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Thursday
May022013

Did The Tour Go Out Of Its Way For Vijay?

I've heard from quite a few people over the last day or so about the Vijay Singh ruling and the response is pretty consistently negative for the PGA Tour. There is a sense they looked for a way out for Singh, even though I believe the order of events as they outlined and that WADA simply changed its rules.

Many share the sentiment voiced by Tommy Gainey, as quoted by Jason Sobel in this story:

“I’ve got nothing against Vijay – he’s done a lot; he’s a Hall of Famer – but you just don’t come out and admit that you used a banned substance, then Mr. Finchem and the Tour don’t punish him for it,” Tommy Gainey said Wednesday. I’ve got a problem with that as a player. Because now it’s on the banned substance list, so there’s no gray area. Either he did or he didn’t. He admitted he did, but he got no punishment. I just think it’s going to open the door for a lot of bad things to happen.”

Still, perception is everything and I'm curious what you all think: Did the PGA Tour handle Vijay Singh's admitted violation of doping policy correctly? Do you feel they were right to let WADA provide an opening, or does the handling leave you with a sense that the Tour went out of its way for a Hall of Famer?

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Reader Comments (33)

Weird theory that's definitely not true (but interestingly postulated on the show today) is that they're trying to keep Vijay clean and out of the news as much as possible because he's one of the very few draws that the Champions Tour will have over the next 5-6 years. That tour is in a big-time slump because of the dearth of lasting American stars on the PGA Tour from 1985-1995. Brad Faxon and Tom Lehman can't sell tickets and Freddie is in and out with his back. Vijay and his three majors are potentially big for them.

Again, definitely not true but a fun discussion.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike U (LA, CA)
Clearly WADA have more experience on this issue, wise to follow their advice. The deer antler stuff is a joke and banning a guy for taking the stuff is a joke too. How about rhino horn anyone?
I have the 2011 and 2013 copies of the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Manual in hand and Deer Antler Velvet (spray or pills) is not on the banned substance list in either manual.

Nor are steak, milk, or boiled peanuts...

No foul, play on.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
DTF, you do realize that the banned substance list is not for products but for substances? Hence the name. Check for IGF-1
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterron
Deer antler spray, lucky rabbits feet, voodoo dolls, and crossing one's fingers....not much of a difference in terms of posting a score. Talk about a "Make-Work" thing for professional pencil pushers and/or policy makers to busy themselves with.

This whole affair was weird from the start. Anti-Doping rules are needed IMO, I'll give em that, I can now see the gain in recovering and adding more reps and all that stuff. It's just that the extensiveness and intrusiveness of the rules and regulations make me both laugh and cry. Frank Lickliter had a great quote about what he'd do to a WADA tester if they come onto his property unannounced. I became a passive fan of his ever since...LOL.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Deer antler spray, lucky rabbits feet, voodoo dolls, and crossing one's fingers....not much of a difference in terms of posting a score. Talk about a "Make-Work" thing for professional pencil pushers and/or policy makers to busy themselves with.

This whole affair was weird from the start. Anti-Doping rules are needed IMO, I'll give em that, I can now see the gain in recovering and adding more reps and all that stuff. It's just that the extensiveness and intrusiveness of the rules and regulations make me both laugh and cry. Frank Lickliter had a great quote about what he'd do to a WADA tester if they come onto his property unannounced. I became a passive fan of his ever since...LOL.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Let me see if I've got this straight. IGF-1 is a banned substance. Deer antler spray contains IGF-1. Singh admitted to using deer antler spray and supplied the Tour with whatever evidence needed to prove that.

The Tour does not test for IGF-1. Therefore, Singh is acquitted.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
+1 Ron
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBambi
@ ron check the milk you are drinking.
Let's say I run a red light. Cop sees me, writes me up, I sign the traffic ticket.

A month later, the city realizes the light was not really needed in that location and replaces it with a flashing yellow instead.

Does the judge throw out the citation?

Hell, no.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Elling
@ Elling, how many laws "on the books" are irrelevant, antiquated, out of date, and are never enforced because they are outdated? How many speeding tickets are reduced to a lesser charge? If you get a ticket, get a lawyer and plead to a lesser charge.
@Mike, what about Estebon Toledo, Duffy Waldorf and Gene Sauers? Not big enough names to attract fans to the Champions Tour?

@Steve, I'm with you. This whole thing just doesn't make sense and how in the hell is the Tour allowing Vijay to react the way he is to the media? I heard Sands and Feinstein on GC saying they couldn't repeat what Vijay said to Sands when he asked him for a comment about the ruling. I've always liked Vijay but I'm with my boy Tommy Gainey on this one. He may not have a degree from Harvard but he's smart enough to figure out when a guy admits to using a banned substance then he broke the rules. Pretty simple.

@johnny, remember when your boy Lickliter got a quiet suspension from the PGA Tour for pulling a knife on someone in a bar?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
All good points. But perhaps the key is that using deer antler spray will not deliver IGF-1, which is a peptide hormone and must be injected to work? IGF-1 receptors are on the outside of cells in the body; the hormone must be in the blood to have access to them. IGF-1 sprayed into the mouth or on the body is about as effective as "Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing" Note that "IGF" is insulin-like growth factor. There may be a few insulin preparations deliverable as a nasal spray, but by far the most common and effective way to take it is by injection. Of course, if Vijay was spraying the stuff up his nose...And as Tommy Gainey puts it, there is the willful, if inadvertent, breaking of a rule. Oops, better not go there.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Looks like the commish invoked rule 33-7. Any precedent for that?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTampaGolfer
@steve actually my mom had a ticket overturned when she proved that you had to go the wrong way to get out of the lot.

And yes, IGF-1 is illegal, but if every product that contained IGF-1 was illegal say good bye to steak, milk and eggs. Just becuase a product contains an illegal substance doesn't mean that the product is illegal. In this case deer antler spray cannot deliver IGF-1 to the body, ergo not illegal.

And if you read many pga tour pro's twitter accounts, you might not want to base whether or not a correct decision was made based on their understanding of law or science.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Tour is gonna leave the drug stuff to the mandarins at WADA / IOC. They should stay as far away from that stuff as they can.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
" I'm with my boy Tommy Gainey on this one. He may not have a degree from Harvard but he's smart enough to figure out when a guy admits to using a banned substance then he broke the rules. Pretty simple."

Tigers drop, was back and to the left, back and to the left, back and to the left.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrassy Knoll
KLG has hit on a very important point - IMO.
Testing for doping is usually done with blood. If an athlete, say an olympic swimmer gets their blood tested and it is clear of all banned substances, but they say they've been sucking on some deer antlers or rubbing them on their body, and those deer antlers are purported to have a banned substance in them, should they be banned???

If they could find no trace of any banned substance in VJ's blood, should be be punished for saying he sprayed something on himself or in his mouth?

Another point: has anyone ever done independent testing to prove deer antler spray actually contains some IGF-1 or are they relying on marketing information from a company trying to sell the stuff?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
I'm usually a hardass when it comes to drugs in sports. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds are as dead to me as Ben Johnson and Lance Armstrong. And naturally I believe that the rules must be followed in golf.

But I am getting apprehensive that we're almost getting submerged in these hairsplitting rules imbroglios. It allows someone, somewhere, to feel triumphant but the overall effect is getting to be depressing.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaude
Gold medals have been stripped because of athletes who took Sudafed for cold symptons.

Sudafed is not a "banned substance."

What is a banned substance is pseudoephedrine which is an ingredient in most variations of Sudafed.

Deer Antler Spray is not a "banned substance." It is IGF-1 which is the banned substance.

With respect to Vijay Singh, the issue is about testing. There aren't tests that are sensitive enough to detect IGF-1 ingested from a spray. WADA claims that if you can't detect it, then it is probably only a placebo benefit.

That said, we can be almost certain that the PGA Tour doesn't conduct WADA-prescribed testing anyways. Pseudoephedrine is been a banned substance for almost 10 years now. If the Tour did Olympic-caliber testing, it is virtually guaranteed that a significant number of players would have failed tests post competition and had their results revoked over that long of a time period.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDick Pound
@ Dick Pound,
Medals have been stripped because athletes tested positive for banned substances, as a result of taking something like Sudafed. Not because they told somebody they took some cold medication.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Farmers give steroids to cows. I drink milk. Since my milk contains a miniscule amount of steroids, I am a doper and a cheat??

Essentially, players were told not to use Deer Antler Spray because it allegedly contained a banned substance. Once a player got caught taking Deer Antler Spray, WADA actually tested it and found out there was little or no IGF in it. Thus, Deer Antler Spray (which is what he took) did not belong on the banned list.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Ford
DIck Pound -- you are saying that if the tour did Olympic calibre testing, a significant number of golfers would have failed tests for pseudoephedrine. Meaning the taking of Sudafed or similar for a cold? Is there a suggestion that pseudoephedrine might benefit a golfer performance wise? Just curious.
Coming from an organization that doesn't disclose fines and sanctions against the players, is anyone really surprised?

The deer antler crap was pretty funny, IMO. No different that the bracelets/necklaces that athletes wear....we all remember Jobu from Major League!

BTW, can someone explain the reasons behind fines not being disclosed to the public? Are the other players on the tour notified, or is it completely confidential?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterManku
@Dick Pound: thank you for contributing! I wish more officials in the sporting world would get involved in social media as you are doing.

Regarding your "WADA-prescribed testing" comment: presumably you're referring not only to the contents of banned-substances lists but to the testing methods and protocols?
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
@Dick to be fair to wada (an orginization i i generally think is incompetent) scientists say your body can't ingest igf-1 from a spray, only a shot.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
What about all those people in hell doing time on a meat rap?

It was illegal when he admitted to using it. It did not matter if if did nothing, contained nothing ,could not administer anything it did or did not include. *It was illegal*. Not knowing is not an excuse. He was guilty, and should have been punished, or Doug Barron should be compensated for a year suspension, illegally given by Tim, IMO. Barron never even receved a phone call. He was a throw down user, for te benefit of the Olympic committee. A patsy.

I am totally against any drug testing. Too many opportunities for revenge, poor application, and any number of other inconsistancies. However, like several ROG that are very poor rules- they are rules, and if they are in the books when a play is made, ten they apply. No one went back and gave Webb Simpson a re do because they changed the rule about the ball moving.

This was simply selective enforcement, and while I support the debacle that resulted in TW not being DQed, it is only because he was not a party to any of the ''affair'' that resulted in him continuing to play.

Vijay was right in the middle of this, with his admission of guilt, though he pleaded''''' I didn't know''.. yea, and I didn't know the speed limit was 40 when I was going 50.

Why doesn't the PGA get a sign girl to come out in a bikini on each green and hold up the player names and scores, because the PGA has all the cred of pro wrestling, between the Masters and the VJ.

(PGA) Golfers should consider cheating as a 15th club, like baseball, football and other sports use cheating as a normal part of their game. Why not? The officials are going to rule, maybe bsed upon your position on the world golf rankings? Top 50- let it slide. Golf alewady has the dumbest effing ''rule'' of any sport--- people watching TV are ''officials'' too.

In less than 2 months, the credibility of the PGAT has gone from honorabe to disgusting, and they can still eff up the anchoring ruling, and reaction.

With Bubba showing his true color(very white) (and I am sorry, but when someone reacts this way toward a group of people, I can only assume that the bigotry they privately own is much deeper than against one ''group''. So one of the players I enjoyed watching, I will no longer root for. And PM has exposed his far right leanings. TW has actually changed and that is good. His openess and friendliness is good for him and the tour.

But The PGAT is on my endangered list. I'd rather watch good looking chicks cooking.
05.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
So would I Digs-so would I!
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Surely Timmy would've loved to throw the book at Vijay and be Seen To BE Tough, "Zero Tolerance" and all that (especially with Vijay's past, which arguably would make him an uncomfortable dominant figure on the Champions Tour).......

but Timmy couldn't because, as KLG explains, it's difficult to prove that he took in the banned substance, even though he confessed to using the product that names the substance as an ingredient. The book would ultimately have said not proven guilty because the banned substance was not in the blood stream so not being "used" in the sense that testing recognizes.

Pseudoephedrine helps me when I have the flu, but presumably rubbing against my skin wouldn't work, so if I confessed before the Olympics to rubbing pseudoephedrine into my feet I would still be allowed to compete (I think Dick P would agree).

Vijay, therefore, was a multi-miliionaire massaging himself with snake oil (or having someone else get their hands wet, as millionaires so often do, I'm told...).

Timmy wouldn't fancy a legal defeat, would he?

(And Simon Holmes, former coach to Langer and Faldo and TV analyst for Sky golf in the UK, said on air that there were at least a dozen other players on the Champions Tour using the Bambi spray....)

Digs, yes I agree absolutely re Bubba etc. (now a former lifelong admirer of Sunderland FC)
05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmithy
Nothing to see here folks, move on.
05.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheProfromDover
Guys have been penalized for something as small as putting a towel under a knee or touching a blade of grass on the backswing. In either case there was no premeditated attempt to forge an advantage yet the rules committee rails about "protecting the integrity of the game" and applies the penalty. Despite the trivial nature of the offense. With Vijay, we have an admitted attempt to forge an advantage by taking an illegal substance, a clear violation. This is a chance to really hammer home the integrity line. But somehow, the integrity of the game is not an issue when it comes to substance abuse.

What an unparalleled bunch of hypocrites!!!
05.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFiggy
Figgy, Deer Antler Velvet spray/pills is not a banned substance nor was it ever a banned substance. Hence, no violation.
05.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Yeah, a tad sheepish here. But, it WAS on the WADA list until IGF-1 got removed.

There does remain, however, a huge disparity between the stringency they apply to insignificant violations during the course of play and the lax approach the PGA Tour has towards PEDs.

As for Vijay suing the Tour: well, I wouldn't do it, considering all the money the tour has provided to him but, I guess the big Fijian is in a totally different place than I am.
05.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFiggy

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