Aussie golfer Mark Hensby has spoken out after receiving a one-year ban from the PGA Tour for a drug test violation.
The 46-year-old has denied that he is a ‘cheat’ but admitted he was ‘stupid’ not to follow protocol after a frustrating opening round at the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier this year.
Hensby, who won the 2004 John Deere Classic, said he opted not to take the urine test as he’d just urinated on his 17th hole that day and feared his professional golf career was approaching its end.
He left the golf course and didn’t return to complete the test despite being told by a PGA Tour official that he was violating the anti-doping policy by not providing a sample. He was later disqualified from the tournament.
“Call me stupid but don’t call me a cheater,” Hensby said in a statement. “I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents. And I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves.
“I made a mistake. It was an error in judgement which frankly I regret in hindsight. My error however had nothing to do with taking a banned substance. I have never taken any banned substances in my entire life.”
Hensby ended 2004, the year of his sole PGA Tour win, 15th in the money list. The following year, he finished in a tie for fifth at the Masters, tied for third at the US Open and shared 15th spot at the Open.
He also won the Scandinavian Masters on the European Tour, climbed to a career high of 27th on the world rankings and subsequently qualified for the International side that contested the 2005 Presidents Cup.
His career has since been dogged by a succession of injuries, with his sixth place finish at the 2015 Barbasol Championship his first PGA Tour top ten finish in seven years.
He confirmed that this plight in his career was another reason why he didn’t stick around to complete the test.
“While walking down the ninth fairway, my 18th hole, sitting six-over-par, I turned to my caddie and told him in a moment of anger and frustration that I was not going to Q-School the following week and maybe in fact, it was just time to retire from golf.
“The last ten years approximately has seen my world ranking plummet from 27 to 1,600. It has been a very difficult pill to swallow and I hope people would understand the professional pain and turmoil that I have been experiencing for nearly a decade.
“None of this however is an excuse for my decision to not take the drug test after the round that day.”