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Banned Aussie golfer blames "error of judgement"

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Australian golfer Mark Hensby has apologised for refusing to provide a drug testing sample in “an error of judgement” that has cost him a year-long suspension.

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The US PGA Tour imposed the ban after Hensby declined to provide a urine sample after the first round of the tournament in Jackson, Mississippi, in October.

The one-time world No.27 said that, while it’s no excuse for violating regulations, he was in a state of despair and considering retirement at the time, having slumped to outside the top 1500 in the rankings.

Call me stupid but don’t call me a cheater

Hensby, who won the 2004 John Deere Classic and finished top five at the 2005 Masters, issued a statement on Wednesday detailing the events of October 26 that let up to his ban.

“(It) had nothing to do with taking a banned substance,” he said.

“Call me stupid but don’t call me a cheater.

“I love the game. I love the integrity it represents. And I would never compromise the values and qualities the game deserves.”

Hensby said he was prepared to provide a blood sample but explained that in “a moment of anger and frustration” he wasn’t prepared to wait “at least a couple more hours” having already urinated during his second last hole of the round.

He said he would return in the morning to provide the sample.

“Another gentleman nearby me said ‘they have no authority to require me to stay’. Thus I left,” Hensby said.

“While in the car on the way to the hotel, I received a voicemail message from a Tour official whom I know well. This same gentleman texted me immediately after he left the voicemail message.

“I called him back and he asked me why I had left the testing area without giving a urine specimen.

“I explained to him that I had left because I was frustrated after not playing well. I thought that my career was pretty much over.”

A despairing Hensby said he’d told his caddy earlier that day that he was not only not going to qualifying school the following week, but also contemplating quitting golf.

“The last 10 years approximately has seen my ranking plummet from 27 to 1600,” he said.

“It has been a very difficult pill to swallow and I hope people would understand the professional pain and turmoil that I have been experiencing for nearly a decade.”

As well as his Masters charge in 2005, Hensby shared third at the US Open and was equal 15th at the British Open the same season.

But he has not been the same player since being injured in a car accident in 2006.

He made just two PGA Tour starts in 2016/17, missing the cut in both events.

Last year, Hensby played 14 times on the Web.com Tour, making five cuts.

– AAP

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