PGA Tour won't reveal drug violators to Vijay Singh
In the latest twist in Vijay Singh's case against the PGA Tour, the Tour rebuffed Singh's sweeping discovery requests, including demands for documents and communications related to the "possible or acutal violation of the [Tour's Anti-Doping] Program" of five current professional golfers: Doug Barron, Matt Every, Mark Calcavecchia, Scott Verplank and Dustin Johnson.
In a letter to Justice Eileen Bransten of the New York State Supreme Court, the Tour's attorney, Jeffrey Mishkin of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, called Singh's discovery requests "overreaching" and "irrelevant," arguing that "these individuals have nothing to do with this litigation. Mr. Singh cannot and should not be permitted, in the guise of discovery, to engage in a fishing expedition that risks further harm to the interests of these and any other third-party golfers."
Singh's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, contends that information about the way the PGA Tour treated other golfers suspected or accused of violating the Tour's anti-doping program "will evidence the full extent of the PGA Tour's disparate treatment of Singh."
Three of the five golfers named in discovery have had previously reported run-ins with the Tour's drug policy.
Doug Barron became the first golfer to be suspended under the Tour's anti-doping program in 2009. Barron sued, and the case was settled.
Matt Every was suspended for "conduct unbecoming a professional" following a 2010 arrest for marijuana possession in Iowa during the John Deere Classic. The charges were later dropped.
Mark Calcavecchia endorsed deer antler spray until 2011, when he was told by the PGA Tour that the product did not conform to the Tour's anti-doping program.
Ginsberg declined to explain why the other two golfers -- five-time PGA Tour winner Verplank and eight-time winner Johnson -- were included in Singh's discovery request or whether he will be seeking information about other PGA Tour players in the future.
Documents concerning other golfers are just one of four categories of information sought by Singh and his legal team. In addition to "all documents and communications related to any positive tests by any golfer for any substance listed as a banned substance under the Program," Ginsberg also requested information concerning the structure of the Tour's anti-doping program, membership renewal forms and stance on colostrum, a substance that contains IGF-1 (the same hormone in deer antler spray) but is not banned, an all-out offensive designed to force the Tour to bring the details of its anti-doping program out of the shadows.
"Vijay alleges -- and it is historically obvious -- that the PGA Tour has administered many facets of the business in an inconsistent manner," said Ginsberg. "The PGA Tour presently is attempting to keep from disclosure evidence of the manner in which it has engaged in that type of disparate treatment of players. One goal of the discovery is to force the PGA Tour to come clean with regard to how it administers the golf business."