PGA Asks Court to Buck Singh’s Deer-Antler Spray Case

A New York judge must decide whether to dismiss Vijay Singh’s case claiming public humiliation against the PGA Tour.  As we reported at that time, in May, Singh sued the PGA for the “reckless administration and implementation” of its anti-doping program.  On October 24, 2013, the PGA asked the judge to dismiss the case.

In January 2013, Sports Illustrated reported that Singh admitted to using a product called “The Ultimate Spray.”  The spray contains trace amounts of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the PGA.  Although IGF-1, in small amounts, is a naturally occurring hormone in the human body, the spray is derived from deer antlers.

After the admission, Singh was suspended from the tour for 90 days.  However, he was allowed to continue playing pending the outcome of his appeal.  His winnings during that period were held in an escrow account.

The PGA eventually dropped Singh’s suspension after WADA said it no longer considered the spray a prohibited product.  WADA said products with traces of IGF-1 are not a violation, unless using those products results in a positive drug test for the substance.  Singh never tested positive for IGF-1, his suspension was dismissed, and he was given the $100,000 held in escrow.

The dismissal wasn’t enough according to Singh; so, he sued the PGA.  At the hearing on Thursday, Singh’s attorney said “Mr. Singh was disciplined without the PGA doing a modicum of investigation, a single scientific test and without communicating accurately or factually what the situation was with regard to Mr. Singh.  He alleges that as a result he has been labeled as “someone who intentionally took a banned substance in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.”

The PGA said the case must be arbitrated and that no drug test is needed.  “He wanted to play, and like every other player he accepted the eligibility requirements.” Those requirements mean Singh must comply with the anti-doping program and use arbitration as the only remedy for discipline under the program.  In addition, his admitted use of the spray was a violation, and therefore, there is no need for a drug test.

The judge did not immediately make a ruling, but if she dismisses the case, it will likely be the end of the matter for Singh.

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