Tyson Gay a re­cent ex­am­ple – have come away with lesser sus­pen­sions for use of per­for­mance en­hanc­ing drugs. Gay re­ceived a one-year ban and had to re­turn his sil­ver medal from the 2012 Games. We hope the IGF see rea­son in this sit­u­a­tion.

This is­sue con­tains the Dan Jenk­ins “fake” Q&A with Tiger Woods ( page 80) which has gone vi­ral since Woods re­acted so petu­lantly to its pub­li­ca­tion. Tiger’s ri­poste means the Q&A has got more at­ten­tion than it would have had the eas­ily of­fended Woods not alerted the world to its ex­is­tence. As UK golf writer James Cor­ri­gan wrote in the Daily Tele­graph: “Warn­ing for any eas­ily of­fended sport­ing su­per­star out there: if you re­ally do not want ev­ery­one to read a neg­a­tive ar­ti­cle then do not tell ev­ery­one not to read it. Be­cause, erm, ev­ery­one will then go and read it.”

Woods claimed read­ers would be­lieve the in­ter­view to be gen­uine, even though the pho­tos are clearly those of his dou­ble, and an as­ter­isk says “Or how it plays out in my mind.” This Q&A def­i­nitely does play out in Jenk­ins’ mind. Tiger would never grant the old guy the time of day for a one-to-one chat.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.