AKRON, Ohio — Dustin Johnson’s absence from professional golf, which he called a “leave of absence” in a statement Thursday, is a six-month suspension issued by the PGA Tour for having tested positive for cocaine, Golf.com reported Friday.
Johnson, a top golfer who has come close to winning two majors and had clinched a spot on the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, had tested positive twice before, Golf.com reported — once in 2009 for marijuana and once in 2012 for cocaine. The latter time, he was suspended, according to the report, but he said that he missed time because of a bad back.
The PGA Tour does have drug testing. But unlike major team-sports leagues, it does not make public its suspensions or fines — for any breach of conduct. A thick file (five suspensions) on John Daly, for instance, became known this year only after it was part of a libel suit the golfer failed to win.
The PGA Tour rebutted the Golf.com report.
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“With regards to media reports that Dustin Johnson has 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,” the tour’s statement said.
Johnson said in a vague statement issued by his management company Thursday that he would take a leave of absence effective immediately to seek professional help for “personal challenges.”