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Singh Sues PGA Tour
On Wednesday, Vijay Singh filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The 50-year-old - a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, winner of 34 Tour titles and three-time major champion - claims the Tour exposed him to "public humiliation and ridicule" during its 12-week investigation into his admitted use of deer-antler spray.
In a late-January story in Sports Illustrated, Singh admitted using deer-antler spray, saying he used the substance "every couple of hours, every day" and was "looking forward to some change in my body." After hearing of the Fijian's comments in SI, the Tour sanctioned Singh, but the Fijian appealed the ruling. On April 30, Tour commissioner Tim Finchem explained that Singh was cleared because the status of deer-antler spray had been changed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
When the Tour ended its probe last week and dropped its case against Singh, Finchem said in a prepared statement, "During the appeal process, PGA Tour counsel contacted WADA to confirm a number of technical points. At that time, WADA clarified that it no longer considers the use of deer-antler spray to be prohibited unless a positive test results."
The lawsuit, filed in a New York court, was unexpected. Singh is playing in this week's Players Championship, the Tour's so-called "fifth major," at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Singh, who has never won the tournament, will tee off at 2:00 p.m. ET with J.J. Henry and Robert Garrigus on the first hole of the Pete Dye-designed course.
The lawsuit claims the PGA Tour depended on a list of banned substances provided by WADA, and didn't conduct any of its own research, including whether such substances provide any performance-enhancing benefits. Singh's attorneys said the Tour "rushed to judgment and accused one of the world's hardest-working and most dedicated golfers of violating the rules of the game."
In a statement, Singh explained his legal action: "I am proud of my achievement, my work ethic and the way I live my life. The PGA Tour not only treated me unfairly, but displayed a lack of professionalism that should concern every professional golfer and fan of the game."
On Tuesday, Finchem held his annual press conference during the Players Championship prior to the filing of the suit and, in response to a question about Singh's involvement with deer-antler spray, said, "If I was him, I'm not so sure I'd talk about it. I'd kind of like for it to be gone. He didn't do what he probably should have done, what we ask players to do, but it was all a function that came out as a function of his admission. I don't know what he would add to that.
"I don't think he's said anything on the subject since the decision that I've seen. So if he wants to be quiet about it, I'm not going to argue with him about that."
On Wednesday, PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw was asked about the suit. "We have not seen the lawsuit, just the statement," Votaw responded. "We have no comment."
One of Singh's attorneys, Jeffrey Rosenblum, the lawyer for Doug Barron - the only player suspended under the Tour's anti-doping policy, said of Wednesday's court filing: "He's looking to reclaim his reputation and hold the Tour accountable for acting irresponsible. He's concerned about his reputation. There should never be an asterisk next to Vijay's name."
Barron's case was settled out of court. Singh's suit asks for unspecified damages.
Singh's lead attorney, Peter Ginsberg, noted that the Tour never analyzed the trace amounts of IGF-1 in the bottle. "What the PGA Tour accused Vijay of spraying was not a banned substance," Ginsberg said. "It was an inactive substance and could not possibly have any effect, good or bad, on Vijay. And that's something the PGA Tour easily could have determined.
"If this suit is successful, what it's going to do is make the PGA Tour more responsible in the future," Ginsberg added. that."
For a complete transcript of Golf Channel's Q&A with Singh's lawyers, visit http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golftalkcentral/full-transcript-of-golf-channel-qa-with-singh-lawyers/.