The PGA Tour dropped its doping case against Vijay Singh on
Tuesday based on new information from the World Anti-Doping Agency,
which said using deer antler spray is no longer prohibited because
it contains such small amounts of a growth hormone factor.
”The bottom line is that given the change by WADA, we are
dropping the case against Mr. Singh,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim
Finchem said Tuesday.
Finchem said Singh’s appeal of the sanctions was almost over
when WADA, which had warned about the spray in February, told the
tour Friday it no longer considers the use of deer antler spray to
be prohibited except for a positive test result.
WADA sent the tour a written statement Tuesday, indicating that
the spray is known to contain small amounts of IGF-1.
”Based on this new information, and given WADA’s lead role in
interpreting the prohibited list, the tour deemed it only fair to
no longer treat Mr. Singh’s use of deer antler spray as a violation
of the tour’s anti-doping program,” Finchem said, reading from a
The decision ends a three-month saga that had players wondering
what would happen to Singh, a 50-year-old Fijian with three major
championships who is famous for the endless hours he spends on the
Singh said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he paid
$9,000 last November for deer antler spray, hologram chips and
other products from Sports With Alternatives To Steroids. The spray
was said to contain IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone that is
on the list of banned substances under the tour’s anti-doping
The tour said Singh provided a sample of the spray, and tests at
a UCLA laboratory confirmed the presence of IGF-1.
Even though Singh never tested positive for the banned
substance, the tour’s policy says that admitting to use of such a
substance is a violation, positive test or not. The tour penalized
Singh on Feb. 19 – Tuesday of the Match Play Championship, for
which Singh was not eligible – and Singh appealed a week later.
Deer antler spray was also in the news before the Super Bowl,
with a report connecting Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis to the
The tour contacted WADA to confirm technical points when the
agency clarified its position. WADA provided a written statement to
the tour Tuesday.
”We’re talking about a determination that was made by
scientists at WADA that relate to the consumption, through deer
antler spray, of a technically violative substance, IGF-1,”
Finchem said. ”But in looking at it, the scientists concluded it
resulted in infinitesimal amounts actually being taken into the
recipient’s body, amounts that couldn’t be distinguished even if
you had an accurate test with the amount that you might take into
your body from milk, etc.”
He said a player taking enough IGF-1 to register a positive
result is not possible ”because a positive reading means that
you’re surpassing a certain level. There hasn’t been any level ever
”The fact of the matter here is – as some people in the medical
community pointed out when this matter came up, and now science at
WADA has looked into it and concluded on their own – it’s just not
worth having it on the list in that context,” Finchem said. ”I
don’t know of a substance or a transfer mechanism out there that
can loan a person to IGF levels that would get the attention of the
WADA science people. Clearly, this isn’t one. They’ve made that
clear to us.”
Finchem said he informed Singh of the decision Tuesday afternoon
at Quail Hollow, where Singh is playing in the Wells Fargo
Championship. Singh has dropped out of the top 100 in the world and
has not won on the PGA Tour since the Deutsche Bank Championship in
2008, just months after the tour began drug testing.
”I don’t think you can move ahead with a prosecution on a
player given this set of facts,” Finchem said. ”That’s our
conclusion. Vijay wasn’t assessed this action because he was
negligent. He wasn’t assessed it because he made a mistake. He was
assessed it because he violated the doping code, and the doping
code is predicated on a list of substances. And we’re now finding
from WADA that that substance doesn’t trigger a positive test to
admission, so we have to respect that.”
Finchem declined to say what kind of suspension Singh had
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