Dustin Johnson: Golfer denies having cocaine problem

Dustin Johnson at the Open at Hoylake
Johnson had been fifth on the US Ryder Cup list before taking a break

United States golfer Dustin Johnson has denied having a problem with cocaine.

In July, the 30-year-old said he was taking time out from the game to confront "personal challenges" and he missed the Ryder Cup.

It was reported by Golf.com that Johnson was serving a six-month ban after testing positive for cocaine.

"I did not have a problem," he told Sports Illustrated magazineexternal-link when asked specifically about the drug. "I have issues. But that's not the issue."

Johnson said he had occasionally drunk too much vodka and had struggled to handle stress, adding he had hired a team of experts to help, including a life coach and several clinicians.

"I don't miss waking up with a hangover and I didn't drink very often," he said. "It was just when I did it was a little too much."

Staying off the vodka
Johnson said a vice had been vodka and he has placed a $1,000 bet with his prospective father-in-law, hockey great Wayne Gretsky, and other members of Sherwood County Club in California to see who could go through January without drinking.

Johnson, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, had the best record in the United States team, with three wins from three matches, when they narrowly lost the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.

Announcing his absence six months ago, Johnson said he hoped the break would improve his "mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation".

The PGA Tour has a policy of not releasing details of positive tests for recreational drugs.

In a statement in August, it said: "This is to clarify that Mr Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour."

Johnson, who pulled out of the 2012 Masters citing a back injury caused by lifting a jet ski and missed three months of the season, is expected to return next month.

He intends to play at Torrey Pinesexternal-link on 5 February or Pebble Beachexternal-link the following week, with his fiancee Paulina Gretzky giving birth to their first child, a boy, on Monday.

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