CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.
Here is the PGA Tour statement:
The PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program, which has been in effect since July 2008, closely follows the International Anti-Doping Standard set forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) particularly as it relates to the interpretation and application of the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods.
In a January 28, 2013 article that appeared on SI.com, Vijay Singh was quoted as admitting to his use of a deer antler spray supplement. Subsequently, Mr. Singh confirmed his use of deer antler spray in a statement he issued. Deer antler spray contains IGF-1, a growth factor listed on both the WADA and PGA Tour Prohibited Lists, which the Tour warned players about in August 2011. After the SI.com article came out, WADA also issued a warning about deer antler spray on February 5, 2013.
There is no test for IGF-1 currently available in routine blood testing. However, the PGA Tour Anti- Doping Policy provides that an admission to the use of a prohibited substance is a violation of the policy even if there is no positive drug test. After confirming the presence of IGF-1 in the deer antler spray product provided to the Tour by Mr. Singh through tests at the WADA-approved UCLA laboratory, the Tour proceeded with the matter as a violation of the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy, and a sanction was issued. Mr. Singh subsequently appealed the sanction under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program guidelines. 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. Indeed, on April 30, WADA subsequently provided written confirmation to the Tour that:
“In relation to your pending IGF-1 matter, it is the position of WADA, in applying the Prohibited List, that the use of “deer antler spray” (which is known to contain small amounts of IGF-I) is not considered prohibited.
On the other hand it should be known that Deer Antler Spray contains small amounts of IGF-1 that may affect anti-doping tests.
Players should be warned that in the case of a positive test for IGF-1 or hGH, it would be considered an Adverse Analytical Finding.”
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.
Since his initial quote was made public, Mr. Singh has cooperated with the Tour investigation and has been completely forthcoming and honest. While there was no reason to believe that Mr. Singh knowingly took a prohibited substance, the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program clearly states that players are responsible for use of a prohibited substance regardless of intent. In this regard, Mr. Singh should have contacted the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program Administrator or other resources readily available to players in order to verify that the product Mr. Singh was about to utilize did not contain any prohibited substances, especially in light of the warning issued in August 2011 in relation to deer antler spray.
Going forward, the PGA Tour is committed to increasing its educational initiatives to remind players of the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Program and the risk of utilizing any product without a full understanding of the ingredients contained in that product. Such educational initiatives will include reinforcing with its members the many resources available to them on a 24/7 basis to respond to any questions they may have concerning any product.