Performance-enhancing drug ban for Bhavik Patel proves PGA’s detection system is not working

Patel, 24, was benched until October, joining equally unknown Doug Barron as the only players from a PGA Tour-operated circuit to be suspended for using PEDs, writes Steve Elling.

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It is perfectly understandable if even the most devout aficionados missed this particular news. After all, it was a busy week, especially in UAE circles, where top-10 big boys Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were plying their trade.

Passing with little recognition and even less interest was the news last week that a player from the developmental Web.com Tour in the US was suspended for failing a drug test, becoming only the second player to be banned for using a performance-enhancing drug (PED) since screening began in the United States in mid-2008.

Bhavik Patel, 24, was benched until October, joining equally unknown Doug Barron as the only players from a PGA Tour-operated circuit to be suspended for using PEDs. Given the smoke and secrecy surrounding anything relating to player discipline and the US tour, few will be surprised to learn Patel was provisionally suspended more than three months ago. The tour offered no other details.

Former world No 1 Vijay Singh was suspended two years ago, though it was later overturned, for using a once-banned substance derived from deer antlers, earning him several nicknames, including Lord Venison and the Antler Dismantler. There was little comedic substance to the lawsuit he subsequently filed, since it seemingly underscored several perceived faults in the system.

Patel’s sanction reinforces that notion.

The benching of two lesser players, over seven years of testing involving hundreds of players, suggests that Patel’s sample is not all that is amiss.

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