Singh sues PGA Tour over deer antler spray

This story has been corrected. Read below

Vijay Singh filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Wednesday, claiming that the Tour subjected him to “public humiliation and ridicule for months” after he admitted to using deer antler spray, which was at the time on the Tour’s list of banned substances.

The suit claims that the PGA Tour relied on the prohibited substances list from the World Anti-Doping Agency “without any independent review, analysis or assessment of the substances.” The suit claims that the PGA Tour “lacks the knowledge, skill and sophistication to determine whether it is appropriate to ban particular substances and is otherwise incapable of administering the Anti-Doping Program.”

Singh, who has three major championships among his 34 PGA Tour victories and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, will start with Robert Garrigus and J.J. Henry at 2 p.m. on Thursday in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

A news release from his lawyer said: “Singh seeks damages for the PGA Tour’s reckless administration and implementation of its Anti-Doping Program. After exposing Singh, one of the PGA Tour’s most respected and hardest working golfers, to public humiliation and ridicule for months, and forcing Singh to perform the type of scientific analyses and review that the PGA Tour was responsible for performing, the PGA Tour finally admitted that the grounds on which it sought to impose discipline were specious and unsupportable.”

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked on Tuesday why Singh, 50, has refused to speak about the matter after being cleared by the tour on April 30.

“If I was him, I’m not so sure I’d talk about it,” said Finchem, who wouldn’t comment Wednesday. “I’d kind of like for it to be gone. He didn’t do what he probably should have done, what we ask our players to do, but it was all a function of his admission. I don’t know what he could add to that.

“I don’t think he’s said anything on the subject since the decision, that I’ve seen. So if he wants to be quiet about it, I’m not going to argue with him about that.”

In the complaint, Singh’s lawyers say he started using deer antler spray in 2012 on the advice of his caddie, Tony Shepherd, to address knee and back troubles. Singh said he met with Mitch Ross, who owned Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) — the same company profiled by Sports Illustrated in the week prior to the Super Bowl. Among SWATS’ other customers, according to Sports Illustrated, was Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. Singh was also mentioned in the article.

Singh’s lawyers wrote that “Singh, prior to consuming the Spray, compared the ingredients listed on the Spray bottle to the Anti-Doping Program’s banned substance list to ensure that the Spray did not contain any banned substances.” After the Sports Illustrated article appeared, Singh says he submitted a urine sample, which was tested and came back negative. He also submitted a bottle of the spray, which was analyzed by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory. That test was found to contain IGF-1, which was on the PGA Tour’s banned list. Singh claims the Tour “did not do any analysis to determine whether the IGF-1 material was the same substance that WADA banned, whether it was active or inactive, whether it was an ingredient which by its chemical make-up fell within the category of any substance banned by the PGA Tour, or whether Singh ‘used’ or consumed the substance in a way prohibited by the Anti-Doping Program.”

On Feb. 19, the suit says, the PGA Tour tried to suspend Singh for 90 days. Singh appealed and continued to play, but the Tour said he would have to forfeit any earnings won if he lost his appeal. In April WADA took the substance used in deer antler spray off its banned list. On April 30, the PGA Tour dropped its case against Singh, according to the lawsuit.

The suit asks for unspecified damages. golf reporter Bob Harig contributed to this report.

A May 8 story about Vijay Singh suing the PGA Tour incorrectly noted what the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab tested. The lab tested a bottle of deer antler spray provided by Singh. A urine test from Singh was tested and came back negative for any banned substances, according to a lawsuit filed by Singh’s attorneys.

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Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.