Skip to content

Deer antlers: the hot new PED

Jan 20, 2011, 9:31 AM EDT


Given how many baseball players spend their offseasons hunting you’d think we would have heard about this by now, but this is the first I’ve heard of ground up deer antlers being used by athletes as a PED:

They harvest the so-called velvet antler (a soft coating that covers deer antlers) in New Zealand, freeze-dry it and then grind it into a powder. It then gets shipped to the United States, where it gets put into either capsules or liquid extracts that can become a simple mouth spray. You can buy it for $68 a bottle.

For the elite athlete, experts say it’s essentially a human growth hormone, one of the substances organized sports is trying to keep out. The difference here is deer antlers are natural, not synthetic, and properly discovering it in a test falls somewhere between extremely challenging to virtually impossible.

Apparently the active ingredient — IGF-1 — is one of the main proteins in human growth hormone. The author of the piece — Dan Wetzel — talks about its use being widespread in the NFL and gets quotes from the usual hand-wringing suspects about just how awful this is.  Indeed, as this story was being written I was asked to ship my personal fainting couch to the WADA offices in Montreal because they’re suffering a shortage.  It wouldn’t be so bad but everyone up there is afraid that the medication doctors prescribe for cases of the vapors might unfairly impact their job performance.

Of course, you know where all this is heading:

Freeze-dried, ground up, liquid extract, New Zealand velvet deer antlers. That’s the level the athletes will go to gain an advantage. Anyone got any good ideas how far the leagues have to go to stop it?

I suppose that question is inevitable. Seems to me that another question should be asked first, but isn’t: does the stuff actually improve athletic performance one iota?  Because HGH hasn’t been proven to do so. At all.  But of course, anti-doping groups don’t care nearly as much about that as they do about coming up with, selling and promoting the latest drug testing methods and shaming those who don’t seek their seal of approval, so it’s understandable why that’s all glossed over.

Oh well.  All I know for sure is that given what passes for reasonable suspicion these days, Luke Scott’s Hall of Fame case is in deep trouble.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 20, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    They’re going to need new helmets

  2. Jonny 5 - Jan 20, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    I was wondering why someone stole the Buck antlers off the statue in front of “The Buck” resturaunt and Hotel in Feasterville PA. Some poor easily influenced kid probably heard it would make him stronger.. Maybe it would be easier to just change the name to “The Doe” now?

  3. bigcatasroma - Jan 20, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    This . . . is . . . AWESOME. Where can I get some? Just to see if I grow super-human strength, or at least live until I’m 150. I mean, I really have got to start hunting, or at least bother my gun-toting relatives to save me the antlers when they go.

    Seriously, it takes a genius to figure out that animal parts – protein – makes you stronger??? Isn’t this why man has eaten steak or a dozen eggs since time began? Is WADA going to start prohibiting pork chops?

  4. Roger Moore - Jan 20, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    So the Rangers are constantly signaling each other about their need for PEDs?

    • diamondduq - Jan 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM

      Or usage? Like “Hey, look what we’re getting away with and there’s nothing you can do about it.” I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

  5. tmohr - Jan 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Big Deer has a website and everything:

  6. BC - Jan 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Wonder if that stuff goes good with Vodka?

    • CJ - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      AH HA! I finally figured it out. Jeff Bagwell must be an avid hunter. No wonder they kept him out of the Hall, he was mixing with the antler velvet stuff. It all makes sense to me now!

    • trevorb06 - Jan 20, 2011 at 2:11 PM

      Actually Jägermeister… why do you think they have the deer on the bottle? The cross between the antlers isn’t for show, this stuff gives you godly abilities!

  7. Roger Moore - Jan 20, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Does this explain why Rob Deer had so much pop?

    • Panda Claus - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:17 AM

      You now know the rest of the story behind why “Nothing runs like a Deere”.

      • BC - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        I saw Rob Deer hit a 505 foot home run in old Tiger Stadium in I think it was 1992. Longest home run I’ve ever seen live. That man could crush the ball.

  8. Old Gator - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Give me powdered rhinoceros horn any day.

  9. steelerralph - Jan 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    It also makes you “horny”.

  10. ramsbladdercup - Jan 20, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    For the good of the game, all deer must be hunted into extinction.

    • Old Gator - Jan 20, 2011 at 3:22 PM

      For the good of Sarah Palin’s ego, all moose have to go too.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 20, 2011 at 4:37 PM

        But only from the safety of a helicopter. Imagine what she could do if she was Commander-in-Chief!!! Hop in Marine 1 and launch missiles at their antlered a$$es.

  11. trevorb06 - Jan 20, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    I stopped leaving comments on this site after you guys updated it so I had to make yet another new log-in but this article has brought me back into this game.

    This is the most ridiculous thing ever when it comes to “PED” use. Where are they going to draw the line? Honestly, if a player essentially wants to eat a deers antlers to try an get an edge I don’t see the problem. Are we going to ban players from eating venison steak next? That has protein in it; protein helps build muscle, too. I am all for banning the synthetic PEDs, steroids, etc. Those can be legitimately bad for a person’s long term health. Really, if you’re ingesting antlers that should be viewed more as an act of desperation like wearing those silly necklaces than a ban-worthy offense.

  12. spudchukar - Jan 20, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    So when regulations come out monitoring the usage will it be known as “Terms of Endeerment”?

  13. wolfeball - Jan 20, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    this is a load of hooey.
    IGF-1 is insulin-like growth factor. I’m not an expert on the effects of IGF-1, but it’s not a component of HGH, it’s a totally different protein. if you ingested lots of it, it would probably help you build muscle in a way similar to HGH, but even doesn’t have clear effects on healthy pro athletes (it’s great for 60 year old men)
    once ground up, freeze dried, and put into a bottle, however much IGF-1 is present, it’s probably degraded into nothing. even if it’s not, it probably doesn’t get past your lungs very well, and if it does, it’s not enough of a dose to make you “feel great”. there are probably many, many better sources of IGF-1 than deer antlers, and if we are going to worry about i doubt we should worry about this.

  14. monsieurbear - Jan 20, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    HGH has been demonstrated to improve athletic performance in a study published in 2010:

  15. letstrythiswordpressout - Jan 21, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Buy antler velvet

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2858)
  2. D. Span (2431)
  3. G. Stanton (2336)
  4. J. Fernandez (2335)
  5. G. Springer (2187)
  1. F. Rodney (2151)
  2. Y. Puig (2092)
  3. M. Teixeira (2045)
  4. G. Perkins (1973)
  5. H. Olivera (1855)