On June 12, as the U.S. Open was getting underway at Merion, the PGA Tour’s lawyers were in the Supreme Court of New York filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought against them by Vijay Singh for their handling of his admitting use of deer-antler spray.
Bloomberg News Service first reported the motion on June 13.
The 50-year-old Singh filed suit against the PGA Tour on May 8, during the week of The Players Championship, alleging the Tour was reckless in its administration of their Anti-Doping Program, withheld due funds from tournament play during an appeal of his eventually lifted suspension and subjected Singh to public ridicule.
Singh admitted in a Jan. 28, 2013 article in Sports Illustrated that he had orally ingested a product known as deer-antler spray, which was thought to contain IGF-1, an insulin-like substance banned under the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program. The admission was enough to suspend Singh under the program’s rules.
Shortly thereafter, the PGA Tour asked Singh to provide a sample of the deer-antler spray for testing at a UCLA lab. The tests confirmed the presence of IGF-1. The PGA Tour then moved to suspend Singh for a 90-day period, granting him an appeal under program rules.
Before the appeal was heard, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), whose banned-substance list is the basis for the Tour’s list, advised the PGA Tour that it no longer considered merely orally ingesting deer-antler spray a violation of their rules. IGF-1 must be injected into the blood stream, akin to insulin, to work, so the PGA Tour could only suspend Singh under their rules if a positive blood test indicated IGF-1. The PGA Tour does not conduct blood tests under its program.
The PGA Tour lifted Singh’s suspension and paid him nearly $100,000 in tournament winnings held in escrow while Singh’s appeal was being heard.
In the June 12 motion, the Tour says “at every step the Tour conducted itself reasonably and responsibly in its treatment of Singh.”
The Tour’s lawyers say the suit should be dismissed under the “well-established doctrine of judicial non-interference in the affairs of a voluntary, private associations.” Under the agreement Singh entered into by retaining his membership, he essentially waives any right to sue the PGA Tour for its actions so long as it properly enforces the Anti-Doping Program, which it claims it did.
Further, the Tour argues that it has no legal obligation, as Singh said in his complaint, to have tested whether or not the deer-antler spray was “biologically active,” i.e., that it actually could work. As stated in the Anti-Doping Program manual, mere admission of using a banned substance is enough to trigger a sanction.
To read the full motion, see below.