Updated Feb. 20, 2010
Tiger Woods & Elin Nordegren
Whether or not he did, his sexual indiscretions are costing him untold millions of dollars in endorsements and have made the once unassailable golf idol the object of public ridicule.
by Don Fulsom
When cops arrived at the bizarre crash scene near Orlando, Florida at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2009, the motionless, shoeless body of the world’s greatest golfer was sprawled on the ground next to his damaged Cadillac Escalade.
Though only slightly injured, 34-year-old Tiger Woods seemed completely out of it—to the point of snoring—after his vehicle had collided with a fire hydrant, and then a tree, when he erratically fled his own home.
Tiger’s 29-year-old wife, Elin Nordegren—had reportedly smashed out the Caddy’s back windows with a nine-iron. A golf cart was parked nearby.
Elin told police her husband had been drinking earlier and had prescriptions to Vicodin and Ambien, according the Orlando Sentinel. Vicodin is a powerful and addictive painkiller; Ambien a non-narcotic sleeping aid. Doctors say alcohol should not be consumed while a person is taking either medication
Shortly before the crash, a furious Elin is said to have found out about one of Tiger’s clandestine sex partners—a list of gals soon rumored to number about 20. According to The Daily Beast, Elin found out by going into his text messages on his cell phone while he was Ambiened-out.
US Magazine quotes a source close to Tiger as describing what happened next: “(Elin)beat the s**t out of him” after rousing him from “an Ambien-induced snooze.”
Was Tiger impaired at the time of the crash? Several days after the accident, cops decided to subpoena the medical records from the hospital Tiger visited under a fake name. But the state attorney’s office determined there was not enough evidence to support the request.
Tiger refused to see police for four days. When he did, officers saw no signs of domestic violence—just a “fat lip.” To protect Nordegren, Woods lied to cops that Elin had smashed the Escalade’s windows in an attempt to free him, according to The Daily Beast.
Instead of being charged with impaired driving, Tiger got a $164 citation for careless driving. But the accident, and the sordid details of his alleged dalliances, quickly sent Tiger into hiding and into a sex rehab clinic in Mississippi.
When he briefly emerged from seclusion nearly three months later, Woods made a carefully staged TV appearance.
Reading from a script, he apologized for his “irresponsible and selfish behavior,” said he would continue treatment to address his personal problems, pledged to become a better Buddhist, and left open the possibility that he ‘d return to golf this year.
Tiger also used his 13-minute February 19th mea culpa to stress that Elin “never hit me that night or any other night.” And he said speculation that he has used Performance-Enhancing Drugs “is completely and utterly false.”
Aside from serial cheating, the disgraced golfer’s greatest apparent sin was conning us into buying his squeaky-clean public persona—while he pursued a tawdry clandestine sex life out of the spotlight.
That certainly shows in Tiger’s millions of dollars in lost endorsement deals, and in his public approval rating—which plummeted from 87 percent in 2005 to 33 percent in a post-accident USA Today/Gallup poll.
Yet having a harem of shapely floozies isn’t against the law. Neither is having adept handlers to carefully craft your public image. Or having prescriptions for certain legal drugs.
Granted, the fact that Tiger was committing adultery on a world-class scale, is not likely to help him gain custody of his two infant children—daughter Sam Alexis, and son Charlie—in a divorce action. A divorce could also cost Woods an estimated $300 million.
This prospect led Jay Leno to observe: “The latest speculation is that Tiger Woods may be trying to rekindle his marriage by taking his wife on a cruise on his yacht. You know, before it becomes her yacht.” And Conan O’Brien said: “The latest rumor is that Tiger Woods is trying to patch things up with his wife by offering to have another baby together. Apparently, Tiger told his wife, “Come on — I’ve been practicing like crazy.”
Woods’s secret “dates” were usually with busty porn stars, party girls, strippers, nightclub waitresses and “escorts.” Tiger is said to have been big on “sexting” his lovers: “Go to the bathroom and take (a picture),” … “When was the last time you got (laid)?” … “I will wear you out.”
But infidelity and sending raunchy text messages aren’t crimes either.
Tiger could be legally vulnerable, however, if it could be demonstrated that he was cavorting with prostitutes. Globe says Hollywood madam Michelle Braun claims she furnished Woods with at least four hookers at a total cost of $60,000. And Vanity Fair cites a report that Tiger “made regular payments of between $5,000 and $10,000 a month to keep his harem quiet.”
The National Enquirer says the IRS and FBI are considering whether to launch a probe of the alleged call girl aspects of Tiger’s scandal. If Woods, for example, paid for women with business or charitable funds, he could be in major trouble with the Feds.
But that possibility seems rather far-fetched, as does the chance Tiger could be linked to Performance-Enhancing Drugs.
Here are the main facts on that aspect of the Tiger Woods scandal:
On Oct. 15, 2009, a Canadian doctor, Anthony Galea, was arrested in Toronto for conspiring to smuggle human growth hormone and other illegal PEDs into the United States. Canadian authorities are working with the FBI on the Galea case, according to ESPN.
The New York Times says the Canadian M.D.—who has admitted using HGH on himself—visited Woods in Florida at least four times in early 2009. Dr. Galea reportedly employed a special blood-spinning technique called “platelet-rich plasma therapy” to help the golf great recover from June 2008 knee surgery.
Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg begged the Times not to run the story about the Galea-Woods connection: “Please give the kid a break.” Later, Steinberg told the Associated Press: “The treatment Tiger received is a widely accepted therapy and to suggest some connection with illegality is recklessly irresponsible.”
A former assistant to Dr. Galea—Mary Anne Catalano—has told U.S. authorities that Galea did indeed provide PEDs to top American athletes, according to the Times.
Catalano was arrested while trying to cross from Canada into the United States with Actovegin, a human growth hormone made from calves’ blood that is not approved for sale in either country. She also had a laptop believed to hold information about the doctor’s treatment of several professional athletes. Catalano is cooperating with investigators.
An expert on HGH, Dr. Charles Yesalis of Penn State University tells the National Enquirer HGH “provides athletes with greater muscularity, strength, and aids in recuperation from injuries…When you see athletes’ bodies change, a lot of the pundits and fans get suspicious.”
So is all that power in the gigantic upper body of Tiger Woods derived entirely from lifting weights? Or could our fallen hero have cheated at the game of golf as well as on his wife?
We may never know whether Woods used HGH to bulk up from 158 pounds in 1996 to 182 today. While banned, the PGA does not test for it.