Vijay Singh Moving Closer to Trial on Opposition of Doping Suspension

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In September 2017, the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider reported that Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour was heading for trial. That conclusion became clearer as a
New York appellate court affirmed a decision to deny the PGA Tour’s motion for summary judgment on Thursday, June 21, 2018.

Singh was suspended by the PGA in 2013 for allegedly violating the tour’s anti-doping policy. Believing he was abiding by all rules, Singh discussed using deer-antler spray to aid pain in a Sports Illustrated article. Singh was suspended temporarily until the suspension was dropped after the World Anti-Doping Agency opined that the spray was not an illicit substance.

In accordance with the decision of the trial court, the appellate division for the First Department of the New York Supreme Court held that Singh was entitled to a trial based on outstanding issues of fact in the former golfer’s suit for breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against the PGA Tour.

In affirming the trial court’s denial of summary judgment, the appellate court held:

“Issues of fact exist as to whether [the PGA Tour] exercised such discretion arbitrarily, irrationally or in bad faith by failing to confer with or defer to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the alleged authority on the matter, prior to taking action against plaintiff and making public statements, since WADA’s position on the substance at issue was nuanced.”

The court also said that whether damages resulted from any offending conduct, and the extent of those damages, remain issues to be settled at trial.

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