Singh withdraws from Phoenix Open, O'Meara says he should be suspended

Vijay Singh
Getty Images
Vijay Singy cited a back injury in pulling out of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
By
John Nicholson and Michael Casey
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Vijay Singh has withdrawn from the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a day after saying he used deer-antler spray.

Singh cited a back injury in pulling out Thursday before the first round.

The 49-year-old Fijian first revealed he used the spray in an interview with Sports Illustrated. The magazine said Singh paid one of Sports With Alternatives To Steroids' owners $9,000 last November for the spray, hologram chips and other products. The deer-antler substance contains a banned performance-enhancer connected to human growth hormone.

Singh released a statement Wednesday at the Phoenix Open, saying: ''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.''

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw says the tour is ''looking into the matter.''

Meanwhile, Former British Open winner Bob Charles of New Zealand says he used and promoted a banned deer-antler spray for more than 20 years and is surprised to learn it contains a substance that violates golf's doping protocols.

The 1963 Open winner was a spokesman for the deer-antler product and used it daily over two decades.

He said he was ''totally unaware of illegal substances ... being in the horn or the antler of the deer. I take one or two deer velvet capsules daily and have been doing so for virtually 20 years or more.''

Also Thursday, Mark O'Meara said he doesn't think Singh would ever try to cheat but still believes the Fijian should be suspended ''for a couple of months'' by the PGA Tour for admitting he used deer-antler spray.

O'Meara, who called Singh a friend, said he heard about the Fijian's admission on Wednesday while preparing for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but doesn't believe he benefited on the course from the unorthodox treatment.

''I was obviously a little bit surprised with what I heard, but I don't think Vijay is a guy that would ever take advantage of anything. I know Vijay,'' O'Meara.

''I guess they could probably suspend him for a couple of months. I would think so,'' the two-time major winner said. ''Listen, people have had to pay the price before and he should be no different. If that is the case and the commissioner and tour feels he should be suspended for X amount of time, I think Vijay is man enough that he'll do that.''

Singh, who won the last of his 56 titles in 2008, said he will cooperate with the tour's review of the issue.

Despite Singh's admission, O'Meara and other golfers said they felt the measures in place to combat doping in golf, including random testing, were adequate.

''I don't think doping is a problem in golf whatsoever. I really don't,'' Paul Casey said. ''There are so many facets to our sport. Why was he taking it? Was he taking it to recover from injury? It doesn't help you get the ball in the hole at the end of the day. This is the first case I've heard where a guy admitted to taking anything.''

The oddity of deer-antler spray being used by golfers was the talk on the Dubai course on Thursday, with Lee Westwood among the players having a good laugh about it. Most said they had never heard of it until the story on Singh.

''Deer-antler spray? That sounds like something you wax your car with, doesn't it?'' Westwood said. ''I've never heard of it. ... You have to be careful about what you take. I try not to take anything now, really, other than Corona and vodka.''

Colin Montgomerie, a rival of Singh during their heydays, called the whole case ''odd'' and said the European Tour doctor ''came to us (and said) deer antler, whatever it is, don't take that this afternoon lads.''

Montgomerie said the tour had nothing to worry about with him when it came to doping.

''I can only speak for myself and it's not widespread within the Montgomerie family,'' the 2010 Europe Ryder Cup captain said, looking down at his torso. ''Unfortunately. You can see that though, can't you, really.''


Comments

clintjohnson246

Golf is the only professional sport left with any semblance of honor.Golfers call their own violations and seek opinions from officials on the course. From what I understand, VJ called this to the officials attention saying he was not a aware of forbiden substance in the Deer-Antler spray. That should be enough. The press should stop making such a big deal about it, Omeara should keep his opinions to himself and let the powers that be handle it.
If the press doesn't appreciate the honesty of the game, they should leave golf alone and get over to baseball and other sports where there are pleanty of juicy stories.

zabeld

I watched the morning drive the day the news broke out on Vijay. When they went to commercials, they were marketing a anti-inflamatory pill with Fred Couples. I wonder if that drug is banned with WADA. Pretty ironic isn't it? This anti doping agency can and will destroy many fine athletes' name.

dgarcia75

The egg is cracked but not broken; the properties that comprise the integrity of the game of golf remain intact. The latest news surrounding the outright comments attributed to Vijay Singh on the use of products that contain an element considered illegal, IGF-1, under the Tour’s banned-substances list, needs to be examined completely before a PGA Tour judgment is made.

As golf fans weight in with their thoughts, both for and against the Hall of Famer, the walls echo with criticism from every front, especially the “Morning Drive” crew who want him to come clean. Reading the Sports Illustrator account by David Epstein from the responses from Vijay, one might conclude that he did.

Talk about a bee hive of activity surrounding his disclosures, I can’t recall the Golf Channel Morning Drive panel ever displaying such a profound appearance of total confusion with the news, like it was a “Hot Potato” So far the fact remains that Vijay Singh said why he was taking the substance and was looking for results related to using the S.W.A.T. products. As the news evolves, we may find a moment in that time that Vijay looks like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle; in this case, the insults, criticism, and every other reaction from fans and fellow players alike. The storm is not coming, it is here and everyone is bracing for the aftermath.

The fact is Vijay did not attempt to withhold or conceal the fact of what he was taking a substance to enhance his performance on the golf course, whether he knew, should have read the "fine print" of the ingredients or asked the "makers" or paid better attention to the Tours banned substance list of substances. Since it appears that he took one, even for a short duration of time, he can only wait until the Tour determines his penalty and take his medicine and move on. Vijay Singh has always been a no nonsense type of individual and although this development has put a "hitch in his getup," and will forever will remembered, hopefully it will pass and he can continue his obvious appreciation of the game of golf. Vijay stumbled and only time will determine how great the fall.

Thomas Parkhurst

Let's move forward. Banning Vijay from playing is stupid. Move on!

jaoah70

As usual the media which is good at making Mountains out of mole hills has done it again. Vj freely admitted his use and also said he had checked the ingredients. Why is it we cannot take that at face value and give him the benefit of the doubt? From the years I have watched him play I have seen nothing that would show me that he has any disregard for the rules or the PGA. His Love of Golf and competeing is enough evidence for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.