By Ann Liguori
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The latest Ray Lewis controversy — his alleged use of deer antler spray to speed up recovery this season from a torn right triceps — as first reported in Sports Illustrated, has raised more questions about various banned substances and the people who educate athletes about these substances.

Who ever figured out that velvet on a deer’s antler could be used to speed up healing, treat kidney dysfunction, treat lack of strength, treat cold extremities and a host of other ailments?

SUPER BOWL COVERAGE: CBS Baltimore | CBS San Francisco

What exactly is deer antler spray?

According to, which calls itself “the authority on IGF-1,” insulin-like growth factor is a substance cultivated from deer antler velvet. The velvet on deer antler has been used for thousands of years in the Far East to improve energy levels and endurance.

IGF-1 supposedly provides all the same benefits as Human Growth Hormone, but is difficult to detect. Tests to detect this substance are in development.

If you’re like me then you want to know, “Who in the heck ever figured out that a deer’s antler could have medicinal properties?”

According to, the first documented evidence of the use of antlers as a medicine was found on a silk scroll which was recovered from a Han tomb in the Hunan Province of China. The 2,000-year-old scroll recommends medical treatments and prescription for 52 different diseases using deer antlers.

Scientific research over the last 40 years has demonstrated that if harvested at the correct time of year and processed to concentrate the various biological active ingredients, velvet deer antler can produce excellent health, endurance and strength benefits.

Apparently, New Zealand has the best antler product in the world, and Korea consumes more of the product that any other country.

While Lewis declined to directly address the SI article, golfer Vijay Singh released the following statement to the media on Wednesday:

In light of the recent article on, I want to issue the following statement:
While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Policy. In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances. I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position. I have been in contact with the PGA TOUR and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter. I will not be commenting further at this time.

I’m sure that this is only the beginning of news involving this banned performance enhancer.

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, who would have thought that the velvet on a deer’s antler could cause this much attention?

Super Bowl XLVII will be broadcast on CBS, with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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Do you believe that Lewis used deer antler spray to speed up his recovery? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…


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