Vijay Singh sued the PGA Tour on Wednesday for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule” during a 12-week investigation into his use of deer antler spray that ended last week when the tour dropped its case against him.
The lawsuit was a surprise, and so was the timing — the day before The Players Championship, the flagship event on the PGA Tour held on its home course where Singh has honed his game for the past two decades.
“I am proud of my achievement, 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 filed the lawsuit in New York, where he has a home and the tour has an office. He is in the field at The Players Championship.
The 50-year-old Fijian, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006, said in a Sports Illustrated article in January that he used deer antler spray and he was “looking forward to some change in my body.” The spray was said to include an insulin-like growth factor that was on the tour’s list of banned substances. The tour sent a sample from Singh to be tested, and it returned small amounts of IGF-1.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced April 30 that the tour was dropping its case because of new information from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said deer antler spray was no longer considered prohibited because it contained minimal amounts of the growth factor.
The lawsuit claims the PGA Tour relied on WADA’s list of banned substances and methods without doing its own research, including whether such substances provide performance-enhancing benefits. Singh’s lawyers 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.”
“We have not seen the lawsuit, just the statement,” PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said. “We have no comment.”• Finchem had proposed suspended Singh for 90 days, and his earnings from Pebble Beach and Riviera would have been redistributed.
• The tour held Singh’s earnings from five tournaments — $99,980 — in escrow without authority during the investigation and appeal.
• Singh’s current caddie, Tony Shepherd, recommended that he try the deer antler spray to help with his back and knee injuries.
• Scientists hired by Singh’s attorneys discovered that IGF-1 is found in cow’s milk. They also claim that the amount of IGF-1 in deer antler spray is so diluted that it would be comparable to pouring a shot glass of bourbon in an Olympic-size swimming pool, and then drinking a shot from the pool water.
The development dominated conversations at the TPC Sawgrass during the final day of practice for golf’s richest tournament. Some players thought Singh surely would be suspended, and they felt he was let off the hook on a technicality.