NEW ORLEANS -- Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who recovered from a torn triceps he suffered last October and made it back in time for the playoffs, Tuesday denied a report in Sports Illustrated that he took a banned substance to promote healing.
The report said Lewis was in contact with a company called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) and was given deer-antler velvet extract pills and spray, which contain a substance called IGF-1 that is banned under the NFL's steroids policy. The company's owner, Mitch Ross, told the magazine that he recorded a conversation in which Lewis asked for instructions on how to use the product.
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But Lewis denied the report and said he has never taken the substance. Asked by a reporter during Media Day on Tuesday whether he had ever taken the deer-antler spray, Lewis said: "No. Never."
He also said he never has failed a steroids test during his 17-year career.
"Every test I've ever took in the NFL,'' Lewis said, "there's never been a question if I've even thought about using anything."
The article said Ross recorded a conversation with Lewis shortly after the linebacker was injured Oct. 14 against the Cowboys. On the call, the two reportedly discussed the treatment regimen that Lewis would require to heal more quickly. One of the products reportedly recommended to Lewis was a deer-antler velvet extract called the Ultimate Spray.
"Spray on my elbow every two hours?" Lewis said, according to the report.
"No," Ross said, "under your tongue."
Near the end of the conversation, Lewis reportedly told Ross to "just pile me up and just send me everything you got, because I got to get back on this week."
Deer-antler velvet is the epidermis covering the inner structure of the growing bone and cartilage, which develops into antlers. The first documented evidence of its medicinal use was found in China more than 2,000 years ago, according to askdocweb.com.
Under the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, players are tested randomly, but only with urine samples. No blood is taken to test for PEDs, and a blood test is the only way to detect the presence of IGF-1.
The league and the NFL Players Association have been unable to agree on testing for HGH and other banned substances through blood tests. IGF-1 is on the NFL's list of banned substances.
Even if Lewis -- or any player -- tested positive for a banned substance, there is an appeals process, meaning a potential delay if any sanctions are imposed. Earlier this season, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tested positive for the banned substance Adderall, but he was not suspended after winning an appeal.
Because the Super Bowl is Sunday, any appeal for a player almost certainly would extend into the offseason. With Lewis set to retire after the game, he would not be subject to any penalties because the NFL does not impose sanctions on players who are no longer in the league.