Barron first player to violate policy

Doug Barron became the first PGA Tour player to be suspended for violating its performance-enhancing drug policy.

Barron, 40, a veteran who played just four times this year on the developmental Nationwide Tour and once on the PGA Tour and failed to make a cut, will begin his suspension immediately -- although his status was in limbo because he was playing the Nationwide Tour this year on a medical exemption.

"I would like to apologize for any negative perception of the tour or its players resulting from my suspension," Barron said in a statement released by the PGA Tour. "I want my fellow tour members and the fans to know that I did not intend to gain an unfair competitive advantage or enhance my performance while on tour."

It is unclear what substance Barron took or what he did to produce a positive drug test. The tour said it would have no further comment on the matter.

The news was greeted with shock at the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship event in China that has attracted several of the world's best players.

"I'm surprised to hear that," British Open champion Stewart Cink said. "I know him a little bit. He's taken medicine in the past for a lot of different reasons. I would think that has a lot to do with it."

The PGA Tour announced that it would be implementing full-scale anti-doping measures in December 2007, with the program commencing on July 1, 2008.

Since that time, random drug testing has occurred at PGA Tour events, including the major championships, with tests administered by the National Center for Drug Free Sport.

Barron's is the first suspension under the program, but the tour did not announce when the positive test occurred.

Barron's last official event was the Mexico Open on the Nationwide Tour in early September.

His best finish on the Nationwide Tour was a second place on five occasions. On the PGA Tour, his best finish was a tie for third at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship in 2005, a year in which he had two top-10s and earned more than $700,000.

The last time Barron made news was in 2006 at what is now the Transitions Championship outside Tampa, Fla., where he removed his shirt to play a shot out of the water on the 16th hole at Innisbrook. He exposed an ample belly on television, drawing jokes from players.

"I don't believe it," Rod Pampling said. "Doug Barron? Look at the man. Tell him to take his shirt off and ask anyone, 'Do you believe he's on performance-enhancing drugs?"

Jerry Kelly said he has known Barron for years and also said he had several health issues.

"My big question is whether he was doing something to make himself feel better and did not get the therapeutic use exemption," Kelly said. "I mean, this guy had health problems. I was shocked when I heard, but I also understand knowing that he was trying to feel better."

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.