Last week, Vijay Singh crept into contention at the Players Championship – the US PGA Tour’s flagship event – before fading on the weekend.
His legal battle with the tour, however, appears to just be heating up. Singh’s lawsuit against the organisation, which has been in a New York court for four years, appears finally to be headed to trial.
On Monday, Judge Eileen Bransten issued a decision favourable to Singh on motions that had been pending since late last year, denying in part the tour’s motion for summary judgment.
“We can proceed to trial,” said Singh’s attorney Peter Ginsberg when contacted by Golf Digest.
The suit, which was filed a few days prior to the 2013 Players Championship, claims the tour was negligent in its handling of Singh’s anti-doping violation and breached its implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which caused harm to the now 54-year-old Fijian’s reputation.
The three main aspects to the case, according to Ginsberg, centre around their argument that the tour failed to consult the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as obligated when investigating Singh for violating its anti-doping policy, as well as statements made to the media by then-commissioner Tim Finchem and comments from tour vice-president Ty Votaw.
“For perhaps the first time the PGA Tour is going to be held responsible for its treatment of a professional golfer,” Ginsberg said when contacted by Golf Digest. “And for its improper administration of its disciplinary policies.”
Votaw, when reached, said the tour had no comment at this time.
In a January 2013 Sports Illustrated article, Singh, a three-time major champion admitted to using the spray and was suspended for three months for violating the tour’s anti-doping policy. The tour later dropped the suspension, saying the WADA changed its stance on IGF-1, which is banned by the tour and WADA, and deer-antler spray, which contains a form of IGF-1 but not the version that is prohibited.
Should the case end up in a courtroom it could mean other players who have run afoul of the tour’s anti-doping policy are exposed, something the tour surely would not want.