There’s a story in the latest Sports Illustrated that alleges that Ray Lewis used a bunch of supplements from a company named on S.W.A.T.S. (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids), including a deer antler spray, which supposedly contains IGF-1, a substance banned by the NCAA and all major pro sports. It’s the same allegedly fat-blasting, muscle-boosting ingredient that Alex Rodriguez and others were just accused of using.
Definitely read the whole story – it’s worth your time. But, for now, here’s what you need to know.
S.W.A.T.S. is a two-man operation. One man is Christopher Key, who champions myriad pseudoscientific treatments. He once “told the Alabama players that he could cure running back Trent Richardson’s mother of lupus.” The other man is owner Mitch Ross, “an erstwhile male stripper and admitted former steroid dealer” who “has been a supreme salesman since he was a child.”
None of the claims of S.W.A.T.S. products are backed up by scientific studies. There is really no reason to believe any of this.
Now, here’s where Ray Lewis comes in.
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. (Ross is referenced as taping calls repeatedly throughout the SI story.)
Ross asked “a few pseudo diagnostic questions” and then:
(He) 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…
Lewis told Ross to send him “everything you got,” which Ross did, free of charge, under the condition that Lewis touted S.W.A.T.S. once he returned from injury. But Lewis didn’t do that.
Lewis had not talked to media for 10 weeks while he rehabbed his injury. Asked by SI if he had worked with Key and Ross during his recovery, he initially demurred. “I didn’t work with them personally this time,” he said.
When pressed, Lewis said, “Nobody helped me out with the rehab. I’ve been doing S.W.A.T.S. for a couple years through Hue Jackson, that’s it. That’s my only connection to them.”
Asked if he had talked to Ross the night of his injury, Lewis replied, “I told him to send me some more of the regular stuff, the S.W.A.T.S., the stickers or whatever…”
Asked specifically about the spray and the pills, Lewis walked away without comment.
But Lewis isn’t the only athlete involved with S.W.A.T.S. Two nights before the 2012 BCS Championship Game, Key convinced a few Crimson Tide players of his products’ (faux) effectiveness. Like most unknowing observers, they were intrigued.
Key began by telling the players that there would be thousands of cellphones in the Superdome the following night and that frequencies from those phones would be swirling through their bodies. “They’re going to affect you guys very negatively,” Key said rapidly and with a twang. “We figured out a way to manipulate that so that you aren’t affected . . . [to] give you strength, give you balance, give you flexibility and help with pain.”
With the players hooked, Key gave them the “remedy:” holographic stickers that he claimed would have the players “not gassed at all” in the fourth quarter. Then, he showed them the rest of his magician’s toolbox. He showed them “negatively charged water,” a powder that “put muscle mass on a woman who was in a coma,” and “an oscillating ‘beam ray’ lightbulb that could “knock out” the swine flu virus in 90 minutes. And the deer antler spray.
“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.”
Of course, the spray hasn’t been around 1,000 years, and it’s unclear how and if it works. As for the stickers…
In tests at his lab …radio frequency expert and electrical engineering professor Michael Knox showed SI that the hologram chips did not alter the frequencies transmitted by a cell-phone at all … His conclusion: “They appear to be just stickers.”
Key insists S.W.A.T.S.’s products are cutting edge and is satisfied that they work. “We don’t have to prove that this is real or not,” he says. “What we’re looking for is for [science] to prove that it is not real.”
That makes sense! If you didn’t know the science, you’d think all of the claims are ludicrous. And the science suggests that the claims are ludicrous. Naturally, they don’t have to prove it! The S.W.A.T.S. website claims you can often “feel the pain move” immediately upon using a sticker. Key claims that athlete testimonials are proof enough. Oh, and check their disclaimer, which basically says, “experts may disagree with our outrageous claims, but we can’t get in trouble.” “Our products ‘are sold for learning, self-improvement and simple relaxation.’ ”
Oh, and Ross thinks he can fix the NFL’s head trauma problem, if you were wondering. Gee whiz, what a smart, versatile guy! The company’s “concussion cap”, according to Ross, is “programmed with anti brain-inflammation frequencies.”
(Vijay Singh, however, remains a vocal supporter. In November, Singh paid Ross $9,000 for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive — making him one of the few athletes who is compensating S.W.A.T.S. He says he uses the spray banned by the PGA “every couple of hours . . . every day,” sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders. “I’m looking forward to some change in my body,” Singh says. “It’s really hard to feel the difference if you’re only doing it for a couple of months.”)
An unfit, declining golfer swears by supplements that haven’t yet shown discernible results. That just about sums this whole thing up. But hey – I think we’ve found the perfect sponsor for Manti Te’o!