VIJAY SINGH can count his blessings after escaping without sanction following a clear breach of the PGA Tour's anti-doping code, while golf has learned valuable lessons from 'Antlergate'.
Three months of embarrassment and public ridicule was a relatively small price for Singh to pay after revealing in a magazine article last January that he took deer antler spray containing prohibited growth agent IGF-1.
Importantly, the Fijian's transgression has nailed the lie that golfers have nothing to gain from the abuse of steroids, growth hormone or other substances which boost endurance, strength and stamina.
Singh was gullible to pay $9,000 last autumn for a remedial package that also contained little stickers and flashing light bulbs. Ignorant of a Tour warning about deer antler spray, he also was careless not to have its contents checked.
Yet after several fruitless seasons struggling with injury, the Fijian, now 50, was desperate to find something to help him continue the punishing practice and training regime which has yielded a Tour record 22 tournaments since his 40th birthday.
Singh's case has also exposed the fallacy of adopting a universal list of prohibited substances, many of which cannot be detected by urine analysis, the only testing method golf currently employs.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tom Finchem says blood testing will be considered when a viable method becomes available – the current blood test for IGF-1 and Human Growth Hormone recently was discredited in a US court.
Thirdly, 'Antlergate' should make all elite golfers more aware of the importance of getting expert advice on any foodstuff or supplement they ingest.
Singh broke Tour rules by admitting he used deer antler spray. However, the case was dropped when the World Anti-Doping Agency ruled that the spray contains so little IGF-1, its use should only be considered contrary to regulations on foot of a positive blood test for excessive levels of the growth factor.