Vijay Singh has been named as one of several athletes to use a banned substance from a two-man company called S.W.A.T.S. — Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, according to an article from this week's Sports Illustrated. The two men, Christopher Key and Mitch Ross, run their company from a gym in Alabama. They sell products such as deer antler spray and hologram chips that they claim will help athletes perform better on the field. The deer antler spray contains IGF-1, which SI describes as a "natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth." It is also a banned substance by all major pro sports leagues. Despite warnings from the PGA Tour that the deer antler spray was a banned substance, SI reports that Singh ordered several products from S.W.A.T.S. last November.
(Vijay Singh, however, remains a vocal supporter. In November, Singh paid Ross $9,000 for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive — making him one of the few athletes who is compensating S.W.A.T.S. He says he uses the spray banned by the PGA "every couple of hours . . . every day," sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders. "I'm looking forward to some change in my body," Singh says. "It's really hard to feel the difference if you're only doing it for a couple of months.")
Players were warned about the deer antler spray back in 2011 after Mark Calcavecchia was told by the PGA Tour to stop endorsing S.W.A.T.S.'s "Ultimate Spray." Ken Green also endorsed the product. According to SI, Ross had a friend who introduced him to a PGA Tour caddie. Ross told SI that the caddie was "passing me around the golf world like a prostitute." This isn't the first time Singh has been involved with controversy. Singh continued to defend and wear the logos of Stanford Financial, even after chairman and CEO Allen Stanford was charged with running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Singh even offered to pay for Stanford's bond, but he was not allowed to since he is not a U.S. citizen. Stanford is currently serving a 110-year prison sentence.
Singh, who turns 50 next month, has long been known as one of the most fit players on Tour. But in the last few years, Singh has struggled with injuries. In 2011, Singh went to Germany for a procedure on his back. The same doctor has also treated Fred Couples. In 2009, Singh had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.
Update: Ty Votaw, executive vice president of communications for the PGA Tour, said on Tuesday that the PGA Tour had just been made aware of SI's article and was looking into it. Update: Geoff Shackelford found this testimonial video, which shows several Champions Tour players endorsing the hologram chips sold by S.W.A.T.S. The video was posted by Mitch Ross, one of the co-founders of S.W.A.T.S. (Photo: Robert Beck/SI)