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O'Meara says Singh should be punished for doping

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O'Meara says Singh should be punished for doping

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Mark O'Meara doesn't think Vijay Singh would ever try to cheat but still believes the Fijian should be suspended ``for a couple of months'' by the PGA Tour for admitting he used a deer-antler spray that contains a banned substance.

O'Meara, who called Singh a friend, said he heard about the Fijian's admission on Wednesday, but doesn't believe he benefited on the course from the unorthodox treatment.

``I was obviously a little bit surprised with what I heard, but I don't think Vijay is a guy that would ever take advantage of anything. I know Vijay,'' O'Meara said after finishing his first round at the Dubai Desert Classic.

``I guess they could probably suspend him for a couple of months. I would think so,'' the two-time major winner said. ``Listen, people have had to pay the price before and he should be no different. If that is the case and the commissioner and tour feels he should be suspended for X amount of time, I think Vijay is man enough that he'll do that.''

The 49-year-old Singh said he paid one of Sports With Alternatives To Steroids' owners $9,000 in November for the spray and other products, Sports Illustrated said. Singh released a statement at the Phoenix Open confirming he had taken it, but that he was ``absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.''

Singh, who won the last of his 56 titles in 2008, said he will cooperate with the tour's review of the issue.

Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open winner, said in New Zealand on Thursday he also used and promoted deer-antler spray for more than 20 years, and was surprised to learn it contained a banned substance. Charles was a spokesman for the deer-antler product and used it daily over two decades.

Despite Singh's admission, O'Meara and other golfers said they felt the measures in place to combat doping in golf, including random testing, were adequate.

``I don't think doping is a problem in golf whatsoever. I really don't,'' Paul Casey said. ``There are so many facets to our sport. Why was he taking it? Was he taking it to recover from injury? It doesn't help you get the ball in the hole at the end of the day. This is the first case I've heard where a guy admitted to taking anything.''

The oddity of deer-antler spray being used by golfers was the talk on the Dubai course on Thursday, with Lee Westwood among the players having a good laugh about it. Most said they had never heard of it until the story on Singh.

``Deer-antler spray? That sounds like something you wax your car with, doesn't it?'' Westwood said. ``I've never heard of it. ... You have to be careful about what you take. I try not to take anything now, really, other than Corona and vodka.''

Colin Montgomerie, a rival of Singh during their heydays, called the whole case ``odd'' and said the European Tour doctor ``came to us (and said) deer antler, whatever it is, don't take that this afternoon lads.''

Montgomerie said the tour had nothing to worry about with him when it came to doping.

``I can only speak for myself and it's not widespread within the Montgomerie family,'' the 2010 Europe Ryder Cup captain said, looking down at his torso. ``Unfortunately. You can see that though, can't you, really.''

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Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

The Capitals managed to earn a point on Friday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but the game felt like a missed opportunity for Washington. After giving up four goals in the first period, seven power plays including two 5-on-3s, and two power play goals, the Caps knew they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss.

“We were still not quite there maybe emotionally,” Lars Eller said.

At least not for the first period. The Caps allowed four goals in the opening 20 minutes to dig themselves into a 4-1 hole. Each goal came from the slot as the Caps had no control over the front of their own net.

“Just tough to start that way, to kind of dig ourselves a big hole,” Brett Connolly said. “Obviously, it’s good to come back and get a point but we don’t need to do that to ourselves. It takes a lot of energy to get back in that game.”

Washington battled back to tie the game at 4, but penalties ultimately derailed their momentum, allowing Florida to retake the lead.

After scoring three straight goals, the Caps took three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the second period.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad as he made no attempt to play a loose puck that trickled past the Florida defenseman. He was clearly focused on delivering the hit and nothing else.

Less than a minute later, Eller was caught on the ice a tad early, and Washington was called for too many men.

“I see Backy coming for a change, they had full possession,” Eller said. “I don't see behind my back, I think the guys are telling me he has one skate over so I think it was an unnecessary call, but what am I going to say? It's a tough one.”

With 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal late in the period.

Even after a furious comeback, the Caps could not escape the second with the score tied because of the penalties.

Just 43 seconds after Huberdeau’s goal, Washington went right back to 5-on-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov was tossed from a faceoff by the linesman and argued the call, eventually earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“He said something he shouldn't have said to the referee,” Reirden said of the call.

The Caps' penalty problems were exacerbated by the continued problems of the penalty kill.

Heading into Friday's game, Washington was only killing off 72.2 percent of the power plays they faced. They allowed another two power play goals Friday as they continued to struggle when facing the extra man.

“We have room for improvement for sure,” Reirden said of his penalty kill. “It’s a new system, new with the way we’re killing, its new personnel. We’re learning. We’re missing a key guy in Tom on that as well. It’s not easy, either, when you’re 5-on-3 when they’ve got talented players that can convert in that spot. It’s definitely a work in progress and I didn't expect it to go smoothly to start with. That’s one of the areas that we knew was gonna be new to our team this year and it’s gonna continue to take some work. It’s something that definitely is a work in progress.”

Mistakes put the Caps down 4-1, they put them down 5-4, they cost them a valuable point against a previously winless Panthers team before a four-game road trip through Canada, and they are ultimately why the defending Stanley Cup champions are only 3-2-2 to start the season.

And they know it.

“We’re still trying to find our game,” Connolly said. “Would we have liked to have picked up where we left off? Yes. But it’s not easy. We played a lot of hockey last year and a short summer and you come in here and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve done some good things and we’ve done some not so good things.

"I think if you look at last season we weren't very good either at the start. We weren't at our best. Just take the positives and know that we can overcome that. It hasn’t been disastrous. We’re still getting points, we’re still above .500 right now with a tough couple back-to-backs to start the year. So not the worst start, but obviously we have another level.”

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Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.

Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.

In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.

After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.

“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.

When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”

Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.

But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.

Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.

“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.

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