Vijay Singh Admits to Steroid Use in Sports Illustrated Article

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Vijay Singh Admits to Steroid Use in Sports Illustrated Article
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Sports Illustrated is reporting that Vijay Singh used illegal steroids

In a feature story written by David Epstein and George Dohrmann and published in the February 4 issue of Sports Illustrated, Golf Hall of Fame member Vijay Singh admitted to using an illegal steroid.

Epstein is an investigative reporter and specializes in sports science and medicine. In 2006 he broke the original story in Sports Illustrated that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for illegal substances in 2003.

His feature focuses on a small company called Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.), the use of the illegal substances by the University of Alabama football players and in the NFL. It also mentions that Baltimore Ravens Linebacker, Ray Lewis has used illegal steroids.

Reportedly, Singh paid $9,000 for S.W.A.T.S. products and in a telephone interview conducted by Epstein is quoted as saying, “(I) use the spray every day…. Every couple of hours.”

The product that S.W.A.T.S. is selling contains IGF-1, a hormone similar to insulin and is related to growth in children.  It has been used to enhance growth.  According to S.W.A.T.S. the IGF-1 is harvested from deer antlers.

Company owners, Christopher Key and Mitch Ross, promote their products as providing athletes a way to naturally enhance their performance.

The PGA Tour adopted a mandatory random drug testing program in 2008. Since its inception only one player has received disciplinary action due to a positive drug test.

Some of the banned substances included in the PGA Tour Drug Policy are: anabolic steroids, hormones, diuretics, and other masking agents, drugs of abuse (marijuana, cocaine), stimulants and beta blockers.

Golf is a sport that has prided itself on the self-policing of infractions. Will Singh be forced to call a penalty on himself? 

Baseball writers refuse to elect a steroid-tainted player to Cooperstown. Singh is already enshrined in St. Augustine.   

What will be the consequences? 

If Singh is found to have illegally used steroids, he could be suspended, stripped of prize money, but more importantly for a proud athlete he would be castigated in the media and among his peers. 

The PGA Tour is stronger than it has ever been.  With the new wrap-around scheduling it is offering over $260 million in total prize money in 2013 and more than $300 million in 2014.

The bigger problem is for the PGA Tour itself.  Its lifeblood is the millions of dollars that funnel into the weekly tournaments from corporate sponsorship.  Corporate America will not be willing to help fund a sport that can be tainted by illegal drug use.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has a very hot potato on his hands.  Swift and decisive action is mandatory.

Additional references:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/golf/pga/2008-07-01-drug-testing_N.htm

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/writers/david_epstein/archive/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin-like_growth_factor_1

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