Sir Bob's mix could be the cure to all of our ageing ills

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor


ALL THOSE sportspeople who hung up their boots, sticks, bats and racquets prematurely in their early-to-late thirties must regret it now.

Someone forgot to tell them about the magical qualities of a potion that could have stopped their bones from aching and joints from creaking.

Nine months away from my big Five Oh, I'm desperate to find anything that will prolong my social stint in winter soccer, golf and pounding the pavement over 10km every other day in the routine battle of the bulge.

The answer, my ageing friends, was blowing in the wind for some time, it seems.

Ask a druid to mix a rack of deer antlers with a few other goodies. Throw into it a damn lot of caution on banned substances based on a healthy dose of common sense and, voila, you have the magic potion.

Whatever you do, stay away from the spray thingee although pills, if recent media reports are anything to go by, are safe to pop.

Now, should naivety come in somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea then look out because you're going to end up looking a little sheepish like Fiji professional golfer Vijay Singh and NFL star Ray Lewis who became Super Bowl champion yesterday.

The Baltimore Ravens linebacker and the golf Hall of Famer featured in a Sports Illustrated story as athletes who tried to buy deer-antler velvet extract last week.

The product contains insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a synthetic hormone used to aid in recovery by helping build lean muscle mass.

Now if you are making big bucks (sorry about the pun) like Lewis then riding home to retirement in a sleigh to the tune of a ticker-tape parade may not be a very good look because the synthetic hormone is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list and the NFL and the PGA Tour also don't want a bar of it.

Multiple major-winning champion Singh confessed he had used the product, saying: "I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position."

The big cheese from the PGA Tour are in the throes of reviewing Singh's confession after the Sports Illustrated query.

Reportedly, in 2011, the tour authorities gave Mark Calcavecchia a rap on the knuckles, demanding he stop promoting the substance.

While the likes of Masters champion Bubba Watson believe it's "weird" if anyone wants to use the product and questioned their mental state others think it's hilarious.

Lee Westwood asked USAToday: "Deer-antler spray? That sounds like something you wax your car with, doesn't it?

"I've never heard of it. ... You have to be careful about what you take. I try not to take anything now, really, other than Corona and vodka."

Colin Montgomerie, a rival of Singh during their heyday, reportedly called the whole case "odd" and said the European Tour doctor "came to us [to say] deer antler, whatever it is, don't take that this afternoon lads."

However, Sir Bob Charles' backers weren't laughing and understandably so because the 76-year-old 1963 British Open champion has advocated the use of Deer Velvet Capsules for about two decades.

Now while I'm of the same age as 49-year-old Singh I couldn't bring myself to fork out US$9000 for such products.

It's the pharmacy variety of glucosamine and chondroitin for about $45 a vial for me. No fish oil tabs to wash it down for me either because they tend to give you more than you bargain for.

The word is, though, several other natural animal products can also contain hormones and growth factors.

IGF-1 is naturally found in cow's milk, too, not to mention traces of "legal" synthetic steroids found in beef.

Deer Industry New Zealand chief Mark O'Connor, amid aspersions cast on Sir Bob, explained: "For example, a person drinking a 200ml glass of low-fat milk would ingest more IGF-1 than a person consuming a fairly large dose of velvet (1000mg). Also, the chances of IGF-1 surviving the stomach environment unmodified or denatured is very low."

Deer velvet, in itself, it seems, is perfectly safe.

Now whether that'll lead to the extinction of deer and fetch exorbitant prices akin to ivory poaching remains to be seen.

It seems Walt Disney may have had some substance in Bambi, after all.

For now, I'll have what Sir Bob is having, thanks, and I'll be the lab rat, too, if it helps.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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