News broke earlier today that Baltimore Ravens linebacker and future NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis used deer antler extract to help him recover from his torn triceps, along with a variety of other alternative medicine treatments. The deer antler extract contains a substance, IGF-1, which is banned from the NCAA and NFL.
IGF-1 is a growth hormone like supplement.
In the report from Sports Illustrated, not only did Lewis get mentioned, but members of the Alabama Crimson Tide national championship team were involved with the company that provided the extract to Lewis… allegedly. The SI report states members of the Alabama defense received the supplements two days before the January 9, 2012 title game against LSU.
The company, Sports with Alternatives to Steroids or S.W.A.T.S., is run out of the back of a gym near Birmingham.
Members of the Crimson Tide championship team that were mentioned by name in the report are defensive end Quinton Dial and linebacker Alex Watkins.
One of the S.W.A.T.S. reps, Christopher Key, recorded conversations in the past and there are excerpts in the SI report from his discussions with Alabama players. A conversation in a hotel room before the title game against the LSU Tigers in 2012 was highlighted in the article. Key was trying to convince Alabama players that the products he was pitching were what they needed to have the competitive edge.
And then Key passed out his remedy for the frequencies: stickers, which he calls chips, bearing holograms of a pyramid. Key told the players that on game day they should place the chips on three acupuncture points — one on the inside of each wrist before they tape their arms (the chips also come embedded in bracelets), and one over the heart. “It’s going to help your heart have so much more energy,” he said. “Come the fourth quarter, you guys will not be gassed at all.”
There was also a conversation where Key was describing the deer antler extract that has been used by Lewis during his triceps recovery. Reading his comments on the supplement make you believe there is no way this substance should be legal for athletes — and it shouldn’t.
“You’re familiar with HGH, correct?” asked Key.
“It’s converted in the liver to IGF-1. IGF-1, or -insulin-like growth factor, is a natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth. We have deer that we harvest out of New Zealand. Their antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth . . . because of the high concentration of IGF-1. We’ve been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue. . . . This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years, this is stuff from the Chinese.”
The connection between the Alabama football team and S.W.A.T.S. certainly deserves some added investigation from the NCAA. If the connection is there, we need to know how much the players used these supplements and how often they were taking them. In fact, it would be shocking and unjust if some sort of investigation did not come from this.
If Alabama players truly did take the supplements before the national title game against LSU, that puts a black mark on their accomplishments. Of course, nothing has been proven yet, but there should be cause from concern based on the allegations.
This story just goes to show how far athletes are willing to go to get the competitive edge.