The Last Word: Real question facing Tiger is why use doctor linked with drugs

Calling Tiger Woods "brave" to launch his comeback in the Masters spotlight is as absurd as saying his drive on that first hole of that first round will be the most watched opening tee shot in the game's history. It won't even be in the top 10,000 most-watched opening tee shots.

It would be if the Augusta National actually allowed their television "partners" to relay the images to the rest of the world. But no, as is their – thankfully – inimitable way, the green jackets limit the live coverage for the first three days to three and a half hours and as these happen to be the last three and a half hours, the golfing fanatic is kept waiting and berating.

It means that Woods is guaranteed to tee off with just the good ol' Augusta patrons looking on – and there's a strong possibility it will only be those privileged souls looking on when he putts out on the 18th. Yep, that's right, the most eagerly anticipated round since golf began would have been witnessed "live" by the average attendance of Norwich City.

And therein lies the reason why Augusta is a perfect fit for Woods. Not because he doesn't want to be seen doing his day job again – in truth, that's all he does want – but because of the almost paranoid control exerted by the Masters committee. Believe it, if Howard Hughes had been a golfing professional, Augusta would have been the only tournament he would have played all year.

But, however cosseted it may be, Woods will still have to answer questions and his choice of venue will not necessarily make some of these questions any easier. Indeed, by choosing to re-emerge before the sporting press he may just have assisted in shining the light down an avenue he does not really want to go. Golf writers will not want to know about sex-trysting or sex-texting and will likely only make a half-hearted attempt to discover what really went on in the run-up to the fire-hydrant incident. They will sit back when he repeats over and over, "I already answered that in my statement" and figure "ho hum, the news editors would have been happy but I suppose it's got nothing to do with sport". Yet they will not be so nonchalantly swatted away when it comes to Dr Anthony Galea. Indeed, the very fact Woods mentioned the words "performance-enhancing drugs" in his "mea culpa" will only make their inquisitions that much more insistent.

For those of us who had no wish or need to hear his apologies, it was the most startling passage of the soliloquy. "Some people have made up things that never happened," he said. "They said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false." Who said he had used PEDs? Nobody in the paid-for media, that's for sure. Tiger might have found a blogger making such an accusation somewhere on the internet, but then if Tiger trawls around the web long enough he will doubtless find himself accused of every violation known to man or beast. No, all the media said was that he had been treated by a doctor who has been implicated in the use of PEDs. The only reason any suspicions may or may not be lingering in the air is because Woods has not been around to address them since the affair first came to light six months ago. His fault. Nobody else's.

Let's start with the things we do know. On the behest of Woods's management company, Dr Galea travelled from Canada to Woods' Orlando home early last year to administer "blood-spinning". This treatment involves extracting some of the patient's blood, separating the platelets and plasma in a centrifuge, and then injecting the platelet-rich plasma back into the injured area. Woods underwent radical knee reconstruction the previous year. Dr Galea returned to see the world No1 three times and was in touch with him as recently as last October. He claims he declined to see Woods again because of "all this drugs stuff".

That "stuff" involved being investigated and later charged by the Canadian authorities after his assistant was stopped at the border in September, carrying on his behalf Actovegin, an unapproved drug for sale in Canada which it is illegal to sell or import in the US. Dr Galea's assistant also had Nutroprin, a brand of Human Growth Hormone, in her possession. Dr Galea has since said the HGH was for his personal use. He has admitted giving his patients HGH in the past, but maintains none of these were professional athletes. As they continue their own investigations in the US, Federal officers have interviewed athletes who Dr Galea has treated, including Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees baseball player who has admitted taking steroids earlier in his career. Dr Galea is not registered to practise medicine in the state of Florida.

Here's what we don't know. Why did Woods see a doctor in a state where he is not registered to practise and hence would be breaking Florida law by practising there? Why did Woods see a doctor who has openly confessed to using and administering HGH? Did he know Dr Galea's association with PEDs? Why did he have to use that particular doctor for "blood-spinning", a technique of which Dr Lewis Mahrana, a past president of the New York Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, says: "every professional team's doctor, every sports medicine physician that I know, every major hospital institution has doctors that do it." Does he regret seeing Dr Galea? Is he annoyed with his management for arranging the treatment? Would he see Dr Galea again? Has Woods himself been contacted by the Feds?

All of these questions should be answered by Woods in Augusta. The Dr Galea connection seems to be perceived as part of the mistresses scandal, particularly after that quite frankly weird denial. It's not. Dr Galea has nothing to do with his private life, but everything to do with his sporting life. Woods has chosen to return at a venue where, he hopes, the emphasis will be solely on sport. So come on then, what's the story? It's time to be honest. About something that undeniably does have some relevance to his career.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Environment
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone