COMMENTARY | Pharmaceuticals and performance enhancing drugs are a hot topic among professional athletes these days, including on the PGA Tour. So why isn't anyone making a bigger deal out of what Brandt Snedeker is doing?
According to Teresa Walker of the Associated Press, Snedeker is taking medication to increase bone mass in his ribcage to combat an injury that has kept him out of tournaments in the past. The medication, Forteo, is typically used to treat osteoporosis. Most importantly, the medication is not found on any banned substance list and therefore approved for use by the PGA Tour.
Snedeker is taking a substance to heal from an injury faster, as well as to increase his chances of not reinjuring himself in the future. Sound familiar?
As most golf fans will recall, Vijay Singh recently admitted to using IGF-1, a substance commonly found in the product deer antler spray. This substance - which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and not approved by the PGA Tour - is an insulin-like growth factor presumed to aide in muscle growth and healing. Singh began using deer antler spray as a means to treat his own gauntlet of injuries.
At the surface, Snedeker and Singh are two players trying to accomplish the same common goal: treat their injuries quickly in order to prolong their respective careers in their sport.
Of course, the obvious difference between the two players is that Snedeker is using an approved medication prescribed by a doctor while Singh chose a more… holistic approach (not to mention by using a website that specializes in steroid alternatives). Furthermore, Snedeker has done his due diligence in gaining approval from the Tour before injecting anything, as Walker points out in her article. Singh did not, choosing instead to take a gamble and then plead ignorance after the fact.
However, there is another interesting similarity when comparing the two situations. Both Snedeker and Singh are taking a substance to help rejuvenate or grow body tissue (bone and muscle, respectively). Both players also had a medical diagnosis that required some form of treatment.
This raises a question of intent, specifically as to why a professional athlete is taking any medicinal substance. Neither Snedeker nor Singh began using their respective substances to boost energy or to intentionally provide themselves an unfair advantage over their fellow competitors. These guys just wanted to treat an injury and get back on the course.
Is it really "unfair" or illegal for an athlete - or anyone, for that matter - to seek relief from an injury by a manner of their choosing?
Believe it or not, there is a fine line between illegal performance enhancing drugs and prescribed medication, especially when you consider the ultimate goal of treatment. Yes, there are laws and regulations in place to maintain order and to protect all of us from ingesting something harmful. I'm not advocating that our health care system be abolished and we all should be allowed to take anything we want all willy nilly.
But when looking at the intended treatment result, is there truly a huge difference between the methods used by Brandt Snedeker and Vijay Singh? Would Singh's situation be perceived differently had a doctor prescribed deer antler spray?My, what a difference a prescription makes.
Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. His work can be found on numerous digital outlets including the Back9Network and SB Nation. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brandt Snedeker
- Vijay Singh
- PGA Tour
- performance enhancing drugs