Latest Sports Performance Enhancer: Deer Antlers?
You couldn't make this stuff up
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2011 7:13 PM CST
In this photo taken Sunday, July 12, 2009, deer eat feed at a deer farm where the animals get their velvet antlers cut twice a year in Luxiang township, Changchun, northeast China's Jilin province.    (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The latest way to cheat in pro sports? Eating crushed-up deer antlers, apparently. As Yahoo Sports explains, the velvet covering the antlers is harvested in New Zealand, ground into a powder, and sold in the US, most commonly as a $68-a-bottle spray. The problem is that it naturally contains IGF-1, a substance banned by the NFL and most sports leagues because it's "essentially a human growth hormone," writes Dan Wetzel. Given that it's naturally occurring, the substance is nearly impossible to detect in drug tests.

The NFL is concerned enough that it ordered Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson to cut ties with a company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) that sells the stuff, reports ThePostGame. The company's owner says he gave samples of Ultimate Spray to Jackson when he was with the Ravens, as well as to other assistant coaches and players such as Ravens star Ray Lewis and Bengals safety Roy Williams. But does antler spray actually help athletes? An NBC sports blogger is a wee bit skeptical.