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 with Rob Miskosky

CWD in a Spray Bottle?

In light of recent allegations of illegal performance-enhancing drug use by Baltimore Ravens superstar linebacker, Ray Lewis, a Chinese medicine has suddenly found itself selling better than ever before.

That so-called “medicine” is deer antler velvet, which is collected from private game farms after the antlers of their deer and elk are lopped off, ground up and packaged or bottled for human consumption. All this while the antler is still growing and pulsating with blood. Antlers are removed from the animal before they harden, somewhere between 55 to 65 days of growth, or two-thirds full growth.

Now, in light of the fact that game farms are a direct link to the chronic wasting disease plague that has enveloped much of North America, who in their right mind would ingest products like deer and elk antler velvet, knowing where the stuff comes from?

While Lewis denies ever using deer antler velvet in any form, other athletes who have are most likely trying to stay clear of the fallout, including several members of the Alabama Crimson Tide who Sports Illustrated alleges used the stuff prior to their 2012 BCS title game over Louisiana State.

According to manufacturers of the spray-under-your-tongue antler velvet, sales have increased 50 to 60% since Ray Lewis’ denial. In fact, a CBS Sports article offered that one manufacturer, Southern Cross Velvet, claims that over the past eight years, sales have jumped from $8,000 a year to well over $350,000. Go figure.

The spray is used because the delivery of the antler velvet to the bloodstream is much quicker than standard methods like a capsule.

Then there’s professional golfer, Vijay Singh, who said that he knowingly used deer antler spray, but in the same breath, claims he never knew it was on golf’s banned list.

After Sports Illustrated broke the story, Singh was quoted as saying he used the deer antler spray “every couple of hours, every day.” He also said he was “looking forward to some change in my body.” A change in his body may be exactly what he gets down the road; perhaps not a change he would relish though.

The antler velvet contains Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), a “natural anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth” and can cure just about every other ailment, including aging and obesity, or so promotional material suggests.

Unfortunately for Vijay Singh, IGF-1 is on golf’s banned list, and on the banned lists of other professional sports leagues, including the NCAA as well.

However, Singh claims he read the ingredients and “did not see any prohibited substances.”

At least Singh is admitting he’s an idiot.

Imagine spraying a little chronic wasting disease under your tongue. Not to worry, chronic wasting disease has yet to cross the species barrier to humans and the risk is small.

Famous last words by my estimation.

Game farmers have admitted to experimenting with their animals by feeding velvet back to their deer and elk as a growth supplement.

“The ingestion of deer and elk antler velvet is ridiculous, if not daring. Would you spray chronic wasting disease under your tongue?”
Where did we hear of this happening before, animals being fed back to themselves? If you remember, it was right here in Alberta, with the result being a ban on cattle leaving the province and country because of mad cow disease, or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Which, lest we forget, transferred to humans in the form of new variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD), killing more than 200 people.

All of the above, including CWD, belong to the same family of diseases.

Yet the deer and elk antler velvet trade and game farming as a whole is allowed to continue under a diversification program that should have been gutted long ago. It appears we never learn from our mistakes.

According to Darrel Rowledge, author of the book “No Accident... Public Policy and Chronic Wasting Disease in Canada”, this isn’t something that should be taken lightly.

“Although CWD prions convert at about the same rate as BSE, the potential consequence of CWD is massively worse because CWD is highly contagious. If it ever jumps to people as mad cow did, we face the prospect of an untestable, untreatable, always-fatal disease that people could be passing around for years while they don’t even know they have it. They could then suddenly become symptomatic and die a horrific death, probably in less than a year.

“As one of Canada’s top scientists put it to me, it could be far worse than AIDS. After noting there are some treatments for AIDS, he said, ‘we know how to prevent AIDS, how the hell would you prevent CWD?’”

In light of the fact mad cow (BSE) has jumped the species barrier, killing people in the form of vCJD, and because both of these diseases along with CWD belong to the same family, the legal sale of antler velvet for human ingestion is asinine at best.

CWD in a bottle anyone? ■

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

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