Nov
12
2015
Vijay Singh vs. PGA Tour: Details come to light in discovery process
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

The best and worst part about lawsuits is that in most cases the filings pertaining to the matter are made public record. So, it’s often not hard to find the sometimes juicy paperwork and court documents related to the case (which includes material that those involved may not want everyone perusing).

Well, as you may recall, Vijay Singh is suing the PGA Tour for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule” during the investigation and for failure to conduct a thorough job on researching deer antler spray use, which Singh admitted to taking in a story published on SI.com in 2013. He revealed he had taken deer antler spray, which apparently contains IGF-1, a banned substance on the PGA Tour and other major sports leagues as set forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

After the Tour looked into the incident, it deemed that Singh had breached the anti-doping policy and subsequently suspended him. Singh appealed the sanction and continued to play while an investigation was conducted by inquiring with WADA, which eventually determined that deer antler spray was no longer considered a prohibited substance. This prompted the Tour to conclude that Singh would not face a suspension and had been cleared of any doping violations.

However, Singh went ahead and filed a lawsuit in May 2013. Recently, the case has been heating up with last week, marking the end of the “intense” discovery process. Thanks to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard for intrepidly scrutinizing the hundreds of pages of documents and summarizing the juicy highlights in a very intriguing post.

Let’s start with the most hilarious/absurd information that came to light. The Tour repeatedly declared that it had warned the PGA Tour players about using deer antler spray in 2011. Singh said he did not remember the notice and wasn’t made aware of it until Jason Dufner told him about it. But the best part is that Dufner was on the toilet when it caught his eye.

Singh also conceded that he did not see the Tour’s warning regarding deer antler spray and IGF-1 in a memo sent to players in April 2011, adding that it wasn’t until after the investigation began that he learned of the notification from Jason Dufner.

“[Dufner] said it was accidental how he read it,” Singh said in the deposition. “He was sitting in a can having a you-know-what and it was laying on the floor so he picked it up, and he was surprised that it was on it.

“He said if he hadn’t been in the can at that moment in time, he’d have never known that it was [on the banned list].”

The documents also imply ineptitude by individuals among the Tour brass in lack of understanding/knowledge of its own anti-doping policy.

Some of the discovery offers a glimpse into the nuanced world of anti-doping, like an email exchange between Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications, and a golf writer from the Associated Press who asked, among other things, if deer antler spray was on the Tour’s list of banned substances.

Votaw responded that, yes, deer antler spray is on the Tour’s banned substances list, when in fact it is not. The substance IGF-1, an ingredient found in the spray, is on the banned list, but not the product itself. It’s a nuanced distinction but central to Singh’s claim that the Tour was negligent in its handling of his case.

Not surprisingly, Singh did not personally write his “statement” that was released after the SI.com story was published.

He also said that the Tour crafted his statement to the media following the release of the SI.com article, and that he was never comfortable with it.

“They made a statement and I didn’t like what was said,” Singh said in his deposition.

Singh’s team contends that the Tour did not conduct a thorough investigation of the case at hand.

Singh turned over a bottle of the spray to Berlin the day the SI.com story was published and two separate tests found IGF-1 in the sample.

Whether the amount and the biological makeup of the IGF-1 found in the Ultimate Spray warranted a violation or provided any doping benefit has turned into a point of contention in the lawsuit, with both sides providing expert testimony.

“Any IGF-1 in the S.W.A.T.S. deer antler spray is inactive, and thus unable to have any biological effect,” wrote Dr. Michele Hutchison, a pediatric endocrinologist and scientist, in a letter dated May 8, 2015.

Hutchison added, “The PGA [Tour] could have requested Mr. Singh to provide a sample of blood to test for elevated IGF-1 levels in order to determine if he had used a banned substance. However, based on all the evidence identified above, I strongly doubt that such a test would have yielded an IGF-1 level above the normal range.”

Check out the full story here.