Vijay Singh escapes penalty by PGA Tour for using deer antler spray

Vijay Singh has escaped any penalties by the PGA Tour with regard to his use of deer antler spray.

vijayEarlier this year, Vijay Singh admitted to using deer antler spray, a unscientifically proven spray that supposedly enhances muscles regrowth. It contains a growth hormone (IGF-1) taken from the antlers of deer – the idea being that if deer antlers can regrow very quickly due to the hormone, then why can’t a human muscle when subjected to the spray as well?

There are multiple problems with this that I’ve outlined in a previous piece, but perhaps the US PGA Tour and the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) also agree with the assessment that the spray doesn’t work when it concluded Singh has no case to answer.

It turns out the reason Singh was exonerated was because he did not test positive.

Even though it would be impossible to test positive to IGF-1 by using deer antler spray, it does set an interesting and worrying precedent for future cases. But in this case the PGA Tour were left with no option but to take no action against Singh as WADA deemed it the spray legal.

Here are the important parts of the official statement from the PGA Tour if you want some more details:

In a January 28, 2013 article that appeared on SI.com, Vijay Singh was quoted as admitting to his use of a deer antler spray supplement. Subsequently, Mr. Singh confirmed his use of deer antler spray in a statement he issued. Deer antler spray contains IGF-1, a growth factor listed on both the WADA and PGA TOUR Prohibited Lists, which the TOUR warned players about in August 2011. After the SI.com article came out, WADA also issued a warning about deer antler spray on February 5, 2013.

After confirming the presence of IGF-1 in the deer antler spray product provided to the TOUR by Mr. Singh through tests at the WADA-approved UCLA laboratory, the TOUR proceeded with the matter as a violation of the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Policy, and a sanction was issued. Mr. Singh subsequently appealed the sanction under the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program guidelines. During the appeal process, PGA TOUR counsel contacted WADA to confirm a number of technical points. At that time, WADA clarified that it no longer considers the use of deer antler spray to be prohibited unless a positive test results.

Indeed, on April 30, WADA subsequently provided written confirmation to the TOUR that:

“In relation to your pending IGF-1 matter, it is the position of WADA, in applying the Prohibited List, that the use of “deer antler spray” (which is known to contain small amounts of IGF-I) is not considered prohibited.

On the other hand it should be known that Deer Antler Spray contains small amounts of IGF-1 that may affect anti-doping tests.

Players should be warned that in the case of a positive test for IGF-1 or hGH, it would be considered an Adverse Analytical Finding.”

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.