Last week golfer Vijay Singh moved to sue the US PGA Tour claiming it had damaged his reputation with an “Unwarranted” pursuit of an anti-doping case against him that was dropped the week prior.
The lawsuit has charged the Tour with violating its duty of care and good faith in failing to determine that Singh had in fact not violated the Tour’s anti doping policy. He had used deer antler spray which he acknowledged using.
The spray contained the hormone IGF-1 a substance that was listed on the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and the PGA Tour’s list of prohibited substances. The PGA Tour had in fact warned against using such substances in 2011.
In his lawsuit Singh is claiming that hormone was inactive and could not have affected his performance. He also argues that the Tour should have ascertained that before proceeding with a ban against the three time major winning Champion. In court documents it has been found that other players who admitted using the spray were not sanctioned.
On April 30 WADA advised the tour that they no longer viewed the use of deer antler spray as prohibited unless it resulted in a positive drugs test. Vijay Singh never tested positive under such a test.
Singh’s reputation suffered great harm during this period and according to the lawsuit he suffered ‘humiliation and ridicule.’
This is another example of WADA appearing to jump before gathering all of the relevant information. It is rare for the Police to arrest and charge someone unless they are in possession of hard and fast evidence that the accused is in fact guilty. WADA needs to adopt a similar policy. By all means announce that an athlete is under investigation, without naming them, but do not charge them with such an accusation unless you have all the evidence.
This has brought embarrassment to Vijay Singh and tarnished his reputation, as some mud will aways stick. It has also put the US PGA Tour in an embarrassing situation and one in which they find themselves being sued. It would be interesting to see whether in the litigious USA they consider passing the blame down the line and sue WADA.
One thing is for sure WADA’s policies need to be seriously reviewed.