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WORLD GOLF FOUNDATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 20, 2007
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you for joining us, ladies and gentlemen. We have I think an important announcement this morning as to the progress that's been made in the anti-doping area.
Let me introduce to you the individuals who are on the call representing various golf organizations: Jim Armstrong, the executive director of Augusta National Golf Club; Carolyn Bivens, the Commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association; Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the Royal and Ancient; David Fay Executive Director of the United States Golf Association; George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, and Joe Steranka, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America.
Let me say that the reason that we are at this point and in a position to make this announcement today has a great deal to do with the leadership of some of the individuals on the call.
And in no particular order, let me just mention that Peter Dawson has been a strong advocate over the last few years of golf coming together with a comprehensive globally-based policy as it relates to anti-doping.
Carolyn Bivens and the LPGA have been out front in their research of how to do that with regard to the LPGA, and indeed last year, completed work on a substance list to be banned by the LPGA and expect to begin testing protocols in 2008.
George O'Grady has been equally involved in bringing forward The European Tour as it relates to coordinating efforts with governmental entities in the European area that increasingly have required banned substances lists within sports and testing protocols, some of which are administered by the government themselves.
So I would like to thank all three of those individuals for their leadership to get us to this point.
Since all of the individuals on this call are not just representative of major golf organizations, but serve on the executive committee of the World Golf Foundation, we have used that entity to some extent from a coordinating standpoint, and recently this past year set up a subcommittee to work on the planning that has gotten us to this point and I'd like to thank the members of that subcommittee: David Garland of The European Tour staff; and Jill Pilgrim of the Ladies Professional Golf Association executive staff; as well as our own Rick Anderson who is our chief legal officer for serving on that subcommittee and doing the work that has led to this announcement.
A statement will be released, actually is being released as we speak with respect to this announcement. It will be emailed to everyone here on the call, and it is going out to other individuals and entities this morning, as well. It's also available in its entirety on PGATOUR.com and I trust is being posted on the Web sites of the other golf organizations represented, as well.
Today we are announcing the first phase of a two-phase global anti-doping policy. I'm going to then present now an overview, and some more detail is in the statements being submitted to you, an overview of what the elements of this policy are in two phases. And when I finish with that, I would like to ask both Carolyn Bivens and George O'Grady to make comment, and then we'll take your questions as it relates to anything that we're talking about today or other related matters.
These two phases, we decided to do this in two phases for reasons that will be clear as I go through it. But the first phase which is now completed, is the development of a model prohibited substance and methods list, which sets forth those classes of substances which have been determined to be performance-enhancing or could be performance-enhancing in the game of golf, and which should and will be banned in professional golf. This prohibited substance list will be incorporated into the tournament regulations by a number of the organizations involved on the call, as soon as in many cases 2008.
When you look at the list that's been distributed to you as part of the statement, you will see that there are ten categories of substances that make up the model prohibited substance list. There are two variations, there are two areas of substances that are not prohibited that are currently included in the generally accepted WADO list which is utilized in the Olympic games and other sports. There are two basic reasons why those two basic categories of substances are not included.
One, those substances are generally utilized substances that the banning of which would cause us significant additional administrative burden to deal with. And secondly, we do not considerate substances in those two categories in any way impactful in the area of performance enhancement as it relates to the game of golf.
Secondly, I would point out that this is a model substance list, and there may be variations of the list for a couple of different reasons by different golf organizations. One reason, certainly, is that there are unique circumstances with respect to that organization, and another is that there may be governmental requirements in certain areas of the world that require by law a different list, and that is why we refer to it as a model substance and methods list for use by the involved organizations.
The second phase of this policy, which is expected to be completed before the end of this year, is the development of general standards for all of the fundamental elements of an anti-doping program for professional golf. Work is well underway by the organizations on this call in this area by the subcommittee of the World Golf Foundation executive committee that's been working, and by working with outside consultants, there are six areas that these general standards include. First, the model substance and methods list which we have completed work on and which we are sharing with you today. Secondly, procedures related to therapeutic use exemptions, and this is a term you will now hear in golf more frequently, and that is the process whereby a player can receive a medical exemption to use a substance that is on the list.
Third, testing protocols that may be employed by the organizations represented here for results management procedures. And what that refers to is the process that emanates from a positive test. There will be probably multiple samples taken in the testing protocols and what happens with the procedures that are instigated when there is a positive test would fall into that area.
Five, penalties; and six, reciprocity of outcomes, which means that we would like to coordinate this on a global basis so that if the unfortunate circumstance arose that a player was disciplined, including suspension in some part of the world, that action would be recognized out of a reciprocity agreement with the other organizations since players travel and play on multiple tours and in multiple tournaments sponsored by or organized by various organizations in the game of golf.
The policy will provide flexibility for individual organizations to develop specific policies and procedures necessary or appropriate for their organization. However, we will coordinate the work on those individual procedures in the that they can be streamlined and coordinated in a way that they are in sync, No. 1; and No. 2, players can become familiar with the procedures on a global basis again as they move around.
Disciplinary procedures for violations of the policy will be administered by the respective organizations and will be disclosed to the other organizations for consistency and coordination.
Testing protocols will also be the responsibility of the individual organizations. There are a number of other organizations who have already committed to becoming signators of this policy when it is completed, and have signed off on this first step, and that is the list of substances that are about to be banned.
Now, those organizations include the Asian Tour, the Australasian Tour, the Canadian Tour, the Japan Professional Golf Tour, the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, and the Tour De Las Americas in South America.
We expect other professional golf tours and organizations to be added as signators when the policy is finalized. The policy planning as it stands today is focused on professional golf.
We are also announcing today that there will be an anti-doping office as part of the World Golf Foundation in its restructure which will come forward in 2008 and will provide general coordination; this is not an office that will run anti-doping in golf. It is an office that will provide general coordination and communication, and also specific coordination and the sharing of information with golf organizations with respect to therapeutic use exemptions.
We expect that the signers of the policy, this policy who will test will begin their testing programs in 2008. When I say
those "who will test," for example, the LPGA has already announced that they will begin testing in the first quarter. Europe has already announced that they will begin testing sometime in 2008. We will include testing in a recommendation to our board in November to commence sometime in the late spring after we've had a full and thorough opportunity to educate players with the entire policy will be brought on-line in the United States tour. And so with other organizations, there will be different timetables.
With that said, as I indicated earlier, a leader in this area has been the LPGA, which has announced its own anti-doping policy, which will go into effect in 2008, and I'd like to ask Carolyn Bivens, Commissioner of the LPGA to comment.
CAROLYN BIVENS: Thank you, Tim. I just want to say a couple of things. One is that the collaboration with the major golf organizations surrounding the issue of drug testing has been very thoughtful and it's been an inclusive process. Though none of us have any reason to believe that there's a problem with performance-enhancing drugs in golf, we all agree that we need to be proactive and we need to have enough time to educate our members.
With the participation and the support and the coordination of all the major golf organizations, the sport will have a more effective and a more efficient anti-doping program. The agreement on a model prohibited substance and methods list means that there will be a level of consistency globally while still providing flexibility and each organization needs to customize their program to suit their own membership and their schedule. The.
LPGA is proud to have contributed in this effort and we will also benefit from the collaboration and we look forward to working with the world golf foundation on this and other efforts.
So it's been a good process, and look forward to going forward. Thanks, Tim.
TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Carolyn.
The European Tour has also been a leader in this area, and has been very active in pushing, along with Peter Dawson at the R&A, for a global policy as the way to go. And I'd like for George O'Grady, the Chief Executive of The European Tour to make comment, as well.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you, Tim. I think I echo what Carolyn said. I think we were led in this drive by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and Peter in particular. I think we've had a great input by all the government and all of the amateur federations across, one, Europe, and then the rest of the world. It's really good news for us that all the bodies are on side today, including the four major championships which are the focus of the game.
I think it's so good that we have we've got a coordinated policy for the whole world now and not just one tour going off on its own sweet way. I think this is very good news for the whole world of golf and for the sport in general. Thank you.
TIM FINCHEM: I'd like to also ask any other member to make comment, but I'd specifically like for Peter Dawson to make a comment.
PETER DAWSON: Thank you, Tim. I've said many times, I think that the R&A has no reason to believe that golf is anything other than a clean sport. But we've been supportive of a coordinated international effort in golf to test for drugs for some time now so that we can demonstrate that our sport is clean and we can keep it that way. It's terrific that all of the major golf organizations of the world have come together in this initiative, and we're delighted that we're going to have a great degree of international consistency in the way this subject is handled. It's a very good day for golf, as George O'Grady said.
TIM FINCHEM: Now, before we turn it open to questions, David or Joe or Jim, do any of you three wish to make a comment?
JOE STERANKA: No, I think it's been very well stated and agree that it is a great statement for the game and its leadership right now. And I want to thank you, Tim for your leadership.
DAVID FAY: I agree with that.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Joe, David. Jim, anything?
JIM ARMSTRONG: I would just echo what everyone else said and this is an important effort and we are happy to be part of it.
Q. What does this mean for the Nationwide Tour and Champions Tour from your regard, and for Ms. Bivens, would this also be in place for the FUTURES Tour and other developmental tours in Europe?
TIM FINCHEM: This rule will be in place for the Nationwide Tour and the Champions Tour.
I will pass the second part of that question over to Carolyn.
CAROLYN BIVENS: The FUTURES Tour will not be included next year.
Q. What about in the future?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Yes, in the future.
Q. And for Mr. O'Grady, would this be in place for developmental tours in Europe?
GEORGE O'GRADY: We would bring it in as soon as we can for all our tours so we are consistent about everything.
Q. The question regarding penalties, the penalties for players that test positive have not been determined yet; is that correct?
TIM FINCHEM: No. That process has begun to make that determination. We have not completed work quite yet. We will be from the PGA TOUR perspective, we will be submitting a plan that details of implementing this policy to our board in November, which will include penalties, TUE processes, testing protocols, etc. We anticipate approval, and we anticipate a start date in the spring of 2008 with an intensive outreach program to our players actually beginning today, but running through the first quarter and into the second quarter, when that is completed.
Q. So spring of 2008, is that a realistic chance that drug testing will take place, say, the Masters or even earlier than that?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, the question of testing protocols with regard to each of these organizations is a function of a determination by the individual organizations. What I mean by that is that we will be recommending testing protocols which we think will have credibility that will be over the course of the year, etc.
Now, whether or not Augusta National at the Masters wishes to have testing at all, or testing using PGA TOUR doping agencies or whatever is a determination that they have to make. And you know, I can't answer that question yet.
I suspect that having conversations with and certainly these organizations, the USGA, the R&A, the PGA and Augusta National can speak; they are all on the phone. But my sense is that they are waiting to see what the testing protocol plan will be for the PGA TOUR before they determine whether, A, if it's in any way necessary; or B, it's desirable to include any kind of testing protocols the week of their tournaments.
Q. I guess we'll pose that question to Augusta National if there's a representative on the call.
JIM ARMSTRONG: Yeah, this is Jim Armstrong. As Tim said, this is all in development, the protocols, and we'll be looking at the entire issue, we'll be watching what the PGA TOUR and the other Tours do before determining just how we'll proceed.
Q. Tim, you just said that you'd begun the process of deciding what penalties for the PGA TOUR; can I ask George if it's the same with Europe?
GEORGE O'GRADY: We are well down the line on the recommendations, but as I said in other press conferences at the end of last year, we will do if all the world agrees, is far better than one side going off on its own. I think this is still a work in progress.
Q. Is the plan for random testing, after competition testing, everything that other sports do?
GEORGE O'GRADY: It's the whole full-scale policy. As I said before, this isn't some quick move and thinking as we go. This is the whole basis, well thought out and what we've got today is all sides agreeing and working together to make sure this is really a fully thought-out policy that we will all be on the same side of. We haven't got all of the answers today, but we are well down the road.
Q. We saw during the FedExCup how a lot of players didn't really focus in on a lot of the details and the whole ins and outs of it until too late or certainly later than you guys had wished. How do you avoid that happening again with this drug testing policy to make sure that all of the players get involved and understand completely exactly what is going to happen here?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, first of all, this is a different kind of subject matter. This is a subject matter that does relate to rules of the game from the standpoint of performance-enhancing drugs and the violation of which can trigger -- will be able to trigger significant penalties. So I don't think there's going to be -- we don't have too much concern about players focusing on it.
However, we are not going to leave anything to chance and we will be out with consultants and have a multiple number of player meetings and consultation sessions, probably six or eight in the first couple of three months of the year. We will probably have consultants out with us to answer questions. We'll have a 24-hour consultation line for questions from players, their agents, their fitness trainers, etc. And we will not just be talking about the rules, the substances. We will educate players on how these substances can get into your body; things that you need to watch out for; as well as, of course, bringing them up to speed on what they could expect if they get to a tournament and we are doing testing.
So it's a comprehensive effort. We are not going to just have a player meeting and 30 players come and call it a day. We will be out sitting down with players aggressively and we will have a lot of people involved in that process. We're just not going to leave anything to chance.
Q. If you don't mind me paraphrasing, you've always said that there was no evidence of any performance-enhancing drug use, and the honor system of golf, etc. All that said and wherever you are today, do you consider this a landmark day for golf or a sad day for golf?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think that as everybody else has spoken, it's a day where we are going to be proactive in light of the realities of what's happening in sport. But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point.
But certainly the problems in other sports have created a growing perception among fans that athletes generally in many cases, in the minds of many fans who utilize substances that in other sports are banned. Now we don't ban substances in our sport, but when you combine that in the reality that for example, in the case of The European Tour, they have to undergo testing protocols because governments are requiring that they do; as does the LPGA in some instances, all of these things argue for moving forward.
I think it doesn't mean we like it and it does mean we are concerned about shifting the culture of the sport from one where you know the rules and you play by the rules, and if you violate the rules, you call a penalty on yourself; to if you engage in testing, perhaps creating the specter that an organization doesn't trust what the player says, which is certainly not the case.
So we are going to have to work hard on that point, but we are where we are given the way of the world and I think it's a positive day for golf because we are, A, together; B, we are spending a lot of energy to do it right. We are learning from watching what the other sports have done that in some cases have not been perhaps the right thing to do. It's taken them awhile to get it right, and we've been quite deliberate about where we're headed. And all of these things I think are positive. I think that's a positive message for the game.
Q. I was wondering if Peter Dawson, David Fay and Joe Steranka could weigh in. Are you going to sit back and see how it plays out with the testing on tours in the Europe and the U.S. before deciding on whether you'll test individually? Because obviously you have the autonomy to do that.
PETER DAWSON: It's Peter Dawson here first. As far as The Open Championship is concerned, we've taken a policy decision that The Open will fall into line with whatever drug testing regime the tours and specifically in our case, The European Tour, develops. So The Open Championship will be just as another week on Tour.
JOE STERANKA: Same for the PGA of America. We see the PGA TOUR carrying the biggest load and we plan to coordinate our activities to fall in line. We're supportive generally of announced testing, so that would mean that no single event would be known in advance that it would be a sight for testing.
Q. David, you have obviously the Men and Women's Open.
DAVID FAY: That's right. We'll be following very carefully the PGA TOUR policy, The European Tour policy because players in the Open, Senior Open come from various tours. And of course, we'll be working very closely with the LPGA for the U.S. Women's Open.
Q. But no plans to do any testing of your own?
DAVID FAY: No, not at this point. I think that as Joe said, the professional organizations have been taking the lead on this, and this second stage which will include the medical waiver procedures, the testing protocols, penalties and the like will be developed and we'll be taking our cue from that.
Q. If I could, one final question for George and Tim, do you guys have any idea what the approximation on cost is going to be for something like this on an annual basis?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, there's two levels of cost really. One is the administration of the program, including testing. And then the other is no sport has gotten into testing without litigation arising in some fashion or form, and that's a whole other level of cost, but we're not worrying about that right now.
We anticipate, I think we've said this, but we're going to spend a million to a million and a half dollars a year most likely in that range, and the first two or three years, we're looking to pass that right now with respect to administering the program; it's not an inexpensive situation to get involved in.
GEORGE O'GRADY: And from our side, we've made an announcement what we're going to compute what the cost of every individual test is going to be, and you multiply that around; that's an easy one that you can quantify.
The thing is, if we haven't got everything thought through and the education program to our players really has gone straightaway, we have no desire to spend the rest of our life living in a courtroom. So this is an education ensuring that the game is as clean as we all believe it is and demonstrating to the rest of the world that golf retains its unique image.
Q. Joe, you have the club pros; David, you will qualifiers who could be from almost any background and not a member of a tour or college player where there is testing of college athletics. Are there any plans on what to do in the cases of qualifiers for your events who are not members of a professional tour?
JOE STERANKA: On behalf of the PGA of America, we'll be reviewing that with our board. We conduct not only the Championships, but host a number of tournaments at the national section and chapter level, and some amateur competitions, our Junior PGA Championship Series and Junior Ryder Cup and McGladrey Team Championship.
So we see this as the banned substance list to becoming almost another rule of golf in which we'll administer tournaments, and then the protocol that we'll have in administering that throughout all of our competitions is yet to be determined and is something that we'll spend the rest of the year focusing on.
DAVID FAY: And that's pretty much our position, and talking about it with our board, we expect close to 9,000 to 10,000 entrants in the U.S. Open, so it's a slightly different kettle of fish.
And I think education is clearly going to be, as mentioned before, a very key component. Because getting past any possible performance benefits, the possible side effects of many of the substances, detrimental side effects are real, and players should be made aware of that.
TIM FINCHEM: Let me just chime in that I don't think that there is no set of testing protocols that will come forward that will create a situation will every single person that plays in one of our events will be tested because we have Monday qualifiers. We have sponsor exemptions, and candidly, I don't think the public or we are particularly concerned about a player that plays in one tournament a year, anyway.
I think it's the people that are competing, really the core competitor group, in our case is a couple of hundred players on the PGA TOUR, and then more on the other two tours. But we'll be addressing all those kind of details downstream.
Thank you for joining us today, and to those who asked questions, we appreciate it. Obviously each of our organizations are available to answer follow-up questions regarding our own situations or the collective focus. And I would say finally that there will be an opportunity during the Presidents Cup next week where a number of the directors from the World Golf Foundation will be together to make some comments about, not on this subject perhaps, although questions would be answered, but on the direction of the World Golf Foundation going forward, which we look forward to probably next Wednesday in Montréal.
And to the media, we encourage you to come to Montréal. I know most of you are planning to be there, and to everybody else on the call, I look forward to seeing you next week. Have a good day.
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