The National Football League and Major League Baseball were once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. You would think there would be some sort of performance enhancing drug fatigue after years of stories involving one player or another, but just days before the Super Bowl and weeks before spring training opens, the leagues and their fans have more allegations to sort through.
On Tuesday Sports Illustrated and the Miami New Times each reported that some big names have used such things as deer-antler velvet extract to human growth hormones to testosterone creams. The deer extract may be one of the least known of the PEDs because it contains something called IGF-1 which is a banned substance by the NFL.
Even the most casual sports’ fan knows who Ray Lewis is. The retiring Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker is running neck-and-neck with the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, for the most headlines in the week leading up to Sunday’s football spectacular. Now Lewis gets top billing the rest of the week because of this link to Bambi and other members of the Cervidae family.
The same applies to Alex Rodriguez, the hip-surgery recovering Yankees’ star who was outed then admitted his “limited” use of PEDs while with the Rangers. Now he is joined at the hip, pardon the pun, with other known users like Bartolo Colón and Melky Cabrera plus two others, Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez, neither having any drug connection until now.
And of course, this all comes with the obligatory denials.
In this latest who-done-it, the biggest losers might not be the players but the leagues because both MLB and the NFL claim to have the best drug testing policies this side of the Olympics. In fact, baseball will begin in-season testing for HGH this year although it has been the most affected by PEDs because statistics were so skewed it became painfully obvious to everyone except the sport’s hierarchy that something was amiss. Now, as Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
It has been alleged by Sports Illustrated in their February 4, 2013 issue that Lewis has been tied to an outfit called S.W.A.T.S., otherwise known as Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, that was run out of the back of a gym. The substance is said to be harvested from deer in New Zealand, freeze dried, extracted and put into a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds then spray three times under the tongue (it also comes in a pill form).
According to SI, the deer-antler velvet extract gives you strength, balance, flexibility and help with pain. Lewis is said to have not only approached S.W.A.T.S., he was prescribed the banned substance and used it to speed the healing for a torn triceps suffered earlier in the season.
If true, Lewis’ entire career up to now will be tarnished forever and could damage his Hall of Fame chances. It really doesn’t matter if the accusation against Rodriguez has any validity because his Hall chances were thrown away years ago. The other baseball players have no Cooperstown résumé to speak of. The bottom line here is that they will go home after their careers come to an end with very healthy bank accounts.
Some are already writing the career eulogy for Rodriguez because it is believed he will miss the entire 2013 season to recover from hip surgery and could be run out of the sport depending on the results of his ties to Biogenesis and what banned drug they allegedly supplied him.
Will professional sports ever be clean? Not likely because as testing gets better some chemist will be working on the next new thing. Deer-antler velvet extract? Who would have thought? What’s next? Someone be climbing trees in the rain forest looking for a rare ant, like in the movie Medicine Man, that masks everything known to man?
Unfortunately, for baseball and football the timing of all this could not have happened at a worse time because we were supposed to be looking forward, not back. Now we are.