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By Mark Lamport-Stokes
MARANA, Arizona, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The PGA Tour says it will announce a decision "relatively soon" following the admission by former world number one Vijay Singh that he had been using deer antler spray, which contains a banned substance.
Fijian Singh, a three-times major winner, told Sports Illustrated magazine he had experimented with deer antler spray for "a couple of months" but was unaware the extract contained an insulin-like growth factor banned by the PGA Tour.
The spray, which is believed to speed up recovery from injury, is produced by Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) and contains IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), a natural anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth.
Asked by reporters at Dove Mountain on Sunday when the PGA Tour would officially act on Singh's admission, Commissioner Tim Finchem replied: "Relatively soon. We're in our process.
"Under our doping rules, unlike our conduct rules, we are required to announce any kind of suspensions that emanate from the use of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) or other violations of the doping code.
"And if that is forthcoming, we will announce it in due course."
Asked if he was concerned there might be a perception the PGA Tour was dragging its feet on possibly penalising Singh, Finchem replied: "Well, I can't speak to the perception.
"Candidly if you just look at it, there's no time urgency here, because if action is taken it'll be reported. If no action is taken, it won't be reported, and that'll be the end of that. I'm not concerned about that."
Finchem was speaking to reporters during the final of the elite WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.
Last month, Singh said in a statement: "While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour anti-doping policy.
"In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances," added the Fijian, who has battled assorted health problems in recent years.
"I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position. I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter."
The PGA Tour launched its anti-doping programme in 2008 and said, in the event of a positive doping test, it would disclose details only after the entire appeals and challenges process was completed.
The variety of sanctions could include disqualification, a one-year suspension for a first violation, up to five years for a second violation and a lifetime ban for multiple violations, plus fines up to $500,000.
In August 2011, the Tour warned players about using deer antler spray with its prohibited ingredient after veteran players Mark Calcavecchia and Ken Green had both endorsed SWATS' so-called "Ultimate Spray".
Singh, a 49-year-old who is renowned for his workaholic approach to the game, told Sports Illustrated he used the spray "every couple of hours ... every day," slept under the beam ray and had put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders.
Since the PGA Tour's anti-doping programme was launched, American journeyman Doug Barron is the only player who has been suspended for a violation. Barron, then 40, was banned for one year in November 2009 for taking a performance-enhancing drug. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)