Another controversy is now enshrouding Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
A Sports Illustrated story released Tuesday on the magazine’s web site reported that Lewis may have used a banned substance while trying to recover from a torn triceps muscle suffered during Week 6 of the regular season.
SI.com reported that Lewis is believed to have taken an athletic supplement called S.W.A.T.S. (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids). S.W.A.T.S. contains an insulin-like protein called IGF-1 that can have anabolic effects on adults.
Use of IGF-1 is not allowed by the NFL as well as other professional sports leagues or NCAA.
Lewis dismissed the SI.com report as “stupidity” when speaking with reporters at Tuesday’s Super Bowl XLVII media day.
SI.com, though, reported hearing taped recordings of a telephone call that Lewis made to S.W.A.T.S. owner Mitch Ross hours after he suffered a partial triceps tear Oct. 14 against Dallas. Lewis was told to take pills and use spray of the illegal substance that contains doses of IGF-1.
Lewis told SI.com that he used S.W.A.T.S. products but refused to provide more details.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh briefly addressed the topic Tuesday by saying, “Ray has passed every substance test in his career.”
“He denied using the substance discussed in the article. We believe him,” Ravens media relations chief Kevin Byrne wrote FOXSports.com in an email.
An NFL spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a FOXSports.com email request seeking comment.
S.W.A.T.S., which is based in Birmingham, Ala., was involved in previous NFL-related controversies. Ex-Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was ordered to cut his ties with S.W.A.T.S. in 2010 after a video testimonial of him espousing the company’s virtues was posted online. The league prohibits all coaches from affiliations with supplement companies.
SI.com reported that Jackson supplied Ravens players with S.W.A.T.S. products when he joined the team’s coaching staff in 2008.
When asked about the SI.com story on Tuesday, Lewis alluded to prior media reports connecting S.W.A.T.S. and the Ravens.
“Two years ago that was the same report,” Lewis said. “I wouldn’t give that report or (Ross) any of my press. He’s not worthy of that.”
Ex-St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora later sued S.W.A.T.S. contending that the product caused him to test positive for a PED (performance-enhancing drug). Vobora, who received a four-game NFL suspension in 2009, was awarded a $5.4 million judgment two years later after medical testing revealed S.W.A.T.S. contained methyltestosterone, an anabolic steroid that boosts testosterone.
Lewis, 37, already was squarely in the Super Bowl spotlight as the 17-year veteran and Ravens team leader prepares to play in his final NFL game. Lewis is considered a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection after earning seven All-Pro selections and two NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Lewis’ legacy, though, is tarnished by his association with a late-night melee that resulted in the stabbing deaths of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub 13 years ago. Initially charged with murder along with two friends, Lewis later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice when agreeing to testify against Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley. Sweeting and Oakley were found not guilty in a trial.
Because specific details of the stabbing incident remain in question, Lewis continues to field media questions about the topic at Super Bowl XLVII that he still refuses to answer.