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Just what the witch doctor ordered

Just what the witch doctor ordered

Posted 4 September 2013   by Amy         Permalink | 3 Comments

Tags: Essendon, pigs, calves, sports, athletes

It’s not always easy being the only GWS Giants fan in all of Melbourne, but I feel sorrier for Essendon supporters at the moment. The team’s been fined $2 million, dropped out of the finals and their coach is suspended for 12 months. Why? The team’s former sports scientist, Stephen Dank, was mixing all kinds of stuff in the players’ supplement injections, not all of which was entirely legal.

When I looked into it, some of the ingredients in Essendon’s ‘enhancement’ cocktail gave me the heebie-jeebies. And I’m not the only one. Tim Watson, father of Essendon’s Jobe Watson, likened the bizarre supplements to "witch doctor stuff." Here’s just a few of the things that were being used to try and improve player’s performance:

Pig’s brain extract:

Known as cerebrolysin in the medical world, pig’s brain extract has been said to help treat Alzheimer’s, but it is not approved for human use. Dank said he injected players with the extract in order to increase alertness.

Now, I’m no expert, but I did have a Grandpa who suffered from short-term memory loss and just in case any sports scientists stumble across this blog I’d like to share his top tips for keeping his wits about him:

  • A swim first thing in the morning. Nothing like freezing cold water to make you more alert.
  • An apple second thing in the morning. (An apple a day keeps the witch doctor away.)
  • Gingko biloba – native Chinese plant used to enhance memory. Grandad swore by it.
  • Crossword puzzles.
  • 30 minutes of skipping every day. (This might have been more to do with fitness but he certainly never forgot where he kept the skipping rope.)
  • Chess.
  • Ginseng – Asian herb used to increase mental capacity.
  • Eucalyptus oil. (This was mainly used as a solution to every other ailment but one whiff of that stuff and you’re WIDE awake, trust me.)

All of these tips for staying alert are approved for human use. And none of them involve any animal fluids. Guess I should just sit back and wait for the job offers from AFL teams to come rolling in ...

Bovine Colostrum:

Colostrum is the first milk a mother cow produces after her calf is born. It is very high in antibodies and protein. Why? To make superior AFL players of course! Oh wait ... sorry ... it’s actually to nourish the baby calf and help him grow big and strong. Unfortunately, in order for big burly AFL players to have this milk for babies', the calves have to go without. And sadly, calves lose much more than just their milk in the dairy industry.

Calf’s blood:

There is some “flimsy evidence” that calf’s blood can help speed up recovery time for injured players. However, Essendon club doctor Bruce Reid (who described the club’s supplement practices as “ludicrous”) has said that “the recent opinion is that platelets and one’s own blood, probably does a better job.” This is not surprising since (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) humans are not cows.


Unfortunately I do not have any suggestions for how to heal more quickly than the average human but this guy might know --> (Or maybe the secret is here.)


The worst thing about all of this is that not only have the Bombers been embroiled in a scandal -- and with devastating consequences -- but animals have been caught up in it too. Clearly, humans have recognised that animals have some pretty neat talents. But rather than admire these strengths, we’ve tried to take them for ourselves.

Did they start cutting open pig’s brains when they discovered they are very intelligent animals – smarter than 3 year old children? Did people start experimenting with calf’s blood when they learned that newborn calves have the strength to stand up within minutes of being born, something that takes human babies months to achieve?

The bottom line is that animals are being used to try to enhance the lives of humans but little thought is given to the needs and lives of the animals themselves. :( What ever happened to fair play?

What other contradictions do you see in the relationship between humans and animals?

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