Vijay Singh, PGA Tour settle 5-plus-year lawsuit over Singh's anti-doping case
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Vijay Singh, PGA Tour settle 5-plus-year lawsuit over Singh’s anti-doping case

After five-and-a-half years, Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour have settled Singh's suit against the Tour for their handling of his 2013 suspension under the Tour's anti-doping program.

The case was settled under undisclosed terms approximately a week before civil trial proceedings would begin in New York.

A joint statement from the PGA Tour and Singh reads:

The PGA Tour and Vijay Singh are pleased to announce that we have resolved our prior dispute. The settlement reflects our mutual commitment to look to the future as we put this matter behind us. The PGA Tour fully supports Vijay as he continues to be a true champion on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions. The PGA Tour recognizes that Vijay is one of the hardest working golfers ever to play the game, and does not believe that he intended to gain an unfair advantage over his fellow competitors in this matter. Vijay fully supports the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program and all efforts to protect the integrity of the game that he loves so much. The parties will make no statement concerning the settlement terms resolving this matter.

The controversy began in January 2013, when Sports Illustrated published an admission from Singh he used a substance called deer-antler spray. Deer-antler spray is said to contain an ingredient, IGF-1, which is a banned ingredient appearing on the Tour's list under its anti-doping program, which parallels that of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, deer-antler spray is ingested orally. IGF-1 is only absorbed by the body in the blood stream.

The Tour did not specifically capture IGF-1 in a test sample of Singh's urine, under the program's testing protocols. However, under the Tour's Anti-Doping Program guidelines, an admission of taking a banned substance is considered as a positive test.

After a protest period, the PGA Tour announced a suspension for Singh, which it then rescinded after consulting with WADA, which outlined its views and scientific research on deer-antler spray and IGF-1. WADA said orally ingesting deer-antler spray would not lead to performance-enhancing benefits.

Singh then filed suit in New York Supreme Court against the PGA Tour in May 2013 over its handling of Singh's case. Singh contended, among other claims, that without a test, there's no way to know if he actually violated the Program. He also contended the Tour damaged his good name throughout the process.

After years of motions, billable hours and lots of court action, in May 2017 Judge Eileen Bransten ruled that, at least one of Singh's particular claims, a jury should hear the arguments of both sides on a trial. The particular issue at hand is if the PGA Tour should have consulted with WADA before issuing Singh's suspension instead of afterward.

“It is up to a jury to determine whether [the Tour’s] decision to not consult WADA and/or ignore WADA studies and findings issued prior to [Singh’s] suspension concerning deer-antler spray constitute an ‘appropriate’ investigation,” Bransten wrote in her order.

Two other issues are if Singh was damaged personally and financially because of the news coverage of his initial suspension and his case, and if PGA Tour executive vice-president Ty Votaw violated the good-faith covenant between the Tour and Singh, as a member, by speaking publicly about the suspension.

In the subsequent 16 months, the Tour's and Singh's counsel performed a variety of pre-trial motions and discovery interviews, arguing in court over various aspects of the case. The last motions had been filed in the case in July.

On Nov. 20, lawyers for both parties filed a sudden motion in New York Supreme Court filing a motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it would be ended permanently with both sides paying their respective legal fees.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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