(Sports Network) - Ray Lewis figured to be the center of attention during the
Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl media day session on Tuesday, but his pending
retirement wasn't supposed to be the appetizer to scandal.
Questions about legacy and winning or losing in Lewis' final NFL game, Super
Bowl XLVII, took a back seat after reports surfaced the star linebacker may
have used a banned substance to help him recover from his torn triceps this
Lewis didn't give much of a response when asked about the Sports Illustrated
story that broke earlier in the day, one which alleged the 13-time Pro Bowl
selection used deer antler spray, which contains IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth
factor 1), a substance banned by the NFL.
"Two years ago, that was the same report," said Lewis when asked about the
In the SI report, which was made available on SI.com in a story that will
appear in the magazine the day after the big game, Lewis was allegedly taped
by the owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S), Mitch Ross,
as asking for help in how to use the spray.
"Spray on my elbow every two hours?" the SI story quotes Lewis as asking Ross.
"No," Ross said, "under your tongue."
The SI story said Lewis later asked Ross to "just pile me up and just send me
everything you got, because I got to get back on this week."
Lewis suffered a torn triceps in Week 6. The injury is usually considered
season-ending, but Lewis returned for the playoffs and has helped the team
reach its second Super Bowl.
IGF-1 is a hormone similar to insulin which plays an important role in
childhood growth and continues to have anabolic effects in adults. A synthetic
analog of IGF-1, is typically used for the treatment of growth failure.
"I wouldn't give that report or him any of my press. He's not worthy of that,"
Lewis said. "Every test I ever took in the NFL ... there's never been a
question if I've ever thought about using anything."
The Ravens, of course, backed Lewis up.
"Ray has been randomly tested for banned substances and has never failed a
test. He has never been notified of a failed test," the team said in a
That's a red herring, though. IGF-1 can currently only be detected from blood
testing and the NFL performs no such tests, a bait-and-switch shell game which
has been the tact of the guilty in any sport from Day 1 on this issue.
Speculation is what it is, but Tuesday's media day could have doubled as the
New Orleans gun show with a number of players taking the opportunity to show
off their impressive arms, biceps that would make Hulk Hogan blush.
That doesn't make anyone guilty, but football players have been growing in ways
that evolution, training and competent eating habits can't fully explain. The
players aren't just bigger, they are faster, stronger and quicker.
The dirty little secret here is that the NFL's PED policy simply doesn't work,
it never has and it never will.
Stopping performance-enhancing drugs in any sport is a virtually impossibility
and anyone who claims differently is a liar, a con man or both.
Lewis, though, amped up his denials at his media availability Wednesday
"Honestly, and I'm going to say it very clearly again, I think it's one of the
most embarrassing things we can do on this type of stage," Lewis said.
One reporter followed that up by asking Lewis if he was angry about dealing
with the story.
"Never angry," Lewis said. "I'm too blessed to be stressed. ... You can use
the word 'agitated.'
"It's a joke, if you know me," Lewis continued. "That's the trick of the
devil. The trick of the devil is to kill, steal and destroy. That's what he
comes to do. He comes to distract you from everything you're trying to do."
Fair enough -- time to take that bait and play the devil, or at least his
Things like Human Growth Hormone and IGF-1 are currently the rage among the
privileged in sports. While expensive, they are only detectable for a very
short period of time through very invasive testing. And you can be sure there
are plenty of blood doping techniques and at least a dozen or so other
designer steroids we don't even know about yet.
The NFL deserves some credit for being the first major sports league to test
for performance-enhancing drugs, but it has been a system without teeth. The
league began testing 26 years ago and it has served as more of an IQ bar than
anything else. While the Bill Romanowskis of the world skated through their
careers, it was the Artie Ulmers and Bob Sapps who were caught in what was and
continues to be a tainted dragnet.
As other sports went through more high profile steroid scandals, the NFL
ratcheted up its public relations-fueled policy and started random, year-round
tests, a tact which seems to have caught a few more players but always seems
to ensnare the guilty for things like diuretics and Adderall.
If one famous study says up to 7 percent of high school boys admit to using
steroids and the NFL suspends a handful of players per year, what does that say
about its policy?
If another claims teenage girls are using PEDs just to look good for their
awkward suitors, what are the odds that a few of our comic-booked-sized NFL
favorites are gassed?
Let logic answer those questions, not Ray Lewis.
The Sports Network