Tour clears Singh in spray case
Vijay Singh, who admitted earlier this year that he had used a substance banned by the PGA Tour, has been cleared by the tour after testing by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made the announcement Tuesday at Quail Hollow Club, site of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship.
“The tour deems it only fair to no longer treat Mr. Singh’s use of deer antler spray as a violation,” Finchem said. “Bottom line: We are dropping the case against Mr. Singh.”
Singh, 50, a World Golf Hall of Fame member whose 34 PGA Tour titles include one Masters and two PGA Championships, was unavailable for comment. He is entered in the Wells Fargo Championship, which he won in 2005, and scheduled to tee off at 7:50 a.m. ET Thursday with Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman.
Singh told SportsIllustrated.com for a story posted Jan. 28 that he was taking deer antler spray, which contains Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, known as IGF-1, a growth factor which is banned by the PGA Tour and many other sports.
“While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour anti-doping policy,” Singh said in a statement responding to the story. “In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances.
"I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position. I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter. I will not be commenting further at this time.”
No test for IGF-1 exists in routine blood screening, the tour said. After tests at the WADA-approved laboratory at UCLA, the tour deemed Singh's use of the spray as a drug-policy violation and a sanction was issued, according to Finchem's statement. After Singh appealed the decision, the tour's counsel "contacted WADA to confirm a number of technical points." During that process, WADA clarified that it no longer deems deer antler spray to be prohibitive without a positive test result.
According to Section One of the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program Manual, a player is strictly liable whenever a prohibited substance is in his body, regardless of the circumstances.
“This means that if a test indicates the presence of a prohibited substance in your test sample, you have committed a doping violation regardless of how the prohibited substance entered your body,” according to the manual. “It does not matter whether you unintentionally or unknowingly used a prohibited substance.”
Because Singh did not test positive for the banned substance, according to Section Two (D) (8) of the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program, Prohibited Conduct, Singh’s verbal admission was treated as a positive test.
Doug Barron, who recently retired as a touring pro, is the only tour player known to have been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs since drug testing started in 2008.
At the time of his positive drug test, at the St. Jude Classic in June 2009 in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., Barron was taking Lyrica as a substitute for propranolol, a banned substance, and exogenous testosterone, which he received by an injection from a doctor in early June. He had been prescribed propranolol since age 17.
Barron’s application for a therapeutic use exemption and subsequent appeal were denied by the tour.
Singh has made seven cuts in eight starts this season. His best finish was a tie for 20 in the Sony Open. He missed the cut in his most recent start, two weeks ago at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, SC.
Singh, a 6-foot-2-inch native of Fiji, has built a reputation for his marathon practice sessions en route to amassing nearly $67.5 million in 21 seasons on tour.