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Weeks: Trying to understand the PGA's handling of Singh

Bob Weeks
5/1/2013 10:25:45 AM
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Vijay Singh's long wait is over. The Big Fijian was cleared of doping charges by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem yesterday, after it was learned that the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) dropped deer antler spray from its list of prohibited substances.

Finchem told Singh the news on Tuesday before a practice round and not long after, Singh withdrew from the tournament citing a bad back. Prior to that, he was continuing with his Marcel Marceau act and refusing to comment on anything to do with the situation.

Singh admitted taking deer antler spray and was subsequently sanctioned on Feb. 17. However he appealed and during the appeal, WADA dropped the spray from its prohibited list. As such Finchem dropped the charges against Singh.

It's a bit like the old Abbott and Costello routine of "Who's On First?"

Singh admits to taking a banned substance. He's sanctioned by the Tour for admitting that. He appeals the sanction and during the appeal, WADA tells the PGA Tour that deer antler spray is no longer a banned substance. So the Tour drops the sanction because deer antler spray is no longer any worse than Gatorade.

Abbott: "Did you take a banned substance?"

Costello: "Yes."

Abbott: "OK, we're going to have to sanction you."

Costello: "I'd like to appeal."

Abbott: "Appeal what?"

Costello: "Taking the banned substance."

Abbott: "But there is no banned substance."

Costello: "Then what am I appealing?"

Abbott: "Oh, he's on first."

If you think the Tour's ruling is hard to understand, then just try listening to Finchem explain how WADA tests – or doesn't test – for IGF-1. It seems that it's not possible to test for this substance, unless you do a very complicated blood test. The Tour only does urine tests. And IGF-1 is not banned but it can affect anti-doping tests.

Finchem said he doesn't think this will affect the public's perception of the PGA Tour fraternity in the way, say, it looks at the world's top cyclists.

"I just think people generally have a very strong view of the integrity of our players," he said. "I think it's going to take a lot to shake the foundation of what players have spent decades to build, and this, I don't think, fits the bill."

Now whether that same public has an equal perception of the commissioner and his ruling is up for debate.



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