2004: McGimpsey cleared in drug probe

As Garth McGimpsey flew into Chicago Aug. 8 with his Walker Cup candidates, the Great Britain & Ireland captain did so with a freshly cleared name.

McGimpsey, whose Bangor, Northern Ireland, home was raided May 13 by customs officials who seized more than $100,000 worth of cocaine in a package delivered from Amsterdam (Golfweek, May 29), has been cleared of wrongdoing. McGimpsey was arrested, charged with suspected possession of cocaine and released on bail, and was finally told Aug. 2 that the charges would be dropped and that he was no longer under investigation.

“It’s a huge relief to get this episode past me,” McGimpsey told Golfweek before heading to Chicago Golf Club, the site of the 2005 Walker Cup matches. “It’s been the worst 10 weeks of my life. . . . I can now get on with the rest of my life.”

According to the Irish Examiner, a Customs and Excise spokesman confirmed McGimpsey “has been released from bail.”

McGimpsey, 49, continued in his position as Walker Cup captain throughout the ordeal, and was in Chicago last week with his 14 players to prepare for the 2005 competition.

“I haven’t talked to the players about this,” McGimpsey said. “I did not feel it was right to do so when they were playing tournaments, and that was more important than talking to me. But I will have a quiet word with each member of the team just to put them in the picture.”

There was talk that the 1985 British Amateur champion would resign the captaincy during the investigation, but he says he never contemplated such a move.

“I never gave any thought to resigning at any time because I was innocent,” he said. “I think if I had stepped down, then it would have sent out the wrong message.”

McGimpsey added that R&A secretary Peter Dawson and R&A Walker Cup selection committee chairman Peter McEvoy have been supportive throughout.

“I can’t thank (them) enough for the support,” he said.

McGimpsey said he still doesn’t know why the package turned up at his house, and fears it could have been an attempt to frame him. However, he has no idea why anyone would want to do that.

“A stain on my character has been removed,” McGimpsey told the BBC. “But it might never disappear until we find out who exactly was responsible for this, and why.”

McGimpsey, an agent for several leading golf sportswear companies, said a package arrived at his house May 13. He opened the box to find a football, teddy bear, tennis balls and sweets.

“Then at the bottom of the box were six packages, in brown paper,” McGimpsey told the Examiner.

“I immediately became suspicious.

I picked one up, but didn’t know what it was – explosives, drugs or whatever.

“Two minutes later, three cars pulled up in the driveway and two Customs men jumped out, knocked on the door and demanded to be let in. They read me my rights and said they were investigating these six packages. I told him I knew nothing about them. It was nothing to do with me.”

McEvoy, a former GB&I Walker Cup captain, said McGimpsey would get through the ordeal.

“The situation must have been desperately worrying for Garth,” McEvoy told the Sport Telegraph in the United Kingdom, “but, like the good competitor he is, he took it on the chin and carried on. He’s as tough as old boots.”

McGimpsey now hopes he can focus on golf.

“I want to try and put this all behind me now, get on with my life,” he told the Examiner.

– Wire reports contributed

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