Vijay Singh's drug-testing case against the PGA Tour is headed to trial.
The New York State Supreme Court denied the PGA Tour's motion to dismiss Singh's lawsuit in which he alleges that he was treated differently than other golfers under the Tour's Anti-Doping Program after he admitted to using deer antler spray in a February 2013 article on SI.com.
"According [the Plaintiff's allegations] the benefit of every possible favorable inference, the Court finds that [Singh] has sufficiently pled a cause of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing," wrote Justice Eileen Bransten in her Feb. 13 decision.
Singh's lawyer Peter Ginsberg called the ruling a "great victory." Although the court dismissed five of Singh's seven claims (including negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress), the ruling left intact the core of Singh's case: the allegations of disparate treatment.
"One of the goals of the lawsuit is to make the PGA Tour more responsive to its members and to assure that PGA Tour starts to treat all golfers fairly," said Ginsberg of Singh's discovery requests for documents concerning the inner-workings of the Tour's Anti-Doping Program. "This lawsuit will preclude the PGA Tour from hiding under the cloak that has thus far protected it from appropriate scrutiny."
Following the revelations in the Sports Illustrated article, the PGA Tour suspended Singh, only to lift its suspension two months later after the World Anti-Doping Agency determined that deer antler spray didn't contain enough IGF-1 to trigger a positive test and should be removed from its list of banned substances. Singh claims that his suspension was "inconsistent" with the way other Tour pros had been treated.
According to Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, Singh's advancing case will hinge on whether Singh can prove that he was treated differently from other golfers who fell under the jurisdiction of the Tour's Anti-Doping Program.
"When pretrial discovery begins, Vijay Singh will be in a position to compel the PGA Tour to reveal things it probably doesn't want to reveal," said McCann. "He's going to want to know how the PGA Tour determines punishments for PED violations. Were there other golfers, or was I cherry-picked?"
A representative for the PGA Tour declined to comment, citing its policy against commenting on pending litigation.
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