PGA Tour near a decision on Singh
The fate of major champion Vijay Singh, who is suspected of having used a substance banned by the PGA Tour, should be decided “relatively soon,” commissioner Tim Finchem said.
Finchem spoke Sunday at a wide-ranging news conference during the final match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., primarily to address the tour’s position on the proposed anchoring ban.
In a Feb. 4 article, Sports Illustrated disclosed that Singh had used deer-antler spray, which contains Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, known as IGF-1, which is banned by the PGA Tour and many other sports. The spray is produced by Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, a two-man company in Birmingham, Ala.
The day after the revelation, Singh issued a statement in which he admitted using the prohibited spray, potentially streamlining any discipline.
“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, who turned 50 on Feb. 22, said in the statement. “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.”
Singh clearly acknowledged, in the Sports Illustrated article and in his statement, that he used the deer-antler spray, but he stopped short in the first sentence of his statement of suggesting that the deer-antler spray might contain IGF-1, a hormone.
Unlike a criminal proceeding, Singh holds the burden of proof that the deer-antler spray does not contain the prohibited substance IGF-1 because under the terms of the tour’s anti-doping policy, he is responsible for whatever substances are in his body.
Singh and commissioner Tim Finchem reportedly met at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am about the potential violation, but neither side had spoken publicly about the investigation until Finchem’s news conference Sunday.
Though the commissioner has many options in the Singh case, he likely would disclose any discipline only in the event of a suspension for use of a performance-enhancing drug.
“Under our doping rules, unlike our conduct rules, we are required to announce any kind of suspensions that emanate from the use of PEDs or other violations of the doping code,” Finchem said. “And if that is forthcoming, we will announce it in due course.”
Sanctions for a first-time offense could include a ban of as long as one year on the PGA Tour and a fine of as much as $500,000.
Since the disclosure, Singh has played in two tour events. He tied for 50th in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and tied for 51st in the next week’s Northern Trust Open.
Singh, a native of Fiji, has won 34 PGA Tour titles, including the 1998 and 2004 PGA Championships and the 2000 Masters. He is a former world No. 1 and is a World Golf Hall of Fame member.
“There’s no time urgency here, because if action is taken it’ll be reported,” Finchem said. “If no action is taken, it won’t be reported, and that’ll be the end of that.”