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Saturday 24 September 2016

More drug tests are needed - McIlroy

Rory McIlroy during a practice round at Troon yesterday. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
Rory McIlroy during a practice round at Troon yesterday. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy believes golf's drug testing policy has to be far more stringent if it wants to become a long-term Olympic sport.

The Northern Irishman thinks the threat of doping is low because he "does not know of a banned substance that could help a golfer across the board with driving, with putting, with concentration" but feels administrators have to do more to bring it into line with other sports.

McIlroy has decided not to compete in Rio, for a variety of reasons, but that does not mean he does not want the sport to succeed at that level.

However, in order to do so he said it has to improve a doping policy which has seen him tested just three or four times in 2016.

"On average I probably get tested four to five times a year, which is very little compared to the rest of the Olympic sports," said the world number four.

Far behind

"Obviously I've gotten to know a lot of athletes over the years and whether it be coming to their houses and doing blood and urine [tests] I think drug testing in golf is still quite far behind some of the other sports.

"I haven't been blood-tested yet. I think blood testing is something that needs to happen in golf just to make sure that it is a clean sport going forward.

"You can't really pick up HGH (human growth hormone) in a urine test [so] I could use HGH and get away with it.

"If golf wants to stay in the Olympics and wants to be seen as a mainstream sport as such it has to get in line with the rest of the sports that test more rigorously."

The Olympics has been a thorny subject for the 27-year-old who, after initially citing the Zika virus as his main reason for pulling out, has since made his feelings abundantly clear saying, for him, the Games are not the pinnacle of the sport.

With two-time major winner Jordan Spieth the latest to withdraw from the Olympics on Monday, the tournament will be without its four top players as Jason Day and Dustin Johnson have also opted to stay at home.

"I don't feel like I've let the game down at all. I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game, I got into golf to win championships and win major championships," added McIlroy.

"All of a sudden you get to this point and there is a responsibility on you to grow the game and I get that but at the same time that's not the reason that I got into golf.

"I'm very happy with the decision that I've made and I have no regrets about it.

"I'll probably watch the Olympics, probably the events like track and field, swimming, diving - the stuff that matters."

Spieth labelled his decision to withdraw from the Olympics as the hardest of his life and feels it will "loom" over him throughout the Games.

But the two-time major winner refused to elaborate on the "health concerns" which led to him pulling out of the American team at the last minute, even after sitting next to Rickie Fowler as he confirmed his own participation on social media.

Asked to specify what medical advice he had received, Spieth said: "No, that's personal. I can't. I can tell you that I'm not specifically pinpointing any one thing in my health concerns either."

Threats

Spieth had previously cited "other bacteria stuff" and "security threats" in Brazil as factors in making what he called "probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life".

The 22-year-old added: "This was harder than trying to decide what university to go to. Whether to turn professional and leave school. This was something I very much struggled with, I bounced back and forth with, and ultimately a decision had to be made and I made it.

"I will continue to carry it with me through these Games and for a while It will loom over me throughout the Olympic games, for sure. I'm sure at times I'll be pretty upset that I'm not down there.

"I'm a huge believer in Olympic golf and hope to play in four or five in the future if I have the opportunity. This year I just had to try and weigh a risk that doesn't present itself every year."

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