Vijay Singh found himself near the top of the leaderboard during the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP last week, a rare sighting for the veteran player. It was an ironic twist as Vijay’s legal team moved a step closer to taking the TOUR to court–it has been four years since his suspension for taking a banned substance.
“We can proceed to trial,” said Singh’s attorney Peter Ginsberg when contacted by Golf Digest. This marked a historic moment, for perhaps the first time the PGA TOUR is going to be held responsible for its treatment of a professional golfer; “And for its improper administration of its disciplinary policies,” added Ginsberg.
Singh admitted to using deer antler spray during an interview with Sports Illustrated back in 2013. He was unaware that this was a banned substance, it would later emerge. Singh was initially–and mistakenly–banned for three months after the TOUR felt compelled to take retrospective action:
“While there was no reason to believe that Mr Singh knowingly took a prohibited substance, the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program clearly states that players are responsible for use of a prohibited substance regardless of intent.”
There was one big problem, Singh hadn’t taken enough of the product to break any of WADA’s rules; Singh was quoted saying he used antler spray “every couple of hours… every day”.
What is antler spray?
- The spray, sold by SWATS (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids), is harvested from the antlers of New Zealand deer.
- Deer antler spray and pills contain small amounts of deer IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1) – a growth hormone.
- Research has shown that antler improves heart strength, stamina, joint health, muscle and strength development plus athletic performance.
- The spray contains IGF-1, a natural anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth, which is on the banned list set by Wada.
The PGA TOUR had messed up big time and they knew it: “The Tour deemed it only fair to no longer treat Mr Singh’s use as a violation,” said a statement. Unfortunately for them this type of imprudence is libelous and Singh submitted a law suit a few days prior to the 2013 Players Championship. The suit claims the tour was negligent in its handling of Singh’s anti-doping violation, which caused harm to the now 54-year-old Fijian’s reputation.
“The three main aspects to the case, according to Ginsberg, center around their argument that the tour failed to consult the World Anti-Doping Agency as obligated when investigating Singh for violating its anti-doping policy, as well as statements made to the media by then-commissioner Tim Finchem and comments from tour vice president Ty Votaw.”
Keep an eye on these developments. The TOUR could be forded to reveal how it treated other players involved in similar circumstances–ahem DJ–if this ends up in a courtroom. How exciting for all of us!