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Vijay Singh Files Lawsuit Against PGA

10:19 AM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
Vijay Singh: Courtesy Getty Images
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Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY Sports

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said last week that Vijay Singh was "absolutely cooperative and forthcoming" during the Tour's investigation into a possible drug violation by Singh.

On Wednesday, Singh was forthcoming with a lawsuit over the doping allegations involving deer antler spray.

On the eve of The Players Championship, the showcase event for the Tour at TPC Sawgrass, Singh filed suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, charging the Tour with violating its duty of care and good faith. According to the lawsuit, the Tour exposed Singh "to public humiliation and ridicule for months" and that Singh for going to be suspended for 90 days.

CLEARED: Tour drops case against Singh

Singh was initially sanctioned by the Tour after admitting to using the substance, but then was cleared of wrongdoing last week. The suit was filed by Peter Ginsberg, who represented the NFL's Jonathan Vilma in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.

"We just received the statement," PGA Tour vice president Ty Votaw told USA TODAY Sports. "We will have no comment."

The lawsuit says the Tour could have known by conducting some basic testing and research that the product Singh sprayed contained no active biological ingredient and could not possibly have provided any performance enhancement.

"The PGA Tour has now finally admitted that the use of deer antler spray is not prohibited," the suit claims. "Rather than performing its duties to golfers first, and then determining whether there had been any violation of the Anti-Doping Program, the PGA Tour rushed to judgment and accused one of the world's hardest working and most dedicated golfers of violating the rules of the game."

Singh, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who counts three major championships among his 34 Tour victories, admitted in January in an interview with Sports Illustrated to using deer-antler spray but was unaware that it could contain a banned performance-enhancer connected to human growth hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1).

But information supplied by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) during the Tour's investigation says the use of deer antler spray is no longer prohibited. Based on that information the Tour received April 26, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem decided to drop the case April 30.

"I am proud of my achievements, my work ethic, and the way I live my life," Singh said in a statement. "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."

Singh is scheduled to tee off Thursday at 2 p.m. ET. During the investigation, Singh played in five tournaments. According to the lawsuit, Singh's earnings - $99,980 - were held in escrow.

The lawsuit also says "Upon information and belief, the PGA Tour is aware of other golfers who have used the Spray but has not attempted to discipline those other golfers."

That includes Mark Calcavecchia.

According to the lawsuit, the Tour "did not discipline Calcavecchia, but instead merely told Calcavecchia, an admitted habitual and intentional user of the Spray, to stop using the Spray. Moreover, the PGA Tour told Calcavecchia to stop using the Spray without doing any testing of the product to determine whether its use was prohibited under the Anti-Doping Program. If the PGA Tour had done responsible testing of the product in 2011, it would have known that its consumption was not prohibited and Singh would have been spared this injurious treatment."

Finchem did not comment on Wednesday. On Tuesday, however, he met spoke at a news conference. He said he had not spoken to Singh since Singh was cleared by the Tour. Finchem said he had not heard of any negative reaction to Singh being cleared from the news media and the Tour players who knew the facts about the case.

"The fact is that WADA changed the ballgame," Finchem said. The game is over, pure and simple. So the players understood that, end of story, really."

Finchem did say the Tour will learn from the case.

"I think any doping case you learn something," Finchem said. "There are several things here that we're focused on, most of them procedurally. We like to think that we have done a very good job of bringing the players' focus on the details. Any time you're relying on communication, we know this just from dealing with constituencies and communication requirements, that you can't ever do too much in that regard. To ever have a player say I didn't know in this particular instance that I should have called you or checked your certification list or something like that raises a question in our mind as to whether we're aggressive enough in that area. We are actively looking at some ways to intensify our efforts every year in that regard, especially with rookies.

" ... The procedures that we use under our Anti-Doping Program, little things that have to do with what happens when charges are brought, appeals are made, we're looking at some things in that area.

"So there are a number of things. They're not huge things, but we learn as we go."

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