Testosterone in Golf

While rampant testosterone seems to have got Tiger Woods into all sorts of trouble at the top of the PGA tour, a golfer with low testosterone at the bottom of golf rankings is facing quite a different problem.

Doug Barron is suing the PGA after he was suspended for failing a dope test. Since 2005 he has been receiving monthly shots of synthetic testosterone, after struggling for years trying to understand why he was chronically fatigued and had absolutely no sexual desire.

The golfer’s natural testosterone count when he was prescribed the shots was 78 nanograms per deciliter of blood. Most healthy men his age have a testosterone level between 300 and 500.

CNN quoted Barron as saying “I was a 35-year-old man who, you know, wants to be living like a 35-year-old man. I was kind of embarrassed in a way. It wasn’t easy on me or my wife.”

Testosterone Didn’t Turn Him Into Tiger

Barron is far from a rock star in his sport. He reportedly earned about $33,000 last year, and during the previous eight seasons on the PGA Tour, his top finish was a tie for third place at the 2006 Byron Nelson Championship, one year after he began testosterone therapy.

Testosterone, banned in professional sports because it promotes muscle mass and strength, amongst other things, obviously hasn’t transformed him into Tiger Woods.

Barron got into trouble after the PGA introduced drug testing in 2008.

When the ban went into effect, Barron told the Tour that he was on beta blockers (for chest pain) and testosterone. He requested a therapeutic use exemption, arguing that he needed them to live normally.

Couldn’t Function Without It

PGA Tour physicians say they measured Barron’s testosterone levels at 325 in November 2008 and 296 in December 2008, according to court records. The Tour ruled that that Barron’s testosterone count was within acceptable range. He had to get off the drugs.

But Barron’s attorney said the testosterone levels were within acceptable range because Barron was receiving the shots.

He “just couldn’t function at all,” Barron said of his attempts to get off the medication. Without the testosterone, he was listless. Without the beta blockers, he was having chest pains.

He ignored the warning and had his monthly shot anyway. “I took a risk I should have known better than to do, and I got a shot of testosterone” in July just before the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, where he failed a random drug test.

Good Sex Life a “Major Life Activity”

His year-long suspension started in September, so he sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The definition of a disability is something that impairs a major life activity, and intimacy with your wife is a major life activity,” said Barron’s attorney Jeff Rosenblum.

Doug Barron isn’t the first to run up against the issue of testosterone. Golfer Shaun Micheel, who was granted a therapeutic exemption for abnormally low testosterone by the Tour in 2005 and was allowed to use synthetic testosterone.

In August 2006, Micheel was runner-up to Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship — a major tournament he won in 2003 — and defeated Woods in the first round at the 2006 HSBC World Match Play Championship. According to the PGA Web site, Micheel has earned $8 million since he went pro in 1992.