Sports Illustrated has published an in-depth examination of a company called Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) and its relationship with high-profile athletes, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
S.W.A.T.S. is an edgy sports science company run by a gym owner/former stripper. The company specializes in holographic stickers, deer-antler pills, and other, um, progressive means of enhancing a player's performance.
David Epstein and George Dohrmann write that S.W.A.T.S. owner Mitch Ross recorded a phone conversation with Lewis after the linebacker's injury in October.
Hours after he tore his triceps during an Oct. 14 home game against the Cowboys, Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and Ross connected on the phone. Again, Ross videotaped the call.
On the call, the two allegedly discuss the treatment that Lewis would undergo in order to return to the field as quickly as possible.
Ross prescribed a deluxe program, including holographic stickers on the right elbow; copious quantities of the powder additive; sleeping in front of a beam-ray light programmed with frequencies for tissue regeneration and pain relief; drinking negatively charged water; a 10-per-day regimen of the deer-antler pills that will "rebuild your brain via your small intestines" (and which Lewis said he hadn't been taking, then swallowed four during the conversation); and spritzes of deer-antler velvet extract (the Ultimate Spray) every two hours.
"Spray on my elbow every two hours?" Lewis asked.
"No," Ross said, "under your tongue."
Toward the end of the talk, Lewis asked Ross to "just pile me up and just send me everything you got, because I got to get back on this this week."
The deer-antler spray contains IGF-1, which is on the NFL's list of banned substances. Christopher Key - one of the S.W.A.T.S. guys - described the company's products to a group of Alabama football players before the BCS National Championship in 2012. He recorded the conversation.
"You're familiar with HGH, correct?" asked Key, referring to human growth hormone. "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," Key said. "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."