Barron vs. Tour: It’s judge’s decision

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Attorneys for Doug Barron, the first player suspended under the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy, made the case Friday in federal court in Memphis, Tenn., to reinstate the journeyman.

Barron, banned from the Tour for one year, is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction so that he can play in the second stage of the Tour’s Qualifying School next week.

photo

Doug Barron during the first round of the 2006 Buick Open.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Tu Pham heard more than three hours of argument and said he would make his decision by early Saturday.

The Tour suspended Barron on Nov. 2 for using the beta blocker Propranolol and exogenous testosterone. Both drugs, Barron says, were prescribed by a physician. They also are deemed to be prohibited substances on the Tour’s anti-doping list.

Attorney Jeffrey Rosenblum, representing Barron, told The Associated Press that his client took the drugs under the supervision of a doctor for "therapeutic use" and made no secret of it.

He said Barron began taking testosterone in 2005 because his natural level was below the level considered normal.

"It is not performance-enhancing when it is used to keep a man within the normal range," Rosenblum said.

Barron started using beta blockers at age 18, when he was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, a heart problem in which the valve that separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart does not close properly.

Rosenblum said Barron is "disabled" under the Americans With Disabilities Act because low testosterone "impairs a major life activity, and that is intimacy with your wife." Barron, who did not attend the hearing, and his wife, who was in the courtroom, have two children.

Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president, would not address specifics of the complaint when reached by phone in China.

“We are aware of the complaint, but we don’t comment on pending litigation,’’ Votaw said.

Rich Young, attorney for the PGA Tour, said Barron knowingly violated the rules. He called testosterone "the granddaddy of anabolic steroids" and said "clean sports are a very important public interest." Beta blockers, he said, could calm the nerves of an athlete who had the shakes, giving him an unfair advantage.

Two requests by Barron for a therapeutic use exemption, known as a TUE, were denied. In October 2008, three months after the Tour enacted its drug policy, Barron was instructed to stop taking Propranolol. In January 2009, he was denied a TUE for exogenous testosterone.

"He was told very clearly, 'You are not to use testosterone.' To get ready for the St. Jude Classic, he got a shot," Young said.

Barron, 40, played a full Nationwide schedule last year, making only five cuts in 17 starts to earn $33,446. He played four times on the Nationwide Tour this year, and his lone PGA Tour start came at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, where he missed the cut. He played eight full seasons on the Tour, with his best finish a tie for third at the Byron Nelson Championship in 2005.

– The Associated Press contributed

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