Hall of Fame golfer Vijay Singh said Wednesday he was unaware that a substance he was taking is banned by the PGA Tour.
Although he did not fail a drug test, Singh, 49, could face a suspension due to the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy.
The substance in question is called deer-antler spray, and contains IGF-1. According to a Sports Illustrated report that first disclosed Singh's use of the substance, IGF-1 is a "natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth.''
Singh paid $9,000 in November to a company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS) and ordered the product. SI quoted Singh as saying that he was using it regularly. "Every couple of hours, every day,'' he said.
"While I have used deer-antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy,'' Singh said in a statement released by the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where the three-time major champion is scheduled to play this week.
"In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances. I am absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position. I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter.''
Ty Votaw, vice president of communications and international affairs for the PGA Tour, said on Tuesday that it was investigating the matter. Votaw pointed out that other things the magazine said Singh was using, such as beam-ray light treatments and adhesive hologram chips, were not prohibited.
What is unclear is whether having failed a drug test will have any bearing. Votaw said the tour does not test for IGF-1 nor human growth hormone because it does not feel comfortable with the reliability of such testing. Yet Singh has admitted to taking a substance that is banned.
According to the tour's anti-doping guide, intent is not a defense -- but it is referring to the presence of a prohibited substance via testing. "It does not matter whether you unintentionally or unknowingly used a prohibited substance,'' the policy reads.
Masters champion Bubba Watson said, "It sounds like something I would never want near me. ... I don't even know how you take deer-antler spray.
"It's sad that people live and die by their sport and they have to, I guess, cheat and go around it and try to better themselves with deer-antler spray. I'm not just going to take something and ask questions later. I'm not going to take deer-antler spray and find out what it is later. ... I think we should check them for mental problems if they're taking deer-antler spray. That's kind of weird."
The PGA Tour began its drug-testing program in 2008 and regularly conducts random tests at tournaments. Only one player, Doug Barron in 2009, has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs; Barron had taken testosterone and beta blockers and was suspended for a year.
Singh is a 34-time winner on the PGA Tour who had been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. His last victory came in 2008.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.