January 31, 2013 | Back to: Activities & Events

Ignorance is not bliss

Ignorance can be bliss. When my wife ordered ‘sweetbreads’ from the menu at the Fly Trap in San Francisco some years ago, she didn’t realize it had little to do with dough. Fortunately, it tasted like chicken. No harm, no foul.

But when you are one of the world’s top paid athletes and a household name in the golf community, it is not easier to get forgiveness than permission.

This week, we learned that Vijay Singh, a PGA Tour player with 30 years of experience, 58 career wins and three major victories, admitted to using a substance that has been banned by the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Policy and the NFL, among others. The product is known as Deer Antler Spray or Deer Antler Velvet.

From the websitehttp://deerantlerspray.org we learn that deer antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth … because of the high concentration of insulin-like growth factor-1. The producer makes the case that they are able to freeze dry it, extract it out and put it in a sublingual spray that is sprayed under the tongue.

Deer Antler Spray is known to contain small amounts of deer IGF-1, which your liver converts into human growth hormone, resulting in artificially enhanced muscle regeneration and growth that has resulted in the ban of HGH and deer antler spray.

Singh’s reputation on tour is that of a meticulous personality. He is obviously driven, ambitious and successful, gaining much respect from fellow players for his seemingly countless hours on the practice range. But Singh is no longer in his prime. In fact, he is just a few weeks away from eligibility on the Champions Tour, aka the Senior Tour.

Hey, we get it. The older we get the better we used to be. There was a day when we knew why something hurts. Now it hurts, and we don’t know why.

For a person whose livelihood and occupation is dependent on a healthy body, when the warranty runs out or we have major injury, we can see why one might go looking for something more to aid in the recovery.

Yet, the list of those scarred by accusations of “doping” is long, and the latest big name just spent an hour with Oprah seeking absolution.

According to Singh, “…when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances …”

This is mind blowing. There has to be someone in his arsenal who can ask the question, and the answer wouldn’t be too far away.

In fact, Sports Illustrated reported that in 2011, the PGA Tour warned players not to use Deer Antler Spray and stopped the endorsement of two of its players.

Now, as we know, it’s tough to pass judgment when you haven’t “walked a mile in his moccasins.” No one is perfect. Everyone is human and mortal.

I would like to believe, however, that our game is different from the other major sports. We still use words like “honor,” and players at all levels penalize themselves for a breach of the rules.

We’re not certain if he knew or if he truly was ignorant. But when you are among golf’s elite, going the extra mile to achieve your goals, please take the extra step to make sure you’re above board. When you are putting something in your body in order to enhance your performance, ignorance is not bliss.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.

John Renslow
Golf Columnist


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The Union Updated Jan 31, 2013 12:42AM Published Feb 2, 2013 12:45AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.