Ray Lewis was given a product to help heal his torn triceps that contains a banned substance, according to a Sports Illustrated report that will appear on newsstands Monday. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker has not tested positive and denies using it, a team official told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.
Mitch Ross, a co-owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS), told Sports Illustrated that he spoke to Lewis shortly after the linebacker tore his triceps Oct. 14 and he requested products that could help speed up his recovery. Deer-antler spray was among the prescribed treatments. Deer-antler spray contains a substance, IGF-1, on the NFL's banned list.
SWATS is the subject of an in-depth profile in Sports Illustrated's next issue. A version of the story also was posted on SI.com.
Lewis dismissed the report when asked about it at Super Bowl media day Tuesday in New Orleans.
"Two years ago, it was the same report. I wouldn't give that report or him any of my press. He's not worthy of that. Next question," Lewis said.
Lewis was referring to a Jan. 19, 2011, story by Yahoo! Sports on SWATS in which Hue Jackson, then the Raiders' coach, was told by the NFL to cut ties with the company. Ross told ThePostGame.com in 2011 that he gave Jackson free products that the coach gave to players, including Lewis.
Lewis on Tuesday also said he doesn't want to give the company any publicity and questioned why he should respond to such "stupidity."
"Ray has been randomly tested for banned substances and has never failed a test. We have never been notified of a failed test. He has never been notified of a failed test," Kevin Byrne, vice president of communications for the Ravens, told ESPN.
The Ravens had a meeting with Lewis on Tuesday morning to discuss the article.
"He denied using the substance discussed in the article, and we believe him," Byrne told ESPN.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he has not talked to Lewis about the report.
"Ray has worked incredibly hard to get back. I would hate to see anything diminish that," he said. "My understanding is that he's passed every random substance test that he's taken throughout his career."
The NFL Players Association said the league does test for IGF-1, the banned substance found in deer-antler extract, but the NFL said it is not detectable with the league's current testing methods.
Ross detailed his interaction with Lewis in an interview Tuesday with ESPN Radio's "SVP and Russillo Show," saying he texted Lewis shortly after the linebacker was injured against the Cowboys.
He told ESPN Radio that Lewis "used every product that I had."
"I even developed an armband that I developed to strengthen his triceps, and some liquid wraps that would help him heal as well," he said.
When asked why Lewis is denying using his products, Ross told ESPN Radio: "I guess [Lewis] is scared of Roger Goodell."
Ross told SI he prescribed a program to help Lewis' recovery that included multiple components, including holographic stickers for the elbow, sleeping in front of a beam-ray light, drinking negatively charged water, and taking a regimen of deer-antler pills and spraying deer-antler extract under the tongue every two hours.
When asked by SI whether he had talked to Ross, Lewis replied, "I told him to send me some more of the regular stuff, the SWATS, the stickers or whatever." Asked by the magazine whether what he was sent helped, Lewis replied, "I think a lot of things helped me."
Sports Illustrated reported in its story a pitch made by Christopher Key, the other half of the two-man company, to Alabama players in the week before they played LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.
He was quoted as explaining the benefits of the spray to the players.
"You're familiar with HGH, correct? It's converted in the liver to IGF-1," Key explained, according to the Sports Illustrated report. "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. 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," Key said, the magazine reported.
However, a professor at Johns Hopkins University told the Baltimore Sun that, despite SWATS' claims, there isn't an acceptable scientific way that IGF-1 can be delivered orally.
"If there were, a lot of people would be happy that they don't need to get shots anymore," Dr. Roberto Salvatori told the newspaper. "It's just simply not possible for it to come from a spray."
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio and ESPN.com AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.