Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The PGA Tour is reportedly investigating Vijay Singh’s application of the same banned substance that Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis has denied using.
A recent Sports Illustrated report named Singh, Lewis, and several other athletes as users of deer antler spray from a company called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS). The extract contains IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor), which SI described as a “natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth,” and which is banned by professional sports organizations, including the PGA Tour.
"As we have just been made aware of the report, we have not had a chance to review it in depth but we will be looking into it," the tour’s vice president Ty Votaw told USA Today in an e-mail on Tuesday.
Unlike Lewis, who faces charges of cheating ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, Singh has readily admitted using deer antler spray. SI reported that Singh paid an owner of SWATS (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids), the company that sells the extract, $9,000 last November for spray, chips, beam ray, and power additive.
Singh said, according to SI, that he used the spray “every couple of hours...every day,” sleeps with the beam ray on and applies chips to his ankles, waist, and shoulders.
“I’m looking forward to some change in my body,” the report quoted the 49-year-old, 34-time tour winner whom many admire for his durability and relentless practice regimen. “It’s really hard to feel the difference if you’re only doing it for a couple of months.”
Singh, who’s in the field for this week’s Phoenix Open, was expected to comment on the report on Wednesday, according to Golf Channel.
In the meantime, Votaw confirmed to Golf Channel that IGF-1 was on the tour’s banned-substance list but that there was no reliable test for it. Additionally, the issue of deer antler spray was not new to the tour, which shut down Mark Calcavecchia and Ken Green’s endorsement of SWATs’ “Ultimate Spray” back in 2011.
On August 11, 2011, the tour issued a warning to players about the illegality of the substance.
“The PGA Tour regularly warns players of the risks associated with all supplements,” Laura Hill, the tour’s senior director of communications told Yahoo! Sports’ The Post Game. “Only those supplements listed under the NSF certified for sport program are recognized as free of prohibited substances under the PGA Tour anti-doping program.
“The PGA Tour intends to issue a warning to all players regarding the prohibited ingredient contained in “The Ultimate Spray,” Hill said.
In the only known incident regarding the tour and performance-enhancing drugs, Doug Barron received a one-year suspension in 2009 for testing positive for prohibited substances under the association's drug policy. As our colleague Adam Fonseca notes, Singh was likely to receive little more than a slap on the wrist should tour officials find him in violation of their PED mandate.