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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If It's Good Enough for the Deer...

I guess this post comes under the "Mike's Ranting Again" heading, although it's not a rant per se. I'm just a little frustrated with the sports world in general.

You couldn't miss the talk about Vijay Singh and the notorious deer antler spray yesterday. (If you did, you can get the basics from this ESPN news post.) The big news was that the Tour wasn't going to suspend Vijay for using it after all. The World Anti-Doping Agency (hereafter referred to as WADA) sent a message to the Tour which said, as ESPN reported it:
"We're talking about a determination that was made by scientists at WADA that relate to the consumption through deer-antler spray of a technically violative substance, IGF-1, but in looking at it, the scientists concluded it resulted in infinitesimal amounts actually being taken into the recipient's body,'' Finchem said. "Amounts that couldn't be distinguished even if you had an accurate test with the amounts that you might take into your body from milk, et cetera.
"In a case where, for whatever reason, you managed to take in enough IGF 1 so that it did trigger a positive reading ... it's not possible today. Because a positive reading means that you're surpassing a certain level. There hasn't been any level ever set.''
Finchem said that if a suitable test comes along, players would be responsible if they were deemed to have too much IGF-1 in their system, based on WADA guidelines.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but -- and here's where my rant comes in -- we've got an "illegal" substance for which (1) no legal level has been set and (2) even if you had a level you could test for, there's no accurate test to determine whether your actual blood level surpasses it or not. Then, to make matters worse, WADA has decided that deer antler spray doesn't have enough IGF-1 to matter anyway.

And here's the really funny part... did you notice that part about "...Amounts that couldn't be distinguished even if you had an accurate test with the amounts that you might take into your body from milk..."? That's right, people -- IGF-1 is in common dairy milk. That's why the WADA statement made the apparently contradictory remark that the insignificant amount of IGF-1 in deer antler spray could still cause an illegal level to show up in testing.

Should such a test ever become accurate enough to bother with, that is.

Riddle me this, Batman: How can you justify punishing athletes in any sport for using IGF-1? Is WADA going to declare milk an illegal substance too?

Look, I don't have a problem with drug testing... but it's starting to look as if drug testing is the newest form of witch hunting!

Doug Barron's name popped up during yesterday's debates, and it should have. Barron, you may remember, was suspended for taking testosterone because it was medically determined that his was too low. I don't question Barron taking doctor-recommended treatment at all. However, I question the right of WADA (or any other testing body) to determine any level for testosterone and honestly expect me to believe that they know what is normal for every man on the planet. That is PURE IDIOCY!

Human bodies don't come off an assembly line, each manufactured to exactly the same specifications. To think any regulatory agency can determine such specs is the height of arrogance.

I realize this is a slippery slope. Doping is a real problem in sports. But suppose my body naturally makes more of, say, testosterone than most other athletes. The current approach to drug testing will penalize me for simply being me. If I enter the sport with naturally high levels, it will be assumed that I'm doping. This is a problem that the drug testing bodies have no adequate answer for as yet.

Cleaning up the blood doping problem in sports isn't nearly as neat as the the major sports agencies would like us to believe... and golf's ruling bodies are about to find out just how tough it is. These two cases -- the poor handling of Barron's case and what many will see as preferential treatment for Vijay concerning the deer antler spray -- could very well open Pandora's box. You better get ready.

And you can start by having a nice cold glass of milk. You're going to need your energy. Before they outlaw it, that is.

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