TONY EASTLEY: The golfer Gary Player has never been known for mincing his words, and on the eve of the British Open he's sparked controversy again by claiming that drug-taking in the sport is on the increase.
The 71-year-old South African says some players have told him personally that they are using performance-enhancing substances.
Barbara Miller reports.
BARBARA MILLER: When the Open was last played at Carnoustie in Scotland in 1999, the tough course combined with horrendous weather conditions led to an unprecedented wave of protests from golfers. And until now much of the pre-tournament build-up had focused on the course and conditions.
But then along came Gary Player, who won at Carnoustie in 1968, with these accusations.
GARY PLAYER: I know, I know that there are golfers, some of them are doing, whether it's HGH (Human Growth Hormone), whether it's creatine, or whether it's steroids, I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it. We're dreaming if we think it's not going to come into golf.
BARBARA MILLER: The man dubbed the Black Knight because of his trademark dark clothes said he'd been told personally by some players that they were taking drugs and had heard on good authority about others.
GARY PLAYER: One guy told me and I took an oath prior to him telling me, and he told me, I won't tell you where, but he told me that he, ah … what he'd had, and I could see this massive change in him, and then somebody else told me something that I also promised I wouldn't tell that verified it.
BARBARA MILLER: Gary Player said he'd been advised by several doctors to take Human Growth Hormone, who told him he'd be able to hit the ball 20 to 30 yards further.
But he said he was worried about negative impacts and wanted to stay healthy to enjoy his 20 grandchildren.
Some drugs testing is carried out in golf, and talks on introducing a uniform testing policy across tours are said to be at an advanced stage.
But Alex Johnston, the Director of Golf at the New South Wales Golf Association says there's not a big drug-taking problem in the sport.
ALEX JOHNSTON: Oh no, not at all. I … we've seen no evidence. I think it's totally the opposite, I don't think it's a problem at all in golf.
BARBARA MILLER: He says that he's been told by doctors that taking drugs could help him hit the ball a lot harder. Would that not seem logical?
ALEX JOHNSTON: Oh, it probably would be, if the doctors say so. It's up to the player, I suppose.
BARBARA MILLER: Why do you think golfers would be immune to the temptation of boosting their performance when we know that a lot of sportspeople in other sports are not?
ALEX JOHNSTON: Drawing a wide bow, I'd say, because of the integrity of golf itself, it's self-policing in the rules, et cetera, and I think that produces honourable players and men.
BARBARA MILLER: There's some talk of introducing a more uniform testing policy across the tournaments, across world tournaments. Would you welcome that, or do you think it's unnecessary?
ALEX JOHNSTON: Well, I wouldn't say it's unnecessary. I think those policies have to be put in place, like all other sports.
TONY EASTLEY: Alex Johnston from the New South Wales Golf Association. That report by Barbara Miller.
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