MLB has long ignored a question that the PGA Tour was forced to answer: Can any animal derived products really be banned?
On Tuesday, 11/20/2018, Vijay Singh finally reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the PGA Tour, according to ESPN. After five years, this officially puts to bed any question about an animal derived product being banned by the PGA Tour. The same can’t be said for MLB.
This all started more than five years ago, when Singh admitted to using “The Ultimate Spray,” a deer antler velvet supplement manufactured by Mitch Ross’ now defunct steroid alternative company. Upon having Vijay Singh’s bottle of deer antler spray tested, small traces of IGF-1 were found. This prompted the PGA Tour to serve Singh with a three month suspension for violating the Tour’s drug policy.
At the time, Deer Antler Spray, an animal derived product, was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the PGA Tour, among other professional leagues. Singh immediately appealed the suspension, and two months later, the PGA Tour and WADA retracted, stating that the spray was no longer banned.
Vijay Singh wasn’t having it, however. Instead, he decided to take the PGA Tour to court for the way they handled his suspension.
The rest is history.
How does this effect MLB?
Well, years before the Vijay Singh debacle, in 2009, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) actually cleared Carlos Peña to use “The Ultimate Spray”. Soon after, MLBPA general counsel Bob Lenaghan sent players a memo telling them to stop using “The Ultimate Spray.”
Apparently, Mr. Lenaghan used NFL linebacker David Vobora’s lawsuit against Anti-Steroid Program, LLC (d/b/a S.W.A.T.S.) to make his determination. In 2011, Mr. Vobora won a $5.4 million default judgment against S.W.A.T.S. after alleging that he tested positive for methyltestosterone after using “The Ultimate Spray.”
While we have received evidence that this is virtually impossible, that’s a story for another time.
Back to MLB!
Mr. Lenaghan’s memo led to a lawsuit against the MLBPA. In this lawsuit, the distributor of “The Ultimate Spray,” and CEO of Nutronics Labs, Rick Lentini produced a lab report denying that the supplement contains any steroids. MLBPA wasn’t having it, and given the amount of financial resources MLBPA has, the charges were eventually dropped.
Unlike the PGA Tour and WADA, baseball has yet to retract its stance on the deer antler spray. Most troubling is that WADA performs laboratory analysis for MLB according to baseball’s drug policy. So, if MLB uses WADA’s labs and WADA doesn’t ban deer antler spray, why then hasn’t MLB followed course?
WTTS has made numerous attempts to speak to Bob Lenaghan to gain clarification on this matter (See below). We also reached out to MLB counsel Jon Coyles (See below). Neither have responded to my questions.
This is a problem for MLB, and it should garner more attention than it has gotten. It impacts player and league sponsorships, endorsements, and can cause confusion among players looking to stay healthy.
So, I pose the question to you:
Should animal derived products, like deer antler spray, be banned by MLB?