Vijay Singh Puts the PGA Tour in a Difficult Situation

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 12:  Vijay Singh of Fiji hits a tee shot on the 16th hole during the thrid round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 12, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The PGA Tour is currently weighing their options for dealing with Vijay Singh’s use of deer antler spray…now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

In a recent Sports Illustrated article Singh openly admitted to using deer antler spray. The spray contains the chemical IGF-1, which is on the PGA Tour’s banned substance list.

IGF-1 is banned by virtually all professional sports leagues as it has been deemed a performance enhancing drug which is thought to enhance muscle growth and recovery.

Singh, who is scheduled to appear at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, released a statement yesterday:

“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,” he said. “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.”

Whether you believe Singh’s self-proclaimed naivety or not, the PGA Tour currently finds itself in an incredibly difficult situation.

Singh has openly admitted to using a banned substance, which of course should warrant a suspension from the PGA Tour.

However, back in 2011, Mark Calcavecchia not only openly admitted to using deer antler spray, but he was even endorsing the product. Calcavecchia was subsequently told by the PGA Tour to stop using the product and, of course, to also stop endorsing the product.

So, on one hand, the PGA Tour has one of its biggest stars admitting to using a banned substance, which has made headlines around the world. Clearly the Tour would feel obligated to take some form of action against Singh to send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated on the PGA Tour.

But on the other hand, how are they possibly going to suspend or fine Singh when, less than two years ago, another well-known player (Calcavecchia) was both openly using and promoting the banned substance, yet he was just quietly told by the tour to knock it off?

The PGA Tour does not publicly announce fines and suspensions. But, if in a week or two Singh suddenly “injures” his back and is forced to take a couple of months off from the game, the Tour’s ultimate decision will be clear as day.

The PGA Tour is also sitting in a potential juggernaut if they decide to go the suspension route, as Singh not only has the right, but on these serious grounds, to appeal any suspension, which would force the Tour to explain why Singh was suspended but Calcavecchia was not.

This is essentially a situation that could go either way—some form of quiet agreement could be reached between Singh and the PGA Tour, or this whole thing could turn into one large and prolonged mess for both parties.  

Anyone interested in trading places with Tim Finchem right now?  

Update 10am EST - Vijay Singh has withdrawn from the Waste Management Phoenix Open.


For more golf news, insight and analysis, check out The Tour Report.