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Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against PGA Tour over deer antler spray moves slowly

Vijay Singh
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Vijay Singh, 51, is a 34-time winner on the PGA Tour.

If Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour were a golfer, it would be officially on the clock.

Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann told Golf.com that it will likely be at least a year before Singh faces off against the Tour in court to settle his allegations of “disparate treatment” following admitting to Sports Illustrated that he used deer antler spray, a product containing the growth hormone IGF-1, a banned substance under the Tour’s Anti-Doping Program.

At a March 18 status conference, Justice Eileen Bransten of the New York State Supreme Court chastised both parties for repeated delays and ordered that depositions be completed by Jan. 30, 2015, discovery be completed by June 30, 2015, and the "note of issue," a document filed with the court that confirms the case is ready for trial, be completed by Aug. 31, 2015.

Continued haggling over the scope of Singh's discovery request has been the major impediment thus far, but McCann also notes that the dispute has now gone international with the April 3 approval of Singh's motion for the issuance of letters of rogatory, a slow-moving process that allows Singh to petition the Canadian courts to compel the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to release its communications with the PGA Tour during its deliberation of his suspension.

"Singh wants to create the impression the PGA Tour acted in a way inconsistent with WADA's wishes," said McCann. "If WADA's studies on IGF-1 and deer antler spray were preliminary or inconclusive, and yet the Tour nonetheless punished Singh based on those studies, the Tour's decision-making would appear less justifiable and less in line with good faith."

The PGA Tour has declined to comment on the Singh case, citing its policy against commenting on pending litigation.

In an April 11 letter, Singh’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg complained about the “PGA Tour’s refusal to abide by its discovery obligations," grousing that most of the 1,018 pages of documents the Tour initially handed over were publicly available. But if the Tour is indeed dragging its feet, it has little reason to stop, McCann said.

"The PGA Tour has an incentive to fight discovery requests not only to avoid revealing documents that might help Singh in this case, but also to avoid revealing documents that could be made public," said McCann. "The PGA Tour presumably does not want golfers knowing how it has decided punishments."

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