Vijay Singh is suing the US PGA Tour for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule” by investigating his use of deer-antler spray. Now that’s funny, because Singh was doing such a good job of humiliating himself.
Rewind to February and the Sports Illustrated (SI) article that kicked up a stir at the Super Bowl. It starred the Ravens’ Ray Lewis and highlighted his purchases of the same spray that Singh used, from the same supplier, Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS), an operation run out of the back of a gym in Alabama.
As well as deer-antler spray, SWATS marketed other crackpot cures and pseudo-performance-enhancers — underwear exposed to radio waves, holographic stickers, even negatively charged water, none of which works.
The deer-antler spray contains traces of the widely banned-from-competition substance IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), but to be effective IGF-1 has to be injected. As Singh’s own lawyers pointed out, he would get as much IGF-1 into his system by drinking a glass of milk.
“In November, Singh paid [SWATS owner Mitch] Ross $9,000 for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive,” SI reported. “He says he uses the spray banned by the PGA ‘every couple of hours ... every day,’ sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders.”
According to Singh’s lawsuit, the US PGA Tour tested a sample from the golfer and found small amounts of IGF-1. Next, commissioner Tim Finchem proposed suspending him for 90 days.
Finchem dropped the case after learning the World Anti-Doping Agency no longer bans deer-antler spray because it is ineffective. Yet just as things were quieting down, Singh filed suit on Wednesday.
It’s hard to say what is sadder: That Singh was desperate enough to turn to quacks like SWATS; or that he actually believes humiliating himself further is going to do much for his reputation.
Over-the-top pronouncements — “There should never be an asterisk next to Vijay’s name,” attorney Jeffrey Rosenblum said — only serve to remind us what we didn’t like about Singh in the first place. He was banned in 1985 after being accused of changing his scorecard during a tournament.
When Singh showed up on the US PGA Tour in 1993, his work ethic tamped down most of the whispers and winning took care of the rest. Now the lawsuit is sure to stir up a murky past.