Tiger Woods and Steroids or HGH: Could It Be True?

David PaisieContributor IIJanuary 1, 2010

OAKMONT, PA - JUNE 14:  Tiger Woods hits a bunker shot on the first hole during the first round of the 107th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club on June 14, 2007 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Ever since Tiger Woods started wearing those really tight golf shirts to show off his bulked-up body, which I think, if I recall correctly, began in 2007, there have been whispers that he may be using steroids or HGH (i.e., performance enhancing drugs - PEDs). 

I must admit that I, at the time, like most people, wondered out loud to friends and work colleagues if it could be possible.  His sudden increase in size simply gave me cause to wonder if it could be true. 

The reaction to these whispers by most golf fans, and sports fans in general, was that there was no way Tiger would cheat and that they could not see what possible benefit one could get from PEDs with regard to golf. 

The reaction was basically the same by the mainstream media, at least the ones that were even willing to bring it up.  Most in the mainstream media did not even address the whispers.

Gary Player, in July 2007, addressing the media at the Open Championship (i.e., the British Open) stated he was aware of two male golf professionals that were using PEDs (he was told in confidence by these players and thus had promised not to mention any names) and thought the number could be as high as 10or much higher. 

The reaction by most of the players was that Gary was trying to damage golf and it was silly to think anyone was using PEDs on the U.S. PGA tour.

Tiger, who in 2006 stated he wanted to see testing for PEDs started as soon as possible, said the following at the time:  "If anything, probably out here it would be testing positive for maybe being hung over a little bit," Woods said.

Phil Mickelson at the time had this reaction: "I don't think there's even a remote chance that will happen," he said of a golfer testing positive for steroids.

At the time of Gary Player’s revelations, to my knowledge, none of the three networks that covered golf (i.e., NBC, ABC, and CBS) never even tried to speculate who Gary might be referring to.  The obvious first choice was Tiger Woods, for reasons mentioned above, but no one dared mention his name.  The second choice might be Camilo Villegas, but he wasn’t mentioned either.

I thought to myself at the time, and mentioned to friends, that it seemed odd to me that no one at the networks would even begin to speculate on who Gary Player was referring to. 

Here was a Hall of Fame golfer making a pretty shocking statement and there was a fairly weak response in return by the three networks covering golf.    

The reaction by most fans and the mainstream media to the suggestion that a pro male golfer (e.g.; Tiger) could be using PEDs was exactly what I expected, which was based on raw emotion, a desire to protect the golden goose of golf (i.e., Tiger) and, in some cases, it seemed total naivete.

The common misconception about PEDs by fans, and by the mainstream media alike, was that the only benefit from using PEDs was increase in muscle size and muscle speed. 

PEDs do increase muscle size and speed, but other benefits are reduction in recovery time needed between hard workouts, being able to train harder and longer, reducing inflammation and swelling, increased energy, and speeding healing time from injuries.

I can understand casual sports fans not knowing all the benefits an athlete can get from using PEDs, but there is no excuse that members of the mainstream media being unaware of their multiple benefits.   If they don’t know, they should do some research (i.e., do their jobs for a change). 

My suspicions about Tiger potential PED use grew more when an article was published in 2007 in the magazine Men's Fitness.  In the article they somewhat described in detail, via Tiger's trainer, what Tiger's Woods' daily workout was. 

In the article, it was stated when Tiger came onto the U.S. PGA Tour in late 1996, he was 6’ 2” in height, weighed 158 pounds, and had a 29-inch waist. 

At the time the article was written, Tiger weighed about 185 pounds and had a 31-inch waist.  Thus, an increase of approximately 30 pounds, which appears, based on appearance, to be all muscle.    

Further stated in the article, Tiger’s Las Vegas-based trainer, Keith Kleven, said Tiger was working out five to six days a week with weights.

I read elsewhere at about the same time, I think in Golf Digest, that Tiger also runs, hits practice balls, and plays at least 18 holes of golf, as well, on these five or six days. 

Kleven went on to say in the article that Tiger’s lifting was “off the charts” and that he had a much higher endurance to high reps then seen in most golfers. 

Kleven would not mention specific amounts lifted, but did share that Tiger had recently reached new highs. Kleven went on to say the following: “Pound for pound, I put him with any athlete around.”

Most weight lifters don't lift anywhere near six days a week.  Tiger's trainer, in the article, basically admitted that much by saying he didn’t know why most other athletes only lifted two or three days a week. 

Playing golf, hitting balls, running, and lifting weights that much in a week would certainly lead to sore muscles and sore joints.

I am amazed if Tiger or anyone could do this constantly without seeking something to help to ease the soreness and swelling and to increase recovery time.

As mentioned earlier, PED's have the ability to help the body recover from hard and frequent workouts or injuries and to reduce inflammation. 

Now is a good time to remind everyone that Tiger has had, I believe, four operations on his left knee (one to remove a cyst, two to remove loose or damaged cartilage, and one to repair a torn ACL).  

That is a lot of operations on one knee. This fact, considered with his workout routine, certainly has increased my suspicion level. 

Recently, in the middle of all this reporting of Tiger Woods and his what seems to be endless list of mistresses, it was reported that Tiger has received blood treatments (i.e., "blood spinning" - a rich platelet-rich plasma injection therapy to speed healing) from a Canadian doctor that has been charged with transporting PEDs (i.e., steroids and HGH) into the United States illegally. 

This Canadian doctor had traveled to his home in Orlando multiple times to give treatments to Tiger while he was recovering from his ACL surgery in late 2008/early 2009. 

Now, if this doctor was a U.S. doctor it may have not caused me to pause as much.  However, it is a doctor from Canada (where, by the way, HGH is legal).  I wondered to myself why he would use a doctor from Canada.   

It just seemed odd to me and seriously start to think the chance Tiger used PEDs, more so than ever, was a real possibility. 

After hearing this, I discovered that this "blood spinning" treatment, which I had not heard of before the story broke about this Canadian doctor, is done by U.S. doctors, so there is no need to use this doctor for that reason. 

Now, none of this means for a fact that Tiger is using anything illegal, but it certainly leads one to wonder.   

The recent events where Tiger has cheated in his personal life with all these women has lead to me being even more suspicious about his PED use.  If he has an integrity issue in that area, could he have integrity issues elsewhere?  The answer is possibly.   

Tiger is extremely competitive.  Breaking Jack Nicklaus' 18 professional wins in the major golf events seems to seriously border on being an obsession with him.  The cheating in his personal life leads one to think he believes he is above the rules of life (i.e., he can do what he wants and he thinks he will get away with it).

If Tiger’s knee was giving him problems and he wasn't recovering as quickly or as well as he wanted to or needed to be able to continue his march towards breaking Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins record, would he cheat? 

I think the proper answer is to say, yes, it is a possibility.  To say anything else, especially when considering everything known to date about Tiger and what we have seen in other sports, I think would be either a case of  not being able to think rationally due to letting one’s emotion take over,  being totally biased, or simply being totally naïve.   

It is my opinion, with regard to Tiger Woods and PEDs, everyone needs to step back and take into account that we have an athlete here in Tiger Woods, which until recently, was making approximately $100 million a year and recently became the first billion dollar athlete in terms of total lifetime earnings. 

This doesn’t even go into the amount of money the networks that cover golf and all the companies he endorses make on his performance.  Obviously, the amount is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. 

Based on the amount of money involved here, quite simply, a lot is riding on Tiger Woods being able to continue to perform at the highest of levels. 

To think there is not any chance he has used PEDs in the sports and business culture we live in today, where more times than not the ends seem to justify the means, would be, I am sorry to say, simply admitting to being a total fool. 

I am, in no way, trying to suggest by writing this article that Tiger has definitively used PEDs.  My only intent is to make people think about this subject in a rational way and to not be so naïve, emotional, or biased about it. 

Most reactions by both fans and media to date regarding this subject matter, in my opinion, have not been very rational and, in most cases, totally biased. 

Of course, only time will tell on this story.  Like the Barry Bonds case, this will take time to play out.  I hope, for the sake of golf, that Tiger never used PEDs.

However, I strongly believe the US PGA Tour needs to look into the matter and not bury its head in the sand. 

Quite simply, I don’t want golf to be what Major League Baseball has become, which is where most all records are now tainted due to doubts on who used PEDs. 

I would have liked to see golf stay pure.  Sadly, like most other sports, I am no longer sure that it is or will ever be again.