Vijay Singh caught up in deer-antler spray controversy
Three-time major winner's name has come up in recent report linking several prominent athletes to the performance enhancing substance
Published on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 08:24AM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 12:21PM EST
Vijay Singh has been implicated in a Sports Illustrated report that linked several prominent athletes to performance enhancing substances.
The SI article talks about a substance called deer-antler spray which contains IGF-1 which is described as a “natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth”. According to the article, IGF-1 is on the banned substance list of every major pro league. And that includes the PGA Tour which warned its players back in 2011 about its use. In fact, ESPN.com says Mark Calcavecchia was told to stop promoting the product.
According to the SI story, though, Singh has continued to use the controversial substance as recently as last year.
In November, Singh paid [Mitch] Ross $9,000 for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive -- making him one of the few athletes who is compensating S.W.A.T.S [Sports with Alternatives to Steroids]. He says he uses the spray banned by the PGA “every couple of hours . . . every day,”’ sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders. “I'm looking forward to some change in my body,” Singh says. "It's really hard to feel the difference if you're only doing it for a couple of months."
ESPN quotes PGA Tour vice president Ty Votaw as saying they are looking into the SI report while Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard quotes Votaw as saying the Tour does not test for either IGF-1 or HGH because they have not determined a reliable test for it.
Only one player has been caught and suspended for violating the PGA's banned substance policy since it began testing in 2008 - Doug Barron, who tested positive for testosterone and beta blockers in 2009.
Singh, who is scheduled to play at this week’s PGA Tour event in Phoenix, issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:
"While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy. In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances. I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position. I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter."
CLARK MAKES HIS CASE: Tim Clark would have been easy to miss among dozens of PGA Tour players who poured out of a hotel ballroom last week after a two-hour meeting on the proposed ban of the stroke used for long putters — except he was the only guy with a suitcase.
Clark didn't bring golf clubs to Torrey Pines, only an overnight bag. He didn't play in the tournament, but he paid his way to San Diego just so he could be at the mandatory player meeting, the one Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did not attend. The special guest was USGA executive director Mike Davis, invited to explain the proposed rule on anchoring and to take any questions.
Clark wanted to be heard.
“I didn't realize until that night he wasn't in the field,” Lucas Glover said. “I thought it was very courageous of him to do what he did. He flew here. He spent his own money to get here and back for something he cares about. My opinion on it doesn't matter. He spoke his mind in a respectful way. He did not lash out. He asked honest questions and stated honest opinions. And I was proud of him. The way he handled himself was brilliant.”
No one has more to lose over this ban than Clark.
He has a genetic condition that keeps him from turning his forearms and wrists inward. Clark has anchored the long putter to his chest for about as long as anyone has seen him play. Despite the physical limitations — Clark has never ranked higher than 140th in driving distance — he has won The Players Championship, Australian Open, Scottish Open and twice the South African Open.
Based on several accounts of those in the room, Clark spoke with dignity and integrity.
“I think what he did to fly in for the meeting showed a lot,” Keegan Bradley said. “He's got something he wants to stand up for, and that's something I admire. He presented some nice points. When he talks, people listen.”
Exactly what Clark said remains private, another show of respect by his peers.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is headed back to San Diego this week to meet with the USGA before its annual meeting. Finchem said the tour's objective had always been to follow the lead of the USGA and R&A for rules. He also said there might be a place for two sets of rules in golf, though perhaps not in the case of anchored strokes.
Geoff Ogilvy felt the majority of players who don't use an anchored stroke are ambivalent about the proposed rule and that “the passion is coming from 5 percent.”
He was impressed with Clark, especially with how prepared he was.
“He's been researching this the whole offseason,” Ogilvy said. “He basically put his position out there, and probably positions that Mike hadn't thought about or didn't acknowledge as importantly as Tim saw them.
“What Tim did achieve ... whether he had any effect on the USGA position, a big portion of the ambivalent people were on Tim's side when they walked out of the room.”
SWIMMER TURNED GOLFER: Michael Phelps is getting serious about his golf game.
The winner of a record 18 gold medals in Olympic swimming, Phelps signed on with Ping to provide his clubs starting with an appearance in Wednesday’s pro-am for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He was scheduled to be paired with Masters champion Bubba Watson.
A release from the golf manufacturer stated that Phelps’ 6-foot 4-inch height, long arms and large hand size make him a perfect subject for custom fitting. PING’s club technicians built his G25 irons one inch over standard length, three degrees upright and with grips 1/32-inch over standard size.
Phelps says he’s already noticed a big improvement in the flight of his ball.
“It’s pretty wild,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s crazy to think this sport is so technical. A lot of sports are very technical, but one of the (Ping) guys said there’s 50-something different shafts they can put on the clubs. I’m used to having a pair of goggles, a small, medium or large swim cap, and a jammer to put on, and that’s it.”
Ping added a few special touches to Phelps’ clubs, including accents in both gold and red, white and blue.
“We’ve custom-built his clubs to ensure he has every chance to improve, and we believe he’ll dedicate himself to golf with the same intensity he gave to swimming,” said John A. Solheim, the company’s chairman and CEO. “His global presence as a golfer will bring PING tremendous exposure and just as importantly, shed additional light on the game in general.”
Phelps has been working with renowned coach Hank Haney for an eight-episode series on the Golf Channel that begins Feb. 25. While the swimmer-turned-golfer is not sure how far his new sport can take him, he’s sure enjoying the ride so far.
“You can’t put limits on anything,” Phelps said. “There’s so much I could do. Maybe I can get good enough where I can make the Olympics in golf.”
The sport is joining the Olympic program at the 2016 Rio Games.
“Hey, you never know,” Phelps said, with a chuckle. “Being a golfer at the Olympics would be kind of fun.”
MARKET MOVER: We all know that when Tiger plays on the final day and wins, it’s good for golf. Television ratings certainly bear that out. But, is Tiger’s performance on the course related to the performance of the stock market? According to Gary Kaminsky, the Capital Markets Editor for CNBC, he tells Golf Digest that people who actively invest in the stock market and are avid golf fans become more aggressive and optimistic in thinking about their investments when Tiger wins a tournament.
While it might be a stretch to draw parallels between Tiger’s wins and losses and the ups-and-downs of the stock market, the article does point out several interesting patterns between the two:
“With Tigermania in full swing following Woods' landmark win in the 1997 Masters, the Nasdaq had eclipsed 1,700. The upward progression continued as Woods overhauled his swing under Butch Harmon and then embarked on the most dominant golf stretch of golf in the game's history. In May 2000, when Woods was busy winning five of six majors, the Nasdaq famously surpassed 5,000 points.
The two low points for the Nasdaq in the last decade came when it dipped below 1,200 in October 2002 (when Woods just split with Harmon and wound up going 10 majors without a win) and again in March 2009 (when Woods was coming off reconstructive knee surgery and was just months away from the sex scandal that sent his game into a tailspin). And just as Woods has rediscovered his footing in the last year, so has the Nasdaq. In Septemer 2012, after a resurgent Woods won three times on tour and was the top qualifier for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, the Nasdaq inched back to just shy of 3,200 for the first time in a dozen years. And its highest point this year? That came Monday, the day Woods was wrapping up his 75th career win.”
“I feel like I can go to Phoenix and play well. I handled playing in front of Tiger, so I think I should be able to handle playing in Phoenix.” - PGA Tour rookie Brad Fritsch, who will experience the raucous par-3 16th Coliseum hole at TPC Scottsdale for the first time
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report