It is interesting how the golf world tiptoes, still, around Tiger Woods and his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. All the evidence says he did, but few in the media, that is so dependent on Woods for its jobs, have the guts to dig into it and investigate what we do know. That kind of nosing around is needed to find the truth. We’ve just seen Barry Bonds, who never admitted using steroids, rejected by the Hall of Fame because of moral considerations around his evident use of steroids. What other reason did they have to reject a man who hit as many home runs as he did? We’ve just seen Lance Armstrong admit to Oprah Winfrey he used PEDs and other illegal procedures, after years of denials and bullying others who dared to challenge his assertions. In the course of a few years, Tiger’s body went from skinny teen to NFL-ready. Was this just from an exercise/diet routine? I don’t think so. Could this have been an HGH-fueled regime? The doctor he worked with for his knee restoration was Anthony Galea MD, who was tried and convicted of smuggling PEDs, including HGH, into the United States. Galea was deported back to Canada, and must get specific permission from the Department of Homeland Security to reenter this country. Woods says he did not receive HGH from Galea, only a legal blood spinning procedure to speed the healing of his knee, a procedure for which there were any number of American doctors he could have used. Has Woods told the truth about what he received from Galea? I think not. Since his sex scandal, he has shown an obvious propensity for lying. In fact, it is known that HGH heightens the sex drive, and Tiger’s sexual appetite was monumental, as we know for a fact–even to the point of having to enter a treatment program to deal with his “sex addiction.” Where did that addiction originate? It’s obvious: It came from taking HGH. And where did it lead to? It led to his sleeping with a prostitute while his wife was pregnant, and subsequent divorce and separation from his children. As far as golf was concerned, after he won his last major on a broken leg in 2008, PGA drug testing started around that time, and Tiger conveniently chose to leave the tour that July to treat his knee possibly in order to avoid those random tests. When he returned, his legendary skills with the putter had diminished, which prevented him from winning any tournaments for three years, and now entering his fifth season since winning a major. Did the use of HGH affect his putting skills? What else could it have been? He was the best putter since Tom Morris Jr.
Now we hear from the same source that broke the sex scandal–the National Enquirer–that Woods has offered 200 million to his ex-wife to remarry him. He is obviously struggling with the single life. He is desperate because an avowed sex addict (a short stint in rehab does not cure this affliction) who cannot satisfy his sex drive is a tortured man. So he turns to a woman whom he betrayed, and whom he probably doesn’t love. The thing is his ex-wife once struck him in the face with a golf club as he ran from his house after she discovered provocative emails to and from another woman, then smashed a rear window in his car with that same club as he erratically drove away, slamming into a fire hydrant on a neighbor’s lawn. When the police arrived, he lay on the ground, bleeding and groaning. The police went to his house in the days that followed, but Woods wouldn’t cooperate. A few days later, he flew to Arizona to have a plastic surgeon remold his face so no one would know what his wife had done. Now he’s asking her to remarry, providing she agrees to a pre-nuptial arrangement involving 200 million dollars. Frankly, I’ve never heard of anyone, let alone the most famous golfer in the world, doing this. Is he under so much scrutiny that he hasn’t been in bed with anyone since his last romp with a prostitute? If so, for a sex addict, this would be agonizing. But buying back his ex-wife? Again, only an addict would think of this. Drug users make bad decisions. As a mental health counselor, I’ve worked with them for over 40 years. They don’t think things through rationally before making decisions. They stumble. They’re impulsive. They hurt people, usually psycho-socially, but that is often more harmful than any kind of physical violence. I suspect Tiger doesn’t re-love Elin, but needs her to satisfy his addiction. I would advise Elin to turn down his offer and move on with her life. She doesn’t need to ingratiate herself again with Tiger Woods.
Some will vilify me and call me a Tiger hater. I don’t hate Tiger. (Hey, I’ve promoted his app elsewhere) But I do love the game of golf. And, for the sake of golf, the spotlight needs still to be on Woods and the facts as we know them. Do I have proof that he used illegal performance enhancing drugs? No, I don’t. But Woods, like Lance, has forced me into a position of supposition, since he hasn’t told the truth, evading questions (or not even being asked anymore) with stonewall answers. But the higher the stone wall goes, the more suspicious it makes me, and should make you. In fact, the more he continues to win, the more the sense of urgency that we need to know if it’s all legitimate.
We live in a cult of personality, with sport celebrities surrounded by a wall of lies. Barry Bonds. Alex Rodriguez. OJ Simpson. Lance Armstrong. Pete Rose. Mark McGuire. Sammy Sosa. Liars, all. The list is shocking and revealing. Because of our one-time reverence of these figures, we are reluctant to tug at any loose threads for fear the embroidery will unravel, destroying the false images we had built of these people. We are a society of inferiority complexes and weak egos. The San Francisco Chronicle, in an editorial entitled “Tales of illusion and delusion,” about Lance Armstrong and college football star, Manti Te’o who fabricated an online girlfriend and her tragic story, concluded this about our society: “The Armstrong and Te’o episodes offer further cautionary notes about the fallibility of the narratives that elevate and ultimately define celebrities in a culture that worships them. It would be nice to think we won’t get fooled again. The smart money–the big money that tempts and nurtures these mythologies–says we will.”
We are an insecure and adolescent society that is easily duped by false prophets and heroes, by religions relying on fear and espousing fairy tales, and delusional exhortations of having a gun in every home and school room. So we sit in front of our TVs watching Tiger Woods win 14 majors, and rationalize our reluctance to hold him accountable for his behavior beyond golf. Woods tells us to back off from “my private life” but he really doesn’t have a private life, just as a Hollywood star doesn’t have a private life. It’s one of the sacrifices he must make for his fame. Stewart Cink has a private life. Tiger Woods does not. For golfers, he’s an icon who transformed golf into a power game, into a big money game. We never fully took him into our hearts because he never really let us. But, in a sense, he’s family, however dysfunctional, and we want to know what he’s doing behind closed doors. We are not rude voyeurs. We simply hold him to a higher standard and want to know if he’s meeting his public responsibilities, being a positive role model for our children, and keeping the moral bar high. But, despite our trust in him that he would honor golf with impeccable behavior off the course, he did not do so.
So, like Sherlock Holmes, we need to search for the truth if it is being hidden. We need to skulk about in the mud looking for footprints that many have noticed but have pretended not to see. We need to deduce, and analyze those deductions, with reason, until…until the perpetrator comes clean. For if the truth stays hidden, golf will suffer, and golf has given us so much. Eventually, Lance crumbled under such public scrutiny. So might Tiger.
Did Tiger Woods use Performance Enhancing Drugs, helping him win more majors and achieve his obsessive goals? Based on the evidence out there and stated above, I think so. I will continue to poke around in the mud for more footprints and dropped cufflinks, until the truth be known.
So why do I pursue Woods like this? Why not just let the man be, and let bygones be bygones? He’s human. Humans err, and life goes on. It’s just every time I see this guy being interviewed, and see his sullen, suspicious demeanor, I do not trust that he has protected the sacred trust golf has given him. He has developed into this amazing golfer, perhaps the best in history, but has it been done honestly? I have doubts about the honesty of his efforts. And where the integrity of the game is concerned, any doubt must be explored, no matter where it might lead. A close investigation of Woods might harm the game, but no real investigation could harm the game even more. That is the point we are presently at. There is too much doubt around how he developed his enormous talents and his awe inspiring record of wins.
As with most indiscretions or crimes involving public figures, the public suffers from denial, and is often too willing to move on without fully knowing the truth. And without knowing the truth, there is left a film of mold on the public memory–a film that clouds and distorts that memory over time. A most obvious example is JFK’s assassination. This country is still depressed over that since we never got to the full truth of the crime, nor do we even know if it was a lone gunman who did it. If nothing else, golf is a sport that depends on the integrity of its players and the trust fans have in the validity of its history. It is truly a sport of honor, and the evasive, secretive answers Woods has given to valid questions not only does not honor the sport, it erodes that honor. Woods is much like Lance Armstrong: arrogant, bullying, denying fault, intimidating to all who challenge him, deceiving, ambitious, obsessive, insulated by his entourage, rich, empowered by an icon status. But golf is much different than cycling: It is more than one’s proficiency at hitting a little ball into a far away hole. It has also to do with how one deports oneself on the course and in the more important game of life. The veil of cheating hangs heavy on professional golfers–even just a wisp of that veil. Woods has done far from enough to help lift that veil. We expect more of professional golfers, particularly Woods who has conquered so many of its records, and is on the verge of capturing, arguably, its most significant prize: total number of majors won. We fans have a right to know if Woods is legitimate. All of golf has a right to continue to examine, for the sake of the integrity of the game–that keystone that holds the arch of the sport intact–the fallibility of his narrative.