by Jeff Skinner
Another week goes by and another story breaks on performance enhancing drugs in sports. Has there been a recent story about A-Rod that doesn’t touch on his use of performance enhancing drugs? This week, right in the middle of all the Super Bowl hype a Sports Illustrated article names All-Pro and future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis as a user of PED’s. According to David’s Epstein’s article, Lewis used banned substances to recover from his torn triceps.
Accusations of PED use occurs in every sport from Lance Armstrong to A-Rod to high school athletes but this article names World Golf Hall of Fame member Vijay Singh as a user of PED’s and a satisfied one at that.
The SI piece, by David Epstein and George Dohrmann, centers on Christopher Key and his company S.W.A.T.S, Sports with Alternative to Steroids, and his controversial products that are designed to improve performance and facilitate injury recovery.
Key offer products like frequency chips, negatively charged water, powders and a beam ray to help improve performance. Now that may sound like some weird science fiction hogwash but athletes are subscribing to these products. The most popular item is his “Deer Antler Spray” used to stimulate muscle growth. The spray contains IGF-1 which is banned by every sport.
HGH is converted in the liver to IGF-1, and it is the IGF-1 that helps the body build more muscle.
Key states that the IGF-1 is harvested from deer in New Zealand, whose antlers “are the fastest growing substance on earth.” Users who spray it under their tongue can expect increased muscle growth.
The IGF-1 is only detectable through blood tests and undetectable in urine drug tests. The PGA Tour only uses random urine tests to check their players.
Epstein has stated he had free reign at S.W.A.T.S. and actually saw the check from Vijay Singh. From the SI article, “Vijay Singh, however, remains a vocal supporter. In November, Singh paid Ross $9,000 for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive — making him one of the few athletes who is compensating S.W.A.T.S. He says he uses the spray banned by the PGA “every couple of hours . . . every day,” sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders. “I’m looking forward to some change in my body,” Singh says. “It’s really hard to feel the difference if you’re only doing it for a couple of months.”
So far Singh hasn’t commented on the article but he is scheduled to play at The Waste Management Open this week and he is sure to be bombarded with questions concerning the quotes.
While there have been issues of drug use in the past, Mark Calcavecchia used the spray, Matt Every’s suspension for marijuana and Doug Barron’s ban for doctor prescribed beta blockers, the reputation of the PGA Tour differs from the NFL and MLB. The Tour instituted random drug testing in response to the PED epidemic a few years ago but HGH goes undetected in urine tests.
How Vijay and the Tour react to this will be interesting. Tim Finchem will have to take some action and Singh needs to address this and soon.
Vijay isn’t the most media friendly player on tour but the most successful over forty player in the history of the PGA Tour has put his reputation and legacy in peril.
Singh, however has an advantage that the baseball and football players do not: he’s already in the Hall of Fame. And that just might make this firestorm more intense.