It wouldn't be Super Bowl week without some kind of controversy, and iconic Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is at the center of the latest one.
The 37-year-old was named in a recent Sports Illustrated expose about a sports science company called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.). According to the story, Lewis was seeking deer-antler velvet extract to help recover from an injury. In a videotaped phone conversation with S.W.A.T.S. owner Mitch Ross, Lewis reportedly said "just pile me up and just send me everything you got, because I got to get back on this this week."
The problem with deer antler extract, a supplement that traces its roots back 2,000 years to traditional Chinese medicine, is that it contains the growth hormone IGF-1, which is on the NFL's list of banned substances. A site promoting the product lists enhanced sexual function, sharper cognition, reduced inflammation, fat loss, and muscle gain as some of the primary benefits. Ross reportedly told Lewis to apply the spray under his tongue every two hours.
“That was a 2-year-old story that you want me to refresh,” Lewis said on Tuesday, according to the NY Daily News. “I wouldn’t give him the credit to even mention his name or his antics in my speeches or my moment. I can’t do it. So I won't even speak about it.”
“I’ve been in this business 17 years and nobody has ever got up with me every morning and trained with me,” Lewis added. “Every test I’ve ever took in the NFL? There’s never been a question if I’ve ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that, tell him to try to get his story off somebody else.”
In a rather cryptic statement, the NFL Players Association said the league does test for IGF-1, but the NFL said it is not detectable with the league's current testing methods. So what does that mean?
Regardless of Lewis' status, it doesn't appear as if the league will do anything about use of the supplment, especially if there's no way to detect IGF-1. With his retirement planned for after the Super Bowl on Sunday, the linebacker says he's just looking to make a difference for people in his post-NFL career.
“Everybody here has a past,” Lewis said. “It’s what you do with your future. Ain’t what you do with your past. Your past is what’s behind you. It’s what you do with your future that’s most important. Right now, if you had to look at my future and where I’m going ... based on the impact of me touching people’s lives, it’s the ultimate. So I don’t look back. I look forward. Everything that’s behind me is supposed to be behind me. Everything that’s in front of me is predetermined to be in front of me.”
Check out a video of Lewis speaking about the allegations on Jan. 29 below:
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