Deer Antler Spray Has a History With Pro Golf
In the wake of Vijay Singh’s deer antler spay controversy, which has been heavily reported in sports news media thanks to the WADA’s removal of the substance on the banned list, the decision not to suspend Singh, and the recently announced lawsuit Singh is pursuing against the PGA Tour, many may be surprised to learn that deer antler spray has made an appearance in pro golf before. The circumstances of this previous story are very different from the controversy surrounding Singh’s deer antler spray usage.
The golfer is Ken Green, a 20 year veteran of pro golf, and a five-time PGA Tour winner. The circumstances surrounding his decision to use deer antler spray can only be classified as a terrible tragedy. Green is an amputee, following a 2009 accident that claimed the lives of his brother and girlfriend, and resulted in the loss of his lower right leg. As with most amputation injuries, Green experienced near intolerable levels of pain following the accident and during recovery, compounded by the emotional pain he must have been feeling dealing with the loss of two loved ones. In late 2009, Green was contacted by Mitch Ross, the founder of a company that has supplied deer antler spray to other pro sports figures, including Ray Lewis.
Ross encouraged Green to try using deer antler spray to help alleviate his physical pain. Although Green was skeptical that something he sprayed into his mouth would help, he was willing to try it. After using deer antler spray for several months, Green noticed an improvement in his pain levels, especially in his left ankle, which was shattered in the accident. In fact, there was enough of an improvement that he stopped using the treatment all together. In the years since the accident, Green has competed in seven Tour events with the use of a prosthetic lower leg, encouraged fellow golfer Mark Calcavecchia to try the product for treatment of his chronic pain, and undergone surgeries to alleviate nerve pain in his right leg.
Vijay Singh actually cited Calcavecchia’s six-week usage of deer antler spray in his lawsuit against the PGA Tour, to show that the Tour simply asked Calcavecchia to stop using the substance, which at the time was on the banned list. The lawsuit accuses the Tour of treating Singh unfairly and attempting to suspend him without good reason, after he discussed his usage of deer antler spray in a magazine article earlier this year. Some wonder why Singh chose to sue the PGA Tour, while others wonder if his decision was spurred by knowledge of penalties issued to other athletes on the Tour. It remains to be seen whether Singh’s move will hurt or help him professionally. In the meantime, Ken Green is still on the road to recovery, and deer antler spray was a welcome rest stop along the way.