Vijay Singh Avoids Suspension for Using Deer-Antler Spray

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2013

Deer-antler spray may be one of the most talked-about things in the sports performance enhancing drugs debate, but golfer Vijay Singh will not be suspended after admitting to using the product. 

An announcement about Singh's PGA Tour status was made on Tuesday by commissioner Tim Finchem following a ruling by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that lifted a ban on the substance—assuming no positive drug test comes as a result of its use (per ESPN's Bob Harig). 

Speaking about the lifting of Singh's case, Finchem made it clear the WADA's ruling played heavily into his decision. 

"Based on this new information, and given WADA's lead role in interpreting the prohibited list, the tour deemed it only fair to no longer treat Mr. Singh's use of deer-antler spray as a violation of the Tour's anti-doping program,'' Finchem said.

The 50-year-old golfer was first implicated on using the deer-antler spray—which contains the growth factor IGF-1, a banned substance—in a Sports Illustrated exposé on Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) filed in January. Singh was implicated along with former NFL linebackers Ray Lewis and Shawne Merriman and former MLB outfielder Johnny Damon.

Upon the report, Singh admitted to using the deer-antler spray, but denied knowing it contained IGF-1. 

''While I have used deer-antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy,'' Singh said (via the Los Angeles Times).

During his press conference Tuesday, Finchem said that Singh had been punished in February but that his case was under appeal. According to Harig, a positive drug test could lead to a ban of up to one year, though Finchem declined to go into specifics about Singh's case. 

Though there are still questions about the ethics of using deer-antler spray, WADA's ruling on Tuesday left the PGA Tour with little course of action.

Singh has played in six events since the original Sports Illustrated piece, including a tie for 38th at the Masters in April. He will be cleared to play in all remaining events this season, with this specific case being closed in the eyes of the Tour.

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