[Update 8/22/2013: I have been reading up on steroids and came across this from one of the Jose Canseco books. Confirms some of the reader's analysis about the mental edge resulting from the use of PEDs:
"The first thing you will notice is an increase in strength," I would tell them. "But you won't see much difference at the beginning. You'll feel it, though, and that'll give you a psychological edge. Then, in about four or five weeks, you'll start seeing some real, physical changes, and at that point, hell -- the sky's the limit."
Steroids didn't make me a great baseball player. I was already a great player. Steroids simply gave me an edge, physical and psychological, and I loved that about them.]
A reader left fascinating commentary/analysis yesterday, a very detailed look back at Tiger Woods’ career and the likelihood of PED usage. A very worthwhile read, the kind of considered analysis you are never going to get out of the corporate golf media. Here it is in its entirety:
In case the tone of this comment is confusing, I’d just like to clarify that it is copy and pasted from a message I posted on a Tiger Woods forum. Thanks:
I’d like to prelude the main agenda of this post by stating that I have been an enormous Tiger Woods fan for just about thirteen years now. His brilliance first came to my attention when he massacred the field in the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach by an eye-watering fifteen strokes, and my devotion has never wavered, even with some of the unpleasant happenings off the golf course which have transpired since that fateful night in November 2009.
It is precisely because he has meant so much to me throughout my childhood, and now into my twenties, that this has been so hard to admit. However, the time for denial is over, and my true feelings must come to the fore. OK, here it goes… unfortunately, and I really do mean unfortunately, I believe that Tiger was using performance enhancing drugs for at least a few years during his storied career. If I had to guess, going by the remarkable transformation in his physique, I would say he began taking shortcuts at some point between late 2002 (around the time of the surgery that forced him out of competition for a couple of months) and 2005, carrying on either until 2008 (when the PGA Tour’s doping policy came into play) or late 2009 (when Dr Anthony Galea was found out to be a supplier of PEDs).
There are just way, way too many coincidences for this not to be the case. Please allow me to state my case:
1. The most obvious piece of evidence comes from sheer, hard facts. Tiger Woods hired a Canadian doctor who was a known distributor of PEDs such as HGH to carry out plasma rich therapy at his Florida home. WHY an earth would you do that when there are an abundance of qualified therapists much nearer to home? Upon his return at the US Masters in 2010, Tiger was asked what procedure(s) Dr Galea performed during his rehab from the ACL tear. What he should have been asked was “Why did you hire a known PED distributor in the first place?” He was really let off the hook here, and it’s incredible that more hasn’t been more made of this since. So many top sportsmen share doctor’s, lawyer’s, dentist’s etc, so it’s highly dubious, to put it mildly, that so many of Dr Galea’s patients have been found guilty of taking banned substances, yet we are supposed to believe that the number one golfer in the world and possibly of all time is one of the only clean ones. This alone should raise red flags in even the most ardent of Tiger’s followers. However, there’s more…
2. The PGA Tour began their anti-doping policy on July 1st, 2008, at the AT&T National. Tiger’s last appearance of the season was between the 12th-15th June, in the US Open at Torrey Pines. The next event he would have played, if not for the torn ACL, would have been… yep, you guessed it. Now it would be ludicrous to claim that the injury and subsequent surgery was all a sham, so I’m not going to go down that route. Tiger claimed he had been playing with an injury since July 2007, which I’m willing to go with. However, my belief is that PEDs such as testosterone and steroids are exactly what helped Tiger play through the injury, and it is because these were no longer viable options with the new policy in place that there was no choice but to have the surgery and look to heal naturally (at least for the most part).
Supporting this claim is the fact that Tiger’s rapid physical transformation (3) from 2005 or so through 2008 became a lot more apparent from the summer of 2007 onwards (remember the almost superhuman physique displayed in the tight red shirt on Sunday at Oakmont?) If he did injure himself in the summer of 2007, it would make sense to up the dosage of PEDs in order to heal quicker and be able to play through the pain barrier.
4. Now I mentioned a little while ago that I felt the recovery from the ACL injury was undertaken in a more natural way than the “supplements” used in the few years prior. This doesn’t mean everything was totally above board, and is where Dr Galea comes in. Before the anti-doping policy was introduced, it would presumably be no problem ordering testosterone and the like from more ‘mainstream’ sources, such as the Biogenesis clinic in Miami (NOTE, please click on the link below).
Once the policy came into play, you would have to be more canny. I believe when Tiger was off with this ACL injury, he dropped the testosterone and the steroids as a positive drug test would signal the end of his career, and all the dreams of passing Jack and becoming the best there’s ever been would be forever crushed.
However, it is known that HGH can be administered in such a way as to make it extremely difficult to detect, hence why it is so popular and widespread throughout all of sport. Tiger had to retain his edge and athletic advantage over the rest of the field somehow, and it would make sense for this to be the one PED out of the three biggies to remain as part of the regime. Surely an HGH expert such as Dr Galea would be able to administer the hormone in such a way as to make it look natural?
5. When Dr Galea was found guilty, that’s when the last of the cocktail of PEDs had to go. And surprise, surprise, the injuries start to pile up in a way they never had before… the walk-off at The Players, the withdrawal at Doral through a “tight achilles” (from the man who won the US Open on one leg!) Suddenly the man who could play through anything was a lot more fragile. A cynical person might suggest that the weak tendons and ligaments are a classic case of post-PED withdrawal (not me of course, hehe!)
So, am I saying that all of Tiger’s success was built on a foundation of lies? Not really. I don’t believe he was juicing earlier in his career, such as in 2000, which is rightly considered to be his finest year of Tour. With or without enhancements he would have been the greatest player in the world, just maybe not by quite such an astonishing distance.
Many people say that steroids, testosterone, HGH etc. would be of little use to a golfer. This is true when looking at individual facets of the game in isolation, such as driving distance, iron play and short game. However, what they forget is that PEDs help with your endurance and therefore allow you to train harder. How can it not be an advantage to have the physical stamina to practice for eight hours a day rather than four?
Recovery time after exertion is also sped up dramatically, so you can be at your best every single week. It’s interesting that as Tiger increased in size and was at his most physically impressive, he was suddenly able to put himself in contention every single week. Look at the absurd level of consistency from 2006-2009 and compare it to that of 2001-2002, two hugely impressive years but nowhere near as consistent. Post-2009/Dr G, Tiger has began to have many more off-weeks where he doesn’t even come close to winning, which is understandable as physical energy levels wax and wane. This can be explained in 2010 and 2011 through swing changes, personal trauma etc. but not so much from 2012 onwards, where he clearly has the game to play the lights out but can’t do so on a consistent basis. Not being quite as fresh from day-to-day due to lack of enhancements will do that to you.
Another, much under-appreciated benefit of PED’s is the MENTAL well-being they provide. What do steroids, testosterone and HGH all have in common? They make you feel youthful, confident and capable of achieving anything. Take a cocktail of all three and you start to feel bulletproof. If you walk around in a state of euphoria believing you are the man, then you are much more likely to hit that great drive or hole that clutch putt on the 72nd hole under the most intense pressure. Without the added help, these things won’t come quite as easily (notice how the clutch putting has almost evaporated in recent years?)
Tiger has always been known as a terrific closer of tournaments. However, it may surprise you to learn that when he was a wiry young man, not pumped full of exogenous testosterone and anabolic steroids, he was much more prone to hitting poor shots under pressure (relating to my ‘confidence’ point above).
2000-2001 is considered by many to be his finest stretch, but think about some of the crazy shots that were hit during the business end of tournaments:
- The drive that was sliced miles right on the 2nd hole of the 2000 PGA playoff against Bob May, which would have resulted in a bogey if for not the tremendous slice of luck afforded on the 2nd shot, in which Tiger’s ball hit the cart path and trundled on over the green into par-saving territory.
- The even worse drive on the 3rd and final playoff hole which would have been unplayable had some kid not thrown in out of the wilderness back down the cart path. This was one of the most fortunate playoff victories of all time.
- 2001 Bay Hill Invitational – 16th hole, final round: Tiger hits it 2 feet from OB. Then hits another disastrous tee shot on the 18th which only avoids going OB as a spectator gets in the way!
- 2001 NEC Invitational – Only requires par on the final hour to beat Furyk, yet somehow manages to miss the green with a pitching wedge from the centre of the fairway and winds up with a bogey. Hits two or three woeful drives in the playoff but is fortunate as each result in playable seconds, and can also thank his lucky stars that Furyk misses a multitude of makeable birdie putts which would have put the tournament to bed. Wins on the 7th extra hole.
- 2001 Dubai Desert Classic – Shocking drive on the final hole, ending in a huge upset as Thomas Bjorn slays the mighty Tiger.
- In general, Tiger would often bogey the final hole of a tournament when he was in the lead, albeit sometimes when his nearest challenger had to birdie it. This is a trait which has returned post-Galea.
When did this ever happen once Tiger had bulked up? (And in my opinion was on this cocktail of confidence boosters). Think Hank Haney era basically. The only example I can muster is the bogey-bogey finish at the 2005 Masters, but I think Tiger always finds it tough to win the first major after a drought, it wouldn’t be human not to feel nervous, testosterone or no testosterone. Back nine of 1999 PGA and the lost opportunities in recent years are cases in point.
So, given my assertion that Tiger wasn’t juicing during some of the best years of this career, and therefore was clearly the best golfer in the world either way, why would he use anything? My belief is that the pressure of winning majors and passing Jack started to take its toll at some point during the early to mid 2000s (which is alluded to by Hank Haney in ‘The Big Miss’ actually), so external ways of finding supreme confidence were required. As I said earlier, if you’re taking testosterone, HGH and steroids, you’ll feel like nothing is out of reach – wouldn’t you love to stand over a 15 foot putt to win a major feeling that way?
I would ask the administrator(s) here to please give this thread a chance. Tiger Woods is my sporting hero, and it pains me to write what I have. This isn’t intended as a windup and certainly isn’t written with the intention of citing hatred and/or anger. All I want is a reasonable discussion on the matter. I want more than anything in the world to believe that Tiger was a clean athlete (I have no doubt that he is now) so if any of the great members here can convince me then that’s fantastic. I’d like to hear from both ends of the spectrum really, from Tiger fans who believe that the PED accusations are are a load of hot air, and from those who may confess to having doubts on our hero’s legacy. Questioning doesn’t make you any less of a fan, it’s only natural to ask questions and to live in a state of blind adoration is very dangerous indeed.
Thank you very much for reading, I appreciate it.