Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker, is coming under fire for allegations that he used deer antler extract, a banned substance, while he recovered from torn triceps during the season, according to reports from a new story by Sports Illustrated. The allegations come from Mitch Ross, who owns Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) and claims to have supplied Lewis with the banned substance. The substance in question is IGF-1, a hormone that promotes muscle growth, which is harvested from deer antlers and delivered orally via spray.

"You're familiar with HGH [Human Growth Hormone], correct?" SWATS co-owner Christopher Key says in the SI story. “It's converted in the liver to IGF-1. 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."

SWATS is not just known for this deer antler spray. They also distribute holographic stickers, which Lewis said he used during his recovery. Lewis has worked with SWATS in the past.

As with any performance-enhancing drug story, this one is shrouded in controversy and he-said she-said.


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"Ray has been randomly tested for banned substances and has never failed a test,” Ravens VP of Communications Kevin Byrne told ESPN. “We have never been notified of a failed test. He has never been notified of a failed test.”

“If there were [a way to deliver IGF-1 orally], a lot of people would be happy that they don’t need to get shots anymore,” Dr. Roberto Salvatori told The Baltimore Sun. "It’s just simply not possible for it to come from a spray.”

“Two years ago that was the same report,” Lewis said to a group of reporters on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t give that report or him [Mitch Ross] any of my press. He’s not worthy of that. Next question.”

—Hal Sundt

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