Oh dear, we've gone from EPO to Bambi in the never-ending search for performance-enhancing drugs. According to a recent article by Tom Verducci on Sports Illustrated's website, Major League Baseball players have been issued a warning over the use of deer-antler spray, a substance administered under the tongue that includes a banned chemical known for its muscle-building and fat-burning effects. "Until the warning went out, baseball players, taking their cues from the body-building and NFL cultures, felt safe using a deer antler spray as an alternative to steroids with almost no risk of flunking a drug test.
"Deer antlers? Yes, chemists have figured out that the velvet from immature deer antlers includes insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, which mediates the level of human growth hormone in the body, and is also banned by MLB and the World Anti-Doping Agency, among others, for its muscle-building and fat-cutting effects.
"The antlers are harvested from young deer, ground up and packaged into spray form. The substance is sprayed under the tongue. One manufacturer touts among its benefits "anabolic or growth stimulation," "athletic performance" and "muscular strength and endurance."
"IGF-1, like HGH, cannot be detected in the urine tests used by baseball. Under the right circumstances, it could be detected in a blood test, but the players association has not agreed to blood testing. Major League Baseball issued its warning about a specific brand of deer antler spray not because it contains IGF-1, but because it added the product to its list of "potentially contaminated nutritional supplements."
One shudders at the image of little Bambis being sacrificed for those wanting to become Big Bambinos. And one wonders how many runners have taken the deer-antler spray-and-pray route.