PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem met with Vijay Singh yesterday at Pebble Beach where Singh is preparing to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Neither Singh nor Finchem made any comments to the media after the meeting. Singh told reporters that he is trying to concentrate on the golf tournament and declined to elaborate on his meeting with the commissioner.
Singh has been in news headlines since last week’s disclosure in Sports Illustrated that he admitted to using deer antler spray that may contain illegal performance enhancing drugs (PED).
Singh will turn 50 in a few days and is a World Golf Hall of Fame member. He has won three major titles as well as 34 PGA Tour events.
A six-month or year-long suspension at this stage of Singh’s life could very well signal the end of a very long and illustrious golf career.
He is voluntarily cooperating with the PGA Tour and has stressed that he had no prior knowledge that the products he purchased and used from Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) contained banned substances.
The PGA Tour adopted a strict drug policy in 2008. It calls for mandatory drug testing and provides a list of banned substances. It also sets forth guidelines for all tour members to follow concerning PED’s and the penalties for such use.
The tour is in a no-win situation with Singh. He clearly did not realize that he was using a banned substance, and they do not want to tarnish Singh’s career with a suspension.
Ignorance is not a viable defense, however. The PGA Tour’s drug policy states that it is the player’s responsibility to monitor and be aware of the products that they use and ingest.
The tour’s stance is that the use of PED’s is dangerous to a player’s health, as well as illegal. It would be difficult for the tour to appear to show preferential treatment to Singh in the matter.
Singh has clearly violated the PGA Tour’s drug policy. Just like signing an incorrect scorecard or taking an illegal drop, the player is responsible for his actions.
The penalties also seem quite clear. The only question is how long of a suspension will the PGA Tour levy on one of its premier superstars, Vijay Singh?