By L&T Managing Editor Larry Phillips
Sports Illustrated decided earlier this week to publish a “gotcha” story about Ravens all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis using some deer antler velvet extract after an injury in mid-season, and that spray supposedly contains a banned substance in the National Football League.
I’m sure many people, including myself, said, “What it this antler extract, and why would it be banned?”
Looking into it further, it only confirmed my suspicions the NFL (and most other sports organizations) are ruining the game – the way it’s played, the silly infractions – all attempts to sissify the game.
It seems this deer antler extract was discovered by Chinese medicine men more than 1,000 years ago. Today, numerous companies make and sell this stuff in pills, a powder, a liquid for injections or in a spray. One online ad was selling 100 grams of “Deer Antler Velvet extract powder for $720.
The stuff nowadays is made from the velvet antlers from deer in New Zealand. According to a Wednesday article by Ryan Jaslow on www.cbsnews.com, “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,” SWATS co-founder Christopher Key told SI.”
SWATS is Sports With Alternatives To Steroids, the company out of Alabama that Sports Illustrated discovered where Lewis had purchased his velvet spray.
The main substance in this stuff is a hormone simply named IGF-1 – a human growth hormone, and HGHs are banned under league rules.
Jaslow reported, “Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explained to CBSNews.com that IGF-1 is an insulin-like growth factor, a hormone that naturally occurs in the body and circulates in the blood. A person's endocrine system contains a pituitary gland that produces a chemical called growth hormone that helps children grow into adults by making their bones stronger and helping their bodies mature. The brain's growth hormone then stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1, which then binds to receptors in muscle cells, signalling them to multiply and grow.”
“In normal ranges, IGF-1 in the body aids growth and boosts muscle strength, he said. The hormone also increases metabolism of carbohydrates, bringing more sugars to the cells that also help muscle growth.”
The article goes on to say not everyone is helped by this treatment.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic says on its web site: “Studies of healthy adults taking human growth hormone are limited. Although it appears that human growth hormone injections can increase muscle mass and reduce the amount of body fat in healthy older adults, the increase in muscle doesn't translate into increased strength. It isn't clear if human growth hormone may provide other benefits to healthy adults.”
The key word being healthy.
Synthetic growth hormones that replicate the natural hormones in a human have been discovered in the name of science and extending or improving human life.
The Mayo Clinic explains: “Synthetic human growth hormone, which must be injected, is available only by prescription. It’s approved to treat adults who have true growth hormone deficiency — not the expected decline in growth hormone due to aging.
“For adults who have a growth hormone deficiency, injections of human growth hormone can:
Increase bone density
Increase muscle mass
Decrease body fat
Increase exercise capacity
Human growth hormone is also approved to treat AIDS- or HIV-related muscle wasting.”
The clinic adds: “There's little evidence to suggest human growth hormone can help otherwise healthy adults regain youth and vitality.”
But the NFL and every other sports governing body says athletes can’t use human growth hormones because its gives them an upper edge.
I say let them all use it if there is no known danger to the body or mind – especially if it helps repair body damage or healing. The only negative I found is if people use liquid injections and if abused, it makes them edgy and aggressive.
Sounds like almost every football player in the pros to me.
Jaslow reported: “SWATS owner Mitch Ross recorded a call with Lewis hours after the player hurt his arm in an October game against Dallas, the magazine reported. According to the report, Lewis asked Ross to send him deer-antler spray and pills, along with other products made by the company. Several athletes reached by the magazine also said they used the product.”
Bottom line: Is it illegal?
Here’s what was reported in the New York Daily News Tuesday: “(SWATS’) Key added that Lewis didn’t need to worry. ‘Ray was not using a banned substance,’ Key said. ‘It’s natural IGF-1.’”
I don’t have a horse in the race this Sunday, but it seems to me the major media is going after Ray Lewis, and the NFL always cowers to all the hype, which they have done with rules about concussions, how you can hit a quarterback, how you can block, what’s a fumble, “et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”
I might not live long enough to see it, but flag football will eventually replace the great game we used to call “football.”
PS: They’ll probably end up banning players who were breastfed, too – probably gives them an advantage.