Singh, Tour back in court over deer antler spray

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While the American and European teams were preparing for last week’s Ryder Cup, attorneys for the PGA Tour and Vijay Singh were readying for their own legal match.

Judge Eileen Bransten heard arguments last Tuesday in New York Supreme Court from lawyers for the Fijian and the Tour. Specifically, attorneys presented their arguments for two motions for summary judgment in the ongoing legal bout over Singh’s use of deer-antler spray.

Singh admitted to using the spray in a January 2013 Sports Illustrated article, and he was suspended for three months by the Tour for violating the circuit’s anti-doping policy. The Tour later dismissed that suspension, claiming the World Anti-Doping Agency had changed it stance on IGF-1, which is banned by the Tour and WADA, and deer-antler spray, which contains a form of IGF-1 but not necessarily the version that is prohibited.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the PGA [Tour] violated its duties owed to Mr. Singh. It’s overwhelming and that’s why we brought this motion,” said Peter Ginsberg, a lawyer for Singh.

Singh claims the Tour was negligent in how it handled his anti-doping violation, and breached its implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which resulted in harm to Singh’s reputation and a loss of endorsement opportunities that Ginsberg said resulted in “six figure damages.”

“In April [2013], when the PGA [Tour] stood up and said that using deer-antler spray is not a violation, it wasn’t a violation in April, it also wasn’t a violation in February [2013] and nothing had changed,” Ginsberg argued. “The WADA program, from 2007 to 2008, absolutely, unequivocally said that using deer-antler spray is not a violation.”

Lawyers for the Tour argued that whatever damage was done to Singh’s reputation was his own fault, and that the circuit followed all procedures laid out by the anti-doping program.

“The record would suggest that any harm to his reputation was self-inflicted and came from his own voluntary, not very well advised statements he made to Sports Illustrated. It’s not anything that the Tour did,” argued Jeffrey Mishkin, an attorney for the Tour.

Bransten gave no timeline for when the court might rule on the motions for summary judgment.

The Tour does not comment on ongoing litigation.