After Singh's withdrawal, questions turn to PEDs

Vijay Singh at the Quail Hollow Championship.
Vijay Singh at the Quail Hollow Championship. ( Associated Press )

Sunday, March 31, 2013

— When Vijay Singh withdrew without explanation from this week's Shell Houston Open, two questions regarding his immediate future arose:

1) Was he suspended?

2) Will he play in the Masters?

On the first point, the PGA Tour won't say. Singh, who earlier this year admitted to consuming deer-antler spray that could contain the banned substance IGF-1, is awaiting the Tour's findings. "The process is still ongoing," Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said.

On the second point, expect Singh, the 2000 Masters champion, to be at Augusta, Ga., in two weeks. That's presuming that an ailing knee, purportedly the reason for his exodus from Houston, cooperates.

According to a Feb. 4 article in Sports Illustrated, Singh admitted to using deer-antler spray but said he was unaware of the presence of a banned substance. The Tour had advised players not to use the product, made by Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, a two-man company in Birmingham, Ala., because it could contain Insulin-like Growth Factor, which has been banned under the Tour's Anti-Doping Policy.

Regardless of whether he knew, Singh would be held liable under Section One of the Tour's Anti-Doping Program Manual, which mandates that the player is responsible for any prohibited substance that enters his body. Neither Singh nor the Tour has said whether Singh ever tested positive for IGF-1. However, Votaw has said that detecting the substance would require blood testing, which is not part of the Tour's regimen. The Tour uses a urine test.

Singh, who turned 50 last month, said he has been cooperating fully with the Tour's review.

Doug Barron, who recently retired as a touring pro, is the only Tour player known to have been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs since drug testing started in 2008.

Since Singh's admission in the Sports Illustrated article and a subsequent written statement acknowledging his use of the product, many observers on Tour have been waiting for a response from the Tour. Votaw has given no hint of a pending decision.

Thus, expect to see Singh in action next month. In addition to his Masters invitation as a past champion, he has committed to the RBC Heritage, which has returned to its customary date the week after the Masters, on Hilton Head Island, S.C. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.