PGA Tour Deny Dustin Johnson Suspended for Cocaine, Golfer on Leave of Absence

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 1, 2014

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 20:  Dustin Johnson of the United States tees off on the 4th hole during the final round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 20, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Updates from Saturday, August 2

The PGA Tour released a statement on Dustin Johnson's current status on Friday:

With regard to media reports that Dustin Johnson has been been suspended by the PGA TOUR, this is to clarify that Mr. Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA TOUR. 

Original Text

It turns out that Dustin Johnson's problems off the golf course are significantly worse than anyone might have imagined.

Johnson announced Thursday that he was taking a leave of absence from professional golf for personal reasons, and according to a report from Michael Bamberger and Michael Walker of Golf.com, he has been suspended by the PGA Tour for six months after failing a drug test with cocaine in his system:

According to the source, Johnson has failed three drug tests: one for marijuana in 2009 and two for cocaine, in 2012 and 2014. He was previously suspended for the 2012 failed test, but that suspension was never made public. Under the PGA Tour's drug-testing policies, the Tour is not required to announce any disciplinary actions against players who test positive for recreational drugs.

However, the pair state that the PGA Tour had not commented on the report at the time, and Johnson's attorney denied the claims of the source:

The PGA Tour released a curt statement wishing Johnson well and saying it looked forward to his return. When asked directly about Johnson’s failed drug tests and suspension, Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour, said Friday that the Tour would have no further comment. ...

... The suspension means Johnson, 30, will miss the PGA Championship -- the season’s final major takes place next week in Louisville, Ky. -- and also the PGA Tour’s lucrative FedEx Cup playoff series. Johnson's agent, David Winkle of Hambric Sports Management, notified the PGA of America on Thursday that his client will also not be competing in the Ryder Cup in Scotland this September. Earlier this week, when asked if Johnson was about to be suspended by the PGA Tour, Winkle texted an SI reporter, "Don’t believe everything you hear."

This report comes less than 24 hours after Johnson issued a statement, via Steve DiMeglio of USA Today, that he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons:

I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced. By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.

While one applauds the suspension because Johnson clearly needs help, Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times made a very astute observation on Twitter about the testing policy:

Johnson has had an inconsistent career on the course, winning eight PGA Tour events and finishing in the top 10 of Grand Slam events seven times. He's played in 17 events this season, finishing in the top 10 seven times, missing two cuts and withdrawing from the Shell Houston Open after the first round.

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Dustin Johnson of the United States looks on during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The bigger question here is whether Johnson takes this opportunity to get his mind right. He's reportedly failed three drug tests, including a second one for cocaine. He had to know there was a microscope hovering over him, yet he managed to fail another drug test.

There's a big problem here that hopefully gets addressed, if for no other reason than to allow Johnson an opportunity to live a healthy life. Forget what happens on the golf course, because that's secondary. 

No one denies Johnson has talent, and he will be eligible to return in February if the report is true.

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