Vijay Singh to sue PGA Tour over antler spray suspension

Vijay Singh is to sue the PGA Tour for banning him from competition without a test for using deer antler spray.

The Fijian admitted in January to using the substance, which contains small amounts of a growth hormone banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

The PGA suspended the former world number one after his admission, but the 50-year-old successfully appealed.

Singh's lawsuit, submitted in New York, claims the ban left him "humiliated, ridiculed, and emotionally distraught".

What is deer antler spray?

  • The spray, being sold by SWATS (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids), is harvested from the antlers of New Zealand deer.
  • Deer antler spray and pills are thought to contain small amounts of deer IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1) - a growth hormone.
  • Scientific research has shown that velvet deer antler improves heart strength, stamina, joint health, muscle and strength development plus athletic performance.
  • Christopher Key of SWATS was quoted in Sports Illustrated saying: "The antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth... because of the high concentration of IGF-1. We've been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue. This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years."

Singh's admission came in an interview with Sports Illustrated, in which he said he was using the spray "every couple of hours" and was "looking forward to some change in my body".

According to the lawsuit, which the PGA did not comment on, the 2000 US Masters champion was suspended for 90 days on 19 February despite there being no test in existence for the substance.

When the golfer appealed, Wada advised the PGA Tour that it no longer considered deer antler spray a banned substance "unless a positive test results".

"I am proud of my achievement, my work ethic and the way I live my life," said Singh in a statement.

"The PGA Tour not only treated me unfairly, but displayed a lack of professionalism that should concern every professional golfer and fan of the game."

The lawsuit says the three-time major tournament winner "seeks damages for the PGA Tour's reckless administration and implementation of its Anti-Doping Program".

It adds: "Rather than performing its duties to golfers first, and then determining whether there had been any violation of the Anti-Doping Program, the PGA Tour rushed to judgement and accused one of the world's hardest-working and most dedicated golfers of violating the rules of the game."

Singh's attorney, Peter R Ginsberg, added: "The PGA Tour could have known by conducting some basic testing and research, the product that Singh sprayed contained no active biological ingredient and could not possibly have provided any performance enhancement."