It was a forgettable 2013 for Vijay Singh on the course, but he still garnered plenty of headlines off it with his ties to a previously banned substance and his subsequent lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
The situation began when Singh was tied to deer antler spray use provided by a company called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS). Singh was one of several pro athletes listed in a Sports Illustrated article about the substance, which contains IGF-1. In the article, which was published in January (most notably for mentioning Ray Lewis just before the Super Bowl), Singh admitted to frequently using the deer antler spray.
That article set off a series of events which continued through most of the PGA Tour season. The IGF-1 substance was on the PGA Tour's list of banned substances, and the Tour opened an investigation into Singh's use after his admission in the article.
Now thrust into the middle of a doping scandal, Singh pulled out of the Phoenix Open, in order to not be a distraction. There was very little news about the situation through February and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the Tour was in no rush to decide on how to handle the situation.
"There's no time urgency here, because if action is taken it'll be reported," Finchem said in late February. "If no action is taken, it won't be reported."
The lack of a resolution continued through April and it wasn't until April 30 the PGA Tour announced Singh wouldn't face any sanction. The decision came after the World Anti-Doping Agency ran tests on the product Singh admitted to using and determined the substance to only be prohibited if there is a positive test, something that never happened with Singh.
So Singh isn't punished and he and the PGA Tour move on, right? Well, not quite.
A little over a week after the PGA Tour decided to not punish Singh, the 50-year-old filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour, asserting the Tour failed to uphold its membership duties and acted negligently, which inflicted emotional distress on Singh. The rare suit of the Tour was made even more bold by the timing, as Singh dropped the bomb at the Tour's signature event -- The Players Championship. So while one of the best fields of the year prepped to play at the headquarters of the PGA Tour in their most important event, everyone discussing the legal drama. Singh's attorney Jeffrey Rosenblum said the lawsuit wasn't strictly for financial purposes.
"It's not about money, it's about restoring his reputation and holding the Tour responsible," said Rosenblum. "We're hoping they'll acknowledge that Vijay Singh did absolutely nothing wrong, he should not have been accused, the violation should not have been asserted, and they'll accept responsibility for what they did and improve in the future."
The lawsuit also revealed the fact the PGA Tour did sanction Singh, previously unknown to the public. The Tour sent Singh a letter on February 19, saying he would be prohibited from playing on the PGA or Web.com tours for 90 days. Singh appealed the sanctions and the sanctions were eventually dropped after the ruling from WADA.
The Tour sought a dismissal of Singh's lawsuit in June, but the issue remains unresolved and the discovery process has brought the story back into the news as the year winds down (and could provide a good deal of juicy info on past suspensions).
It's not everyday a pro athlete sues the league he plays in while continuing to actively play. The bizarre situation generated swift reaction and response from Singh's fellow players on the PGA Tour. One anonymous player called the lawsuit "bull****" while Hunter Mahan said "it doesn't do anybody any good. Not Vijay. Not anybody." Even John Daly weighed in:
VJ don't do this horrible advice you got off take it from me not worth it #friendlyadvice— John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly) May 8, 2013