Vijai Singh, the winner of three Major championships, is under investigation by the PGA Tour in the US and could face a suspension from the game after being linked in a magazine to a banned substance.
In a piece in this week’s Sports Illustrated, Singh says he uses deer antler spray — a substance that contains IGF-1, described as a “natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth”. IGF-1 is on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Association and all major sports organisations.
In the report, Singh is said to have paid $9,000 to a company called SWATS — Sports With Alternatives to Steroids — for The Ultimate Spray, chips, beam ray and a power additive. It would seem that he had no idea he had been using a banned substance, although ignorance is no defence.
Singh admits to using the spray “every couple of hours... every day” and sleeps with the beam ray on, with chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders. “I’m looking forward to some change in my body,” he said. “It’s really hard to feel the difference if you’re only doing it for a couple of months.”
Ty Votaw, vice president of the PGA Tour said, on Tuesday: “As we have just been made aware of the report, we have not had a chance to review it in-depth. But we’re looking into it.” Singh, who is playing in the Phoenix Open this week, is expected to meet with officials of the PGA Tour.
The company supplying the spray is run from a gym in Alabama by two men, Christopher Kay and Mitch Ross, who claim that hologram chips and antler spray will enhance performance on the field of play.
The spray was endorsed by Mark Calcavecchia, the former British Open champion, until he was informed in August 2011 that it was on the banned list of substances.
At that time, Laura Hill, a PGA Tour spokesman, issued a statement clarifying the situation. “The PGA Tour regularly warns players of the risks associated with all supplements,” the statement said. “The PGA Tour intends to issue a warning to all players regarding the prohibited ingredient contained in ‘The Ultimate Spray’.”
Singh has been battling a number of injuries over the past few years. He turns 50 next month and is looking forward to a lucrative career on the Senior Tour. Like every player, he is subjected to the tour’s random drug-testing programme. Results are not announced unless a player tests positive.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will be taking part in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Sunday, was also mentioned in the report. He denied any use of the spray when asked about it on Tuesday.