Drug testing to be introduced at the Open

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The Independent Online

Drug-testing will be introduced at the British Open, the oldest major championship, for the first time this year.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient (R&A) organisers, said the players at the 16-19 July event would be subject to the same anti-doping procedures that have been taking place for the past year on the main world tours.

"The players are already well accustomed to drug testing and will look at this as just another week on tour," Dawson told a news conference on Tuesday.

"We will be using the European Tour's anti-doping procedures which are well tried and tested. The Royal & Ancient thoroughly supports the anti-doping policies at golf events."

R&A officials also said they would offer financial aid to help fans get to Turnberry, in view of the global credit crunch.

"Corporate hospitality is 15 to 20 percent down in line with all UK sporting events," said director of championship David Hill.

"We're not hugely concerned but realise we are in a period of recession so we're trying to reach out to clubs and are encouraging them to bring members and we will pay 250 pounds ($362.5) towards the cost of a coach.

"We remain pretty upbeat and are confident there is still huge interest in the championship," added Hill.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington picked up a cheque for 750,000 pounds after winning at Royal Birkdale last year but prize money for the 138th Open has still to be decided.

"In recent years we have been the most lucrative major championship in dollar terms but with the shift in the exchange rate that may be difficult to sustain," said Hill.

"We have not yet determined the level of prize money for this year and we will leave that decision until we get closer to the event to take into account the latest economic statistics."