JOHANNESBURG — Four golfers on the European Tour have failed drugs tests, and potentially two of them will face punishment for taking a substance that had previously been banned.
South African officials said Saturday that the players, who were all members of the same European Tour event last year, had tested positive for substances like meldonium. They are yet to be identified.
The European Tour said in a statement the new ruling worldwide means that players will no longer be allowed to take “any substance(s) that were previously on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list.”
Anti-doping authorities and WADA are working to find out what has been used in the recent cases and then to “explore the level of potential sanctionable conduct for the particular substance(s) concerned,” the European Tour said.
The European Tour told the Associated Press late Saturday that it is not currently taking any further action against any of the players involved.
Earlier, South African Golf Union (SAGU) CEO Cameron Peart said “the wrong ingredient has been used and all four players have been held back because of this.”
Meldonium became a banned substance on Jan. 1, and was banned because it can increase blood flow and help with recovery from strenuous exercise.
On Thursday, the European Tour said its tournament in Cape Town — where the South African Open is being played this week — is the first event in the world to test for meldonium. The governing body says “a few players” who were taking medication were already exempt from tests.
The SAGU is awaiting information from the European Tour on exactly what the players tested positive for.
“Of course, the players and their families are devastated by the whole affair,” Peart said. “What triggered the whole thing, I don’t know.
“They were young guys playing at a high level. It was a real disappointment for them. They were quite shocked, quite emotional about it.”