Deer Antler Spray Questions Before Super Bowl Leave Baltimore’s Ray Lewis Agitated

Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis

In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, it is possible Ray Lewis wanted to focus on prepping for the big game, or enjoying the glow of the spotlight that comes with the Baltimore Ravens’ spot in football’s biggest game. He was probably not expecting to have to field questions about his possible use of performance enhancing drugs, or to have media outlets rehashing his connection to the deaths of two men after the 2000 Super Bowl. Specifically regarding the use of performance enhancers, he was questioned at a January 30th news conference about his use of deer antler spray and pills from a supplement company named Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS).

Although Lewis denied ever associating with the company, Mitch Ross, owner of SWATS, claims he recorded a phone call between himself and Lewis in which Lewis asked for deer-antler spray, pills, and other SWATS products. Plus, Sports Illustrated contends that when they spoke to Lewis, he confirmed that he asked Mitch Ross for more products and had been using products from SWATS for several years. Ray Lewis now denies any association with the company, its owner, or any performance-enhancing products. However, the 2001 Super Bowl MVP experienced an injury in October that took him out of the season for 10 games, and he is said to have turned to SWATS to provide him with products to help him heal from his arm injury.

Why does deer-antler spray have a reputation as a performance enhancer? It turns out that deer antler velvet, often harvested from domestic herds after the natural shedding process, actually mimics Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-1), a natural anabolic molecule that aids in healthy organs, tissue growth and blood sugar levels. However, IGF-1 is considered an “orphan” drug by the FDA and it is illegal to use in a product being sold over the counter and it is illegal for retailers to sell products that contain IGF-1. The good news is, deer antler velvet has the same effect as IGF-1 would in the body, but it is perfectly legal to use in over the counter products and it is legal for companies to sell.

In fact, many athletes say they use or have used deer-antler spray, including three-time golf champion Vijay Singh and college football players from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, LSU and Georgia. The problem for professional athletes is that one of the naturally occurring parts of the spray is connected to human growth hormone, and is therefore considered a banned substance. Whether or not Ray Lewis admits that he used deer-antler spray to speed his healing, it is obvious that the effects of this natural product are remarkable enough that top athletes and performers turn to it to preserve their vitality and enhance their performance.

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