SBD/January 31, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Golf HOFer Vijay Singh yesterday admitted to using "deer-antler spray," as reported in this week's SI, but he said he was "shocked" to learn it may contain a banned substance, according to John Davis of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Singh in a statement said that he "had no idea that the product contained any such substance" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/31). SI's David Epstein, who co-wrote the article, said the interview he had with Singh last week was "extensive and specific" and Singh was "pretty open" about his deer-antler spray usage. Epstein said, "I'm guessing that Vijay Singh doesn't know the product has been called out by the PGA Tour specifically" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/30). The AP's Michael Casey reports golfer Mark O'Meara "doesn't think Vijay Singh would ever try to cheat," but believes Singh "should be suspended 'for a couple of months' by the PGA Tour" for admitting to using the banned substance. O'Meara said, "People have had to pay the price before and he should be no different. If that is the case and the commissioner and tour feels he should be suspended for X amount of time, I think Vijay is man enough that he'll do that" (AP, 1/31).
SUSPENSION NECESSARY FOR CREDIBILITY: In S.F., Ron Kroichick writes under the header, "PGA Must Discipline Singh On Hormone Use." If the PGA Tour "wants its anti-doping policy to carry any credibility," it needs to "discipline Singh swiftly and publicly." He did not test positive because IGF-1, the ingredient found in deer antlers, is "only detectable through blood tests -- and the tour's drug-testing program uses urine tests." Still, the policy "specifically includes a reference to 'admitting to any conduct that violates the program.'" That is "exactly what Singh did in his statement, clearly and unequivocally" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/31). In N.Y., Karen Crouse writes Singh's admission "affords the tour a wide-open window to let in transparency and public accountability." The Tour said that it had "begun a review process, per its antidoping policy." But if Singh does not "end up with a suspension, what message will that send about a sport that, for integrity’s sake, expects players to call infractions on themselves?" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). Golf Channel’s Gary Williams said Singh has "put himself firmly in the cross hairs of a punishment, which in fact should be doled out by the PGA Tour, and it should be done expediently” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/31). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Jason Sobel wrote as much as it may "pain the PGA Tour to punish one of its superstars for a violation without any deemed intent, the only acceptable message here is to administer the proper penalty." Sobel: "In golf, as in life, that’s what happens when you break the rules" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/30). ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote under the header, "Suspension Warranted For Vijay Singh." Harig: "Could a Hall of Famer be suspended? That is the question that comes to mind." Doug Barron, who was suspended in '10, has been the only golfer disciplined by the Tour since it enacted its current drug policy in July '08 (ESPN.com, 1/30). But GOLF.com's Gary Van Sickle asked, "Does deer antler spray help him get the ball in the hole? Does it make him shoot a lower score? Does it make him hit the fairway off the tee?" If he Singh was "taking something that he knew was on the banned list, that might be a different story" (GOLF.com, 1/30).
Talk of the NHL possibly expanding to 32 teams "has floated for a long time," but it has "never been officially adopted as a go-ahead strategy" by the league, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. Former NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly on Tuesday told the Markham, Ontario, City Council that "while he ran the players' union (2007-09) he was made aware of the NHL’s plan to expand to 32 teams with the presumption that those two markets probably would be Toronto and Quebec City." However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday said, "There’s never been a plan to expand to 32 teams. Whether we talked conceptually at some point if things are going well whether we could expand to 32, I’m sure we suggested we could, but we certainly never reached the point where that was appropriate when Paul Kelly was executive director of the NHLPA and I’d say we haven’t got there at this point." He added, "I’d say any sports league aspires to be in a position where expansion is a good idea. But again, it’s got to be the right circumstances." Daly figures that Kelly is referring to "conversations he would have had with the league during his time at the NHLPA, when the NHL was fighting off Jim Balsillie’s attempt to move the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes to Southern Ontario, and the rules governing a second team in that area" (ESPN.com, 1/30).
FIVE-YEAR PLAN? The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes as much as the NHL "tried to distance itself from Kelly’s assertions that a 32-team league was its ultimate end game, Kelly correctly identified the two elements the NHL requires before it will even consider an expansion or relocation scenario -- a modern building filled with the necessary bells and whistles to extract every possible dollar from the paying customer, and a deep-pockets’ ownership group able to swallow hard when they hear what the cost of an expansion franchise in the metropolitan Toronto area will be." Just because the expansion plan to Toronto "isn’t official yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen." NHL owners are "not stupid when it comes to seeing windfall profits in the making." Internally, they have "long viewed a second team in Toronto as 'low-hanging fruit' -- easy money in their pockets." That is why there has "always been something of a disconnect between what they say in public about expansion (no plans beyond considering the idea 'conceptually') and what some owners really believe (what are we waiting for!)." Whatever the number "eventually is, it will be one price for Toronto and a second, lower price for an expansion franchise in, say, Quebec, where the projected revenues for a new Nordiques team couldn’t come close to what they’d be for a new team in the Greater Toronto Area." The ultimate vision for the NHL is to "move slowly toward a 32-team entity, which would consist of four eight-team conferences and create a nice symmetry." But that "isn’t going to happen until some of the perennial trouble spots -- Phoenix and beyond -- are stabilized, which is going to take some time, perhaps as much as five years" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/31).
In N.Y., Howard Beck notes NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter yesterday “announced a modest list of reforms" that were "intended to rectify concerns about his stewardship and perhaps save his job.” The four-point plan “deals mostly with nepotism and conflicts of interest, and comes days after Hunter dismissed three family members who were either directly or indirectly employed by the union.” The actions are a “response to an audit released this month that faulted Hunter for hiring family members, among other concerns.” The debate over Hunter’s future is “expected to take place next month,” when the NBPA “holds its annual meeting during All-Star weekend in Houston” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31).
SEEKING PROOF: YAHOO SPORTS’ Jeff Passan cited sources as saying that MLB “plans on interviewing all of the players accused of receiving performance-enhancing drugs from the Biogenesis clinic, though the league hopes first to obtain the documents that tied” Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and other major leaguers to HGH and synthetic testosterone “before moving forward with potential disciplinary action.” MLB officials “expect to travel to Florida in the coming days to discuss with Miami New Times editors and lawyers” whether the newspaper, which broke the story, will “provide the league with the Biogenesis records” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/30).
UNEASY SILENCE: In a special to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Pro Football HOFer Fran Tarkenton writes, “While cycling, baseball, track and field and other sports have seen major scandals over steroids, there doesn't seem to be comparable outrage or concern over drugs in football.” PEDs can “make you bigger, faster and stronger -- so it is hard to imagine that they aren't widely used in football, the most physical sport of all.” The NFL “doesn't talk about steroids or human growth hormone.” Nor do “many journalists, at least with regard to football.” Yet this is a story about “not only cheating but player safety and long-term health.” Tarkenton: “We're talking about dementia and Alzheimer's. About depression, suicide and early death. Does anybody care?” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31).