Dubai: Triple major champion Vijay Singh should be suspended for unwittingly using a banned substance, according to his double major-winning friend Mark O’Meara.
The 49-year-old Fijian admitted to using deer antler spray in a recent article with Sports Illustrated, but he since revealed he was unaware it contained IGF-1, a natural anabolic hormone, which enhances muscle growth, and is banned by the US PGA Tour.
While the matter is currently being “looked into” by the PGA, O’Meara, 56, has already called for Singh to be punished despite his ignorance of the product, which former Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia was previously stopped from promoting in 2011.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday, O’Meara said: “Do I think he has tried to bend the rules? No, I don’t. But people have had to pay the price [for unknowingly taking a banned substance] before and Vijay should be no different. If the commissioner and the Tour feel he has to be suspended for an X amount of time, Vijay will be man enough to do that.”
O’Meara admitted: “Athletes are bigger and stronger than when I came out on Tour in 1980. If you’re five foot something you really don’t dominate — you need power and physical fitness nowadays.
But he added that from his experience of 33 years in the game, genuine doping in golf simply didn’t exist. He said: “Golf is unique compared to other sports from the standpoint that you just have to take care of yourself physically, whereas mentally that’s something that you have to control. No medication can do that. I don’t see that having a huge impact in this game.
“I know there was a storm about Beta blockers [which quell anxiety] but I don’t think it’s that big of an issue in golf.”
O’Meara said: “I was surprised when I heard, but I don’t think Vijay is a guy that would ever try to take advantage of anything like that.”