Singh Fires Back at PGA Tour with Lawsuit Over Deer-Antler Spray Suspension
On May 8, 2013, pro golfer Vijay Singh filed suit against the PGA Tour in New York State Supreme Court for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule.” The suit stems from the Tour’s 12 week investigation into Singh for his use of deer-antler spray. The Tour dropped its case against on April 30, 2013, citing new information from the World Anti-Doping Agency which said that it no longer prohibits the spray because it only contains minimal amounts of a banned substance, the growth factor IGF-1.
In a January 2013 Sports Illustrated article, Singh admitted to using deer-antler spray. The spray was recommended to Singh by his caddie, Tony Shephard, to help with back and knee injuries. After the article was published, Singh contacted the Tour to discuss the allegation that he had used a banned substance and turned over a bottle of the spray for testing. During testing, traces of IGF-1 were found in the bottle and on February 19, 2013, the PGA Tour sent Singh a suspension letter. Singh was suspended for 90 days retroactively starting on February 4, 2013 and his earnings from events he participated in that time was held in escrow by the Tour.
Singh appealed his discipline and was preparing for a May 7, 2013 arbitration when the Tour dropping its case on April 30, 2013. Singh alleges that the Tour was negligent in administering its own anti-doping program and breached its duty to him to determine in a scientific manner whether or not the spray falls into the category of a banned substance. His Complaint also includes claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conversion. It seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages.
In a press release included with the Complaint, Singh’s attorneys stated “Rather than performing its duties to golfers first, and then determining whether there had been any violation of the Anti-Doping Program, the PGA TOUR rushed to judgment and accused one of the world’s hardest working and most dedicated golfers of violating the rules of the game.”