The legal jousting between attorneys for Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour continues even as both sides await a ruling on the circuit’s motion to dismiss Singh’s lawsuit, which was brought against the Tour following his suspension for violating the circuit’s anti-doping program.
In October, the Tour argued before judge Eileen Bransten in the New York Supreme Court’s Commercial Division to dismiss the lawsuit and a conference is scheduled for Dec. 3.
Since then, however, the two sides have started the discovery process which has resulted in an extensive list of requests and objections from both sides.
Singh’s lawyers requested any information “related to any positive tests by any golfer for any substance listed as a banned substance under the program, (and) any discipline imposed,” specifically anything related to a “possible or actual violation of the program” by Doug Barron, Mark Calcavecchia, Scott Verplank, Dustin Johnson and Matt Every.
In 2010, Barron became the first, and so far only, player to serve a suspension under the Tour’s anti-doping program when he tested positive for drugs deemed “performance enhancing.”
According to various reports Calcavecchia endorsed a product similar to deer-antler spray in 2011 but he was not sanctioned and was advised by the Tour to stop; while Every was suspended by the Tour for three months in 2010 after he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.
The request doesn’t elaborate on why Johnson and Verplank were included in discovery and neither golfer has ever been officially linked to a violation.
“The PGA (Tour) has made exception after exception after exception, both with regard to whom it was administering this drug policy and against whom it was disciplining,” Singh’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg argued in October. “For some reason the (Tour) singled out Mr. Singh and treated him in a way that it has not historically or uniformly treated other (Tour) members.”
According to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, violations of the program that are performance enhancing (drugs like HGH, steroids and, in Barron’s case, testosterone) are made public, but recreational violations like marijuana are not.
The Tour denied many of Singh’s requests, including information about Barron, Every and the others, claiming it is not “relevant to the issues raised in this action,” and doing so would violate the players’ right to privacy.
Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communication and international affairs, declined to comment on the discovery request.
Singh’s lawyers also requested any information about colostrum. Colostrum, which is a form of milk, is not included on WADA’s 2013 list of prohibited substances, but the agency warns on its website that it “contains certain quantities of IGF-1 and other growth factors which are prohibited and can influence the outcome of anti-doping tests.” IGF-1, however, remains on the banned list.
Singh’s lawyers, via e-mails with the Tour’s attorneys, also asked to schedule deposition hearings for Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Andy Levinson, the circuit’s executive director of policy administration. In a follow up e-mail the Tour’s lawyers said, “early December depositions were premature.”
Lawyers for the Tour also requested a “protective order” to assure any information that is given to Singh’s legal team is not released to the public, and Singh’s lawyers have agreed to the order.
The case against Singh was ultimately dropped when the World Anti-Doping Agency ruled that the use of the Ultimate Spray, which he admitted to using and contained a banned substance (IGF-1), was not a violation as long as he didn’t fail a drug test, which he didn’t.
Singh sued the Tour in May, claiming the circuit publically humiliated him and, “as a result of the Tour’s action, Singh has been labeled by the Tour, media, some fellow golfers and fans as someone who intentionally took a banned substance in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.”