MANHATTAN (CN) — A New York appeals court rejected pro golfer Vijay Singh’s request for summary judgment on his challenge to suspension from the PGA Tour — later rescinded —for using deer antler spray with a banned hormone.
Singh, a Hall of Famer and former Masters and PGA champion, told Sports Illustrated that he’d used deer antler spray. Singh said he was unaware that it contained a banned hormone called IGF-1.
Tim Finchem, tour commissioner at the time, dropped the suspension after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) stated that deer antler spray was not potent enough to be a banned substance.
Singh sued the PGA Tour for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, based on the tour’s announced suspension and public discussion of it. The trial court partially denied both parties’ motion for summary judgment.
The Manhattan-based First Department New York Appellate Division affirmed the ruling in an unsigned opinion on June 21, setting the stage for a possible trial.
“Issues of fact exist as to whether defendant exercised such discretion arbitrarily, irrationally or in bad faith by failing to confer with or defer to WADA, the alleged authority on the matter, prior to taking action against plaintiff and making public statements, since WADA’s position on the substance at issue was nuanced,” the appellate court ruled in a 2-page opinion.
Factual issues remain about “whether false and inaccurate statements made by (tour officials) implicating plaintiff’s use of a banned substance” were made in good faith.
The court refused to overturn the trial court’s denial of Singh’s attempt to strike a witness’s affidavit and refusal to testify at trial.
Singh is represented by Peter R. Ginsberg, who applauded the ruling in a statement.
“The Appellate Division rejected the most recent of multiple efforts by the PGA Tour to avoid answering to Vijay Singh for the harm it inflicted by its false and baseless accusations accusing him of violating the anti-doping policy,” Ginsberg said.
The PGA Tour’s attorney, Jeffrey Mishkin with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, declined to comment on the pending litigation.