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« "All you need is one good shot with these clubs and you're hooked." | Main | LaCava Tried To Talk Tiger Into Playing Riviera...To No Avail »
Tuesday
Jan292013

Beam-Ray Treatments, Deer Antler Spray And Golf Chips

David Epstein and George Dohrmann file a devastating Sports Illustrated look (thanks reader Daniel) into the S.W.A.T.S. "alternatives to steroids" approach and it's not pretty.

One golfer's name comes up.

Modern science may scoff at holographic stickers and negatively charged water, but that matters little if the right athlete becomes a believer or, better yet, a proselytizer. The boundaries of medical science expand at too glacial a pace for many athletes desperate to enhance their performance. That desperation, in turn, represents a business opportunity for self ordained sports science entrepreneurs operating in the shadowy, multibillion-dollar athletic-supplement industry. Key had given some of S.W.A.T.S.'s chips to LSU players before their 9-6 victory over Alabama in November 2011; that helped him get an audience with the Tide players, who received some of the same S.W.A.T.S. products that outfielder Johnny Damon, golfer Vijay Singh and linebacker Shawne Merriman have used. S.W.A.T.S.'s most famous client, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, enters Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday after speaking with Ross in October to request items that would speed his recovery from a torn right triceps.

Well at least, wait what? Oh boy, here's the Vijay-possibly-admitting-to-using-a-banned-substance part:

Overnight, the tiny company that marketed itself as a legal alternative to steroids and that depended on player testimonials became as untouchable for pro athletes as an electric fence.

(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.")

Many of the Champions Tour's finest endorse the company and its golf "chip." Mark Calcaveccia has previously had a run in with tour rules about the deer antler spray.

The painful testimonial video:

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Reader Comments (28)

Fore please...now on the tee...Jason Bourne!
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
That could hot have been a real testimonial from Jim Thorpe. He'd be "m-f chippin' " if it was.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFWIW
When I blew out my knee for the 3rd time, the doctors gave me all kinds of medicine to help me recover including something called Synvisc. I don't know if Synvisc is prohibited under the USGA's rules, but let's pretend that it was: It was a legitimate medical treatment proscribed my doctor (a real one - not a quack) intended to help me return to work and a normal life.

IMHO - there is a huge difference between an athlete taking steriods (and other PED's) to get bigger/stronger/faster and an athlete using the best medical treatments available to speed their recovery.

Hypothetical:
1) Tiger used 'roids to get bigger - he is a cheat
2) Tiger used 'roids as part of his treatment plan to recover from his knee problems. If he was not competing at that time of the "illegal" treatments, I don't think he is a cheat. I think he was somebody trying to fix his body.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Ford
I wanna see Ray Lewis tee it up wearing the chip...POW!
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Brad,

To answer your question, synvisc is not a banned substance.

Anyway, from a medical standpoint, unless these guys have pituitary insufficiency, there is no legitimate use in 2013 for any of these high level athletes to be using anabolic steroids or HGH. Of course, if any of these guys had pituitary insufficiency, they wouldn't be high level athletes in the first place. If and when multiple, strong, random, blinded clinical trials show that there are legitimate, safe and repeatable demonstrable benefits to improving recovery from injury, then a serious debate can, should, and I am certain will be had regarding the use of growth hormone in sports. Until then, yes, these guys who are using HGH and anabolic steroids, regardless of for what purpose they may claim they are doing it, are cheating.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
So when does Vijay get banned from the Tour ? Next week would be fine.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
is it me or did Vijay's performance crater just after the PGA Tour's drug testing plan went into effect?
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd
Ed, that was always my thought as well.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
The better Vijay played, the bigger his head got. Literally.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
If they are banned substances, and anyone is using them during competition, that should be it for them for the season. Period. Whether it is a darling of the fans or a nobody. But I don't see it happening.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered Commentermixed bag
Brad Ford, Michael Kay agrees with you....issue has also come up with A-Rod today.

I got a fever, and the only prescription is more Tiger Bingo!

(I'm gonna have to add Cablinasian Jesus to the list this time, and chicken stick)
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
digger ya got me laughing out loud.....you crazy mon ;0) Glad that's working for ya...
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The guy in the yellow shirt needs a training bra.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
The World Anti Doping Agency has theapeutic exemptions. However, the exemption has to be applied for and involves a number of doctor opinions with respect to whether there are reasonable alternative treatments. Then the administration of the therapy is closely examined.

So there is plenty of precendent for using normally banned substances with respect to injury recovery.

Although having Dr. Nick from the SImpsons or Dr. Galea from Canada casually stopping over is a no no, things can certainly be done in a controlled evironment.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob
My grandmother (1910-1996) swore there was a witch doctor/conjurer in Wrightsville, Georgia (also the home of Herschel Walker ;-)) who only had to touch a wart or other blemish to make it fall right off your body. My grandmother was also an accomplished woman, being a successful building contractor on her own in the 1950s and 1960s when you probably didn't need more than the digits on one hand to count the other females building houses in the entire state. She made her money building for everyone and anyone at a time when "that was just not done." Bless her heart, she also read her horoscope every day, and late in life wanted to buy lottery tickets "down in Florida" (Orlando as opposed to Jacksonville) because that's where the winning tickets seemed to originate, according to her. She lost several fortunes at the Orange Park Kennel Club and the Daytona Beach Kennel Club, but remembered every Daily Double, Quinella, and Trifecta she ever hit. I suppose that evened things out. Even she wouldn't have fallen for this horsesh*t. What would Dr. Galea say?

Hang in there, Digs! ShackLand needs you, especially when you type without your glasses, so to speak. My job has led me to know a little about IVIG, which is very powerful but mysterious and not very specific. Be careful.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
1) If something doesn't work is it actually performance enhancing? I think before WADA goes around banning things it should have some idea of what it actually does

2) you cannot get a therapeutic use exemption to use HGH to help recover from an injury, that's not how therapeutic exemptions work and it is a legal medication that is prescribed for us normal people by some (but certainly not all Dr's)

3) All this stuff is BS, which mean a) prob shouldn't be taking it and b) it prob shouldn't be illegal
01.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
There needs to be some serious daylight on this issue with respect to golf.

In my opinion, if someone needs treatment for a non-golf-related matter - injury not caused by golf, a disease, chronic issue, or hereditary condition etc, then fine - as long as it is done under the auspices of WADA/USADA and closely monitored.

I know you Tiger fans are going to hate this, but in my personal opinion, my feeling is that Tiger Woods did take banned substances to recover from injury - and a golf-related injury at that. Playing golf at a high level 9 months after serious joint surgery was highly unusual and bizarre.

In many cases a partial ligament tear has seriouly derailed golfers before. Never mind complete tears and multiple bone fractures.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDick Pound
Dick Pound you just pounded it right down the middle big boy....the way the rules read as we know them such speculation is not only encouraged, it is deemed to be The Truth. Good job.

FYI, for those that care, between now and The Masters there are only two events that *count*, the Matchplay in 4 weeks, and Doral in 7 weeks....so other that those two events feel free to go about ignoring professional golf.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
That test the guy did on the Alabama player in the beginning of the article sounds like those bogus balance tests that are used to sell Power Balance or TrionZ and other holographic bracelets. IT'S SNAKE OIL.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
"Speculation" was the first salvo with respect to Lance Armstrong, Chinese swimmers in the 1990s, German swimmers in the 1970, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa etc etc etc.

Speculation and and relentless pursuit of testimony almost precedes admission or establishing sufficient evidence.

Patterns are the first observation.

Does Tiger exhibit patterns? No doubt about it.
01.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDick Pound
A medical story today said that a placebo given to a child was as effective as almost all drugs in curing migraines (except for 2 exceptional drugs).
The placebo effect is a wonderful thing
Finchem now has 2 former world number 1 golfers linked to banned substances. Does he implement blood testing on tour or wait and take his chances with the IOC in Rio?
01.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjim douglas
@Dick I'm sorry but your logic makes my head hurt (also your clearly limited understanding of medical recovery times). Ok, so if a golf breaks their arm skiing, they can have whatever drugs are available to you and me, but if they break their arm on a golf course, then they shouldn't be able to use the same drugs? Ok, what if they injured themselves training for golf, but not on the golf course (say running)? On the range? (and nobody claims Tiger tore his ACL on the golf course but whatever). An injury is an injury, and treatment is treatment, how you suffered the injury probably shouldn't enter into what treatment options you are allowed to avail yourself of.

Oh and on recovery times? See Peterson, Adrian (or a lot of others). It's a serious injury but with current surgical techniques recovery time for an athlete is 6-9 months & golf doesn't involve being hit by 250lb linebackers.
01.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Thanks to all, and the first ''google ivig was a mysery placement of me typing, that, for reasons only known to my computer, did not appear at the end of the sentence where ''the second'' googlie ivig'' corectly appeared-- I thought it was in typing hyperspace, not seeing it until the post was posted. Sorry.

Yppie Yi Ky, or Ki, sorry, I am having a brain lockup, the IVIG has been administered so late to the game that I recieve a (relatively) low dose, but the benefits have been great, especially the infection prevention, and infections nearly killed me in 2011, seriously. So I am here to trstify.

I am a willing wanna user of HGH, but money is tight, (and your daddie's good lookin'), so hush little golfers, and let's see who disses VJ first, by and by. In the sky , Lord, in the sky.

I was so tired last night, I kept *reading* ''deer antler spray*, but I kept *thinking* deer repellant, commonly used to keep deer from eating landscaped vegetation, and worse-- I kept computing THAT from being made from deer pee. Maybe that's why VJ was asked to practice at the far end of the range. Anyhow, wrong, and more wronger, with assuredly most wrongest yet to matrialize.

In honor of KLG, I am not wearing reading cclasses, as if he didn't knw yall. And in honor of that faker cooking lady, Paula, the obnoxious white haired woman, I said yall for no reason, except that reason.

Everyone have a grest
01.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@elf - You are right, where do you draw the line. Well you can't draw the line. So just a full ban for athletes. Otherwise the whole thing becomes a complete shit show with "Lance Armstrong" ambitions pushing whatever line is established.

Can you do a more thorough examination of recoveries of athletes who have had four surgeries on the same knee? I would love to see the data.
01.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDick Pound
@Dick it's already a shit show, always will be and always has been. If you can explain why cortisone shots are legal and HGH isn't, I'd love to hear it. (seriously all medicine is performance enhancing in some way, otherwise you wouldn't take it). I don't want anabolic steroids in sports, but banning things becuase they sound weird (which is what WADA currently does) is dumb. I like actual scientific evidence that something is a) performance enhacing and b) a logical reason why it's the type of performance enhancing we should ban. But hey maybe I should just be more reactionary.

Also, watch more football or basketball, seriously there are guys who have had two ACL surgeries on the same knee, how many times has Kobe been scoped etc. I have no doubt he has little cartiallige left in the knee, but that's mostly a matter of being wiling to play with pain.
01.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Personally I really don't care what they use as an adjunct to healing but.....no more drugs or whatever afterward.

And Dick Pound, I had a double knee replacement and was golfing eight weeks post op, so your nine month time frame is way out of whack. I would think that four to five months would be more than adequate.
01.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Should Vijay WD this week? I just talked to a caddie of a guy who knows a guy, etc. and he heard on the range that Vijay's publicist already has a WD story written about wrist pain, I doubt he is even in Phoenix anymore.

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