PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Golf Channel's Todd Lewis and Scott Rude spoke with Vijay Singh's attorneys, Peter Ginsberg and Jeff Rosenblum Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass. Here is a transcript of their conversation.
Jeff Rosenblum: There is definition in the program manual of what is banned and it must affect muscle. Ligament, tendon growth. There’s a technical definition there. The Tour sent Vijay a letter. You all know that. They said he was suspended effective February 4. They said, “You can continue playing. We will escrow all of your earnings, hold your FedEx points, and we will keep that.'
Peter Ginsberg: He was suspended February 4. He started hoarding his money in escrow starting February 4.
Rosenblum: Sequentially, they wrote Vijay Singh a letter suspending him for 90 days expecting him to say, “Thank you. I won’t appeal. I’ll take this. I’m sorry.” We don’ t know what they were expecting him to do. We think they expected for him to take it. But Vijay said, “No, I want to exercise my right to appeal.' They agreed it would not be a public issue until the matter was resolved.
Golf Channel: So, he was asked to not speak about it?
Rosenblum: No one spoke about it. He was asked to not speak about it.
Golf Channel: When was the discipline handed down?
Rosenblum: On February 19, the letter was received. The discipline was formal on February 19. Before that, Vijay Singh participated fully with the Tour and provided them with a sample of the deer antler spray, answered their questions, gave a statement to the media.
Rosenblum: There was some correspondence between the initial meeting and the February 19 suspension letter. But they suspended him and he had the right to appeal. If he had not appealed, the suspension would had been effective February 4. It would have gone for 90 days until May 4 or May 5. But, he appealed.
Golf Channel: When were you notified by WADA?
Ginsberg: We were not notified by WADA at all. We never communicated with WADA.
Rosenblum: We were told on April 30 that the Tour was withdrawing its allegations, withdrawing its accusations from the case. And, they agreed Vijay Singh did not violate their anti-doping program.
Golf Channel: So it (the lawsuit) is to restore Singh’s reputation but also calling the Tour to the carpet on their policy and procedure? How could they (PGA Tour) better handled the situation?
Ginsberg: During the weeks we had to prepare for arbitration, we prepared a series of scientists to do tests on deer antler spray to determine whether the substance was really banned by the PGA Tour. We did basic, elementary kinds of testing. The PGA Tour could have done the same thing and they didn’t.
Rosenblum: That’s what we’re saying. They should have done the tests we had recognitioned.
Golf Channel: Why did you feel you needed to run your own tests?
Rosenblum: To prove it was not a banned substance, to prove that Vijay Singh did not violate their program. The timing sequentially, they filed something on April 16 which is their written, initial submission as to why they believe Vijay Singh violated their program. Vijay responded through our efforts on April 24. On April 26, supposedly, WADA sends them a letter that he did not violate the program and his use of deer-antler spray was not a violation. A day and a half later, we filed our response at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, with the scientific test that we discussed that we believe show conclusively that there were no biologically active IGF-1 in this product.
Golf Channel: Will you take issue with WADA?
Ginsberg: We are only focused on the PGA (Tour).
Golf Channel: How has Vijay been taking this?
Rosenblum: It’s been stressful. When you are a professional golfer, you’ve worked this hard for 30 years, develop a reputation that wants to focus on golf, play by the rules, be a good person, be a great golfer, and then someone accuses you of something. It was about his legacy. It was about his restoration of his image and who he is. He worked hard to build that reputation. It was stressful. It was hanging over his head definitely. Was he strong? Was he able to get up every morning? Sure. But it was difficult.
Golf Channel: When did he reach out to you?
Rosenblum: He got a letter from the Tour on February 19 and reached out to me shortly thereafter. I represented Doug Barron who is the only other golfer suspended or sanctioned under the anti-doping program. I know there are others who were sanctioned for other reasons. So, he reached out to me, and I reached out to Peter shortly thereafter. We have been preparing for this appeal this whole time. That’s what we are saying is irresponsible. It took the three months. And it took the work we did for them to say, “Oh, we agree.”
Golf Channel: In the recent past, the Tour has defaulted to WADA with issues related to performance enhancing drugs…
Ginsberg: All the PGA Tour had to do was reach out to the UCLA laboratory to analyze the spray is to ask UCLA to do a basic, elementary test to determine whether it contained any substance that was banned. The PGA (Tour) didn’t. They didn’t even bother. I don’t know if it was arrogance or irresponsibility. It was uneducated.
Rosenblum: This is hyper-technical, but go do your homework and read online what IGF-1 is. It’s a protein. It’s in everybody. It is in milk. There is IGF-1 in every dairy product. If you want to say if you’re ingesting IGF-1, everyone the Tour feeds a bowl of cereal the morning of a tournament, anyone who puts cream in their coffee is putting, has IGF-1 in it. So the question is, “Is this a product that has biologically active IGF-1 that meets that definition?” The answer is no. So, if you look at the science of it, you realize there were some things that should have been done, and they weren’t done. We don’t know why. We’ll see.