The words Human Growth Hormone are key to this question. If I used the word steroids, it would be much more confusing and confounding. A growth hormone is a steroid but it is so much more descriptive of what it does to the body. A growth hormone causes the body to grow, i.e. muscles and musculature. For athletes in the 21st century, the prospect of growing muscle mass is tempting, offering the possibility of hitting whatever ball they’re hitting farther with more record shattering results, which is exactly what happened with the likes of Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire.
As for golf, the same temptations lure the ambitious player, and, arguably, no player in the history of golf has been more ambitious than Tiger Woods. When Woods turned pro in 1996, the world knew immediately that something special was on the horizon and headed towards shore. He won the Walt Disney World that year, following that with four wins in ’97, including the memorable Masters, where he won by 12 shots. From then on, he amassed a record surpassed only by Jack Nicklaus. He won eight times in ’99, including the PGA. And in 2000, Woods recorded nine victories, including the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA. At this point, Woods must have considered that Jack’s iconic record of 18 majors was within reach, but only, perhaps, with help from chemistry.
In 2008, the tour initiated random drug testing for all its players, in response to wide spread doping scandals that hit baseball and bicycle racing. Between 2000 and 2008, the body of Tiger Woods witnessed a dramatic increase in bulk, so much so that he had to construct a new swing three times during that period. The increased muscle mass occurred in his upper torso, leaving his notoriously thin legs as spindly as ever. His legs could not fully support that added bulk, and Woods developed knee problems as a result along with the tremendous pressure put on his left knee from an ever increasing swing speed. He has had four reconstructive surgeries between 1994 and 2008. After he won the ’08 U.S. Open on a broken leg, he was out for eight months, at a time when drug testing had just started on tour. Did he plan this hiatus to avoid the random tests?
During this time, Woods was seen by a Canadian sports doctor named Dr. Anthony Galea from Toronto who was sought out by the biggest names in sports. On July 6, 2011, Galea pleaded guilty in federal court to bringing unapproved drugs, including human growth hormone, into the United States to treat professional athletes. Galea, who wasn’t licensed to practice medicine in the United States, was accused of treating 20 professionals athletes at their homes, hotels, and friends’ houses from October 2007 to September 2009. An Associated Press story stated “The indictment did not identify any clients, but prosecutors said they included golfers and professional baseball and football players.” The AP story went on to say “Most of the U.S. charges were dismissed with Galea’s pleas, and he agreed to cooperate with investigators and disclose the identities of his patients and their treatments.”
Tiger Woods admitted to seeing Galea in his Orlando home, but not to receive human growth hormone. He claims it was plasma therapy to help restore his knee, a treatment that could have been obtained from a U.S. licensed doctor. Both Galea and Woods have since denied administering or receiving PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs). Are they telling the truth? Well, Galea pleaded guilty to lying to Canadian border agents; and Tiger Woods initially denied having affairs with prostitutes or having any difficulties with his wife. Is Woods telling the truth about using steroids supplied by Dr. Galea between 2007 and 2009? You be the judge.
Why do I bring this up at this time? It was Galea’s guilty plea that spurred me to action. So much pointed to the very real possibility of Tiger Woods using steroids, human growth hormone, performance enhancing drugs–they’re all the same–that I felt that the integrity of the game of golf was on the line. And if golf is anything, it is a game of integrity and honesty. I’ve said it before that golf is the only game where a player is obligated to call penalties on him or herself. Using drugs that improve one’s ability to hit a golf ball farther, to have more stamina over a grueling four round tournament, and to build body mass are about as gross a violation of the spirit of the game as there is. By bringing up these allegations, I am defending golf itself via this investigative editorial. I cannot say for sure that Woods used performance enhancing drugs but I have suspicion that he did, based on the facts I’ve presented. Woods and Galea are both known to have lied. Of course, they will try and have tried to cover this up, and make their denials. But observation of Tiger’s body, performance, and erratic, reckless behavior, point to his being influenced by powerful drugs administered by a Canadian doctor who has pleaded guilty–I repeat, who has pleaded guilty–to smuggling illegal, performance enhancing drugs into the United States and administering them to “golfers, and professional baseball and football players.”
The defense of golf rests.