Vijay Singh, who earlier this year admitted to taking a banned substance, will not face any sanctions after the World Anti-Doping Agency determined that the use of deer-antler spray is no long considered prohibitive.
Singh, 50, who has three major championships among his 34 PGA Tour victories and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was told that he had been cleared of any doping violations by Commissioner Tim Finchem before a practice round at the Wells Fargo Championship
Finchem said during a news conference at Quail Hollow Golf Club that Singh had been sanctioned in February, with his case under appeal. The case was dropped, Finchem said, as a result of WADA’s findings.
After conducting tests on the product Singh admitted to taking, WADA determined that it no longer considers the use of deer-antler spray to be prohibited unless there is a positive test result.
Singh did not test positive for IGF-1 - the tour has no test for it — a banned substance found in deer-antler spray. He admitted taking it, which by the tour’s rules is treated the same as a positive test.
“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.
Singh first admitted to taking the supplement in a Jan. 28 story that appeared on SI.com. He said at the time he was not aware it might contain IGF-1, a growth factor that is listed on both the WADA and PGA Tour prohibited lists.
The tour had warned its players about deer-antler spray in August 2011, but there is no test available in routine blood testing. At this time, the tour only conducts random urine tests. But an admission is still a violation of the policy, and Finchem said a sanction was issued to Singh on Feb. 19.
According to the tour’s doping policy, that could have meant a suspension of up to one year, although Finchem would not disclose what penalty was initially imposed. Within a week, Singh appealed the sanction and continued to play on the PGA Tour, but has not granted any interviews since releasing a statement in January.
Singh is entered in the Wells Fargo Championship but declined comment to a PGA Tour media official Tuesday afternoon. Finchem said he received word from WADA on Friday.
“We’re talking about a determination that was made by scientists at WADA that relate to the consumption through deer-antler spray of a technically violative substance, IGF-1, but in looking at it, the scientists concluded it resulted in infinitesimal amounts actually being taken into the recipient’s body,” Finchem said. “Amounts that couldn’t be distinguished, even if you had an accurate test, with the amounts that you might take into your body from milk, et cetera.
“In a case where, for whatever reason, you managed to take in enough IGF 1 so that it did trigger a positive reading … it’s not possible today. Because a positive reading means that you’re surpassing a certain level. There hasn’t been any level ever set.”