WADA You Mean it’s Prohibited?

In a Sports Illustrated interview, Vijay Singh admitted to using a spray that contained “2,520 mg deer antler velvet extract per bottle.” The PGA Tour Inc. suspended Singh because the Deer Antler Spray contained insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1), which is one of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned substances. The Tour eventually dropped the suspension and investigation when they discovered that the spray is not prohibited, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

This did not stop Singh from bringing a lawsuit against the Tour, which was brought the day before The Players Championship — an event where Singh has three major championships — alleging that his reputation was tarnished because of the allegation and suspension. Singh specifically alleges that the Tour prematurely acted without doing their due diligence to determine if the “spray” was prohibited. The lawsuit also alleges the Tour held $99,980 in escrow during the investigation; it was Singh’s caddie, Tony Shepard, who recommended the “spray” as an alternative medicine for Sing’s back and knee injuries; and “Scientists hired by Singh’s attorneys. . . also claim the amount of IGF-1 in deer-antler spray is so diluted that it would be comparable to pouring a shot glass of bourbon in an Olympic-size swimming pool, and then drinking a shot from the pool water.”

The lawsuit still lives on with a recent ruling from New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten, finding that there are still questions about the impact on Singh’s reputation, and whether the Tour did in fact exercise its due diligence.  However, Singh and his legal team did suffer a few setbacks. In a decision on May 15, 2017, Judge Bransten disallowed part of Singh’s expert report, which was going to discuss a possible disparity between consumers’ impressions of Singh before and after the suspension. Finally, the Judge refused to disallow attorney Richard Young — drafter of the Tour’s anti-doping program and the World Anti-Doping code — from testifying at trial. Singh’s legal team argued that due to attorney-client privilege, Young could not properly be questioned.  Rejecting that argument, Judge Bransten found that Singh was able to address “virtually all of topics” Young had in his affidavit which was discussed during his deposition. And, Young’s affidavit was limited to his personal knowledge and not as an expert witness.

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