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Harvard Medical Expert Criticizes PGA Tour, Calls Decision to Suspend Doug Barron for Doping 'Unreasonable, Unfair and Discriminatory'

DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ --A Harvard medical expert internationally recognized as a leading authority on testosterone says that the PGA Tour's decision last month to suspend Doug Barron for doping when Barron's doctor had diagnosed him as having the medical condition hypogonadism and was treating Barron for this condition is "unreasonable, unfair and discriminatory."

Hypogonadism is the disorder of lower than normal testosterone levels, often referred to informally as Low T.

Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School is speaking out just one week after Robert S. Whitehead, CEO of Slate Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Durham, North Carolina, issued a public statement denouncing the PGA Tour's action last month that made Doug Barron the first and only player in professional golf to be suspended for doping.

Dr. Morgentaler, perhaps the most widely published and cited medical authority on Low T, is author of the book, Testosterone for Life. He is an expert medical consultant to several manufacturers of FDA-approved products to treat the condition of hypogonadism, including Whitehead's company, which markets Testopel®, the only FDA-approved long-acting testosterone replacement therapy product.

In a December 7 message to PGA Tour Commissioner Timothy W. Finchem, Whitehead offered to host a conference to bring the PGA Tour and Doug Barron together with some physicians with internationally-recognized expertise in this field to help professional golf construct sound Anti-Doping policies and procedures.

Commissioner Finchem has yet to respond to Whitehead's offer.

"The Whitehead proposal is a good, constructive idea that would both benefit the PGA Tour and help increase awareness of a surprisingly common yet poorly understood men's health issue," said Dr. Morgentaler. "I have informed him that I would be willing to participate and that I would gladly recommend other medical experts and encourage them to assist, too."

Whitehead reports that other leading experts in this specialized area of medicine have also expressed a willingness to participate.

Doug Barron has filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour, charging, among other things, discriminatory treatment under the Americans With Disabilities Law.

Both CEO Whitehead and Dr. Morgentaler stress that they have had no contact with Barron or with his doctor and are speaking out on the Barron suspension solely because the case illustrates the need to correct ignorance and misimpressions about Low T. Dr. Morgentaler notes that he has not personally treated Doug Barron.

In 2006 when controversy erupted about PGA 2003 Championship Winner Shaun Micheel's use of testosterone replacement therapy, Dr. Morgentaler explained to Sports Illustrated why Micheel's treatment should not be considered doping. After the PGA Tour last year adopted its Anti-Doping policy, it granted Micheel a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy, but denied one to Barron -- even though both men have the same medical condition and neither has exceeded a normal testosterone range.

Tiger Woods commented in support of the PGA Tour's current Anti-Doping policy when Barron was suspended under it.

Unless the PGA Tour revises its current policy it could find itself still entangled in this Low T controversy come November 2010 when Micheel's present exemption expires. The PGA Tour will require Micheel to give up testosterone replacement therapy for a minimum of six to eight weeks and go through the blood-testing process again in order to get another exemption.

Micheel called the process he had to go through the last time "adversarial" and said that it "nearly drove me out of the game."

"The PGA Tour and other sports groups need to distinguish between the illegitimate use of high-dose anabolic steroids for performance enhancement and the perfectly legitimate, medically supervised use of FDA-approved medications to treat a serious condition that prevents a man from achieving his full, normal athletic potential," said Dr. Morgentaler.

"Doug Barron and Shaun Micheel simply happen to be among the nearly 20% of adult men who suffer from this medical condition Low T in which the body produces too little testosterone, sapping strength, weakening bones and causing chronic fatigue," said the Harvard medical expert. "They need testosterone treatment to restore their levels to a normal range. This is standard, medically accepted therapy."

"The popular media and others are promoting ignorance when they vilify testosterone as if it were some devil-drug that is only used by cheaters and dopers," said Dr. Morgentaler. "The medically sound truth is that men who receive physician prescribed testosterone replacement therapy as treatment for Low T should be regarded no differently from men who receive treatment for other hormone deficiencies, such as thyroid disorders."

    Contact: Cynthia Whitehead
    Executive Vice President
    Tel: 919-682-8800

SOURCE Slate Pharmaceuticals

SOURCE Slate Pharmaceuticals
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